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Reed Johnson talks about making the Marlins' roster; Fernandez struggles in last start

JUPITER -- It won't be officially announced until the Marlins make some corresponding personnel moves, but 37-year old veteran outfielder Reed Johnson has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster.

"I think we've talked about it all spring what he brings to our ballclub," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's a veteran bat of the bench. He understands his role. He's been around for a long time. You don't play that many years as a role player if you're not a great teammate and bring a lot to the table. This guy can still hit. He still has a quick bat, still go out there and help us. He earned it. That's the bottomline."

Johnson, a non-roster invitee, didn't play Tuesday but is hitting .410 this spring. It's the second time in his career he's come into spring training with a minor league contract and made the team, doing the same with the Cubs a couple years back.

"I know Red's seen me play, being in Atlanta and in the East, but I think it was still big for me to come in and hit from start to finish and let them know I still have a lot of gas in the tank, a lot of baseball in me," Johnson said. "The way I was treated here too was really key to me having a successful spring training. I went on some road trips and was able to start a bunch of games. I got as good a look as I possibly could have with some good at-bats."

Much like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rafael Furcal and other veterans the Marlins signed, the organization loves the fact Johnson has playoff experience and is a good clubhouse guy.

"Everything starts with pitching," Johnson said. "That's really what this team was all about last year. What you didn't have last year was that veteran leadership.

"From an offensive standpoint, being able to give guys scouting reports like what can you look for in a pitcher, which side of the plate, inside or outside, just those little things start to develop approaches with younger players. I think hitting is all about approach. There's a lot more hitters in the big leagues that are bigger, stronger, faster than I am. But I feel like my approach is a pretty good approach. If you have a plan at the plate and can relay that to a young player that makes all the difference in the world to those guys. The more you play and more experience you have the better your approach becomes as far as getting quality at-bats. If I can help younger players with that it can make a difference with their at-bats. I think we can only get better, especially the younger guys."

ROUGH FINISH TO SPRING FOR FERNANDEZ

Jose Fernandez's final tune-up before Opening Night turned out to be his roughest start of the spring.

Yanked after throwing 98 pitches (58 for strikes) in only 4 2/3 innings, Fernandez gave up nine hits, five runs (four earned) before the Marlins rallied to beat the Cardinals 6-5 on Tuesday at Roger Dean Stadium.

"Hopefully six days from now it's going to be better," said Fernandez, who in five starts this spring (20 1/3 innings) posted a 3.54 ERA with 19 strikeouts and eight walks.

"I was trying to throw strikes and I couldn't. That's been a problem the whole spring training. I pray for the season not to be like that."

A year ago at this time Fernandez was in-line to start the season in Double A Jacksonville. Then, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez went down with shoulder injuries, opening the door for the National League's eventual Rookie of the Year to find a spot in the rotation.

Now 21 and an All-Star, Fernandez is hardly the same quiet kid he was a year ago. He's shown up to camp in purple pants and gold shoes, and recently had a large tattoo of a bicycle gear inked on his lower right leg. He said he'd like to post an ERA under 2.00 this season and has been in-season intense before Grapefruit League starts, saying its been tough to sleep.

Fernandez was visibly upset after Tuesday's start.

"You can tell he was having to really grind it out there and maybe wasn't quite as sharp with his pitches," Redmond said. "I think all pitchers are like that. They get one time a week to go out there and pitch and they want to be perfect. That's the nature of their job. I think that can be tough sometimes. You're not going to be perfect every single time. Some days are going to be better than others. That's when you have to trust your stuff and have a plan to continue to stay focused.

"I know Jose knows how to do that. He's amazing at that for such a young guy. There's going to be battles out there. There are going to be some nights when he doesn't feel great and doesn't have his best command and he's going to have to go out there and give us everything he has."

How does Fernandez envision his emotions being before Opening Night? Not the same as his debut a year ago.

"I think it's going to be maybe more like the game against the Dodgers [and Yasiel Puig] at home," Fernandez said. "I'll try to sleep."

> Rafael Furcal (1-for-6, walk) and Greg Dobbs (1-for-5) both served as designated hitters in a minor league game against the Cardinals Tuesday. Both are trying to come back from injuries.

Comments

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Lou Vales

Please let us know when Dobbs is not trying to come back from an injury.

Flav C.

How bad of a ST is Ozuna having?

Let's forget a little bit about his .180 bat avg or the fact that he leads the team in strikeouts (16).

Let's actually look at his hits. All 9 of them.

Only 3 of them came against good pitchers (Niese, Smyly, and Soriano). The other few hits were against bad pitchers (most minor leaguers) on late innings (like today).

Other than Niese and Smyly, he couldn't find a single hit against any other opposing starter.

Lou Vales

Did our Rookie of the Year Left Fielder/Center Fielder/Second Baseman/Shortstop ever find a hone. And Brian Peterson and Scott "Run Over Posey" we barely got a chance to know you.

Stan M

Lou, Coghlan is a non roster invitee to the Cubs. He has not had a good Spring. If you go to SI.com and click on MLB, you will be on Sports Illustrated baseball. Go all the way to the bottom of the page and you will see icons or whatever for all 30 ML clubs. If you click on the Marlins you will find several articles that will change day to day. Today, two of them discussed Coghlan. You can also view news of your beloved Tigers. Another good site is "Prospectsdaily.com/mlb" where there are daily links to topical articles. One other site that I like is "Fantasybaseballhub.com" that has links to all sorts of categories.

Bartman

Coghlan,Bonifacio and Ruggiano are attempting to add an ex-Marlin stench to Wrigley Field.

Delray

Opening day lineup should be: CF Marinick 2b Dietrich lf Stanton 3b McGehee 1b Jones/Baker c Saltalamacchis rf Yelich ss Echevarria. Anyone agree?

Stan M

Delray, right on target with the players. Only change I would make is having Marisnick and Yelich switch places.

Flav C.

Bartman, don't forget Donny Murphy. He gives an extra special acute zestiness to that ex-Marlins stench.

Delray, under normal circumstances, I would have Yelich switching in the batting order with Marisnick (as pointed out by Stan).

However, considering ST performance, I will agree with your lineup. Marisnick has batted as an Über-lead off hitter.

Stan M

Stanton an Fernandez are obviously the most important members of this team. But what player could make the greatest difference? I would pick Eovaldi. If he pitches like last year, he will be effective and perhaps win 10 games or so. But is he has improved his secondary pitches, the sky is the limit and 15+ wins would be within reach. The other two players who could be difference makers are Marisnick and Dietrich. Should these two make the starting lineup and have even "average" years, this team has an excellent shot at a .500 record. If I had my way, they would both start the season in the lineup and stay there until they show they aren't yet ready. There are so many similarities between this team and the 1969 Mets. Both had horrible prior seasons. Both played in pitcher's ball parks. Both had a plethora of good young pitchers with a young RH ace. Both acquired a veteran first baseman with moderate power but who strikes out a lot. And neither team could hit a lick. Unfortunately, to say that Redmond is no Gil Hodges (Met manager in 1969) is an understatement. We are in for an interesting season and then 2015 should be a bonanza.

Rube Walker

Marlins are severly lacking a LH Jerry Koosman type. No Tug McGraw in sight either,who pitched an amazing 100 innings of lefty relief in 69'.

Lou Vales

If the Marlins 2 lefthanders develop as projected they could have one of the best staffs in baseball. Stan has me optimistic as well. Moran at 3B, I still believe Brantly will get it and then you can parlay some of that pitching into a 1B and maybe an upgrade at 2B. IF the Braves could lose one MORE starter it would really help. People at the AJC hated that I would constantly harp on Uggla NEVER getting any better and that Manuel would destroy the arms of that Phillies staff in short order. I don't know a Hell of a lot but I can observe obvious realities and make cogent comments. I am really looking forward to watching many more Marlins games this year and especially with some trips to DC to watch them against the Nats. The Tigers Forum in the Detroit News actually had audacity to suggest the Tigs STEAL Hechevarria to replace Iglesias. I'm assuming someone with an iota of intelligence in the front office shot that down.

Flav C.

Lou,

Desperation was such that the Tigers traded a pretty good serviceable utility man on Lombardozzi for a veteran (who cannot play SS any longer) Alex Gonzalez.

Didn't they inquire on Omar Vizquel and tried to bring him back from retirement? Maybe it was a joke and I took it seriously.

Lou Vales

It was a joke with sadly a bit of truth.Dombrowski may be losing it or the Tiger owner may be no longer involved because of age and illness that children are protecting inheritance.I had mentioned on the forum that maybe Castillo and Lowell are still available.

Don Meredith

regarding the Marlins pitching prospects-"If if and buts were candy and nuts,we'd all have a merry christmas."

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