Mike Redmond is walking with a limp, the result of an Achilles injury he sustained while playing tennis in December. But the temporary disability is nothing compared to the hardships he faced in making out a lineup card this time two years ago, his first year as Marlins manager.
Redmond’s Opening Day lineup in 2013 involved three players — Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre and Casey Kotchman — who were winding down in their final seasons. Only two players on Redmond’s first lineup card — Giancarlo Stanton and Adeiny Hechavarria — remain.
“I remember how hard that was to piece that one together,” Redmond said.
That team lost 100 games and scored the fewest runs in the majors.
Given the new weaponry at his disposal, Redmond is feeling much better about his 2015 lineup, even though he hasn’t yet decided precisely how it will look come the season opener April 6.
Those things will begin to sort themselves out when the Marlins open spring training Friday in Jupiter.
“If I give you the lineup [now], what are we going to talk about for the next six weeks?” Redmond said while laughing when asked to provide the lineup that he has in mind. “It’s nice to have the flexibility and it’ll be fun to kind of tinker.”
The Marlins added three new infielders and one of those, second baseman Dee Gordon, will almost certainly lead off.
Beyond that, it gets a little murkier.
Christian Yelich, who excelled in the leadoff spot last season, could hit either second or third. Veteran third baseman Martin Prado, another new addition, also could hit second.
Stanton, who led the league in homers despite missing the final 17 games of the season after being struck in the face with a pitch, could hit either third or fourth.
“I want to mess around with some lineups in spring training, maybe hit Yeli a few times in the three hole, and hit Stanton a few times in the four hole,” Redmond said, “just to see what works, see how comfortable Yelich is in that two hole.”
Prado is an experienced No. 2 hitter, with nearly half of his at-bats over his nine-year career in that lineup position. But Prado also provides a bit of home-run pop and could land lower in the order.
“You can go either way in the two hole,” Redmond said of using either Yelich or Prado in that spot. “It’s going to be wait-and-see how Yeli does in that two hole, or even in the three hole.”
Redmond acknowledged that he likes having Stanton hitting third, simply to ensure he will always bat in the first inning.
“It’s important to me having him get as many at-bats as he can,” Redmond said.
If Stanton hits third as expected, new first baseman Michael Morse (16 homers last season for San Francisco) figures to land in the cleanup spot. Prado or Marcell Ozuna would follow, with Hechavarria and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hitting at the bottom of the order.
“He’s the guy who has big power and fits the mold of being the guy who can protect Stanton,” Redmond said of Morse, who walloped a career-best 31 homers for Washington in 2011 but hasn’t come close to matching that figure the past three seasons.
Still, Morse is a significant upgrade over Redmond’s cleanup man in 2013 when he resorted to using Polanco in the fourth spot, at least to start the season. Polanco hit all of one home run in what was his final big-league campaign. And last year’s cleanup hitter for most of the season, Casey McGehee, managed to put only four balls over the fence.
“What we’ve been able to do is stretch our lineup and make it deeper,” Redmond said. “Our lineup’s gotten a lot better.”