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Hard-throwing relievers Marmol, Rodriguez to make spring debuts this weekend after resolving visa issues

JUPITER -- With their visa issues finally behind them, the Marlins will get a chance to see hard-throwing relievers Henry Rodriguez and Carlos Marmol in their first Grapefruit League action of the spring this weekend.

Manager Mike Redmond said Marmol, who returned from the Dominican Republic late Wednesday after spending four days there waiting to receive his working visa, will pitch Sunday when the Tigers visit Roger Dean Stadium.

Rodriguez, a 26-year old non-roster invitee who pitched in a simulated game here on Wednesday, will pitch Saturday when the Marlins travel up to Kissimmee to face the Braves.

The Marlins spent $1.25 on the 31-year old Marmol for 2014, so his roster spot is basically secured. Rodriguez, who has spent the last five seasons with the A's, Nationals and Cubs, is going to have to really impress and likely need someone to get hurt to land a job. 

Both throw the ball hard, but have had control issues throughout their careers.

According to Fangraphs.com, only three relievers in baseball over the last five years (Bruce Rondon, Joel Zamaya and Kelvin Herra) have averaged more velocity on their fastballs than Rodriguez, who along with the Reds' Aroldis Chapman has averaged 98 miles per hour on his heater.

But Rodriguez's career WHIP of 1.51 tells the story. Last season in 22 combined innings for the Cubs and Nationals, Rodriguez had 20 combined walks and only 12 strikeouts to go with 0-1 record and 4.09 ERA.

"Really the key to him is strikes," Redmond said. "You look at his numbers. He's had some walks and control problems. So really it comes down to being able to locate that fastball in the strike zone.

"I saw him [Wednesday] and he threw some really nice breaking balls for strikes. It's like anything, the key to the bullpen guys is pounding strike zone and limiting walks. If they can do that they're pretty effective. But he's got a big arm and that's going to give us a chance to see what he can do in a game situation. See if he can be one of those guys who can fit in the middle of our bullpen situation."

The Marlins hope to see the Marmol the Dodgers got after acquiring him from the Cubs last season. Marmol, who has averaged 93.6 miles per hour on his heater throughout his career, was 0-0 with a 2.53 ERA, 1.55 WHIP (27 Ks, 19 walks) in 21 relief appearances for L.A. He struggled mightily during his last two years with the Cubs and is 23-32 with a 3.46 ERA, 117 saves in his career.

"I worked a little bit down there trying to get ready," Marmol said. "I'm ready to go, ready to launch."

> Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia will get a chance to see his former Red Sox teammates today.

"It's not too far removed so it's not that big of a deal," said Saltalamacchia, who said he's still remained in contact with a few Red Sox pitchers like John Lackey and Jake Peavy

Saltalamacchia spent four years in Boston after being acquired from the Rangers. He said the move reinvented who he was and made him more sure of himself. But the good memories of winning a World Series are just that -- memories. He said he's moved on and is ready to start a World Series run with the Marlins.

"I think you probably ramp it up a little bit more anytime you play your former team," Redmond said.

"But I'm sure it's an exciting day for him to see his teammates, guys he won a World Series with. He gets to talk to them. I think once you accomplish that goal with a group of guys you're always friends for life no matter whether you're playing on a different team or not. I know it will be a fun day for him to see those guys. But at the same time too he's a Marlin now and I know he much he's enjoying that and how much he means to our ballclub. He'll probably want to go out there and swing a little harder today."

> So far this spring Marlins catchers have avoided back-to-back starts behind the plate by design. Redmond said he won't start having his catchers start behind the plate in back-to-back games probably until Monday.

THURSDAY'S LINEUPS

> Red Sox (1-5): 1. Jackie Bradley Jr., 2. Alex Hassan LF, 3. Garin Cecchini 3B, 4. Ryan Lavarnway C, 5. Travis Shaw 1B, 6. Brandon Snyder DH, 7. Bryce Brentz RF, 8. Deven Marrero SS, 9. Heiker Meneses 2B, RHP Allen Webster.

> Marlins (5-2): 1. Rafael Furcal 2B, 2. Christian Yeluch LF, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 5. Marcell Ozuna CF, 6. Casey McGehee 3B, 7. Greg Dobbs DH, 8. Ed Lucas 1B, 9. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, RHP Nathan Eovaldi.

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