3/18/2014 5:49 P.M. ET
Johnson has strong case to make Marlins
Thriving in variety of roles, veteran outfielder looks to latch on as reserve
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Reed Johnson fully understands his situation.
In Marlins camp as a non-roster invitee, the 37-year-old has been asked to take on a variety of roles. Thus far, he is capitalizing on the opportunity, and he is making a case to be a reserve outfielder and right-handed pinch-hit option for manager Mike Redmond.
A week ago, Johnson had a five-hit game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. And on Monday, while facing the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, he came through with a pinch-hit home run off lefty John Lannan in the fourth inning.
Johnson followed that up with a three-hit game on Tuesday in an 8-1 win over Houston.
"When we signed Reed Johnson, we know what we were getting," Redmond said. "We were getting a veteran guy who's great in the clubhouse. He's been around forever. I've heard nothing but good things about Reed."
If Johnson makes the club, he will primarily be a spot starter and pinch-hitter.
"A big part of my role will be coming off the bench and pinch-hitting," Johnson said. "It's good to get into the rhythm of that, as well."
Johnson has enjoyed a productive Spring Training, batting .438 after going 3-for-4 on Tuesday.
"When you're talking about building your bench, you've got to have guys that understand their role and know what they can and can't do," Redmond said. "[Johnson is] definitely a guy that understands where he is on the team, and what position [he's in]. At the same time, too, he's got to come out and earn it. He's definitely making a case for himself."
In their evaluation process, the Marlins are looking at more than just a few dozen Spring Training at-bats.
Johnson has a track record from a big league career that started with the Blue Jays in 2003. The veteran has also played for the Cubs and Dodgers, and he played for the Braves last season, so he has familiarity playing in the National League East.
"These guys, they've seen me play," Johnson said. "I've been in the East, and Red, I played against him for a few years, so he knows what I'm capable of. But it's good to also kind of remind the organization of what they have. I'm trying to do everything I can to make the squad. Every hit that comes my way, I'll take it."
Health has made huge difference for Stanton
JUPITER, Fla. -- Each Spring Training, there will be plenty of speculation about how many home runs Giancarlo Stanton will hit, or how far the Marlins slugger will drive a baseball.
In a lineup without substantial pop, others ask, "How often Stanton is pitched around? What will his walks total be like?"
All are valid questions. But pretty much, the number to focus on for Stanton is often located on the first column of any player's stats sheet: Games played.
If Stanton plays in at least 145 games, expect big numbers across the board. Health has been an issue in the past, especially in Spring Training, where he missed time in 2011 and '12.
Last spring, the 24-year-old was pretty much healthy, but he was away from Marlins camp because he played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
This spring has been a relief for Stanton and the Marlins. The right fielder, an All-Star in 2012, is healthy, and not surprisingly, he's been productive. In each of the past two games, Stanton has belted three-run homers.
In Tuesday's 8-1 win over the Astros, Stanton went 2-for-3 with a mammoth shot that bounced onto the roof of the Marlins' office building in an 8-1 win.
Stanton is 13-for-39 (.333) with four homers and 12 RBIs.
"I think any time you see a guy who has the raw power that he does, I think he can make anybody admire those shots," manager Mike Redmond said.
The key for Stanton this spring is staying injury free, and so far, so good.
"It's good to have a spring where I can be here every day," Stanton said. "Last year was kind of a zoo. I was bouncing everywhere, as well. I hadn't been healthy the couple before that."
Redmond has talked regularly about playing time, specifically how to balance spring travel and get the right number of at-bats.
"Feeling good is a big thing, not just for him, but for everybody," Redmond said. "When you feel good, it gives you your best chance to go out and compete. He's definitely having a nice spring. That's hopefully a sign of big things to come in the season."
Errant pickoff throw merely a blip for Turner
JUPITER, Fla. -- When polishing up technique on your pickoff move is your biggest issue in a start, chances are you are throwing the ball pretty effectively.
Jacob Turner found himself in that position on Tuesday after giving up one run in five innings in Miami's 8-1 win over the Astros at Roger Dean Stadium.
Yes, Turner walked three batters, including one that led to a first-inning run. But overall, with the way he is throwing the ball, he's enjoying success.
Turner's velocity has been as high as 96 mph and his changeup is improving, which gives him a pitch to complement his sinker.
On Tuesday, his most glaring mistake was an errant pickoff throw to first base, which resulted in an error. It's also his second off-the-mark throw to first in Grapefruit League play, so he expects to hear about it from pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.
"Obviously, I don't want to throw away pickoffs, and that's two," Turner said. "I'm sure Chuck will have me working on it tomorrow. But the whole pitching staff, from top to bottom, has been outstanding. It's definitely better to be talking about that. But at the same time, the little things in the game can make a big difference."
Starting pitching is clearly a big thing for the Marlins, and Tuesday again was a strong showing.
Turner is lined up as the No. 4 starter, and his outing against the Astros -- in which he stretched his pitch count to 69 -- did nothing to hurt his status.
Giancarlo Stanton provided a long first-inning home run that gave Miami a 3-1 lead, which allowed Turner to relax and settle into a groove.
"Any time the guys get out to a lead like that, as a pitcher, you just want to get them back in [the dugout] as quickly as possible," Turner said. "After the first inning, I felt good. I had a lot of good quality pitches. I got my changeup working, which I was happy about. Obviously, the offense was awesome today."
• Ed Lucas (left hamstring) could be ready for a Minor League game as early as Thursday. Rafael Furcal (left hamstring) is hitting in the cages and doing some limited baseball activities. The second baseman could be playing in Minor League games perhaps as early as the weekend. Greg Dobbs (quadriceps and lower back) continues to get treatment. It's unclear when he will be ready for game competition.
• Tom Koehler remains lined up for the fifth starter spot. The club wants to keep the right-hander throwing every five days, so Koehler will pitch six innings in a Minor League game on Wednesday on a back field at Roger Dean Stadium. Brad Hand is scheduled to throw one inning.
• The upcoming rotation after Wednesday's off-day will be: Jose Fernandez (Thursday) against the Cardinals, and Nathan Eovaldi (Friday) at the Astros. On Saturday, Miami has a split squad. Kevin Slowey will start at Viera against the Nationals, and Henderson Alvarez will take on the Mets at Jupiter.