Miami Marlins Morning Catch: Roster becomes more clear


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The Miami Marlins’ 25-man roster is becoming more clear with Opening Day less than a week away.

On Tuesday, the club informed infielders Donovan Solano and Don Kelly that they had both earned spots on the Opening Day roster.

Utility candidates Reid Brignac and Jordany Valdespin were cut yesterday, which made Kelly and Solano the clear favorites to win the final pair of bench spots.

The 35-year-old Kelly, who in January signed a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, has hit .250/.341/.306 with two doubles in 41 plate appearances this spring. He can play literally any infield position, and gives the Marlins plenty of versatility defensively. He presumably got bonus points for hitting left-handed as well.

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Solano, 27, is returns as the incumbent superutility infielder, a position he’s held since his first callup in 2012. Solano is hitting .324/.390/.486 with a home run and three doubles in 41 PA, but, you know, it’s just spring. He won’t hit like that in the regular season, but he had the advantage of seniority and familiarity with the team in the spring-long battle for that last bench spot.

The rest of the Marlins bench will feature Ichiro Suzuki as its fourth outfielder, Jeff Mathis as the backup catcher, and Jeff Baker as another righty bat that can play all over the field.

In former-Marlin news

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t even aware Rafael Furcal had signed with anyone until I heard the Royals released him. Furcal, as you may remember, was (kind of) a Miami Marlin in 2014. He spent most of last season on the disabled list with an ailing hamstring after being brought in on a two-year deal to be the full-time second baseman. He mustered just 37 PA with the Marlins, where he hit .171/.216/.229.

It looks like that same hamstring injury is what’s kept Furcal on the sideline all spring, and that’s a shame. Furcal, as you may remember, was the first batter of the first-ever game at Marlins Park back in 2012. He grounded out softly to a shortstop who is now playing baseball north of the border, to register the first official out in the Marlins’ new home.

Furcal never took the field for the Royals this spring. The 37-year-old’s baseball-playing days certainly seem to be numbered, if they aren’t already behind him.

1.21 Jiggawatts

The Marlins are never one to jump at the opportunity to amuse their fans with silly, quirky promotions.

Remember when Back to the Future II “predicted” that the Chicago Cubs would defeat the Miami “Alligators” in the 2015 World Series, all those years ago? Yeah, despite the blatant oversight that both teams play in the same league, the Marlins are taking advantage of the classic film’s foresight and celebrating Miami’s American League championship all season long.

Except the team is planning to #RewriteTheFuture, where Miami actually defeats Chicago in the Series.

Check out the On Cloud Conine blog about the promotion; they’re actually doing some cool things with this campaign. And it’s for a good cause, with proceeds from the events being donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. So, classy move by the Marlins. I guess I can look past the Marlins-and-Cubs-both-play-in-the-NL thing if it’s for a good cause.

Time for a bold prediction

That is a bold prediction indeed, Bob Nightengale. His article doesn’t specifically mention any reasons why he thinks the Marlins will represent the National League in the Fall Classic, but the headline is interesting nonetheless. Most pundits seem to think the Marlins improved this offseason, but the projection systems and oddsmakers aren’t too impressed and place them mostly in the neighborhood of .500.

It will take quite a few Washington Nationals injuries and player slumps for anyone, at least on paper, to give them a run for the NL East. But what do I know? Maybe Bob Nightengale — who you may notice is the only USA Today staffer to give the Marlins a sniff of the World Series — knows something we all don’t. And maybe he’ll predict correctly and look like a mad supergenius when October rolls around.

I would be OK with that.

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