SUN LIFE STADIUM -- Mike Stanton won't be hitting cleanup for the Marlins Tuesday night -- and maybe not anytime soon.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez has dropped Stanton down to sixth, a move made to take a little pressure off the struggling 21-year old slugger who has started the season hitting below .200 and without any home runs in his first 11 games.
"I don't think he's pressing, but he's not expanding his zone too much," Rodriguez said. "I think he's looking for one pitch, one zone and he's still not ready to cover that outside part of the plate and reacting to the inside part. I think it will come with time. I think the more we keep throwing him out there the more he will have the plate coverage, the bat speed to cover the inside part.
"He didn't play much in spring training. It's a matter of throwing him out there and getting him at-bats."
Stanton missed all but six games this spring with a right quadriceps injury and has gotten off to a slow start, hitting just .194 with four doubles, three RBI and 11 strikeouts in 31 at-bats. He spent most of the 2010 season batting sixth or seventh for the Marlins, where he hit a combined .285 with 19 homers and 48 RBI. He led all rookies in 2010 with 22 homers.
In the meantime, Gaby Sanchez will hit in the cleanup spot. Sanchez hit cleanup when Stanton was out earlier this month with a mild left hamstring strain, and for most of the spring. Sanchez has gone 10 for 25 (.400) in the No. 4 spot for the Marlins this season.
"There's no difference for me hitting fourth, fifth or sixth, they're all RBI opportunities," Sanchez said.
"I think Mike is fine. It's one of those things where he had time off. It's not easy coming back. You're facing big league pitchers right away there after having a couple days off. He's going to be fine. At the end of the season, he's going to be where he's at. This is just to give him a little time to get back into it."
How soon could Stanton return to the cleanup spot? Well, that all depends Rodriguez said.
"If he starts swinging the bat better he should be our No. 4 hitter. But then again that all depends," Rodriguez said. "If Gaby keeps swinging the bat he's been swinging and LoMo also, he's been very consistent. If that lineup works, why not? We'll keep it that way. We all know if Mike starts swinging the bat and showing the power we expect from him, he should be our No. 4 hitter."
MURPHY IMPROVING: Third baseman Donnie Murphy, who fouled a pitch off his left knee in Friday's win at Philadelphia, said Tuesday he's feeling better and could be back in the lineup as early as Wednesday.
"I felt better hitting in the cage at least, so I'm going to do everything I normally do during [batting practice Tuesday]. Hopefully it goes well," Murphy said. "My situation is a lot better than it was a couple days ago. Hopefully it stays that way and running around doesn't cause swelling."
Rodriguez said Murphy is available to pinch hit Tuesday against the Pirates.
> Marlins lineup vs. Pirates (4/19): 1. Coghlan CF, 2. Infante 2B, 3. Ramirez SS, 4. Sanchez 1B, 5. Logan Morrison LF, 6. Mike Stanton RF, 7. John Buck C, 8. Emilio Bonifacio 3B, 9. Josh Johnson P.