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J.J. throws off mound

    Just finished a brief text exchange with Josh Johnson, who ramped up his offseason program on Tuesday by throwing off a mound for the first time since the end of last season. Johnson said he threw 27 to 29 pitches -- all of them fastballs.

    "Went really well," Johnson said of his session, which took place in Las Vegas, where he spends the offseason.

    Perhaps no player on the Marlins is more crucial to the team's success next season. Not Hanley Ramirez. Not Jose Reyes. Not Heath Bell or Mark Buerhle or Yoenis Cespedes (if they land him). Not any of those players.

    Remove Johnson from the rotation and it loses its luster, rendering it average at best. Just look at what happened last season when Johnson spent the final 4 1/2 months on the disabled list with shoulder issues.

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    Single-game tickets to Marlins exhibition games at Marlins Park against Florida International and the University of Miami will go on sale on Friday at 10 a.m. Tickets can be purchased online at marlins.com/college.

    Tickets for both games are $10 each.

    The Marlins will face UM on March 6 and FIU on March 7. Game time for both games is 7:10 p.m.

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