MIAMI -- Getting Rafael Furcal back from the disabled list as quickly as possible isn't the Marlins' priority. Making sure the 36-year-old is healthy is.
Because Furcal is on the DL retroactive to March 21, he technically could be reinstated as early as Saturday. The Marlins aren't seeing that as a realistic target date.
Furcal strained his left hamstring on March 15, and he felt some discomfort late last week.
"We're not looking at this short-sighted," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "This is a player who missed all of last year. We want to make sure, beyond health, he gets the rhythm and timing and at-bats through extended spring training and the rehab to make sure he is prepared."
The Marlins are mindful Furcal also missed all of last year due to right elbow surgery, and he had 18 at-bats in Grapefruit League play this spring.
Also being taken into consideration is the Marlins' first road trip -- from April 8-13 -- will be in cold weather, at Washington and Philadelphia, respectively.
It appears the earliest Furcal could return would be around April 14. The Marlins have Jeff Baker, Derek Dietrich and Donovan Solano on the roster to cover at second base in the short term.
"We haven't really put a definitive time line on him and his return to play," Hill said. "Obviously, he knows his body as well as anyone."
Making sure Furcal is healthy is foremost.
"When he steps into the lineup again, we hope it's for the rest of the season, and we don't have any nagging recurrences," Hill said.
Marlins try McGehee at cleanup against lefty
MIAMI -- When scheduled to face a lefty starter, look for the Marlins to counter with a right-handed-hitting cleanup batter.
The matchup arose on Monday night, when the Rockies went with lefty Jorge De La Rosa. Miami opted to bat third baseman Casey McGehee fourth, and he delivered with a career-high-tying four RBIs in the club's 10-1 victory.
"Guys did a great job getting on base and having great at-bats, especially in the big inning that we had," McGehee said of the Marlins' five-run fifth. "It was a good start for our team. It was nice to get that first hit out of the way, and all that stuff."
The point is to get as much protection as possible for slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who bats third. Manager Mike Redmond's top of the order was Christian Yelich, Jeff Baker, Stanton and McGehee. Stanton had an RBI infield single with the bases loaded in the fifth before McGehee cleared the bases with a double.
"I wanted to have a right-hander behind Stanton against a lefty," Redmond said. "You put guys in situations and see what they can do. He stepped up tonight and got a big hit, a really big hit. He had a good night, a real good night."
Garrett Jones, a left-handed-hitting first baseman, is expected to bat fourth against right-handers.
"Casey seems like a natural fit," Redmond said. "He's got some experience. He's been through the battles. But we'll see.
"The key is to try to get Giancarlo as many good pitches to hit as he can."
McGehee, back in the big leagues after spending 2013 in Japan, has 112 at-bats in his MLB career from the No. 4 spot. He also has plenty of experience batting behind some feared power hitters. In Milwaukee, he frequently followed Prince Fielder.
"I liken it to hitting behind Prince in Milwaukee," McGehee said. "I no longer get my feelings hurt when they pitch around them. I get it. It's the same thing I feel with Stanton. I understand why they would want to pitch around him at times.
"When I was in Milwaukee, I took a lot of pride in giving a good at-bat. If I'm there just for tonight, or in other situations, I'm looking to make sure I have a good at-bat. At least make the guy have to work."
Marlins hope to create consistent buzz at home
MIAMI -- If they win, the Marlins believe the fans will show up.
Opening Night is always special, and a given for all clubs to play in front of packed stadiums. To get the Marlins to draw consistently at Marlins Park, the formula is simple -- win.
"We've got to win. Winning is going to draw a crowd," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "Winning is going to bring that back to Miami. But it's not our job to focus on that. We're not going to go out there and look in the stands and say, 'All right, we don't have to play tonight because no one is here.' That's not our job. Our job is to go out there and play."
Saltalamacchia, Miami's biggest offseason signing, brings championship experience after being with the Red Sox last year. From what the catcher sees, the Marlins have the pieces to put together a strong season.
"I see a bunch of guys in here who want to win," Saltalamacchia said. "You get hungry for more. I think we're trying to have that atmosphere in here, and losing is not an option."
Giancarlo Stanton, one of the faces of the franchise, says big crowds help energize a club at home.
"That's what fuels us," Stanton said. "That's what gets us going. We don't need too much help to fuel Day One, but sometimes in maybe, game 120-something, and you have some long road trip, a big, strong crowd helps energize you, and it's fun."
• In Monday's pregame ceremony, Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino threw out the ceremonial first pitch. After doing so, he chatted briefly with Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who's a huge Miami Dolphins fan. And between innings, Henderson Alvarez was honored for his no-hitter against the Tigers to close out 2013. Alvarez was presented a painting of himself raising his hands in triumph. The painting was by Kadir Nelson.
• Saltalamacchia still doesn't know when he will receive his 2013 World Series ring from the Red Sox. Boston is having its ring ceremony on Friday night at Fenway Park. Because the Marlins are facing the Padres that day in Miami, Saltalamacchia will not be able to attend. Both sides are expected to work something out where he is presented with his championship ring.
• Christian Yelich made his MLB debut on July 23 of last year, and it was at Colorado. In each of his first three at-bats, the outfielder collected hits. However, one of them (weeks later) was eventually reversed and ruled an error, so he went 2-for-4 that night. His first hit game ball is at his home in California, nicely displayed.