FORT MYERS -- It's coming down to the wire for a number of players fighting for roster spots, including a couple whose jobs might not be as secure as they would appear to be.
Take catcher Kyle Skipworth, for example. The Marlins have only three catchers on their 40-man roster and one of those, Jeff Mathis, is injured and not due back until May 1 or thereabouts. The Marlins recently signed veteran backup Koyie Hill, who is behind the plate for them this afternoon but is not on the 40-man. Koyie doesn't swing the stick all that well, but does bring some major league experience. Rob Brantly, who will receive the bulk of the catching duties, has only 100 big league at bats. Skipworth has never played above Double A.
"To have two young guys like that is not an idea situation," manager Mike Redmond said of a Brantly/Skipworth tandem to start the season. "I feel comfortable with 'Skippy,' but at the same time I'm nervous having two young guys back there. So we'll have to see how that plays out. All those are issues and things we have to take into account. That's why it's going down to the last day, to make those decisions."
Another player whose name is not etched in stone is pitcher John Maine, even though he would appear to be the long reliever based on how the roster shapes up at present. (Maine is also scheduled to pitch today in relief of Kevin Slowey).
Once again, Redmond could not say with any certainty that Maine will make the club.
"We're still deciding on Maine, trying to decide what we're going to do there," Redmond said. "It's something we're trying to figure out."
It's possible the Marlins could be discussing possible trades with other teams, trying to match needs, as spring training winds down. The Marlins have pulled off last-minute deals in the past, acquiring Ross Gload in 2009 and Nate Robertson in 2010 just before the start of the season.
The Marlins also haven't settled on a backup infielder or extra outfielder. Actually, Redmond said minds are pretty much made up internally on those two roles but an official announcement likely won't be made until Thursday.
Chris Coghlan and Gorkys Hernandez are vying for the extra outfield spot while Wilson Valdez and Chris Valaika are battling to make the team as the utility infielder. All four players are in the lineup this afternoon.