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McGehee gets first crack at hitting cleanup behind Stanton; Furcal update

Placido Polanco, Marcell Ozuna, Logan Morrison, Justin Ruggiano, Joe Mahoney, Ed Lucas, Austin Kearns and Greg Dobbs all got a chance to hit cleanup behind Giancarlo Stanton last season.

Casey McGehee will be the first to have those honors this season. Skipper Mike Redmond tabbed the 31-year old third baseman as the team's Opening Night cleanup hitter because he said he wants a right-handed bat to follow Stanton when the team faces a left-handed starting pitcher.

Getting somebody to hit behind Stanton who other teams fear is vital to the Marlins success. According to Fangraphs.com, only the Giants Pablo Sandoval (33.9 percent) saw fewer strikes than Stanton (38.2 percent) among all big league hitters last season.

"I spent a lot of time hitting cleanup behind Prince [Fielder] in Milwaukee," McGehee said. "I've kind of used that as a frame of reference -- just to not get upset or let one at-bat be bigger than the next if they do decide to pitch around him, which I definitely understand. I just want to try to have good at-bats. Whether you get a hit or not, at least make the pitcher work."

The Rockies have another left-hander Brett Anderson scheduled for Tuesday's game, but will send right-hander Jordan Lyles to the mound Wednesday. Left-handed hitting first baseman Garrett Jones will probably slide in behind Stanton in the lineup that night. 

McGehee hit .292 with 28 homers and 93 RBI last season in 144 games for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific league. The last time McGehee hit cleanup in an MLB game was July 17, 2012 as a member of the Pirates. He's only started and hit cleanup 23 times in his career and is a .218 career hitter with three homers and eight RBI batting fourth.

"He has some experience. He's been through the battles," Redmond said. "The key is to get Giancarlo as many good pitches to hit as he can. You go back to last year when we had Polanco hitting in that spot. I think that's an upgrade for us for sure."


Rafael Furcal appears to be targeting April 14th -- the day the Marlins return from their first road trip -- as the day he hopes to be off the disabled list and back in the Marlins lineup.

Furcal has been battling a tender hamstring since the middle of spring training and the Marlins are being cautious with the 36-year old second baseman, whom they paid $3.5 million to come in and serve as their leadoff hitter despite missing the entire 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. Furcal said he doesn't feel any discomfort when he fields or hits -- just when he tries to "push it" running.

"It's disappointing. I've had a whole year waiting for this moment," said Furcal, who said he will be playing in minor league games over the next couple of weeks. "But there are 100 more something games to go. I want to be healthy. I expect to play the whole year, not be hurt any more when I come back."

Furcal was the first hitter to step in the box in Marlins Park history. He grounded out to short against Josh Johnson in his first at-bat, but finished 3-for-5 that night.

> It will now be possible to know what day of the week it is by the color of the Marlins’ uniforms. Seriously.

Players will be wearing white jersey tops with black caps Monday throughThursday. On Fridays, they’ll be wearing white uniforms and red-orange caps. On Saturdays, it’ll be black uniform tops and black caps with red-orange bills. And on Sundays, they’ll wear red-orange jerseys with black caps.

Got that?

“There was an overwhelming amount of fan support for the red-orange caps last year and we didn’t wear them,” said Marlins president David Samson. “So this year we’re bringing them back.”

Samson said the red-orange caps are the team’s biggest sellers.


> Rockies: 1. Charlie Blackmon CF, 2. Michael Cuddyer RF, 3. Carlos Gonzalez LF, 4. Troy Tulowitzki SS, 5. Justin Morneau 1B, 6. Wilin Rosario C, 7. Nolan Arenado 3B, 8. DJ LeMahieu 2B, 9. Jorge De La Rosa LHP.

> Marlins: 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jeff Baker 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Marcell Ozuna CF, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Jose Fernandez RHP