If you’re planning a trip to Jupiter to check out the Marlins, bring a copy of the team’s 69-man spring training roster along with the sunscreen. You’ll need both.
In what will amount to a tryout camp as the Marlins look to replace their entire outfield and fill in three open starting rotation spots, the coaching staff and front office will also be auditioning a large number of newcomers — for this season and beyond.
Pretty much everyone on the spring roster will see action, and plenty of it.
Even a few of the players tentatively expected to make the Opening Day roster — third baseman Martin Prado and shortstop JT Riddle — will be held out early as they work their way back from injuries.
It could be the middle of March before either Prado or Riddle even appear in a Grapefruit League game.
“We’ll watch Martin for sure,” said manager Don Mattingly. “We’re going to be very patient with him, making sure he’s stepping along. It’s going to take some time for him to be ready.”
In what was his first year after signing a three-year, $40 million contract extension, Prado was limited to only 37 games while battling knee and hamstring injuries. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July and missed the rest of the season.
“He really hasn’t played in a year,” Mattingly said of Prado, who suffered a hamstring injury in the World Baseball Classic and was plagued by leg injuries all season. “We’re going to keep (his spring workload) to a minimum and work him towards Opening Day. We just want Martin to be ready to open the season.”
Riddle’s situation is similar.
After taking over at shortstop, the rookie appeared in 70 games before a shoulder injury in mid-July ended his season. Riddle underwent shoulder surgery and continues to recover.
“I still look at him as being in rehab protocol,” Mattingly said. “It’s going to be a little bit of time. We’re talking about him not being able to play until the middle of March. That’s our earliest date, so we’ll be careful with him.”
Look for Brian Anderson to see plenty of action at third base in Prado’s absence. Mattingly said Johnny Giavotella and Peter Mooney — both non-roster invites — will also receive looks at third.
Miguel Rojas should see the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop this spring and, if Riddle isn’t ready, could be the Marlins’ Opening Day shortstop.
“There’s competition always in camp, and that will be pretty prevalent as this camp goes on,” Mattingly said. “You’ll see a lot of different faces and looks.”
PETERS PICKED FOR GRAPEFRUIT OPENER
Dillon Peters has received the starting assignment for the Marlins’ Grapefruit League opener on Friday against the Cardinals. The 5-foot-9-inch lefty impressed last spring and went 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA in six starts after receiving a September call-up.
“Should be a fun game,” Peters said. “I’m pretty excited to get going.”
RULE 5 PICKS IMPRESS MATTINGLY
Mattingly has liked what he’s seen so far of Eleiser Hernandez and Brett Graves, a pair of right-handed hurlers the Marlins selected in the Rule 5 Draft in December.
“Both guys have been impressive,” Mattingly said. “They’re physical, good deliveries, and throwing the baseball where they want. They’ve got some weapons. That’s always a good combination when you get a guy who can throw the ball where he wants.”
Both pitchers are gambles for the Marlins. Hernandez has never pitched above High A in the minors while Graves has only reached Double A. In order for the two to remain in the organization and not returned to their former clubs, they would have to earn spots on the Marlins’ final 25-man roster.