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Stanton showing signs of growth

Dolphins boss Bill Parcells might think Mike Stanton is a little "too wormy" to play tight end in the NFL, but Marlins hitting coach Jim Presley likes Stanton just the way he is. And it's the stuff Pressley has begun seeing lately from the 20-year old outfielder that he says he really likes.

Mike Stanton Stanton's two-run, opposite field home run that helped beat the Mets in 10 innings Friday is more of what Pressley said Stanton needs to do as he tries to work himself up to the big leagues. 

"He's going to hit his home runs, but I want him to become a better hitter with two strikes, man at second base and two outs and to drive that run in," Pressley said. "We saw that in Port St. Lucie. He's trying to move a guy over, but do it with authority and drive him in that way. That's what he did. He moved him over and in. That's a special player, special talent, unbelievable player."

Presley has seen a similar, special young talent before. When he was playing with the Mariners from 1984 to 1989, he watched Ken Griffey Jr. make his major league debut at 19. He said Junior is the only player he can think of when he compares Stanton's power to others he's seen in the game. Most figure Stanton will begin the year in Double A Jacksonville, where he'll continue to try and cut down on his strikeouts. But it may not be long before the Marlins feel comfortable about bringing Stanton up.

"He's going to have to learn how to hit in the big leagues," Presley said. "It's not like in Double A where they're going to throw him a hanging slider. They're going to throw him a 2-0 fastball, middle away. They're going to find ways to get him out and he's going to have to adapt to them the way they adapt to him. They're not just going to let him take 2-0, 1-0 swings and let him drive the ball. They're not going to do that. They already know he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. So, he's going to see a 2-0 slider, a 3-1 changeup. He's going to have to learn."

But can he do that? Can he cut down on the strikeouts and continue to drive the ball the opposite way? "Oh yeah. I think this kid is good enough where he can make that adjustment mentally," Presley said. "He's intelligent, he works at it and knows what he wants to do. He works constantly. He's so far ahead of the curb than a lot of guys... we know he can do it because of what he did the other day."

> For the record, Stanton still thinks he could make at least a pretty good college receiver. At Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High (Calif.), Stanton said he caught 14 touchdown passes his senior year and was timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. Former USC coach Pete Carroll, now with the Seahawks, was willing to let Stanton play baseball and football because he was such a talent. 

"I don't know if I could run a 4.5 now," Stanton said Saturday after meeting Parcells inside the Marlins clubhouse. "But I told him if he let me put some pads on I could impress him."

> I didn't get a chance to talk to Presley before I wrote my Sunday feature on Scott Cousins. But Presley seemed just as enthusiastic about him as he did the Marlins other young outfield prospects. 

"I see power, but I see a .300 hitter who is going to have 40 doubles, 20 home runs and play the heck out of whatever outfield position he's playing," Presley said. "He can run now and he does have juice. He can hit the ball the other way. He can defend and he can run. He's another guy that's going to have to learn how to play in the big leagues. But he has all the tools."  

- CODY UPDATE: Outfielder Cody Ross, who has been resting a swollen right thumb he injured during batting practice, told reporters his batting practice session went well and he expects to play Monday against the Mets. Ross played Thursday against the Nationals and is 0-for-2 in his only spring at-bats.

- HENSLEY IMPRESSES: Clay Hensley hasn't pitched in the major leagues in two seasons. But if he keeps pitching the way he did Saturday it might not be long before he does again. The 30-year old right hander, who spent 2009 in Triple A New Orleans after being acquired by the Padres, tossed three scoreless innings against the Cardinals, striking out four. 

He also impressed manager Fredi Gonzalez. "He's got three or four pitches and he commands all of them," Gonzalez said Saturday after the Marlins 6-5 10-inning win. "He knows how to pitch. He's an interesting guy. He really is. He can do whatever. He can be a long guy, or he can be a sixth starter, if he doesn't make the club out of spring. He can be a guy in Triple-A, and you don't worry about him coming up.

- SECOND TIME AROUND: Marlins starters will begin making their second appearances of the spring Monday with a pair of split squad games. 

Ricky Nolasco, who tossed two scoreless innings against the University of Miami in an exhibition last Wednesday, will pitch in Viera against the Nationals. Ryan Tucker, who gave up two runs on five hits to UM in 1 2/3 innings, will try to regroup against the visiting Mets.

Gonzalez said the pitch count for starters will increase to about 50 pitches and three innings this week. Gonzalez said he plans to stay in Jupiter to watch Tucker pitch. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire will travel to Viera to see Nolasco. 

Anibal Sanchez and Rick VandenHurk are scheduled to pitch Tuesday against Boston. Chris Volstad and Hayden Penn are lined up to pitch in Kissimmee Wednesday against the Astros.

The tentative lineups for Monday...

vs. Nationals (in Viera): 1. Coghlan LF, 2. Maybin CF; 3. Morrison 1B; 4. Cantu 3B; 5. Paulino C; 6. Peterson RF; 7. Luna 2B; 8. Bonifacio SS; 9. Nolasco P.
vs. Mets (in Jupiter): 1. Cousin LF; 2. Jimenez 3B; 3. Ramirez SS; 4. Uggla 2B; 5. Sanchez 1B; 6. Miller CF; 7. Carroll RF; 8. Davis C; 9. Tucker P.