Despite pitching his tail off this spring, Arquimedes Caminero was among a trio of pitchers informed Tuesday morning they will be starting the season in the minors.
Caminero posted a 2.00 ERA and two saves over seven appearances and nine innings of work. He had a 0.44 WHIP (9 strikeouts, 1 walk, 3 hits) and opponents hit just .100 against him. But he'll be starting the season down in Triple A New Orleans along with right-handers Carter Capps and Chaz Roe, who also received notice Tuesday they were being reassigned to the minors.
"It's just the way things worked out," a disappointed Caminero said. "It's the business."
Mike Hill, President of Baseball Operations, said it was a tough decision to make and even tougher to deliver.
"Extremely tough calls, but I think what we discussed internally is that it's a good thing for us -- that we have these type of decisions," Hill said. "Sending all three of them down we feel like we're sending down major league capable pitching -- in the case of all three of them. Caminero came through our system, made tremendous strides, had a tremendous spring training. To look him in the eye and tell him he's going down was a difficult conversation."
Caminero is in his final option year and can obviously be brought up whenever the Marlins need him. He made 13 appearances toward the end of the 2013 season and posted a 2.77 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He'll likely serve as the closer or pitch in late innings in Triple A. That's a role that the Marlins eventually see Caminero doing down the road, and something he wouldn't be doing if he made this year's big league team out of the gate.
"When the need rises we know we have a major league ready reliever to come back," Hill said. "He's definitely going to pitch meaningful innings down there and get him experience with that. He has a well above average fastball with a split finger that has made tremendous strides. So it will be an opportunity for him to pitch in the back end, which he wouldn't necessarily be doing here. So that's another part of it."
Capps, acquired in the trade with Seattle for Logan Morrison, was less of a surprise demotion than Caminero. He struggled a bit this spring -- he's been working on his mechanics -- and posted a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings of work and a 1.00 WHIP.
"[Pitching coach] Chuck [Hernandez has] worked hard on his mechanics, trying to get him consistent," manager Mike Redmond said. "This guy just hasn't been pitching that long. He's got a big arm and this guy too can pitch late in games. It's just a matter of him finding the consistency in his mechanics which enables him to throw more strikes."
Roe had an awful 12.38 ERA and opponents hit .385 off him.
The moves mean there is now space in the bullpen for hard-throwing right-hander and non-roster invitee Henry Rodriguez (1-0, 6.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 14 Ks) or maybe a combination of left-hander Brad Hand and right-hander Kevin Slowey, who could serve as long relievers. There are 14 pitchers left in camp. The Marlins are taking a dozen into the season with them.
Redmond looks like he's pegged Slowey for the long reliever role and now it's just a matter of who else -- Hand or Rodriguez -- will be joining Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, Carlos Marmol and Dan Jennings in the bullpen.
"Slowey's consistent. We know what we're getting with him," Redmond said. "He's the perfect long guy. He really is. He can go out there throw four, five innings. He can throw one inning. He can do a lot of different things. He's been around long enough he's a guy you can sit down there for a few days and not pitch him and put him into any situation. He's definitely equipped for that role."
> It looks like veteran outfielder Reed Johnson is going to have a spot on the roster when the Marlins break camp. Johnson had a deadline of Tuesday at noon to make the team or be released. He's been sensational this spring (.410, 1 HR, 6 RBI in 39 at-bats).
"It should be just a formality at this point," Hill said. "He's had a great spring. Just along the same thing of bringing in specific veterans who have that championship pedigree, championship experience. He's come as advertised -- a great teammate. You see him on the bench. That's where I think the veterans make a huge impact -- when the game is going on and they can pick out moments and grab a guy like Yelich, Ozuna and Marisnick and tell them did you see that? Did you see this? That's where those guys gain valuable experience and that's where his knowledge has been great for us."
> The Marlins released non-roster invitee Ty Wigginton. He hit .147 this spring in 23 at-bats. The Marlins are now down to 34 players in big league camp overall.
"He's a pro," Hill said of Wigginton. "When you have a conversation with him you tell him we were hopeful something might open up for you, but to this point we stayed fairly healthy and there's not going to be an opportunity. But you're a pro and the professionalism you've brought to our clubhouse is the type of change we wanted to bring. We wanted to bring the qualities you embodied. We thanked him for the time he's been with us and what he's done for our young players in what it means to be a pro and approach your job day in and day out."
> Marlins: 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Garrett Jones 1B, 5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Casey McGehee 3B, 8. Ed Lucas SS, 9. Jose Fernandez RHP. Other scheduled pitchers: RHP Kevin Slowey, RHP Steve Cishek, RHP A.J. Ramos, RHP Chris Hatcher, LHP Dan Jennings.
> Cardinals: 1. Kolten Wong 2B, 2. Daniel Descalso 3B, 3. Matt Holliday LF, 4. Matt Adams 1B, 5. Yadier Molina C, 6. Shane Robinson RF, 7. Peter Bourjos CF, 8. Pete Kozma SS, 9. Lance Lynn RHP.