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Casey Kotchman injures finger; John Maine to start Grapefruit opener

     JUPITER -- On what was only his second day with the Marlins, first baseman Casey Kotchman cut his finger during an infield pop-up drill Monday and is out indefinitely. Kotchman cut his left ring finger after catching a pop near home plate and grabbing the machine. The cut required four stitches.

      "Bad luck," said manager Mike Redmond. "Hopefully it's not more than a few days. It was crazy. I heard him call it and I was like, 'no way he's gonna get to that ball.' And he caught it. He made a great play. He just couldn't stop. It's unfortunate. We're hoping it's not an extensive thing. This might be something we benefit from that extra time (during spring training) and won't become a huge issue."


      Placido Polanco missed practice Monday in order to undergo a root canal.


      Redmond has tabbed John Maine to start the Marlins' Grapefruit League opener Saturday against the Cardinals. Maine will go two innings. Others scheduled to pitch Saturday: Tom Koehler, Brad Hand, Steve Cishek, Chad Qualls, Mike Dunn, Dan Jennings and Michael Wuertz.


      The pace picked up slightly Monday when hitters faced living pitching for the first time. Maine broke Jake Marisnick's bat with his first pitch.

      "Obviously the older guys, there's more tracking," Redmond said. "There are more takes. I saw J.P. (Juan Pierre) and (Chone) Figgins and those guys doing a lot of tracking. But it's always fun to see the younger guys get in there and whack away. They're eager. You don't know where you're at until you swing the bat."

       Redmond said he saw Marisnick's broken bat swing.

       "I said, 'Hey man, this isn't A ball now,'" Redmond said. "This is big-league pitching. You're going to have to get that thing started a little earlier.' You're always kind of laughing today because it's a humbling day for the hitters. Pitchers, obviously, are way ahead of the hitters."


       The most anticipated pitcher/hitter match-up Monday was Jose Fernandez throwing against Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton was in tracking mode and swung at only one of the 10 pitches thrown to him by the organization's top prospect. Stanton grounded a ball toward second with his only cut.

       "He's got a little cut to his fastball, which is always good," Stanton said. "We weren't interested in hitting today off live pitching. It's just good to get our timing down. We're not trying to swing out of our shoes or nothing."

       Fernandez said he was pumped to get on the mound and take on hitters, but acknowledged pitchers held the advantage.

       "Hitters are not ready. We are," Fernandez said. "We've been throwing a lot of bullpens. I don't think it's fair for the hitters yet.

        "But I compete when I see hitters there. I was competing."

        Asked to describe his impression of Stanton standing in against him, Fernandez replied: "He's unreal. He's a bull like nobody else. I've never seen a guy hit the ball as hard as he does. It's impressive. I saw him hit the ball in batting practice yesterday, he was hitting balls like I've never seen."

         Here's video of Stanton vs. Fernandez: