It has been a long spring in the making. Marlins president of baseball operations, Larry Beinfest , addressed the media Thursday to offer a clearer picture of what the 2013 club will look like.
Infielder Wilson Valdez and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez were told they would not be breaking camp with the team.
“When we talk to these guys at this point in spring training, it’s all with the disclaimer that things can change,’’ Beinfest said. “There’s still a few days to go, but out of courtesy we’re breaking camp today and letting guys know where they’re at.’’
Valdez was signed to a minor-league deal Saturday and will begin the season with Triple A New Orleans, but there are no remaining options on Hernandez.
The club will have to re-evaluate the roster to see if it can work a trade for Hernandez, or risk losing him to waivers.
Outfielder Chris Coghlan and reserve infielder Chris Valaika , who both homered in Wednesday’s game, will make the roster on Opening Day.
“[Valaika] plays with a lot of outward energy; he’s spunky and a grinder,’’ Beinfest said. “... We always kind of had an eye on him early because of the way he played the game, but we were waiting for the performance to catch up.’’
Valaika, 27, has played in only 33 major-league games, for Cincinnati. He’s hitting .240 in spring games, with two home runs in 50 at-bats.
“It was exciting,” said Valaika, after being told of his status. “It’s my first Opening Day roster after not being in the big leagues last year. Hard work paid off.”
Though the announcement by Beinfest was made pregame, Coghlan still had not been told of his status after the Marlins finished their final Grapefruit League game Thursday.
Beinfest also said that pitchers John Maine and Kevin Slowey were still a decisions to make, only two days after manager Mike Redmond announced that Slowey would fill the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
The Marlins still have a huge gap to fill behind the plate. Jeff Mathis was out running with Miami’s trainer on the back fields after his teammates took batting practice, but he is still thought to be a ways out from appearing in a game.
Beinfest said if Redmond is comfortable with the left-handed-hitting Kyle Skipworth , 23, taking on the backup role until Mathis returns, then that’s enough.
Logan Morrison likened his experience at the Marlins’ spring home in Jupiter to an extension of the offseason. Still recovering from knee surgery, he has sat in the dugout, talked baseball with the guys and worked out a lot.
“It’s frustrating because it’s the same old story,’’ Morrison said. “Hopefully once this is behind me, it’s behind me for good, and I’ll laugh about it in 10 years.’’
Morrison has yet to take a live batting practice but is expected to start throwing and fielding ground balls sometime next week. He’s hoping to be with the big club by the middle of May.
“I think when I start playing, even if it’s in extended [spring training], I’ll be excited, and that’ll go away,’’ he said. “Then I’ll be like, ‘Let’s go to Double A,’ then I’ll be excited, then that’ll go away. Then I’ll be excited to be in the big leagues and that doesn’t ever go away.’’
In the final game of the Grapefruit League season, prospect Justin Nicolino got the nod on the mound in front of 7,162 at Roger Dean Stadium. Redmond has seen the 21-year-old progress in his time with the Blue Jays A affiliate in Lansing, Mich.
“For a young kid to come here and show that much poise and confidence against a legitimate big-league lineup, that was good to see,’’ Redmond said.
“I was happy for him.’’
Nicolino went five innings and allowed six hits to the Cardinals in a 1-0 loss. After a first-pitch double, he settled in and kept St. Louis at bay for the next four innings, striking out three.
Second baseman Donovan Solano was 0 for 3 in his return to play after missing more than a week with a stiff back.
The Marlins finished their spring season with a 13-16-2 record. They committed just 17 errors in the spring, the second-lowest total in the majors behind the Colorado Rockies (12). Entering play on Thursday, the Fish Marlins were the second-lowest in strikeouts with 170.
Coming up• Friday: No game.
Saturday: Marlins LHP Wade LeBlanc (2-5, 3.67 ERA) at New Orleans Zephyrs (TBA), 2 p.m., New Orleans.