And then there’s Morrison, who is trying to work his way back to the Marlins after undergoing his second knee surgery in two years. Morrison, a pure hitter and once one of the Marlins’ top up-and-coming talents, is now simply trying to get his career back on track. He appeared in only 93 games last season, hitting .230 before his knee would not allow him to continue and he underwent a second operation.
The Marlins have allowed him to bat as a designated hitter in scrimmages. He’ll begin playing first base Tuesday. Like all the other Marlins on the mend, he is eager to leave the relative anonymity of extended spring and return to the bright lights of the majors.
“This is the bottom of the barrel,” said Morrison, whose daily ritual is to show up at 6:40 a.m. each morning to begin a regimen of exercises and drills. He doesn’t leave until early afternoon.
On one of the practice fields located behind the main ballpark at Roger Dean Stadium, the Marlins’ youngsters are taking on counterparts belonging to the New York Mets. A coach for the Mets informs McKeon that eight of his players have the stomach flu and one of them, a pitcher, is sick on the team bus.
There are no fans, and one player is designated to chase down and retrieve foul balls that bounce into the parking lot. Because there are no bat boys, either, one other player from each team handles that chore. Yet another player takes water to each of the two umpires between innings.
Given his status, Morrison leads off each of the first four innings under the loose rules of extended spring games. He cracks a double into the gap with one of his cuts but is retired on each of the other three at-bats, after which he grabs his hat and returns to the clubhouse while the game continues.
If all continues to go well, Morrison will depart extended spring and join one of the Marlins’ minor-league outfits to begin a rehab process that could last for up to 20 days. After that, he hopes to rejoin the Marlins.
“June 1 is what I’m shooting for,” he said. “I feel like my knee’s holding up fine. I have no pain, so that’s good. I feel like my knee’s ready. And the bat’s coming along. But I still have a ways to go.”
Said Eovaldi: “Everybody’s starting to get back on path now. Everybody’s going to start coming back at once.”
• Tuesday: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-4, 3.72 ERA) vs. Cincinnati Reds RHP Homer Bailey (1-3, 3.83), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Wednesday: Marlins RHP Alex Sanabia (2-5, 4.85) vs. Reds RHP Mike Leake (2-2, 4.32), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Scouting report: The Marlins, who open a nine-game homestand on Tuesday, went 1-3 against the Reds from April 18-21 in Cincinnati. They went 2-1 against the Reds at Marlins Park last season.