2/16/2014 5:15 P.M. ET
Brantly embraces new role with Marlins
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- A year ago, Rob Brantly was the Marlins' Opening Day catcher.
Entering Spring Training this season, the 24-year-old understands he is a long shot to be on the 25-man roster.
Miami's catcher situation is pretty much set with the free-agent signing of Saltalamacchia and veteran backup Jeff Mathis.
The way Brantly is handling his situation, he isn't thinking of himself as the No. 3 choice. He sees himself taking the steps it takes to improve his overall game.
"My situation is the same as always, just take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you," Brantly said. "The rest will fall into place."
In 2013, Brantly had his struggles in the batter's box and behind the plate. He batted .211 in 67 games and after struggling early, he was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans, where he hit .186 in 20 games.
A left-handed hitter, Brantly showed promise with the Marlins late in the 2012 season, batting .290 in 31 games.
This spring, he plans to gather as much insight from Saltalamacchia and Mathis as possible.
"Like any player, you always have to be a student of the game," Brantly said. "You've always got to try to learn and better yourself, and do what you need to do to better prepare yourself for the season. I plan on learning from both of them as much as I can this spring."
Brantly, a high-energy personality, feels experience will help slow the game down for him.
"You get the adrenaline going, you get excited," Brantly said. "The anticipation builds. But the more experience you get, the better. For me, coming into this spring, I have a good idea of how it's going to go and how my spring will go to be prepared."
Fernandez remains humble after remarkable season
JUPITER, Fla. -- Success certainly hasn't changed Jose Fernandez.
If anything, the 21-year-old Marlins ace is as humble and appreciative as ever.
The 2013 National League Rookie of the Year is making himself as available as possible to the fans. He showed that on Saturday during the Winter Warm-Up at Marlins Park, staying late to take pictures.
The players were set to leave the Warm-Up at about 1 p.m. ET, but because there was such a long line to see him, Fernandez stuck around until 2:30.
"We were supposed to leave at 1," Fernandez said on Sunday. "They were taking pictures, and there was a long line. They were like, 'We've got to go! We've got to go!' I was like, 'I'm not leaving here until this is done.' I took a picture with everybody."
As much as possible, Fernandez is willing to give back.
"I'm trying," Fernandez said. "By the end of the day, I've got to get my work done, too."
Fernandez has come a long way in one year.
Last Spring Training, he was considered a long shot to make the team. At the time, he was 20 and had not pitched higher than Class A.
But because of injuries, rotation spots opened and the front office gave Fernandez his first big league break.
This spring, Fernandez's locker, complete with its No. 16 name plate, is roughly 15 feet away from the portable locker he was in last year.
Literally, Fernandez is looking straight at the locker stall he had 12 months ago.
"It takes a lot of luck, and the hard work and a lot of things coming together at the same time to be here," Fernandez said. "I'm excited to be here. Like I say to everybody, if you're there [portable locker], you can be here [set locker]. I was there, and I came here. You never know. Work hard. Show what you can do and enjoy it. That's the biggest part."
Fernandez helped open eyes on what a young pitcher can do, given an opportunity.
Fernandez's old portable locker, located in the middle of the clubhouse, is now occupied by another interesting prospect, reliever Nick Wittgren.
Some around the club believe Wittgren is a sleeper choice to make the Opening Day roster.
Saltalamacchia sets standard for work ethic
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Marlins appear to have a successor to Juan Pierre for being the first to arrive to camp every morning.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia plans on rolling into the Roger Dean Stadium complex around 5:15 a.m. ET each day. If he is running a little late, it will be around 5:30.
"I like to get here early," the 28-year-old catcher said. "Usually, around 9 o'clock [it's stretching]. I like to get my work done and stay out of the way."
A year ago, Pierre held the distinction of being the first player at the complex. Pierre's work ethic is well documented, and he established that in his two stints with the organization (2003-05) and '13.
Sunday marked the opening of Spring Training for the Marlins, but there was no reason to be there bright and early because the first workouts started around 1 p.m.
But on Monday, players are expected to stretch around 9:15 a.m.
Closer Steve Cishek also is at camp early.
Saltalamacchia, part of the Red Sox World Series championship team, says he has always been an early riser.
"In the afternoons, it's tough to get in the weight room," Saltalamacchia said. "There are a lot of guys in there. So, I get my weights done. I'll get in the hot tub and get loose.
"I've always been early. Even night games, I get there early so I can kind of adjust and get ready for the game."
For a 7:10 p.m. regular season game, Saltalamacchia gets to the ballpark around noon.
"Even on off-days, I get up around 7," Saltalamacchia said. "I guess mentally, it helps me prepare a little better."
Pitching prospects look to follow Fernandez
JUPITER, Fla. -- Out of necessity last spring, Jose Fernandez made the transition from Class A to the big leagues look easy.
Has Fernandez's success changed the Marlins' thinking about when to promote their young prospects?
Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani and Nick Wittgren are a few of the pitchers who could find themselves knocking on the door at the end of Spring Training.
The difference between these pitchers and Fernandez is they have pitched higher than Class A. But still, each is considered a long shot right now to make the Opening Day roster.
"I think last year was sort of a unique situation, because of the injuries," manager Mike Redmond said. "We had so many guys get hurt the last week of the season. It sort of became a no-brainer that we had to bring Jose up. He went out and had just an unbelievable year."
Fernandez actually was sent down a midway through March last year, but he was called back up the day before the season opened due to injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez.
Fernandez became an All-Star and took home National League Rookie of the Year honors.
Like Fernandez, Heaney was a highly touted first-round pick.
"It's probably more of an individual case," Redmond said. "You look at guys and try to figure out if this guy can make the jump. At the end of the day, you just don't know. You don't know if some guys can have the impact like Jose did last year. That's kind of an unknown out there for those pitchers.
"I know at the end of the day, if you have good stuff and you command the strike zone, you can have success at any level."
• Right-handers Henry Rodriguez and Jesus Sanchez, two non-roster invitees, did not report on Sunday because of visa issues. Their arrival is not yet known. Once they show up, there will be 68 players in camp, including 36 pitchers.
• Full-squad workouts are set for Thursday, but already several position players are getting some work done. Christian Yelich, Casey McGehee, Reed Johnson, Jake Marisnick, Brent Keys and Garrett Jones were among the position players seen either hitting or fielding.
• Players worth watching in camp because they are out of options are Jacob Turner, Brad Hand and Brian Bogusevic. They must make the Opening Day roster or the organization risks losing them.
• Monday's workouts begin at 9:30 a.m. ET on the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium.