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Marcell Ozuna thinking hits, not home runs; Casey Kotchman nearing return from DL

Marcell Ozuna takes a 16-game hitting streak into today's game with the Mets. That's the longest active streak in the majors and the second-longest ever by a Marlins rookie. Edgar Renteria hit in 22 straight for the Marins in 1996.

Before beginning the streak, Ozuna said he fell into a bit of a rut at the plate when he took aim for the fences by trying to pull the ball. It was when he changed his approach by  hitting toward the middle of the field that he said he began having success.

"My mentality right now is keep (my average) at .300," said Ozuna, who began the day hitting .330.

Ozuna has yet to display the kind of power he showed in the minors when he averaged 23 home runs from 2010-12 but expects that to improve with time.

"It'll come later," he said. "I'm just trying to hit the ball right now."

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First baseman Casey Kotchman could be activated from the disabled list on Monday when the Marlins open a six-game road trip to Philadelphia and New York, according to manager Mike Redmond. Kotchman,who has been out since the second game of the season with a hamstring injury, has been serving a rehabilitation assignment at Single A Jupiter and is eligible to come off the 60-day DL on Monday.

"He's close," Redmond said. "He could end up traveling with us on Sunday."

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Redmond has decided to pair veteran catcher Jeff Mathis with the Marlins' young starters, which is why he'll behind the plate later today when Jose Fernandez takes the mound for MIami. Mathis was also in the lineup on Friday for Jacob Turner's start.

"I like him catching a couple of our younger guys," Redmond said. "I just think it's more comforting for our younger pitchers -- not that Brantly can't do it. I thought it was really important last night for Turner, in his first start of the year, to have a veteran guy back there to guide him through it.  The same for Jose."

Redmond said Brantly "is still going to do the majority of the catching."

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Ed Lucas had visions of following in the footsteps of former Dartmouth quarterback Jay Fiedler as a college freshman. But the 31-year-old Lucas, who collected his first major league hit last night, scrapped the plan after his freshman season and turned his attention to baseball.

"He was our knight in shining armor on the football team," Lucas said of Fiedler, who was all-Ivy at Dartmouth from 1991-93, seven years before Lucas arrived on campus. "I went there to play football but I was only on the team my freshman year. Third string. Never got in a game. Got to make the road trips. Carried the clipboard. Had the hat on and the headset."

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TODAY'S LINEUPS:

Marlins: 1. Pierre, lf; 2. Polanco, 3b; 3. Dietrich, 2b; 4. Ozuna, rf; 5. Coghlan, cf; 6. Dobbs, 1b; 7. Hechavarria, ss; 8. Mathis, c; 9. Fernandez, p.

Mets: 1. Quintanilla, ss; 2. Murphy, 2b; 3. Wright, 3b; 4. Duda, lf; 5. Buck, c; 6. Ankiel, cf; 7. Davis, 1b; 8. Valdespin, rf; 9. McHugh, p.

Umpires: HP -- Chad Fairchild; 1B -- Jeff Kellogg; 2B -- Eric Cooper; 3B -- Paul Schrieber 

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