Slowey, Johnson make Marlins' Opening Day roster
Non-roster invitees are among several veteran newcomers in Miami in 2014
MIAMI -- Versatility and compatibility were weighed heavily in putting together the final pieces of the Marlins' Opening Day roster.
The more you can do, the better, especially in the National League, where substitutions occur more regularly than its American League counterpart.
Secondly, character mattered. The team sought players who get along and are willing to pull together. Their offseason acquistions all have experienced winning, and they are respected for their professionalism.
W: Fernandez L: De La Rosa
The Marlins aren't fielding a squad loaded with established superstars, so they are banking on a collective effort. Still, they feel they have plenty of talent, but it's no secret they are built around strong pitching, power-hitting right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and an unselfish supporting cast.
After six weeks of evaluating and analyzing, the Marlins on Sunday afternoon announced the 25 who will line up for Opening Day on Monday night at 7:05 p.m. ET against the Rockies at Marlins Park.
There are no surprises.
Outfielder Reed Johnson and pitcher Kevin Slowey, a couple of non-roster invitees, each had their contracts selected. To make roster room, outfielder Brian Bogusevic was designated for assignment.
As expected, infielders Rafael Furcal (strained left hamstring) and Ed Lucas (broken left hand) were placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Furcal's DL assignment is retroactive to March 21, meaning the earliest he is eligible to be reinstated is Saturday. Lucas is retroactive to March 28, but he is expected to miss four to six weeks.
The subtraction of Bogusevic opened a 40-man roster spot for Johnson.
By Sunday's 3 p.m. ET deadline to set the roster, reliever Michael Brady was designated for assignment, creating an opening for Slowey.
Mike Redmond, entering his second season as manager, feels he has much more to work with compared to a year ago, when a rookie-filled roster finished 62-100.
"We've got more pieces this year," Redmond said. "We've got way more options."
For many who endured the hardships of the second-worst record in team history, they gained a valuable year of experience.
The hope for a better year is based on the pitching.
Jose Fernandez, fresh off being the NL Rookie of the Year Award winner, will take the mound in the opener against the Rockies, who are going with lefty Jorge De La Rosa.
"I love our pitching and I love the make-up of our ballclub," Redmond said.
When Spring Training opened, Miami had 68 in camp. Reaching the final 25 required some tough decisions. The competition was stiff, especially for the fifth starter, a few bullpen openings, as well as the utility infield role.
What the organization now enjoys is more depth than had been in camp in a number of years. It was needed, especially at second base.
Furcal, the 36-year-old who has been part of 12 playoff teams in his 14-year career, strained his hamstring on March 15. Losing the veteran is a tough blow, but it was cushioned by the fact Derek Dietrich stepped up with a strong Spring Training. Jeff Baker is a right-handed-hitting option with big league experience.
Initially, Lucas made the club as the utility infielder. But on Thursday, the day he was informed he was on the club, he was the victim of bad luck. The 31-year-old was struck on the back of his left hand by a pitch vs. the Cardinals. The impact caused a non-displaced fracture, which will require four to six weeks of recovery.
Donovan Solano, who was optioned last Thursday to Triple-A New Orleans, ended up being reinstated on Friday to fill Lucas' role
As expected, Miami will carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players.
The rotation features Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner and Tom Koehler. In the bullpen will be closer Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos, Carlos Marmol, Mike Dunn, Dan Jennings, Brad Hand and Slowey.
The regulars are: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (catcher), Garrett Jones (first base), Dietrich (second base), Adeiny Hechavarria (shortstop), Casey McGehee (third base), Christian Yelich (left field), Marcell Ozuna (center field) and Stanton (right field). The bench features Jeff Mathis, Greg Dobbs, Baker, Johnson and Solano.
Saltalamacchia, McGehee, Baker and Jones were free-agent additions the club hopes boosts an offense that ranked last in runs scored in the Majors a year ago.
"We have definitely strengthened our lineup with the guys we've brought in," Redmond said. "Now, we've got some established big league hitters. I think that benefits everyone.
"Our lineup is a lot deeper. We've got guys who have been through lots of Major League seasons -- veterans, guys who have been around. I think we're going to be better offensively."
Hechavarria is being closely monitored, as he missed the final week of Spring Training with a tight groin.
A year ago, the Marlins not only were extremely young, they also entered the year with some devastating injuries. They opened with starting pitchers Eovaldi and Alvarez on the disabled list, and first baseman Logan Morrison also started off on the DL. Injuries to key players mounted, especially in the first half. Another crushing blow came in late April, when Stanton also went down with a hamstring strain.
"We made the most of what we had last year, but we were pretty thin out there," Redmond said. "We didn't have a lot of depth. We had a lot of role players."