04/07/2013 3:04 PM ET
Solano, Marlins' young infield show promise
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Marlins gave third baseman Placido Polanco a day off on Sunday and spotted Chris Valaika into the lineup for the first time. Manager Mike Redmond said he's been happy with his infield defense so far but that he needs to make sure Polanco gets a rest from time to time.
"We talked all spring about how we need him for the long haul," he said. "I had this planned out, playing the day game after a night game -- a quick turnaround -- to give him the day off. A long trip home and get ready for Opening Day tomorrow night. He means a lot to this team, and we've got to take care of him. We don't want to overdo it. We want to make sure we have him for the course of the season."
Polanco, one of the few veterans on the team, batted .286 through his first five games. And with Polanco's absence from the starting lineup, the Marlins had a strange statistical tilt: Leadoff man Juan Pierre has more career hits (2,146) than the rest of the team's starting lineup (1,165) combined.
Miami is rebuilding with youth, and it had four players in Sunday's lineup -- Valaika (17), catcher Rob Brantly (33), shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (36) and second baseman Donovan Solano (88) -- with less than 100 hits. And so far, Redmond has liked what he's seen from his young infielders.
"I think defensively, we've been all right," he said of his infield. "We've got young guys out there playing defense in some cold weather, which is tough. It's an adjustment for guys, but overall, I'm happy with the way we've played and with our effort. Our effort's been good. Guys are playing hard. We haven't seen the results that we want to see, but if we just keep grinding it out and keep throwing those pitchers out there in situations, they'll settle in and get comfortable. It's just a matter of time."
Solano played five positions for the Marlins last year, but so far he's been able to settle in at second base. Solano, who had three hits in his first three at-bats Sunday, said that he's excited to be in the lineup every day, and that he's happy to play wherever his manager writes him in on that given day.
"I like playing second, and it's easier to think about playing the same place. But it's still hard to play," said Solano. "The game isn't easy, and we need to fight every day. We like what we've got. We need to grow up at this level. We have a lot of young guys making their dreams come true."
Redmond, for his part, said that he's happy to keep Solano at second base but is also cognizant of the value that the youngster brings to the table by being able to field multiple positions.
"I think right now he's going to play the majority at second base," he said. "If we need to get Hechavarria a day off, he can play short. We could bounce him over to third and put Valaika at second. Se we've got options there, which is great. And you never know. He might play some shortstop and he might play some third base, but right now the plan is for him to play second every day."
Redmond, Marlins look forward to settling in at home
NEW YORK -- You'll have to forgive Mike Redmond if he's a little eager to get home. Redmond, the Marlins' manager, still hasn't moved into his apartment in Miami and has never seen a game at Marlins Park, but he'll have a chance to get comfortable at his team's home opener on Monday.
The Marlins will kick off their home slate against division rival Atlanta on Monday afternoon, and Redmond said his players are looking forward to heading home after an arduous spring.
"I think it's going to be big," he said. "Obviously, you start the season on the road, and Washington was a tough go. Those three games, we didn't get a lot going. We didn't have a lot of opportunities. But we got that first win out of the way [in New York]. Nobody likes to start the season on the road, and it seemed like we were in Washington forever. We got there Saturday, had a workout, we played a game, another day off. It seemed like we couldn't get out of there. So it's been a long trip so far."
Redmond, who signed with the Marlins as an undrafted free agent in 1992 and won a World Series with the team in 2003, said that he's looking forward to being introduced to the home crowd. Redmond, a first-year manager, couldn't help but reflect on the long road he's taken to get to this point.
"When I took this job, I had so much pride in this organization," he said. "Being a player and making my Major League debut and winning a World Series here, I love this organization. It's going to be neat. Obviously, I understand that it's been a rough go over the last year, but at the same time, we're turning the page and we're moving in a new direction. I'm excited to be in charge and to lead this team."
Veteran Kevin Slowey will get the ball on Monday, and he'll be matched against Paul Maholm for the Braves. Slowey, like Redmond, hasn't moved into his apartment yet. But there's one major difference: Slowey hasn't even found an apartment yet, making his return home a little unorthodox.
"I have a couple prospective places to look at, and I wanted to make sure I got a chance to see them in person. And to let my wife see them," he said. "I don't think it should be a problem. It seems like there are a lot of good family-oriented places around there. But you know what? It's really not that weird.
"It's just sort of the baseball lifestyle. Until you get to a place -- unless you've been there in years past -- you want to get a feel for it before you figure out where you're going to be."
Redmond agreed, saying that it's just a normal baseball phenomenon. He may not have moved into his apartment yet, but the transient lifestyle is something Redmond grew accustomed to long ago.
"I'm living out of a suitcase, literally. I have all of my belongings with me on the road, so that's no fun," said Redmond of finally returning home. "In a normal environment, it would probably be difficult, but since it's baseball, I think we're all used to it. We're all used to travel, and we're all used to adjusting and lots of crazy stuff, so it's really not that big a deal. But it would be nice to be settled in."
Morrison among Marlins players making rehab strides
NEW YORK -- Logan Morrison may be getting closer to a return from right-knee surgery. Morrison has been able to increase his cardiovascular exercises in recent days.
"Morrison will hopefully start running," said Redmond. "He's taking grounders and taking batting practice, so hopefully he'll start running by the end of the week. Another good sign there."
Redmond also took the time Sunday to update the media on some other injuries. Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi -- two starting pitchers who began the season on the disabled list -- are slowly working their way back into shape. Alvarez has started throwing, while Eovaldi is waiting for clearance.
"Alvarez resumed playing catch, which is a good sign," said Redmond of the 22-year-old. "We're hoping he'll be back on the mound throwing a bullpen by the end of the week."
Redmond also said that catcher Jeff Mathis, recovering from a broken right clavicle suffered in Spring Training, has been able to throw from 45 feet and take some dry swings.
Oufield prospect Christian Yelich, the 23rd overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, may also be nearing a return to action. Yelich has been sidelined by a bruised left heel, but the Marlins hope he'll be able to participate in extended Spring Training by the middle of next week.
Once Yelich gets going in extended camp, it won't take too long before he's able to begin his season. Yelich is expected to report to Double-A Jacksonville as soon as he's healthy enough to play.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.