2/20/2014 4:52 P.M. ET
Marlins' move to establish a homefield advantage
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- With its deep dimensions and wide gaps, Marlins Park is frequently referred to as spacious or cavernous.
A word the club is hoping to eliminate is "deterrent."
When adding pieces to upgrade the offense this offseason, the Marlins did so with the ballpark in mind. The objective is to take a perceived negative and turn it into a positive.
"I see this as our homefield advantage," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "I don't see it as a deterrent. I see this as a place where we play 81 games a year, and it needs to be to our benefit. So we need to have a team that takes advantage of this place, and what it represents."
The Marlins finished last in the Majors in basically every significant offensive category last year.
At home, their numbers were slightly improved than on the road in several categories, except home runs.
They belted just 36 of their 95 home runs at Marlins Park. Also at home, they scored 276 runs and batted .233 with 106 doubles, 20 triples and 261 RBIs.
On the road, they scored 237 runs, while batting .229 with 113 doubles, 11 triples and 224 RBIs. The biggest uptick on the road was the home runs, where they belted 59.
Considering the fact the team is not considering moving in the fences any time soon, management targeted players who could use the gaps and the big ballpark to their advantage.
Manager Mike Redmond has a number of new options to put into the lineup, including Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal, Casey McGehee and Jeff Baker.
"We want to craft a lineup that allows Mike Redmond to do the things that he wants to do to score more runs," Hill said. "Bottom line is we need to score more runs."
In a season where they finished 62-100, the Marlins played 87 games that were decided by two or less runs.
"It was tough," Hill said. "Tight games all the time just wears on you."
The Marlins don't need to look very far to find a team that didn't hit many homers, but scored plenty of runs. The Cardinals, who reached the World Series, share the Roger Dean Stadium complex for Spring Training. They topped the National League with 783 runs a year ago, while hitting 125 homers, which was 13th in the NL.
"The Cardinals are a perfect example," Hill said. "They're a club that didn't hit home runs, and they led the lead [the National League] in runs scored. We wanted to try to create a team that could score more runs. It didn't need to be by the home run. It could be doubles, or by short game, or by putting the game in motion -- hitting-and-running, and being aggressive."
New GM's message focuses on 'team first'
JUPITER, Fla. -- "Team first" was a message the Marlins carried onto the field Thursday to start their first full-squad workouts at Roger Dean Stadium.
Pitchers and catchers have been practicing since Sunday, and on Thursday it was the rest of the position players' turn to get Spring Training going.
Prior to getting the drills going, the players sat through more than an hour of meetings. It's the same procedure every year.
One of the speakers this year was different. Dan Jennings, now the general manager, gave a moving speech, according to those in the room.
"I think the biggest message was to place team first," Jennings said. "Not to worry about anything that has happened in the past, good or bad, and be about team first."
Jennings didn't give too many specifics because he wanted that to remain in-house.
"This game is about the players," Jennings said. "We know that. We understand it. We like our players."
The Marlins have a more experienced club this year, having brought in a number of veterans from winning clubs.
"The good thing is, the guys who we have brought in have been on good teams," manager Mike Redmond said. "They understand what it takes to win. They understand how important chemistry is. They understand what it means to be on a team. Our younger players are going to really benefit from that."
Miami closer Cishek still resting stiff neck
JUPITER, Fla. -- The first couple of days of Spring Training have been a pain in the neck for Steve Cishek.
A couple of days ago, Cishek woke up with a stiff neck, which led to him skipping his second bullpen session.
The Marlins closer is receiving treatment, and on Thursday he once again didn't do any throwing.
"I slept wrong or something when I popped out of bed," Cishek said. "It happens. Nothing serious."
Cishek was a standout closer last year, saving 34 of 36 chances to go with a 2.33 ERA.
Considering all the throwing he had been doing entering Spring Training, Cishek doesn't feel missing one stint on the mound is a big deal.
"I've been throwing off the mound in the offseason," he said.
Hutton and announcing Marmol's control
JUPITER, Fla. -- How will television analyst Tommy Hutton react if Carlos Marmol is struggling with his control?
"I'll handle it the way I'd handle any pitcher who is having success or is struggling," Hutton said.
Marlins fans are very familiar with how Hutton, the FOX Sports Florida analyst, reacted when Marmol was with the Cubs and having difficulty finding the plate.
In his career against the Marlins, Marmol saved seven of nine chances, but he posted a 5.04 ERA. In 25 innings, the right-hander struck out 35 and walked 29.
Hutton can get emotional on the air, and voice his opinion. He recalls in previous telecasts outwardly wondering how Marmol could continuously get the nod to save when he was always in trouble.
With the Marlins, Marmol is being brought in to compete for a setup role, rather than close.
"Maybe in this role, it will be better without the pressure of saving games," Hutton said. "Hope springs eternal."
• The only position player to be a no-show on Thursday is infielder Juan Diaz, who has a visa issue. Diaz is expected to be in camp on Friday.
• There are still two pitchers who have not reported due to visa holdups -- Henry Rodriguez and Jesus Sanchez.
• On Thursday, the Marlins got a briefing on the expanded instant replay. Tony La Russa was in camp to talk to the club about the change. While there was more clarity on replay, there wasn't anything new on home plate collisions.
• The Marlins will be on the field from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on Friday.