Edwin Jackson — a mystery Marlin this spring — returned to the mound in a Grapefruit League game Thursday for the first time in 10 days.
Whether he finds his way into the rotation remains to be seen.
“We’re just trying to figure out what’s best for him, and what’s best for our club,” manager Don Mattingly said of Jackson, a 32-year-old veteran right-hander the Marlins signed over the winter.
Before Thursday, Jackson last pitched March 7, allowing five runs on eight hits in only two underwhelming innings against the Nationals. Following that, the Marlins relegated him to the purgatory of practice fields in order to work on his mechanics.
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In his return Thursday, he held the Mets scoreless over three innings, but hit Yoenis Cespedes on an 0-2 pitch and walked the first two batters he faced in his final inning before emerging unscathed.
“We’re definitely cleaning up some things,” Jackson said. “It hasn’t been anything I feel like has devastated me or defeated me. There’s nothing I’m stressing about.”
Jackson was a low-risk signing for the Marlins. They’re picking up only the league minimum ($507,500) while the Chicago Cubs, who had released him, are on the hook for the remainder of his $13 million guaranteed salary.
The Marlins have included him in a mix of five or six contenders for two open spots in the rotation. But Jackson could wind up in the bullpen, as Jarred Cosart and Adam Conley appear to be the frontrunners for the two openings.
“I’d like to be in the rotation,” Jackson said. “But I’m all about coming out, competing, having fun. At the end of the day, my main objective is to get outs and help the team anyway I can, whether it be in the rotation [or bullpen]. I’m not going to walk around with my head hanging down.”
Jackson pitched well out of the bullpen last season for the Cubs and Braves after starting the early part of his career. He went 14-33 as a starter for the Cubs in 2013-14, precipitating his move to relief duty.
Jackson said the Marlins aren’t performing a major overhaul with his delivery.
“It’s just little tweaks here and there,” Jackson said. “It’s been a work in progress. But if you go back and look at videos of my career, there’s been different mechanics. I really haven’t had one pitching mechanic my whole career.”
FERNANDEZ MIGHT NOT START OPENER
Mattingly still has not announced his Opening Day starter, and there is growing speculation that it could be someone other than Jose Fernandez, perhaps Wei-Yin Chen.
“We’ve kind of [reached] a conclusion, but just haven’t told everybody,” Mattingly said. “So once we do that, I’ll let you guys know. We’re waiting on some things.”
Fernandez said he would welcome the chance to face Detroit in the season opener April 4.
“If you ask that to any pitcher in the big leagues, everybody would love to pitch Opening Day,” Fernandez said. “Of course, everybody does, including me.”
Fernandez was sharp for two innings Thursday when he faced the Mets before New York got to him for six runs in the third and fourth innings. Fernandez threw 60 pitches.
“I felt good,” Fernandez said. “The result wasn’t there. Nobody likes to give up runs, so not too happy about it.”