2/28/2014 1:33 P.M. ET
Finally healthy, Furcal excited for Marlins debut
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Rafael Furcal may be one of the oldest players in Marlins' camp, but he has the enthusiasm of a rookie when it comes to playing in Grapefruit League games.
"I'm very excited to get back on the field," Furcal said. "I'm so excited, I feel like a kid. To come back, it's very special for me."
The Marlins opened their Grapefruit League schedule on Friday, but Furcal has to wait until Saturday before he gets on the field.
Furcal, 36, will lead off and play second base for Miami against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
After missing all of last year because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, Furcal is being eased back into action.
With the Cardinals a year ago, Furcal dealt with arm discomfort, and he only played in one Grapefruit League game. It was against the Red Sox, and he had two at-bats against lefty Jon Lester.
"Now, I'm ready to go," Furcal said.
That wasn't the case last spring. A switch-hitter, Furcal only felt comfortable batting from the right side.
"Now, I'm glad that both sides are good," Furcal said.
A career shortstop, Furcal is making the transition to second, where he is picking up pointers daily from infield coach Perry Hill.
"I worked at second base a long time ago," said Furcal, who last played the position in the big leagues in 2002. "It's the big leagues, everything changes. The way people slide, everything. To make a double play, it's different. I'm glad I'm working with one of the best infield coaches. He will help me out a lot."
Yelich tempers expectations as games begin
JUPITER, Fla. -- If history could repeat itself, Christian Yelich would have no complaints. He isn't banking on it, or worried about it.
What Yelich did last Spring Training was the stuff of video games. He paced the Marlins with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 22 games. He added three doubles and a triple, while batting .364 with a .451 on-base percentage and an .818 slugging percentage. His OPS was an eye-popping 1.269, compared to Giancarlo Stanton's 1.153.
Stanton also had a remarkable spring, batting .359 with three homers and eight RBIs in 39 at-bats.
Basically, Yelich had a Spring Training career year.
"I don't know if that will happen again," the 22-year-old left fielder said. "You can have a good spring, but that was literally one of those where you step on a baseball field, and you couldn't do a single thing wrong. Everything just went right -- homers, doubles. It was stupid. I don't know how to describe that."
For Yelich, the difference now is that he isn't a long shot prospect simply looking to impress in camp. Now, he is the everyday left fielder, who projects to bat second in the lineup.
Last year at this time, Yelich was in big league camp basically to get a taste of what the experience was like. He knew no matter how impressive he was, he was destined to start the year at Double-A Jacksonville.
This spring, he is striving to launch his career and become an impact regular. Even though he didn't make his MLB debut until after the All-Star Break last July, he had enough at-bats to qualify as a rookie. In 62 big league games, he batted .288 with four home runs and 16 RBIs.
Marlins learning to adjust to collision rule
JUPITER, Fla. -- The first example of how MLB's new home plate collision rule may impact games came into play for the Marlins on Thursday, in their 9-5 win over Florida International University.
Derek Dietrich was thrown out at the plate while trying to score of a medium-range fly ball to left field.
Marcell Ozuna lifted the soft fly to left, and the decision was made to send Dietrich, who slid into home plate, rather than attempt to dislodge the ball from the catcher. He was out easily.
"That's a situation where he probably would have run the catcher over because he was out by a ways," manager Mike Redmond said. "It's different for guys. Get used to sliding in a situation where they'd probably say, 'You know what? I'm just going to try to run this guy over.'
"Mindset-wise for baserunners, it's going to be an adjustment for guys, especially on those bang-bang plays."
Had it been a meaningful game, and the catcher is holding the ball, instincts may call for the runner to run over the catcher.
Medium-depth fly balls may become times a team decides to not gamble, and hold the runner.
"In those situations where a sac fly may be medium depth, it's going to be a challenge," Redmond said. "So many things go into it -- the strength of the outfielder's arm. You bank on that guy not making an accurate throw.
"But sure, those medium fly balls or soft fly balls, you definitely have to think twice because you don't have that weapon to be able to run over the catcher any more. That's gone. It's definitely going to be an adjustment."
Third base coach Brett Butler, who also is the baserunning coach, is telling the players to slide feet-first.
"It's simple. Just slide," Butler said. "I don't want them to go head-first, because a catcher still has the lane. For the most part, just slide. Either hook slide into the plate or use your hand. It's going to be as simple as that."
• Henry Rodriguez's visa issue has been resolved, and the hard-throwing reliever has been cleared to leave Venezuela to travel to South Florida for Spring Training. A non-roster invitee, Rodriguez is scheduled to report on Saturday night. He still must take his physical. If all goes according to plans, he could be on the field Sunday.
• Henderson Alvarez, dealing with a right shin infection, played catch on Friday and is moving around much better. Two days ago, he had trouble walking. So the Marlins are encouraged that the right-hander will be back on the mound in a few days. Alvarez projects as the No. 3 starter.
• Friday's game was televised by the Cardinals crew, which gave the Marlins a trial run with potential instant replay scenarios. Miami will use every spring game that is on TV as a replay test. Video coordinator Cullen McRae will be watching the TV feed in the clubhouse. He will be in communication with the dugout on what could be borderline plays. In two Grapefruit League games on March 13 and 16, replay will be available for challenges.