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OF Scott Cousins preparing to start in New York

JACKSONVILLE -- With only 72 hours remaining before the start of the season, the Marlins still aren't sure who their starting right fielder will be when they take on the Mets at CitiField Monday night. But Scott Cousins is preparing like he'll be that guy. 

Scott CousinsWith Cody Ross still battling back from a mild calf strain, Cousins, 25, said the Marlins called him Thursday morning and told him to begin mentally preparing himself for his big league debut.

"They told me to come up here and play for Jacksonville, and travel up with them tomorrow to Greensboro to play for Greensboro and if things have been going the way they've been going with Cody, I'll be in New York. If he's feeling better, like he's ready to go, then I'm going back to [Triple A] New Orleans," said Cousins, who was scheduled to start in center Friday night for the Suns, who are hosting the Marlins one the first of the club's two final exhibition games.

"They said it was very likely [I would be in New York]. They didn't give me a percentage or anything like that. They just said to prepare my mind like I'm going to New York."

Ross, sidelined since March 23rd, played in a minor league game Friday afternoon on a back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter. As a designated hitter, he went hitless in five at-bats against the Mets low Single A affiliate. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Ross is scheduled to play twice more this weekend in minor league games where he'll test his calf in the outfield.

"The trainers and coaches said he looked OK," Gonzalez said. "But, we'll always lean on the side of caution.

"He hasn't played the field and you have to play the field and stay out there for nine innings and run around. But today was a good sign. I don't mind losing him for four days and playing it safe than bringing him back too early and all of a sudden it's a month in a half."

If Ross isn't ready for the opener, he will begin the season on the disabled list. In that scenario, the Marlins would place him on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 26. The earliest he would be eligible to return would be April 10, when the Marlins host the Dodgers on the first Saturday night at home of the season.

Cousins is pulling for Ross to be healthy. But he certainly wouldn't mind an opportunity to fulfill his big league dreams, too.

A third round draft choice in 2006 out of the University of San Francisco, Cousins fractured his knee cap crashing into the outfield pole in Single A Jupiter with two months to go in the 2008 seasons. After having surgery, he didn't produce on offense like he was expecting to last season, hitting .263 with 12 home runs, 74 RBI and 27 stolen bases for Double A Jacksonville. But this spring with the Marlins, he showed he could swing a stick against big league pitching, hitting .286 with two home runs, four RBI in 21 at-bats and 11 games.

"They told me it could be four days, 10 days, two weeks -- it all depends on how he's doing," Cousins said. "But for me to fullfill a lifelong goal and dream -- Opening Day in New York, it would be unbelievable."

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