5/1/2014 6:56 P.M. ET
Approach paying off at home for Marlins hitters
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Marlins Park, often lamented by hitters because of its expansive dimensions, has become a distinct home-field advantage for the Marlins.
The numbers are showing it.
At 11-4, the Marlins have the most home wins in the Majors. San Francisco, through the end of April, had 10. Miami's 94 runs scored also are the most of any team at home this season.
No one is saying Marlins Park is the new Coors Field, but the Marlins have constructed a lineup and are following hitting coach Frank Menechino's plan of using the gaps to their advantage, not their detriment.
"I think maybe we're starting to see a comfort level at home," manager Mike Redmond said. "We pitch to this ballpark and we're starting to hit to this ballpark. I think guys are more relaxed here."
Marlins Park can be frustrating to hitters, especially if they test the middle of the field and try to belt home runs. Often, long drives result in loud 400-foot outs.
Thus far, the focus of hitting the ball hard and looking for line drives is generating impressive numbers.
In 15 home games through April, the Marlins batted .307 with 94 runs, 34 doubles, five triples and 13 home runs.
A year ago, Miami labored to score runs any place. At home was a real challenge. At this point last year, when they also played 15 home games, the Marlins batted .202 with 37 runs, 14 doubles, one triple and seven home runs.
The next step for this year's club is striving to achieve the same approach on the road.
"It's simple," Menechino said. "We've got to have a base-hit mentality at home. Take our doubles, singles, score those runs. And whatever happens happens. We can't be afraid to hit at home.
"They jumped on board on the bandwagon, and they ran off with it. Now the opposite has happened that I didn't think would happen. Now, we get on the road, and it's like, 'Ahh, now I'm going to try to get some numbers.' I think it's because it's the beginning of the season and guys are trying to get some numbers. They didn't think they could get them [at home]. On the road, they get jumpy. Just a couple of guys. That's all it takes is a couple of guys, because hitting is contagious."
Ozuna's stats pick up despite drop in order
MIAMI -- Hit him first or ninth or anywhere in between, Marcell Ozuna is happy.
"It doesn't matter. I said early in the season, I want to be in the lineup," Ozuna said. "If it is nine, after the pitcher, it doesn't matter. Just get up there, in the box, and see the ball, hit the ball, that's it."
The more basic Ozuna keeps things, the better.
Right now, the Marlins center fielder is delivering toward the bottom of the order. In the first two games of the series with the Braves, the 23-year-old has driven in five runs. He delivered a two-run single batting sixth on Tuesday night, and he followed that up with a three-run homer batting seventh on Wednesday.
Sliding down started on Tuesday when Ed Lucas was slotted second. Ozuna has 59 plate appearances hitting second, ahead of Giancarlo Stanton.
Ozuna did post some nice numbers, batting .308 with one homer and seven RBIs. In 28 plate appearances batting seventh, Ozuna is batting .346 with two homers and five RBIs.
"I think with young guys, you kind of go with how they're feeling, how their at-bats are," manager Mike Redmond said. "Sometimes moving them down in the order makes them relax more. And sometimes when they're going good, it doesn't matter where you put them. You put them up there and they get more fastballs and they're squaring everything up."
Ozuna, a free swinger, is offering power to the bottom of the order, which is making the lineup deeper.
He's also driving in his share of runs. With 16 RBIs, Ozuna is tied with Washington's Jayson Werth for the 10th most among National League outfielders. Stanton leads the league with 31 RBIs.
"We got to the point there with O, to get him down a little bit [to seventh]," Redmond said. "I felt he was putting too much pressure on himself, maybe over-thinking the spot in the order with Stanton coming up behind him. Sometimes moving guys down a bit gets them more relaxed."
Furcal set for new rehab stint at Double-A
MIAMI -- There has been a slight change of plans in Rafael Furcal's rehab assignment.
On Friday, Furcal will start a fresh rehab stint with Double-A Jacksonville. Initially, the club was leaning toward sending the 36-year-old to Triple-A New Orleans.
Furcal had been on rehab assignment at Jacksonville as he is recovering from the strained left hamstring that landed him on the disabled list before the start of the season. However, a week ago while playing for the Suns, Furcal strained his right groin, cutting the assignment short.
The past few days, Furcal has been taking ground balls, hitting and going through drills during batting practice with the Marlins at Marlins Park.
"He will start playing again, and we'll see from there," manager Mike Redmond said. "He took a bunch of grounders today and ran again. He says his legs are feeling better. He says he's ready to get back. We'll see how that goes."
Furcal will have up to 20 days of games on rehab assignment. Barring a setback, it's unlikely he will need that many.
Furcal was one of Miami's key offseason signees, and the club has yet to have him on the field.
Derek Dietrich started at second base against the Braves on Thursday night.
• Christian Yelich's two-run homer on Wednesday night came on his 100th big league hit. He is the first player since Jose Lobaton on Aug. 23, 2013, to post a homer on career hit No. 100. It's happened five times in Marlins history, with Justin Ruggiano (Aug. 10, 2012) being the most recent.
• The Marlins on Tuesday and Wednesday had back-to-back games with nine runs, marking their first time since Sept. 4-5, 2009, to score nine or more runs in successive games.
• Jeff Baker has been dealing with flu-like symptoms in recent days.