JUPITER -- With a week to go in Grapefruit League action the number of players inside the Marlins clubhouse continues to dwindle. We're down to 37 now (updated in the afternoon).
Hard throwing right-handed reliever Carter Capps, whom the Marlins traded Logan Morrison for prior to the start of the 2014 season, was among seven players sent down to the minors Tuesday. The other six were not on the 40-man roster: catcher Vinny Rottino, infielder Austin Nola, left-handers Pat Misch and Pat Urckfitz, right-handers Ryan Chaffee and Vin Mazzaro.
Capps, though, was among a group of about seven relievers competing for the last two bullpen spots. He's had a rough spring (9.64 ERA, four walks, six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings).
"Capps was a tough one," manager Mike Redmond said Tuesday morning. "I think for him it's just a matter of going down and being more consistent. He's got big league stuff and has been there. But we've talked about our depth. To have a guy like him in the system in Triple A, he can pitch in the big leagues and get guys out. We know that. It's nice to have him down there."
Capps, whose fastball has clocked in the triple digits before, started last season in the minors too and was then called up April 27. He looked pretty good, posting a 3.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts and just three walks in nine appearances before heading to the disabled list on May 26 with a sprained throwing elbow.
It looked like he might need surgery, but the Marlins held off and Capps returned to the team in September and pitched in eight games. He looked sharp until his last appearance of the season when he gave up three earned runs in a third of an inning against the Nationals and his ERA jumped from 2.70 to 3.98 for the season. The Marlins have spent the past year working with Capps on his delivery.
"He needs to be more consistent with his command and when that happens he'll be ready," Redmond said.
Capps' departure to Triple A New Orleans means the Marlins are essentially looking at six relievers for the final two spots in the bullpen.
Assuming closer Steve Cishek, setup men A.J. Ramos and Bryan Morris, left-hander Mike Dunn and right-hander Aaron Crow (set to make $1.975 million in 2015) aren't going anywhere, the guys still fighting for spots are left-handers Brad Hand (out of options, 1-0, 1.80 ERA, 5 Ks, 6 BBs) and Andrew McKirahan (Rule 5 pick, 0-1, 2.57 ERA,5 Ks, 3 BBs), and right-handers Nick Masset (non-roster invitee, 1-0, 3.86 ERA), Sam Dyson (2-0, 3.00 ERA, 5 Ks, 1 BB), Preston Claiborne (0-0, 1.69 ERA, 4 Ks, 2 BBs) and David Phelps (2-0, 0.82 ERA, 9 Ks, 5 BBs).
> Redmond said Phelps will start Wednesday in Lakeland against the Tigers. Right-hander Dan Haren, who is also slated to start, will pitch on a backfield here in Jupiter.
> Left fielder Christian Yelich, who signed that seven-year, $50 million deal over the weekend, should be back in the Marlins lineup Wednesday in Lakeland. He's been dealing with a blister on his finger.
> Marlins (10-9): 1. Reed Johnson LF, 2. Jeff Baker 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Michael Morse 1B, 5. Martin Prado 3B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Tom Koehler RHP.
> Red Sox (10-8): 1. Jemile Weeks 3B, 2. Dustin Pedroia 2B, 3. Hanley Ramirez LF, 4. Allen Craig 1B, 5. Garin Cecchini DH, 6. Rusney Castillo CF, 7. Xander Bogaerts SS, 8. Jackie Bradley Jr. RF, 9. Blake Swihart C. LHP Brian Johnson.