JUPITER -- Dressed in his street clothes, Mets catcher Ronny Paulino wandered into foul territory at Roger Dean Stadium this morning and checked out the Marlins as they worked on a baserunning drill. He called out greetings in Spanish to several of his former teammates, Emilio Bonifacio and Hanley Ramirez.
It was Paulino's first exposure to the Marlins since Aug. 19 of last season when he walked out of the visitor's clubhouse at PNC Park in Pittsburgh after being informed of his 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy. Paulino tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug that he claimed was contained in a diet pill he was using to control his body weight.
As a result, Paulino missed the final 42 games of the 2009 season and will be required to sit out the first eight games of this season to complete the suspension.
Paulino confided Sunday that he was aware of his positive drug test for a "long time" last season as he awaited the results of the split sample, which confirmed the original finding. As a result, he said his production suffered with that knowledge weighing heavily on him.
Paulino hit just .173 (19 for 110) with one home run after July 1.
"Of course," Paulino said. "You're expecting what might be coming. And when it's something that you know is going to affect your career, for something like that, you have to feel bad. This is all I have -- baseball."
After saying his goodbye to the Marlins, Paulino said he remained in Pittsburgh, where his family has a home, before venturing to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball. The Marlins put Paulino in their rearview mirror over the winter when they signed free agent catcher John Buck to a 3-year deal. Paulino landed with the Mets on a 1-year deal worth $1.35 million. He said he's ready and excited for a fresh start.
"I got a lot of support from family, friends and former teammates," Paulino said. "They helped me a lot, big-time."
ROSTER CUTS -- The Marlins trimmed four players from their spring training roster on Sunday, bringing the number still left in camp to 37. Reassigned to minor-league camp were RHP Elih Villanueva, OF John Raynor, C Clint Sammons and INF Tim Torres. Manager Edwin Rodriguez spoke highly of Villanueva, who was the Marlins' organizational pitcher of the year last season. "He's going to be in the big leagues eventually, and for many years," Rodriguez said of Villanueva, who appeared in four Grapefruit League games (including one start), going 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA.
MORNING NOTES: Rodriguez said outfielder Mike Stanton could play his first Grapefruit League game on Thursday. Stanton is playing in a minor league game today as a designated hitter. Rodriguez said that Stanton could play right field for the first time in a minor league game on Tuesday. Outfielder Chris Coghlan (sore arm) is also playing in another minor league game today....Outfielder Logan Morrison, who was scratched from Saturday's lineup due to flu-like symptoms, is back in today. Rodriguez said the bug is going around. Ramirez, John Baker and Brett Hayes were also under the weather on Saturday.
TODAY'S LINEUPS (with Anibal Sanchez nursing a bruised right shin, the Marlins are using a designated hitter today, but the Mets are not):
Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Logan Morrison, lf; 6. John Buck, c; 7. Wes Helms, dh; 8. Matt Dominguez, 3b; 9. Dewayne Wise, rf. Pitching: Anibal Sanchez.
Mets: 1. Willie Harris, lf; 2. Luis Hernandez, ss; 3. Scott Hairston, cf; 4. Ike Davis, 1b; 5. Nick Evans, 3b; 6. Lucas Duda, rf; 7. Brad Emaus, 2b; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Chris Young, rhp.
BROADCAST NOTE: Today's game is being shown on Fox Sports Network and also being carried on 790-AM.