All spring, manager Mike Redmond had refused to divulge his Opening Day starter even though it had been widely assumed Henderson Alvarez would receive the nod.
On Sunday, Redmond finally made it official.
Alvarez will deliver the first pitch of the 2015 season for the Marlins when they open against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on April 6.
“I’m sure that’s a surprise for you,” Redmond said with a sarcastic laugh.
The news came as no surprise to anyone.
But Redmond waited until only eight days before the opener to announce his decision. Alvarez, who wasn’t with the Marlins when they faced the Nationals on Sunday, was informed of the decision back in Jupiter by pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.
“I think he’s going to be pretty excited,” Redmond said. “It was really a no-brainer for us.”
Alvarez will become the 13th different pitcher to make the Opening Day start for the Marlins. He’ll face the Braves’ Julio Teheran.
“It is a big honor, and he deserves it after the year he had last year,” Redmond said. “I felt really comfortable having this guy on the mound. He brings a lot to the table. He can hit. He brings a flair and an excitement. It’s really a perfect fit for Opening Day.”
Alvarez went 12-7 with a 2.65 ERA in 30 starts last season and was named to his first All-Star team.
Last year’s Opening Day starter for the Marlins, Jose Fernandez, will open the season on the disabled list. And with Jarred Cosart currently on the mend because of a finger blister, it’s uncertain how the rest of the rotation will line up.
Cosart tested the injury by throwing a bullpen session in Jupiter on Sunday with Hernandez looking on.
“He said things went well, that his finger was feeling fine,” Redmond said. “My plan is for him to make his next start toward the end of spring. I’m anticipating for that finger to respond and for things to be fine, and for him to be slot back into the rotation.”
Cosart is also under investigation by Major League Baseball for alleged gambling, further clouding his status. But the Marlins are proceeding as if he will be available. Assuming that’s the case, Mat Latos, Tom Koehler and Dan Haren would round out the rotation.
But Redmond also has a couple of backup options in David Phelps and Brad Hand if Cosart — or anyone else — becomes unavailable. Of the two, Phelps would seem to be the most logical candidate to step into the starting mix if an opening develops.
That’s because it’s appearing increasingly unlikely Rule 5 pick Andrew McKirahan will crack the 25-man roster, leaving the bullpen with only one lefty, Mike Dunn. Hand would provide the ’pen with a second left-hander.
If Phelps and Hand start the season in the pen, the remainder of the seven-member relief cast is shaping up as Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos, Bryan Morris and either Aaron Crow or Sam Dyson.
‘LET HER RIP’
After connecting on his third home run of the spring, Giancarlo Stanton said he’s all but ready for the regular season.
“It’s at a point where it’s time to go get the last kinks out the last couple of days and let her rip,” Stanton said.
Stanton hit a two-run shot off the Washington Nationals’ Doug Fister. Marcell Ozuna and and Jarrod Saltalamacchia also homered off Fister.
With the wind blowing out at Space Coast Stadium, it was a tough day for pitchers on both teams. Marlins starter Tom Koehler also gave up three homers, as seven home runs were hit in all.
Koehler refused to blame the wind in the Marlins’ 11-7 loss.
“If you have them hit the ball on the ground, they can’t hit a home run,” he said. “Obviously I’m not smiling and giggling because I’m [angry] with the result. But that’s why it’s spring training.”