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Will Marlins win Grapefruit League title? Don't laugh.

     JUPITER -- Not that it matters, but don't be surprised if the Marlins look like champions this spring. Teams earmarked for mediocrity often do. With so many roster spots up for grabs, the Grapefruit League games actually matter for many.

      "We don't have a lot of guys who can just breeze through spring training and prepare themselves," said Mike Redmond, who is making his unofficial big-league managing debut this afternoon when the Marlins take on the Cardinals. "Guys are battling for spots. There's a lot at stake for a lot of guys. So, yeah, I'm looking for guys to come out playing with a sense of urgency."

      Remember the 2006 Marlins, the team with a eight million rookies? That team went 19-9-3 to finish with the best record of any Grapefruit League team. Owner Jeffrey Loria rewarded first-year manager Joe Girardi with a bag of grapefruit. The '06 Marlins promptly went 11-31 to start the season before recovering and making a race of it.

      On the other hand, the 2003 Marlins, eventual World Series champs, went 14-16 in the spring.

      "I'm not shooting for the Grapefruit League title," Redmond said. "But I want to win. I just want to win some ballgames and get a good feeling going into the season."


      Due to his participation in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, look for Giancarlo Stanton to receive more playing time than usual this spring.

      "We're going to have to speed up the process with him getting in shape because he's got to be ready to play when he leaves here on (March) 3rd," Redmond said. "We're going to have to ramp it up a big quicker with him. He's going to have to play more. He's got to be at least comfortable enough to go to the WBC and play nine innings. They're not going to yank him out of there after two at bats."

       As such, Redmond said Stanton will often play on back-to-back days, but as DH in one of those games to prevent him from "not having to stand out in the outfield for nine innings." Redmond said Stanton, who is in today's lineup, will get the day off on Sunday but play Monday in Orlando and Tuesday in Jupiter.


       Here's today's lineup for the Marlins:

       1. Juan Pierre, lf; 2. Polacido Polanco, 3b; 3. Giancarlo Stanton, rf; 4. Joe Mahoney, 1b; 5. Donovan Solano, 2b; 6. Alfredo Silverio dh; 7. Jeff Mathis, c; 8. Adeiny Hechavarria, ss; 9. Gorkys Hernandez, cf. Starting: John Maine.


on stanton: i think it's important for everybody to stay healthy. but we're oging to hae to speed up the process with him getitng in shape because he's got to be ready to play when he leaves here on the 3rd. it's not like 3 innings and out. we're going to have to ramp it up a little bit quicker with him. he's going to have to play more. he doesn't have to play the outfield every day. the plan is to for him not....play in orlando and maybe dh the next day to get him back-to-back days where he's not having to stand out in the outfield for nine innings. we'll try to get him as close to 9 inning games as we can....before....he's got to be at least feel comforable enough to go to wbc and be able to play 9 innings. they're not going to yank him out of there after 2 at bats.


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