3/13/2014 4:09 P.M. ET
Former teammates still good friends
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- They may be former teammates, but Marlins catcher Rob Brantly and Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos remain close friends.
In fact, Brantly spent part of his offseason living in South Florida with Castellanos and his family.
Brantly was traded to the Marlins in July 2012, and Castellanos is taking over this year as Detroit's regular third baseman.
"It's still great to see old friends, and teammates, but the bottom line is we've got a game today," said Brantly, who likely will open the season at Triple-A New Orleans.
Brantly is off to a solid Spring Training, going 7-for-14 entering Thursday. On Wednesday, he connected on his first Grapefruit League home run.
Brantly attributes his quick start to good preparation he developed while working in the offseason with Castellanos.
"I pretty much lived with my old teammate from Detroit this offseason," Brantly said. "Me and him have always worked pretty well together. We have similar hitting philosophies, even though it's from the right and left sides. We really were able to bear down this offseason and got some good work in."
Brantly is a left-handed hitter, while Castellanos bats from the right side.
Brantly also has a friendship with Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera.
When Brantly was a prospect with Detroit, in Spring Training, he often was placed in a batting practice group with Cabrera.
"I had the opportunity to watch him a lot, and pick his brain when I could," Brantly said. "I did learn a lot from him, and a lot of the guys that I hit with over here. When I see him, I thank him, and wish him well and everything."
Lucas leaves early with hamstring strain
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Marlins added some infield depth for this season, and right now they need it.
Ed Lucas, who started at second base on Thursday against the Tigers, was replaced in the bottom of the fourth inning with a strained left hamstring. The infielder said he felt something running the bases in the top of the inning. He singled and scored from third base on Jake Marisnick's two-run double.
Lucas had been listed on the travel squad to go to Panama this weekend for the Marlins' two-game set against the Yankees.
"It's a hamstring strain," manager Mike Redmond said of the injury to Lucas, who was listed as day to day. "We'll have to make an adjustment and figure out what we're going to do [with the Panama trip]. I'm not sure what we're going to do there. Obviously, if he can't play -- which he's probably not going to be able to -- we'll have to take somebody else."
The Marlins have been shorthanded in the infield with second baseman Rafael Furcal resting a mild left hamstring strain. And Jeff Baker, who plays third base, second and first, has been nursing a tight left quadriceps. Derek Dietrich replaced Lucas on Thursday.
Dietrich and Donovan Solano are options to man second base.
Pieces in place for power boost in Miami
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Chances are the Marlins won't go from worst to first in the big leagues in the home run category this season. But the way the lineup is shaping up, there is enough power to make things interesting.
Giancarlo Stanton remains the most feared hitter in the lineup. He's already belted as many as 37 home runs in a season, and he is one of the strongest players in the game.
Offseason moves have surrounded Stanton with some other impact bats. Garrett Jones has been batting cleanup behind Stanton against right-handed pitchers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Casey McGehee also have enjoyed 20-plus home run seasons. Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich also are capable of double-digit home run totals.
"We can keep people honest," Stanton said. "That's a difference in the late innings. You have to worry about [power] more. I feel like before, from the seventh inning and on, it was like, 'Throw them strikes. They're not going to beat us with the home run. Make them get two or three hits to win.' Now, it's going to be a little different mindset. That's what I envision."
The Marlins entered Thursday with 10 Grapefruit League homers, which is tied for 15th out of 30 teams. Last Spring, they had 24 homers, which was 27th overall.
A year ago in the regular season, Miami finished with an MLB-low 95.
The pieces are in place to boost that number.
Coaches tinkering with Capps' delivery
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Polishing up Carter Capps' delivery is a work in progress.
The hard-throwing right-hander, acquired from the Mariners for Logan Morrison, has had mixed reviews in his first few Grapefruit League outings.
Not being a finished product at this point was expected, especially since the 23-year-old has been tinkering with his delivery with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius.
"I'm trying to get a little more use out of my legs, like I used to pitch," Capps said. "When I went to Seattle, I changed some things around. I'm trying to get back to pitching the way I used to pitch."
One of the adjustments is with his left leg making a slight turn towards second base.
"He's got a funky little delivery," manager Mike Redmond said. "I know Chuck and Reid have gone back and looked at a bunch of video of him over the last year or so. They're trying to get him back to what he was when he first came into the league.
"He's made a few adjustments with his delivery. He's mixed in a little turn, hopefully that gives him a little more time for that arm to catch up."
Capps has a power arm, ramping his fastball to the upper 90s. On Wednesday against the Braves, he threw two shutout innings. He got off to a wild start, issuing a walk, with a couple of pitches way out of the zone.
He brought in a 95-mph fastball, but it was a ball. In the zone he was mostly at 92 mph.
"I know he was a little wild those first couple of pitches, but he was able to bring it back and he threw some really nice breaking balls in his second inning," Redmond said. "I think it was a great sign, and something hopefully he builds off."
In four Grapefruit League outings, the right-hander has logged five innings, and he has a 3.60 ERA. He's struck out five and walked three.
"Pound the fastball in there," Capps said. "I started doing that after the first batter. I got into a little rhythm. I'm trying some new stuff. I'm not going to be picture perfect the first time out. I was happy with how it went, and I was happy with the results."
• Jeff Baker (left quadriceps) is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday night against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium. Rafael Furcal (left hamstring) is likely to be back on Saturday against the Nationals in Jupiter. Baker and Furcal were both shaken up on Monday at the Mets.
• Reed Johnson, Greg Dobbs, Donovan Solano and Brian Bogusevic stayed back in Jupiter on Thursday to get some extra at-bats in a Triple-A game.