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Nunez adds cutter/slider; Nolasco rests (thumb)

Marlins catcher John Buck was happy to get to work Friday with his new pitching staff. On his first day, he caught ace Josh Johnson, fellow new arrival Javi Vazquez and closer Leo Nunez.

Ricky Nolasco One guy Buck won't be able to catch for at least a week is Ricky Nolasco, who signed a three-year, $26.5 million contract in December. The reason? A sore thumb according to manager Edwin Rodriguez."

"He's 100 percent. His knee is 100 percent. It's just his thumb. He said he's fine, but there's no sense taking the chance with him," Rodriguez said. "The doctor said there was no concern.

"I think he was working, going back and forth and doing his conditioning before he got here [when he was hurt]. I think he slid or something. We'll wait one more week and see. I don't think it's a concern."

Nolasco was unavailable for comment.

As for the other pitchers and catchers who got to work Friday, Buck said he thought Johnson, Vazquez and Nunez all looked very good.

Nunez, who signed a $3.65 million deal in January, impressed Rodriguez and Buck with a new pitch -- a slider/cutter. Nunez said he used the pitch "maybe two or three times" last season, but plans on using it a lot more after spending all winter perfecting it.

"It was the best sliders I ever caught from him," said Buck, who spent four seasons with Nunez in Kansas City. "He didn't have that type of slider in Kansas City ever. It was a non-existant pitch. The slider he was throwing today were definitely competitive. It just adds one more pitch to the repertoire. I think it will definitely be effective."

Nunez, who lost his closer's role to Clay Hensley in September of last season, said he's gained five pounds of muscle in the offseason. Rodriguez said on Monday Nunez will begin the season as the team's closer. Nunez said he thinks the addition of the slider will help him keep that job moving forward.

"I'm hoping I can get it to the point where I can use it a lot," Nunez said. "It's not 100 percent. But it's strong."

Upon first impression, Rodriguez agrees: "You can tell the difference. He's not jumping on the mound. He's got a nice and easy delivery. His arm action is down. He calls it a slider. I call it more of a cutter. It was very hard, down below the arm. I like what I saw in Leo.

"He needs that -- that pitch is going to make the other pitches better and it's going to have the hitter thinking both sides of the plate, in and out, instead of everything going middle away."

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Eddie S

I DON'T CARE WHAT NUNEZ DEVELOPED HANSLEY SHOWED HE IS THE CLOSER. NUNEZ LAST AUGUST(ERA 9.00) GAVE A GREAT IMITATION OF JORGE JULIO AND ARMANDO BENITEZ. WE AS MARLIN FANS SHOULD NOT SUFFER ANY MORE WITH SUCH A GOOD BULLPEN.IT SHOULD BE HENSLEY'S JOB TO LOSE!!!

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