Miami Marlins

Marlins pitchers Chris Narveson, Andrew McKirahan make strong impressions

Miami Marlins pitcher Chris Narveson throws live batting practice Sunday, March 1, 2015, in Jupiter, Fla.
Miami Marlins pitcher Chris Narveson throws live batting practice Sunday, March 1, 2015, in Jupiter, Fla. AP

He’s only a nonroster invitee and this was only a game against college kids, but veteran left-hander Chris Narveson wasn’t complaining after striking out the side in his spring debut Tuesday against the University of Miami.

“I’ll take that,” said Narveson, a long shot to make the major-league roster after almost three years away from the majors.

Each Marlins pitcher was limited to one inning of work Tuesday. Narveson and Andrew McKirahan, a Rule 5 selection from the Cubs, were the only two Marlins to strike out the side.

McKirahan, 25, is an intriguing young arm. Although the Marlins might keep only one left-handed pitcher in the bullpen in veteran Mike Dunn, McKirahan may warrant a spot if he keeps pitching like he did Tuesday afternoon.

He threw 12 pitches, 10 for strikes and was just flat-out nasty in his eighth-inning appearance.

“Looking at this division, quite honestly, if you can have [a second lefty] it’s a luxury that helps put everyone else in slots in your bullpen,” general manager Dan Jennings said. “It’s something we’re looking seriously at.

“… We’ll give this kid every opportunity to earn the right to stay.”

Jennings said McKirahan “has a tick above average plus fastball with a plus slider” and called him a “very competitive kid on the mound.”

McKirahan, who was 0-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 21 appearances last season in Double A, has to make the big-league club once camp ends or must be put on waivers.

If another team doesn’t pick him up, the Marlins could either send him back to the Cubs or work out a trade with Chicago, Jennings said.

“With [Pat] Misch and Narveson and our own guys in [Adam] Conley and [Grant] Dayton ... Brad Hand ... I think our answers [to finding another lefty arm] are here in camp,” Jenning said.

Narveson, 33, is a lefty starter who went 23-17 with a 4.73 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2010-2011. He missed much of the next two seasons with shoulder and finger injuries before playing for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Japan’s Central League in 2014.

He went 4-11 with a 4.53 ERA in Japan, hardly stellar. But the Marlins were intrigued enough to give him a look this spring as a potential long reliever or Triple A starter.

Before making the decision to play in Japan last season, Narveson said he reached out to former Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee, who resurrected his career in 2013 with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles before returning to the majors in Miami.

“It used to be something where you went [to Japan] and people forgot about you,” Narveson said. “Now it’s a universal world with the Internet and all. They don’t necessary know how you’re doing, but now they know, ‘Hey this guy can still pitch.’ ”

CANES TURNING TWO

UM shortstop Brandon Lopez, reinstated last week after starting the season suspended, had a trio of stellar defensive plays.

After the Marlins turned a nifty 6-4-3 double play in the top of the second, Lopez, Sebastian Diaz and David Thompson combined to turn one of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Lopez also charged hard to glove a Dee Gordon chopper in the first inning before throwing out the speedster, and robbed J.T. Realmuto with a diving stop up the middle.

With Lopez back, UM coach Jim Morris is able to move George Iskenderian to third and David Thompson to first base.

“He’s our best shortstop,” Morris said. “He made two great plays in the first inning. That was fun to watch.”

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