Miami Marlins

Conley named fifth starter; Urena to begin season in bullpen

Adam Conley got the nod as the No. 5 starter despite a 6.94 ERA in four spring appearances going into Friday.
Adam Conley got the nod as the No. 5 starter despite a 6.94 ERA in four spring appearances going into Friday. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Marlins’ starting rotation is officially set.

Adam Conley, whose subpar spring training performances had raised some concerns, was officially announced as the fifth starter on Friday by manager Don Mattingly.

Jose Urena, who had been mentioned as a possibility for the spot, will start the season in the bullpen, according to Mattingly.

The decisions came as little surprise after Justin Nicolino, the other pitcher who had been in contention for the final starting spot, was sent to the minors earlier this week.

“Adam’s more of a starter, so if he’s going to be on the club that’s where we felt he has to be,” Mattingly said.

“I like everything about him in terms of his competitiveness and the way he will go after people.”

Conley had his final outing of the spring on Friday night and had a 6.94 ERA in four previous exhibition appearances.

The Marlins weighed that against his potential, being their youngest starting pitcher, took his performance last season into consideration and felt he was still their best option.

“At this point it’s about going out and winning,” Conley said. “I learned a lot this camp.”

Conley, 26, went 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA in 25 starts last year and at one point set the team record for consecutive scoreless innings by a starter at  11 1/3.

The left-hander, a second-round draft pick out of Washington State in 2011, had last season cut short in mid-August when he injured the middle finger on his pitching hand.

“We had to make some tough decisions,” Mattingly said. “We had to look at the whole body of work and put the pieces together that were best for this team.”

Conley would line up to face the Mets next Saturday in New York.

Edinson Volquez will start on Opening Day on Monday in Washington, with Dan Straily and Tom Koehler starting the other two games in the Nationals series.

Wei-Yin Chen is slated to open the Mets series. Straily would line up to start the team’s home opener on April 11 against Atlanta.

Mattingly said Urena started in a minor-league game on Thursday in his last outing of the spring.

Mattingly praised Urena’s durability but is looking for more consistency from the 25-year-old right-hander, who was out of minor-league options.

THIS AND THAT

▪ Mattingly said Martin Prado (hamstring) resumed baseball activities on Thursday, hitting the ball off a tee and throwing.

Mattingly said Prado will not travel with the team on its season-opening, six-game trip to Washington and New York.

Prado is expected to open the season on the disabled list, and while the Marlins hope it is a brief stint they aren’t planning to rush his return.

“He’s going to stay in Miami and continue to get work in, get some at-bats in simulated games,” Mattingly said. “We feel like we’re pretty good as far as a timetable for him.”

▪ The San Diego Padres claimed right-hander Jake Esch off waivers on Friday. Esch, rated the No. 12 prospect in the Marlins’ minor-league system, appeared in three major-league games last year and allowed eight runs in three innings. His departure cleared a spot on the 40-man roster, presumably for Tyler Moore if he opens the season with the major-league club.

COMING UP

▪ Saturday: Marlins LHP Chen vs. Detroit Tigers LHP Daniel Norris, 12:05 p.m., Jupiter.

▪ Sunday: Off.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly talked about Conley's struggles this spring and his need to develop more consistency with his pitches to get better results.

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