JUPITER -- The battle for the final two spots in the Marlins rotation now has one fewer competitor.
Left-hander Sean West, who shined at times last season as a rookie, was optioned by the club to Triple A New Orleans Monday morning after he struggled through the first two weeks of the spring with control issues. West, 23, was 8-6 with a 4.79 ERA last season.
Officially, he was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA, three walks and one strikeout in one start in the spring. Unofficially, he was a little worse than that. On Saturday, in a 'B game' played in Sarasota against the Orioles, a wild West walked seven in 1 2/3 innings.
"[We want West to] just pitch and get his command down," manager Fredi Gonzalez said Monday morning. "He came up and won eight games as a young pitcher last year. He will be back -- there's no question in my mind. He's going to be a big part of our rotation. Sometimes, young kids put stuff on themselves. He can get it worked out again and help us out."
West's departure leaves Andrew Miller as the only left-hander who could potentially earn a spot in the rotation.
Monday, Gonzalez talked to reporters as if he was already including Anibal Sanchez with Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco as locks to be in the rotation. Sanchez, who had been struggling a little early in camp, pitched four scoreless innings against the Mets Sunday.
That leaves Miller, Rick VandenHurk, Chris Volstad and Hayden Penn battling for the final two spots. Clay Hensley, who pitched in Triple A for the Astros last season, is a long shot, but has been impressive early in camp with six scoreless innings (5 Ks, 1 BB). Gonzalez said recently that Penn, who is out of options, could make the team as a long relief pitcher/sixth starter.
> The Marlins also optioned relief pitcher Jose Ceda, signed in the offseason to a minor league contract, to Double A Jacksonville. Ceda was wild in his only out of the spring, hitting two batters, and giving up an earned run on two hits.
> Gonzalez said "running the bases will be the last hurdle" for outfielder Cameron Maybin (groin) before he possibly returns this weekend. Maybin will run from first to third on Tuesday. Catcher John Baker (strained forearm) will "throw to the bases " Thursday and could catch for the first time this spring this weekend. Baker could get a few pinch-hit opportunities during the week as well.
"We still have some time left, the biggest thing we want to know [regarding Maybin] are the at-bats," Gonzalez said. "As soon as we get those minor league games going, we can get him all the minor league at-bats we want."