JUPITER -- Jeff Baker has the names of his platoon partners over the years etched in memory.
The first was Mike Fontenot in 2009 with the Cubs.
Then it became Blake DeWitt in a platoon at second base.
Then I switched over to Bryan LaHair.
Then I switched over to [Kusuke] Fukudome.
Last year in Texas I platooned with Mitch Moreland at first base and David Murphy in left.
And this year? Who will it be this year for the Marlins versatile newcomer?
Even though first baseman Garrett Jones would appear to be the perfect platoon match for Baker on paper with Jones in against right-handers and Baker taking on lefties the Marlins are avoiding the word platoon like the plague.
Manager Mike Redmond on Bakers role: Right now, were going to get him at-bats at a lot of different positions. Hell get in at first. Hell get in at third. Hell get in at second. He gives us a weapon off the bench. I dont know where hes going to get the majority of at-bats.
President of baseball operations Michael Hill: We signed him because he gives us coverage at any number of positions on the field.
Yes, but what about a platoon with Jones?
Thats not our intent as we start the season, Hill said. [Jones] was signed to be our everyday first baseman. But thats what the seasons for, to let it play out.
If Jones and Baker play to their usual numbers, it probably wont be long before theyre sharing duty in a platoon arrangement.
Jones is a career .193 hitter against left-handers. Baker has a .298 average against lefties.
Jones has a career OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .578 against left-handers. Baker checks in at .875.
And, yet, despite the obvious differences, the Marlins say Jones will be their everyday first baseman at least initially.
The uncertainty of not knowing what position he will play or where he will hit in the order on any given day, at least on those days his name shows up on the lineup card, doesnt bother Baker. Hes used to it as a so-called super-utility player.
I'm kind of ready for everything, he said.
And that would include platooning. For whatever reason, the word itself is one that causes most players to cringe.
Im not a fan of it either, Baker said. People think of platoon as a negative word. You come up in the game and you play against righties and lefties. It doesnt matter. You want to play against both.
But I think of it as a chance to have two players that can do something very well, and youre trying to maximize the potential and output from one position.
The Oakland Athletics have been very successful using a platoon system.
Oakland is a prime example of how you can platoon and make it work, Baker said. They do a very good job out there.
Baker doesnt care how hes used, or at what position. He provides some pop off the bench, having hit 11 home runs in only 154 at-bats last season for the Rangers during a year in which he missed time with a freak thumb injury that was caused by a rowdy teammate.
Baker sustained the injury when the teammate gave him a high-five with too much gusto.
I had a teammate that was a little over-anxious with a high-five, and I kind of got sabotaged, said Baker, who has refused to identify the perpetrator. He was screwing around, and I wasnt.
Baker said the thumb is fine now, and hes ready to take on whatever task the Marlins assign him.
Platoon or no platoon.