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Ruggiano leaves practice early with a stiff lower back; starting pitching rotation set for first week of Grapefruit League action

JUPITER -- Center fielder Justin Ruggiano left practice early Thursday with tightness in his lower back and it is unclear if he will be ready to go when the Marlins open Graperfruit League action Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium against the Cardinals.

"My lower back kind of tightened up a little bit fielding ground balls," said Ruggiano, who hit .313 with 13 homers and 36 RBI in 91 games for the Marlins last season -- arguably the best surprise in a disappointing season.

"Instead of pushing it today being so early in camp I came in to see if we can't get it settled now. It's not fun. It's annoying. I'm frustrated and angry. I don't have a hold on why it keeps happening."

Ruggiano, a favorite to land the starting center field job, battled lower back pain last season. He also banged up his shoulder and didn't play again after Sept. 21.

"I know it's not that anything is wrong with my back," he said. "I had an x-ray and MRI on that so I know it's nothing structural. It's muscular.

"As soon as I can get back out there, I'm getting back out there."

SPRING ROTATION SET

Redmond has set his pitching rotation for the first eight games of the spring. Here is a look at the starters for each game:

John Maine will start Saturday against the Cardinals in Jupiter. Henderson Alvarez goes Sunday against Washington in Viera and March 1st against the Twins in Jupiter. Wade LeBlanc will pitch Monday against the Braves in Orlando.

Ricky Nolasco, Miami’s projected opening day starter, will then pitch Tuesday against the Mets in Jupiter and again March 2nd against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Nathan Eovaldi will go Wednesday against Washington in Viera and March 3rd against the Mets in Jupiter. Jacob Turner goes Thursday against the Cardinals in Jupiter.

> Redmond said former Marlins teammate Mike Lowell is scheduled to arrive in Jupiter Feb. 28. Lowell has agreed to serve as a guest assistant coach for a three-game stretch from then on. Redmond said he's still working to get Luis Castillo, the team's all-time leader in hits, to come and serve as a guest assistant coach, too.

"Luis is going to be a game-time decision," Redmond said. "He's either just going to show up someday or we're going to have to go down and get him."

> The Marlins wrapped up the second of two days worth of simulated intrasquad games. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria tripled off Alvarez and scored. Second baseman Donovan Solano had a couple of hits.

"A couple of those guys look like they're ready to go for opening day already," Redmond said. "I don't know how they do that. They come out swinging.

"We had a lot of good at-bats. I thought we pitched well, too. It was good to see [Braulio] Lara go up there and throw strikes. [Arquimedes] Caminero threw some nasty pitches. [Kevin] Slowey pitched well. Alvarez [did too]."

Comments

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lucash

This is going to be serious. I hate to be a gloomy Gus, but I can see it coming. Ruggiano suffered from back spasms and oblique problems last year, and these are the types of chronic problems that will plague a player his entire career when they flare up. The last thing the Fish need is for Ruggiano to be struggling along hurt like he was the last six weeks of 2012. Scary business.

Deer antlers anyone?

Here come the injuries... Ruggiano, Morrison, Kotchman, Stanton.

This team is always one of the most injured in baseball.. Karma?

karma chameleon

yes it is karma...bad karma coming around again to bite this horrendous organization just like last year.It will be even worse this season as Loria will reap what he has sown. Empty stadium and one of the worst teams in MLB for a very deserving ownership.The worst is yet to come.

flagstafffishfan

Ruggiano is damaged goods you can see it coming from here in Cactus Leagueville. I do like what Mike Redmond is doing by bringing in Lowell and Luis. The small amount of history we do have to be proud of these were key players and it would be cool to develop that brand by involving some of the old fish.

pescadcor

old fish cant save this dead fish brand..Pueeeew!!!

spitballer

I see the vegas guys have the Marlins coming in winning around 63-64 games. I've pegged them at 55 wins....I hope we are both wrong.

Flav C.

The funniest thing is that while I was reading this blog entry last night, there was an old M.A.S.H. episode showing on one of those several channels of old sitcoms.

I was just wondering who would be Pierce, Hawkeye, and Radar in the Marlins organization.

Winchester

Samson is Hot Lips and Klinger combined.

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