Jarred Cosart’s rough spring ended on a high note, and the 24-year-old Marlins starting pitcher is hoping more good news will be on the way soon from Major League Baseball investigators.
Sidelined from his previous scheduled start because of a blister on his middle finger and sacked by an MLB probe into an alleged gambling connection that came to light last week, Cosart returned to the mound Wednesday and dominated the Washington Nationals for six innings at Roger Dean Stadium.
He pitched six scoreless innings of one-hit ball against the World Series favorites, walking three and striking out four in an 8-0 victory. It was by far his best performance of spring training.
Cosart, who was 0-2 with an 8.49 ERA in four previous Grapefruit League starts, then emphatically denied he ever bet on baseball. He said he is hoping to be cleared by baseball investigators before the season begins Monday at Marlins Park against the Atlanta Braves.
“Five days feels like a long time between starts — this felt like an eternity,” said Cosart, who ran into trouble eight days ago after screen shots of purported direct messages on Twitter from himself to a gambling expert were leaked by a third party using the same social-media outlet.
“I came out there, and I finally had a clear head. Obviously, there’s been a lot of stuff going on the last two weeks. It’s just really good to get back out there in a game situation and be with my team and pitch like I know I’m capable of pitching.”
As it stands, Cosart will make one final start in a simulated game here Monday morning. Then he will join his teammates for Opening Day in Miami. He’s in line to make his season debut a week from Saturday against the Rays. That is assuming his name is cleared in the gambling probe.
If not, Cosart could be suspended for a year for gambling on the game and for life if he bet on a game in which he was involved.
“I told all these guys, I never have, never will bet on baseball,” he said. “That’s the only statement I can come out with right now. I’m letting MLB security [handle the rest]. They’ve investigated my Twitter. I had to speak to some people from their offices last week, but I’m in a good position on it. I’m confident. Like I said, it’s kind of just in the commissioners’ hands now, and we’ll see what he does with it.”
BAD NEWS FOR CROW
Right-handed reliever Aaron Crow, who had an MRI on Tuesday that revealed a tear in his throwing elbow, is expected to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Though Crow, 28, will seek another opinion, the 2011 All-Star doesn’t expect the prognosis to change.
“My arm felt fine [when I last pitched Saturday], but when I came in the next day, it was really sore and it was painful to throw,” Crow said. “[Surgery is] definitely not what I wanted to hear.”
Losing a quality relief pitcher with major-league experience to a season-ending injury on the final day of spring training can be a disastrous problem for some teams. The Marlins, though, have enough depth to be covered, manager Mike Redmond said.
Right-hander Sam Dyson, who was competing with Crow for the final bullpen spot, is expected to make the team. Dyson went 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 31 appearances last season. Although he has an ERA of 8.31 this spring, six of the eight runs Dyson has allowed came in one miserable inning against the Tigers on March 25. He allowed just two earned runs over his other 82/3 innings.
Aside from Dyson, the Marlins also have relievers in Triple A with big-league experience: hard-throwing Carter Capps (3-3, 4.83 ERA in 88 appearances from 2012 to ’14) and former Yankee Preston Claiborne (3-2, 3.79 ERA in 66 appearances from 2013 to ’14).
“Officially, our roster won’t be set until Sunday, but we’re getting close,” Redmond said. “The timing of injuries is never good. But you have to be able to adapt and adjust, and we feel like the depth we have now covers us.”
Crow, obtained in a Nov.28 trade with the Royals for pitchers Brian Flynn and Reid Redman, is set to make $1.975 million this season. The Marlins will still have club control over Crow (20-11, 3.43 ERA in 246 career appearances) next season before he’s eligible to become a free agent in 2017.
“It [stinks],” Crow said. “It kind of makes it worse coming over here and before I even get a chance to help the team I get hurt.”
▪ The Marlins’ rotation to open the season will be Henderson Alvarez, followed by Mat Latos, Tom Koehler, Dan Haren and Cosart.
Latos will pitch Thursday in a simulated game in Jupiter. Koehler and Haren are lined up to pitch Friday and Saturday, respectively, when the Marlins play against minor-league affiliates in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Jacksonville.
Redmond said Marlins’ regulars will get only an at-bat or two before being pulled for backups in Friday’s and Saturday’s games. Koehler and Haren, though, will throw between 85 and 90 pitches to prepare themselves for the start of the season.
▪ Redmond said the Marlins will try to get first baseman Michael Morse days off throughout the season to make sure he stays off the disabled list. Morse, who has a history of injuries, belted his fifth home run of the spring Wednesday, a towering, three-run homer to center field off Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. An inning later, Giancarlo Stanton hit his fourth homer of the spring, a two-run blast that cleared the wall of the Marlins’ training facility in left field.
▪ The Atlanta Braves claimed left-handed reliever Andrew McKirahan, a Rule 5 pick, off waivers from the Marlins.