A pair of native Louisianans were competing for the long relief role in the Marlins’ bullpen. The winner of that competition was announced Friday, when Miami optioned left-hander Wade LeBlanc to New Orleans, meaning righty Chad Gaudin is in line to make the club as a non-roster invitee.
With health risks for Marlins starters Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez, Lake Charles native LeBlanc, who had a 1.31 spring ERA in six games, including two starts, will continue to work as a starter in New Orleans, rather than see less-frequent work in Miami.
Gaudin, from Harahan, also had a great spring to seize the job, posting a 1.26 ERA in nine games, all out of the bullpen. LeBlanc had one option remaining, while Gaudin would have had to clear waivers to be sent down.
Other names who could join LeBlanc in the Zephyrs’ starting rotation include Tom Koehler, Alex Sanabia, Sean West, Elih Villanueva, Omar Poveda and Brad Hand.
The Marlins appear to have made their choices in the competition among outfielders for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
A week after Scott Cousins was optioned to New Orleans, Bryan Petersen was sent to the Zephyrs on Thursday and veteran Aaron Rowand was released, leaving Chris Coghlan and Austin Kearns as the reserve outfielders. Coghlan will provide a left-handed bat off the bench, while Kearns does the same from the right.
Petersen hit .250 (11-for-44) in the spring, while Rowand, who is owed $12 million by the San Francisco Giants whether he plays this season or not, had hit just .128 (6-for-47).
The Zephyrs appear to have their regular outfield set: Petersen in left, Cousins in right, and Kevin Mattison in center. Chris Aguila and Jorge Padilla are the veteran outfield options.
Miami is still deciding on whether to keep Donnie Murphy or Donovan Solano as their utility infielder. Solano has impressed Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen throughout the spring with his solid play and is hitting a team-leading .389, but the 24-year-old has never played in the Majors and is a non-roster invitee. The veteran Murphy has been with the big club in parts of the last two seasons despite battling injuries, and is already on the 40-man roster, but has hit just .222 this spring.
In other roster moves Thursday, the Marlins reassigned pitcher J.D. Martin and infielder Nick Green to minor league camp. Both could begin the season in New Orleans.
Jose Ceda, who was perhaps the Pacific Coast League’s best relief pitcher last season when he saved 24 games with a 1.36 ERA for the Zephyrs, is likely lost for the 2012 season after tearing a ligament in his elbow.
Ceda appears to be headed for Tommy John surgery next week, which would cost him the 2012 campaign. It’s a tough break for Ceda, who was in line for a spot in the Marlins’ bullpen. He had fanned eight batters in 7 1/3 innings in Grapefruit League play.
The injury could open a spot on the Opening Day roster for Wade LeBlanc, who has enjoyed a fine spring. Heath Bell, Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn, Ryan Webb, Steve Cishek and Randy Choate appear to be locks for the bullpen, leaving LeBlanc and non-roster invitee Chad Gaudin battling for a job as a long man in the bullpen.
Marlins’ spring training opened with a crowded outfield competition, but that competition got a little less congested on Friday.
The Marlins optioned Scott Cousins to New Orleans, after Cousins hit .147 with 15 strikeouts in 34 at-bats. That leaves Austin Kearns, Aaron Rowand, Bryan Petersen and Chris Coghlan fighting for one or two roster spots, assuming Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison are ready for Opening Day. Stanton and Morrison are expected to begin playing in Minor League games this weekend.
The Marlins reassigned 11 players to minor league camp following Sunday’s action, including third baseman Matt Dominguez, who was among a group of six sent to New Orleans.
Joining Dominguez is outfielder Kevin Mattison, right-handed pitchers Tom Koehler, Alex Sanabia and Sandy Rosario, and left-hander Dan Jennings.
Left-handed starter Brad Hand and right-handed reliever Evan Reed were assigned to Double-A Jacksonville, while right-hander Elih Villanueva, catcher Kyle Skipworth and infielder Jeff Dominguez were also reassigned to minor league camp.
The Marlins now have 42 players in big league camp, with 16 days remaining until Opening Day.
Right-handed pitchers Chris Hatcher and Omar Poveda were optioned to New Orleans as the Marlins made the first significant round of cuts to their spring roster on Thursday.
Hatcher concluded last season in the Majors, less than a year after being converted to the mound from catcher. Poveda bounced back from a lost 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery to become one of the Southern League’s most reliable starters with Double-A Jacksonville.
Right-hander Corey Madden, another candidate for a spot in the New Orleans bullpen, was also reassigned to minor league camp on Thursday.
The Marlins placed left-handed pitcher Sean West on waivers after a rocky spring training debut last week, and it was announced today that West cleared waivers and had been outrighted to New Orleans.
West has struggled to stay healthy since a solid 20-start rookie season with the Marlins in 2009. The Shreveport native made 13 starts between New Orleans and Florida in 2010, and was limited to 17 starts with the Zephyrs last season between two trips to the disabled list.
The Marlins upped their spring record to 6-3 today with a 4-2 victory over the Rays. Wade LeBlanc continues to impress in his bid for a big league job, firing four shutout innings and retiring all 12 batters he faced. The lefty from Lake Charles has now surrendered just one hit over 10 1/3 scoreless frames, with nine strikeouts and no walks.
Non-roster invitee Austin Kearns improved his chances of landing a reserve role on the 25-man roster, going 3-for-3 with an inside-the-park, three-run home run off Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. Kearns is 6-for-15 this spring, as he battles Chris Coghlan (1-for-6), Scott Cousins (5-for-16), Bryan Petersen (5-for-18) and Aaron Rowand (1-for-20) for a job as a backup outfielder.
The Zephyrs get their spring schedule underway tomorrow, taking on the Memphis Redbirds at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter.
Sean West had a rough debut to his 2012 spring training on Wednesday, getting charged with three runs on four hits and four walks in 1 2/3 innings against the Mets. The 6’8″ lefty out of Shreveport is out of options, so the Marlins will face a decision on what to do with him at the end of the spring.
On the other end of the spectrum, Tom Koehler breezed through 2 1/3 innings, retiring all seven Mets batters he faced, including two via strikeout. Koehler was added to the Marlins’ 40-man roster over the winter, and though he’s a longshot to make the big club out of spring, he could be in line to be one of the first names called in the event of an injury.
A reminder, tomorrow’s Marlins-Mets game in St. Lucie will be shown live on MLB Network at noon Central Time. Chad Gaudin, Gary Glover, Chris Hatcher and Jose Ceda are expected to pitch in relief of starter Carlos Zambrano.
Third baseman Matt Dominguez was removed from Tuesday’s game against Detroit after being struck in the right eye by a bad hop grounder off the bat of Danny Worth. No word yet on the extent of the injury, but it did not require hospitalization.
The freakish play was part of a rough outing for Alex Sanabia, who only recorded four outs while yielding six hits and three runs (two earned). The rest of the Marlins pitching staff turned in sterling efforts, with J.D. Martin fanning four in 2.2 scoreless innings, and Brad Hand, Omar Poveda and Sandy Rosario combining to set down the final 15 Tigers batters in a row.
The Miami Marlins took the field for the first time ever today, withstanding a late rally from their Roger Dean Stadium partners, the St. Louis Cardinals, to notch a 4-3 victory in the 2012 spring opener.
A parade of potential Zephyrs followed Josh Johnson’s 1.2-inning start, including Louisiana natives Wade LeBlanc and Chad Gaudin, who seem to be in a battle for a long relief role in the Marlins’ bullpen. LeBlanc had the upper hand on Monday, pitching out of a bases-loaded jam he inherited in the bottom of the second and going on to toss 2.1 hitless innings with three strikeouts. Gaudin, meanwhile, walked the bases loaded in the fifth, but got Carlos Beltran to pop out to escape unharmed.
Gary Glover chipped in with two scoreless frames, and Jose Ceda retired all three batters he faced before Chris Hatcher ran into trouble trying to protect a 4-0 lead in the ninth. Hatcher allowed a two-run double to Matt Carpenter, and was lifted after walking the potential tying run. Dan Jennings allowed a single to bring the Cards within a run, but retired Adron Chambers on a ground out to preserve the win.
If you’re looking to catch some Marlins spring training baseball on TV, here’s the rundown (all times Central):
Thur, March 8th at New York Mets (12 PM on MLB Network)
Sat, March 10th vs. St. Louis Cardinals (12 PM on MLB Network)
Mon, March 12th at Boston Red Sox (12 PM on ESPN)
Sun, March 25th at Tampa Bay Rays (12 PM on MLB Network)
Sun, April 1st vs. New York Yankees (12 PM on MLB Network)
Mon, April 2nd vs. New York Yankees (6 PM on MLB Network)