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Heaney looking forward to his last start Friday, competition this spring

Andrew Heaney's first go-around in the big leagues hardly went the way he wanted it to, but he's happy the Marlins are giving him a chance Friday to finish the season right.

The organization's top prospect, who went 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in four starts back in June and early July before the Marlins sent him back down to the minors, will be starting the second game of Friday's double-header against the division-winning Nationals. And he said Thursday he's happy he's getting the opportunity.

"Anytime they give you innings obviously it's up to you to go out there and get outs," Heaney said. "I want to prove to them that I can get outs and do a good job. So next year I can hopefully try to win a spot."

Heaney, who went 9-6 with a 3.28 ERA in 23 starts between Double A and Triple A this season, knows there's going to be a lot of competition to earn a spot in the Marlins rotation next year. Outside of All-Star right-hander Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart, nobody else will probably be assured a spot in the rotation when players reconvene in Jupiter for spring training in February.

"I'm going to take some time off, relax a little bit and then start working out and take advantage of a full off-season," he said. "I want try to get bigger, stronger, come back ready to pitch in spring training.

"[The 2014 season] was good. Obviously, any time you get called up and get to be in the big leagues you can't say it was unsuccessful season by any stretch of the imagination. For me, I went to Double A again. I went up to Triple A, hadn't done that. Got called up, hadn't done that. So for me it was a lot of different experiences, moving around, more than I normally have, getting used to flying in Triple A, flying here -- different things you don't really think about."

Heaney said the competition in February will be good for everyone including the Marlins.

"What they talk about building an organization that's competitive and stuff, that's part of it," Heaney said. "It starts in spring when guys are competing against each other for a job. That's only going to make your team stronger and make everybody feel better about what they've done -- if they can know they earned a spot rather than they just walk into camp knowing they've got a spot. Obviously with about the exception of three or four guys, everybody knows that last spot is up for grabs."

> After losing 100 games last year, manager Mike Redmond said the most enjoyable part of this season was just winning games and being in the playoff race up until last week.

"To think after last year that we could still be talking about the playoffs up until like a week ago, that’s what it’s all about," Redmond said. "I felt that excitement this year that I felt when I played when you’re trying to make the playoffs. To feel that adrenaline and to feel that passion to get back to the playoffs, I haven’t felt that in a while. That's what it’s all about. That’s why I manage and why I love this group of players. Because a lot of them felt that for the first time in their career. That’s going to only make us better."

> Redmond said the development of the bullpen this year was a huge step forward for the team and he especially cited the growth of rookie Sam Dyson (3-1, 2.01 ERA).

"To see the stuff that he has and the ability to throw multiple innings and get guys out is huge going forward," Redmond said. "He’s got the ability to be a setup guy and pitch some big innings for us going forward. 

"We lost a couple guys there last year and the guys that we brought in early just didn’t work out. It was a great opportrunity for some young guys to fill those innings and step up, and we did it. [Chris Hatcher] did it and Dyson did it. With the help of AJ [Ramos] and [Mike Dunn], I feel great. If we have a lead from the seventh inning on I feel like we have a chance to lock down that game. We did that the second half a lot. Going forward its nice to know you have those guys down there, and we’ll keep all those guys together for the start of next year."