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Alvarez battling infection in his right shin, will miss first spring start

JUPITER -- Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who ended the 2013 season with a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers, will miss his first scheduled start of the spring Sunday because of an infection in his right shin.

Manager Mike Redmond said Alvarez was hospitalized and had the shin drained after the treatment the team was giving him didn't appear to be effective enough.

Alvarez, who went home from camp early Wednesday morning after being spotted by reporters limping around, hasn't practiced with the Marlins the last couple of days and is expected to be out a few more days according to Redmond. He expects Alvarez to be ready for the start of this season. 

"I think it started as an ingrown hair and got infected," Redmond said. "We were treating it, the infection. It just wasn't getting better. We wanted to be proactive and make sure it was getting taken care of. We got in there, got it cleaned out."

Alvarez missed the start of last season with right shoulder inflammation and went 5-6 with a 3.59 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 27 walks in 17 starts.

The Marlins were very encouraged with how Alvarez fared in the Venezuelan Winter League. He went 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in five starts this winter. He also pitched the first day of live batting practice last week.

"It shouldn't affect him," Redmond said. "He obviously won't make the start on Sunday, but he's pitched quite a bit. It shouldn't affect him and his ability to bounce back. He still has plenty of time to get his pitches in and get him ramped up for Opening Day."

Left-hander Brad Hand will start in Alvarez's place Sunday when the Marlins play the Nationals in Viera.

Jose Fernandez is starting the Marlins' Grapefruit League Opener Friday against the Cardinals.

The Marlins play a pair of split-squad games Saturday. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will start for the  Saturday against the Cardinals and veteran right-hander Kevin Slowey will pitch against the Mets up in Port St. Lucie.

> Redmond said the Marlins are looking to ease 36-year old second baseman Rafael Furcal into action  early in camp. Furcal missed all of the 2013 season with the Cardinals following Tommy John surgery and is making the transition from shortstop to second base.

"He'll play Saturday," Redmond said. "A guy like Furcal, I know he's feeling good, but at the same time I want to ease him into it, make sure he's got his legs under him and is healthy for Opening Day."

> TODAY'S MARLINS LINEUP VS. UM: 1. Donovan Solano 2B, 2. Christian Yelich LF, 3. Marcell Ozuna CF, 4. Garrett Jones 1B, 5. Casey McGehee 3B, 6. Ty Wigginton 3B, 7. Brian Bogusevic RF, 8. Ed Lucas SS, 9. Rob Brantly C, 10. Angel Sanchez RHP.