WEST PALM BEACH The Marlins have a pretty good idea what they want their roster to look like when the season begins.
But mounting injuries likely won’t let Miami field its ideal lineup right away.
With building layers of organizational depth one of the main goals for the Marlins going forward, theirs is likely to be tested immediately when Miami opens the 2018 season next Thursday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Park.
“You’re always going to have guys beat up some years more than others,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I feel good that there’s nothing major now, but it does test our Opening Day roster a little bit.”
The Marlins have catcher J.T. Realmuto, shortstop J.T. Riddle, third baseman Martin Prado and starting pitcher Dan Straily among key players that have either been ruled out to open the season or in danger of not being available until some time after Opening Day.
The Marlins hope outfielder Cameron Maybin won’t become the latest on that list after he was scratched from the lineup Thursday with tightness in his right hip.
Maybin, whom the Marlins signed in late February to a one-year deal, is projected to start primarily in right field along with Lewis Brinson in center and Derek Dietrich in left as part of the team’s revamped outfield.
“We felt like he could play, but we were like, not now,” Mattingly said. “Getting nicked up now is not good because if it turns into something else than we’re getting into DLs and messing with the roster.”
Mattingly said earlier in the day he had a pretty good idea already of what he wants the team’s starting rotation to look like entering the season.
The Marlins have Jose Urena pegged to start on Opening Day. But if Straily, who was shut down Tuesday for a 5- to 6-day period due to right forearm inflammation, is forced to miss his first turn in the rotation next Friday, it would force the Marlins to dip deeper into the pool of candidates which includes Jacob Turner, Caleb Smith, Odrisamer Despaigne, Justin Nicolino and Elieser Hernandez, a Rule 5 draft pick last December.
Turner was also scratched from Thursday’s scheduled start with flulike symptoms. Mattingly said he didn’t expect it to jeopardize his availability to open the season, however, if chosen as one of the team’s starters.
Mattingly said Turner did some light throwing on Thursday and remains in contention for a rotation spot.
Hernandez is also recovering from the after effects of a wisdom tooth extraction that kept him from pitching for a week.
“I think we know where we want to go,” Mattingly said. “It’s not really one of those that you know exactly who your guys are and if there’s an injury there’s something to change. This is still pretty fluid from the standpoint of anything could happen. We have a pretty good idea how we want to run our first couple of weeks. We’ll know more over the next couple of days.”
Realmuto (bruised back) is also rehabbing, and remains confident he will be ready to play next Thursday. But if he’s not, Tomas Telis figures to man that spot initially. Telis has also had a solid spring, hitting .282 (11 of 39) with seven RBI.
The Marlins’ infield is already short-handed without Prado (knee), who will open the year on the disabled list.
Riddle, who had a minor setback in his rehab from shoulder surgery on Wednesday, did some hitting on Thursday. But his status for Opening Day remains uncertain.
Brian Anderson, who played his first 25 major-league games last season, figures to start in his place. Anderson has had a great spring at the plate going 13 of 47 (.277), slugging .622 with four home runs and 10 RBI.
Should Riddle not be ready at shortstop, Miguel Rojas would likely start. And Rojas and Riddle could end up splitting time at the position even after the latter returns to action.
The Marlins may have dodged a bullet with Brinson on Thursday, who was hit in the face by a baseball while extending a double to a triple in the fifth inning of Miami’s 15-7 spring training win over the Astros.
Brinson was hit by the relay throw on the play and remained on the ground for a minute, exiting the game for precautionary reasons.
Brinson said he felt fine after and didn’t think it would cause a lingering issue.
“I’m ok, I probably should have just stayed at second,” Brinson said.
Friday: Marlins LHP Caleb Smith vs. Washington Nationals TBA, 7:05 p.m., Jupiter.
Saturday: Marlins RHP Trevor Richards vs. Nationals TBA, 1:05 p.m., West Palm Beach.