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Logan Morrison excited to return to play, Valdez and Hernandez out

JUPITER -- It's been a long spring for Logan Morrison. An extension of the off-season, really. He's sat in the dugout, he's talked baseball with the guys, and he's worked out.

"For sure, it’s frustrating because it’s the same old story," Morrison said. "Hopefully once this is behind me, it’s behind me for good and I'll laugh about it in ten years."

The Marlins charismatic first baseman has been out as he recovers from knee surgery, and any progress is reason for him to be happy.

He'll start running the field next week, and he's up to 90 percent on the anti-gravity treadmill. Morrison is yet to take a batting practice, but is expected to start throwing and fielding ground balls sometime next week. 

"I just hope to be in big league games by early [to] middle of May...I have to go through the whole production of play today, play three inings, don’t play the next day, play two days in a row, don’t play that day," he said. "You only get 20 rehab days so I’ve got to do all that progression down in extended [spring training], then go to Jupiter or Double A or whatever. I don’t know what they want me to do."

All of the uncertainty of a recovery process is the only certainty and it's visibly frustrating to Morrison as he takes it one step at a time.

"I don’t know when it starts to turn into anticipation. Right now, it’s more frustration," he said. "I took swings off a tee for the first time in eight months and I got really excited. When they told me I could start running in the bubble on the Alt-G treadmill, I got really excited.

"I think when I start playing, even if it’s in extended, i’ll be excited and that’ll go away. Then I’ll be like, 'let’s go to Double A', then I’ll be excited, then that’ll go away. Then I’ll be excited to be in the big leagues and that doesn’t ever go away."

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In the final game of the Grapefruit League season, prospect Justin Nicolino will get the nod on the mound. Redmond has seen the 21-year-old progress in his time with the Blue Jays A-affiliate in Lansing, MI.

"Bring the young kid up, so it's exciting," Redmond said. "It's great for a young kid to come over and pitch on the big field. I'm excited for him."

Donovan Solano is in the lineup for the Marlins for the first time in over a week.

Marlins' president of baseball operations, Larry Beinfest, addressed the media on Thursday before Miami took the field.

Wilson Valdez and Gorkys Hernandez were told they wouldn't be breaking camp with the big club. 

"When we talk to these guys at this point in spring training, it's all with the disclaimer that things can change," Beinfest said. "There's still a few days to go, but out of courtesy we're breaking camp today and letting guys know where they're at."

Valdez will begin the season with Triple A New Orleans, but there are no remaining options on Hernandez. The club will have to re-evaluate the roster to see if they can work a trade for Hernandez, or risk losing him to waivers.

Outfielder Chris Coghlan and reserve infielder Chris Valaika, who both homered in Wednesday's game, will be on the roster.

"[Valaika] plays with a lot of outward energy; he's spunky and a grinder," Beinfest said."...We always kind of had an eye on him early because of the way he played the game, but we were waiting for the performance to catch up."

Valaika, 27, has only played in 33 Major League games, both for Cinncinnati. He's hitting .240 in Grapefruit League play, with two home runs in 50 at bats.

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Beinfest also said that pitchers John Maine and Kevin Slowey were still a decision to make, only two days after Redmond announced that Slowey would fill the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

In addition to the two pitchers in question, Valaika is also a non-roster invitee. 

"We have some roster stuff to do with the number of guys we're potentially adding," Beinfest said. "When we leave New Orleans [on] Saturday, the club will be together and that stuff will be clear."

There hasn't been a decision made on the back-up catcher.

Starting lineup:

MARLINS: Pierre 7, Solano 4, Stanton 9, Polanco 5, Dobbs 3, Ruggiano 8, Brantly 2, Hechavarria 6, Nicolino 1

CARDINALS: Jay 8, Carpenter 4, Holliday 7, Beltran 9, Molina 2, Adams 3, Wigginton 5, Jackson 6, Lynn 1

--Steph Rogers (twitter)