JUPITER -- Television cameras from FoxSports are here at Roger Dean Stadium to broadcast the first of four Marlins spring training games. They picked a pretty good day.
Ricky Nolasco is set to make his first start of the spring since injuring his right thumb after slipping and falling during conditioning drills in Miami in early February. The Marlins, losers of five straight, would obviously love to see Nolasco do well for a couple reasons. First off, they want to make sure they're No. 2 starter remains on path to start the season in Game 2 versus the Mets.
The other reason? Outside of Javi Vazquez, the team's projected starting rotation hasn't exactly gotten off to a great start. Ace Josh Johnson got lit up by the Red Sox Saturday and is 0-2 with 10.00 ERA in three starts. Chris Volstad didn't get a lot of defensive help in his last start (the Marlins made five errors versus the Mets), but he's 1-2 with a 7.88 ERA in three spring starts. And Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 4.15 ERA) took a hard line drive off his right shin in his last start Thursday.
Health issues aside, should we chalk up the struggles to guys simply working on pitches during the first two weeks of meaningless spring training games? Or, is there a real cause for concern when you add up the injuries and the struggles?
"I have no concerns about the starting pitchers," manager Edwin Rodriguez said Sunday morning, about three hours before the first scheduled pitch against the Nationals at 1:05 p.m.
"I saw [Nolasco] throwing a live BP. He's ready to go. JJ, there's no concern. Every time he goes out there, he knows what he's doing. Everything he does is for a purpose. He was working on his change up yesterday and before that he was working with something in his last outing. Javi is going to be fine. Anibal Sanchez is no concern. And I like what I have seen with Volstad. I know it was a tough one in [Port] St. Lucie against the Mets, but I think he just made one bad pitch. Other than that, it was the defense."
So what has Rodriguez been looking for and seen that's keeping him at ease?
"First is the command of the secondary pitches. If they throw that changeup for strikes, that breaking ball for strikes you know that's a very good sign, especially this early in spring training," he said. "Then, it's the tempo of the game. Sometimes, if guys don't feel good or they don't have the confidence in their pitches, they will kind of slow down their tempo. But if they're working [fast], they're on. That's a good sign too."
Here's what else Edwin shared with the beat writers Sunday morning:
> Anibal Sanchez (bruised right shin) threw a bullpen session Saturday and is still on schedule to make his next start on Tuesday versus the Rays in Port Charlotte. If he can't go, Rodriguez said Sean West will likely start in his place. "If he misses something it's going to be only one start," Rodriguez said. "Other than that, he's going to be fine. He threw yesterday and did good. He has two more days to go. I think he'll should be alright. But it's his push off leg."
> Rodriguez is hopeful right fielder Mike Stanton (strained right quadriceps) will begin taking live batting practice or playing in simulated games down in the minors this coming week. Stanton was on the field at Roger Dean Stadium with his teammates participating in running drills Sunday morning. But he wasn't going full speed. Rodriguez said he still expects to see Stanton play in a few Grapefruit League games during the final week of spring training.
Asked if he would still consider batting Stanton in the clean-up spot if he doesn't get enough Grapefruit League at-bats, Rodriguez said: "It depends on how he looks. The good thing is we have good options. Gaby [Sanchez] has been doing fine. Let's put it this way, I'm not going to put Stanton in a situation where he feels uncomfortable. We don't know what he's capable of doing."
> Asked who he would like to see more of this spring, Rodriguez said: "I would like to see Chris Coghlan in center field and I would like to see Stanton how he handles that four-hole. I know [Coghlan] is going to be able to play the position. But also the infielders also want to know how far they have to go get a fly -- or the corners guys want to know how far they can go."