Marlins notebook

Road will be proving ground for Miami Marlins

 

mnavarro@MiamiHerald.com

After wrapping up their most successful nine-game homestand in franchise history Wednesday afternoon with a 1-0 win over the Mets, the Marlins headed for the airport bound to start a three-city, 11-game, 11-day tour through San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Although it’s still only May, some Marlins are looking at the road trip as a good measuring stick for a talented, young team on the rise.

“It’s in the middle of our 20-game [in 20 days] stretch, so it’s going to be tough. But it’s going to prove where we’re at, I think,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “We haven’t played well on the road, but we’ve scored runs, kept games close, had opportunities to win. We just couldn’t finish it.

“I think this road trip is going to be a big test for us to do that. We’re facing the Dodgers again — who we just got done facing. They’re in their home ballpark and, obviously, they’re going to want to repay the favor. I think we feel pretty good against those guys. I think we’re going to stay strong.”

Reed Johnson, who won a division title with the Braves last season, said he feels like the team’s successful homestand has been a huge confidence builder, especially for the younger players in the clubhouse.

“I think the older guys kind of already know how good we are, but some of the young guys in the room it may take a few series like we’ve had now to kind of solidify the fact that, ‘Hey man, we can be here for a while, late into the summer and really be a contender,’ ” Johnson said.

“Hopefully, what we’re doing now and hopefully what we can do on the road — kind of change some things up on the road and start winning some games on the road — that can benefit all the young guys as far as their confidence is concerned.”

Johnson said he doesn’t see this road trip “as do or die,” but “it could be a huge confidence builder.”

•  Henderson Alvarez’s shutout on Tuesday — his third over his past eight starts — made him the youngest pitcher with three shutouts in a span of eight starts since Mark Mulder in 2001. What’s the common thread for Alvarez when he’s dominant?

“When he has that downward angle, he’s tough to beat,” Saltalamacchia said. “I think that’s the consistency he needs, feeling that downward angle. You don’t have to throw 95. You can throw 90, 91, just throw good pitches. His ball moves so much.”

• Saltalamacchia said he expects Jacob Turner, who was roughed up by the Dodgers this past weekend in his first start since coming off the disabled list, to bounce back against the Padres on Thursday night.

“He just needs some innings,” Saltalamacchia said. “Right now, he’s behind the eight ball with those other guys because they’ve had a few more starts than him. They’ve gotten into the routine.”

• Former Florida State star running back Devonta Freeman, who grew up in Liberty City and led Miami Central to the 2010 state championship, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday’s game. Freeman is expected to be drafted this weekend.

“As a kid I played catcher, pitcher and first base,” Freeman said. “I was better at baseball than football. I loved it. It was an honor just to be on that mound and throw the pitch. It’s something you always see on TV and never think, ‘This can really happen to me.’ 

Coming up

•  Thursday: Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (0-0, 9.90 ERA) at San Diego Padres RHP Ian Kennedy (2-4, 3.43), 10:10 p.m., Petco Park.

•  Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (4-1, 1.74) at Padres RHP Tyson Ross (3-3, 3.30), 10:10 p.m., Petco Park.

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