PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- So many arms, so few innings.
Early into the Grapefruit League schedule, the Marlins have a challenge to find enough work for their quality hurlers. Pitching is the strength of the organization, and the franchise feels it has an abundance of it. A number of candidates are in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation, and for either a setup or long relief role.
"There still is a lot of competition out there for those spots," manager Mike Redmond said. "We're trying to evaluate all the guys who can fill that role."
Tom Koehler may have the early edge for the fifth spot. If he doesn't win it, he is a relief option or a candidate to be sent to Triple-A.
Jacob Turner is the frontrunner to be fourth, and Brad Hand and Kevin Slowey are candidates for the fifth spot.
"We're going to take the best five guys to Miami with us," Redmond said. "We want to see which guys are the most consistent. They've got to earn it. We talked about that early on when we got here. It's going to be a nice competition. I'm excited to see these guys go out there and compete."
The demand for innings will shrink in the next couple of weeks as starting candidates are stretched out.
On Wednesday morning, such prospects as Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino pitched in a "B" game against the Cardinals on Field 2.
"They're still going to pitch and get their innings," Redmond said. "It's hard to get everybody a start when you've got seven, eight guys out there. You've got to keep finding innings for them. The biggest thing is just for them to continue to ramp up and get their pitches in. Where we slot them is not a big deal, as long as they get their innings in.
"But as we go, guys will start throwing multiple innings here. So the innings for guys will start getting smaller the more we get going here."
Heaney pitches freely and easily in 'B' game
JUPITER, Fla. -- Another inning, another seemingly effortless outing by Andrew Heaney.
Ranked as the Marlins' top prospect by MLB.com and the best lefty prospect in the game, Heaney threw a perfect inning in a "B" game against the Cardinals on Wednesday on Field 2 at Roger Dean Stadium.
With his free and easy delivery, Heaney has arm action that's been called "effortless" by Marlins officials.
In his one inning on Wednesday, it was more of what the Marlins are becoming used to from Heaney, the 22-year-old who projects to open the season at Double-A Jacksonville. He has an outside chance to make the Opening Day rotation, but if he doesn't, he certainly could be in the big leagues some time this year.
Heaney's fastball maxed at 94 mph but was regularly at 93. He had one strikeout, on a fastball.
"It's not just stuff-wise with him," said Marty Scott, the Marlins' vice president of player development. "It's the intangibles, his mound presence. It's not arrogance. He doesn't show anybody up. It's just self-confidence, that he can put the ball where he wants to put it."
Heaney's velocity isn't necessarily overpowering, but his pitches have so much life.
"He doesn't throw any balls straight," Scott said. "He's got command, and he can control it. He's not afraid to pitch inside, to establish the plate. He's so meticulous with his work ethic and his game plan when he goes out there. It's almost like a surgeon. He's that precise in doing what he wants to do."
Salty looks forward to Red Sox reunion
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A little while back, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia received a letter from Red Sox owner John Henry regarding the delivery of his World Series championship ring.
Since then he hasn't heard from his former club, but he will have a chance to face Boston on Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium.
"It's cool to see those guys," Saltalamacchia said. "I talk to them still. I'm not too far removed."
Actually, about 15 Boston players started a text group last season, a way for everyone to touch base easily. And at some point in the next month or so, Saltalamacchia should be receiving his ring.
"John Henry sent me a letter, and he said he looked forward to giving it to me in the spring," he said. "I think by spring he means April 5 or whatever."
Saltalamacchia doesn't expect to receive the ring until after the Red Sox have their ceremony.
"I think they're going to send somebody," he said. "I look forward to seeing them. I went through a lot with those guys. I consider them friends, and look forward to seeing them."
• Reliever Brian Sanches, who pitched for the Marlins from 2009 to 2011, has officially announced his retirement. The 35-year-old broke in with the Phillies in 2006 and pitched for the Nationals in 2008 before hooking up with the Marlins. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2012, with the Phillies.
• Right-hander Carlos Marmol is expected to be back on the field on Thursday. He had been in the Dominican Republic the past few days to clear up some visa matters. The hope is to get him into a Grapefruit League game over the weekend.
• Reliever Henry Rodriguez impressed in a simulated game on Wednesday.