Kotchman embraces chance with newest team
Signed by Miami to provide depth at first, veteran is on sixth different squad since '09
JUPITER, Fla. -- Moving from team to team can have its advantages.
Casey Kotchman, the newest member of the Marlins, certainly is experiencing some.
"I've been privileged just to have the opportunity to put on different uniforms and meet a bunch of different players that I wouldn't have met if I'd stayed in one place," Kotchman said. "Typically, if you draw it up in your mind, you want to stay in one place. But looking back on it, you have a chance to meet a bunch of new players and teammates and build relationships with everybody."
Kotchman, who turns 30 on Friday, signed a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invitation last Friday. The left-handed-hitting first baseman was on the field with his new team on Saturday morning.
For Kotchman, this is his sixth different team since 2009. In that span, he's also been with the Braves, Red Sox, Mariners, Rays and Indians.
Wherever he's been, Kotchman pretty much has anchored first base. With Miami, the veteran provides insurance at first base because Logan Morrison has yet to be cleared to start running. Chances are Morrison won't be ready for Opening Day.
"It gives us a proven Major League first baseman," manager Mike Redmond said. "With LoMo out, we figured we needed some depth. He's going to have to earn it and go out there. But it's nice to have him in camp, a guy who has proven he can be in the big leagues for a considerable amount of time."
Morrison is recovering from right knee surgery. More on his status will be known on Tuesday after he travels to Vail, Colo., for a medical update from Dr. Richard Steadman, who performed the surgery last September.
Morrison has been rehabbing in Jupiter since the start of Spring Training.
"It feels good, but it feels weak, compared to my other leg," Morrison said.
Unlike last year, Morrison said his knee is pain free.
"No pain, nothing like that," he said. "I think if I get cleared to run, it will do a lot to help strengthen it. But the doctor knows more than me."
Morrison understands the decision to sign Kotchman.
"They have to cover themselves, that's fine with me," Morrison said.
A St. Petersburg native, Kotchman broke in with the Angels in '04, and he is happy about playing in his home state.
"The opportunity here, and the proximity to home, in Pinellas County, is good," Kotchman said. "This training staff, and just what they've got going here, with the young talent and a good cast. We all want that chance to put on the big league uniform. Now, I have that opportunity."
Kotchman batted .229 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs with the Indians a year ago. In the field, he again was a standout, posting a .995 fielding percentage (six errors).
Kotchman is known for his glove, and he holds an impressive MLB record for first baseman. He had a streak of 2,379 fielding chances without an error. He set the mark at 2,003 on June 3, 2010, passing Kevin Youkilis' mark. The streak was snapped on Aug. 21, 2010, when he mishandled a Curtis Granderson ground ball. It was his first error since July 20, 2008.
"I really wasn't aware or conscious of it for the most part of it, but it was fun," Kotchman said. "To be able to break it on Father's Day, back when I was with Seattle, that was special to me. Any time you can help your team out on defense, it's a privilege, save your pitcher pitches on his pitch count, infielders' errors. Any time you can pick them up, it's good."
After missing ASG, Stanton ready for Classic stage
JUPITER, Fla. -- Participating in the World Baseball Classic is no substitute for the All-Star Game, but for Giancarlo Stanton, it remains a nice sense of achievement.
If not for injury, Stanton would have been able to experience both in less than a year.
The 23-year-old was Miami's lone All-Star in 2012. He was also entered in the Home Run Derby. But he was unable to attend the festivities in Kansas City due to right knee surgery.
In early March, Stanton will be joining Team USA in preparation for the Classic. To Stanton, playing for his country ranks right up there with achieving All-Star status.
"It's in the same ballpark," he said. "They are special in their own ways. Obviously, I'd like to do both. But the fact that I can do this now, and I wasn't able to do the All-Star Game, it's good for me."
The challenge for all players in the Classic is getting physically ready for intense games without sacrificing the necessary conditioning for the regular season.
"There is a lot of traveling early and a higher-level of play," Stanton said. "It's a good challenge to prepare myself. It's a little different. But there is the benefit to having USA on your chest and being able to play for your country."
If Team USA advances out of the first round, it will be playing at Marlins Park from March 12-16.
Redmond takes it easy on hitters on Day 1
JUPITER, Fla. -- Day one of full-squad workouts have traditionally featured pitchers facing hitters.
Manager Mike Redmond changed things up a little bit in his first Spring Training as a big league manager.
A former catcher, Redmond was not a big fan of stepping onto the field and immediately seeing 90-mph pitches. So, the Marlins are easing into things more.
Batters will face pitchers beginning Monday.
"I don't know if any position player likes coming right out of the chute the first day and facing live pitching," Redmond said. "The luxury that we have is with that extra time, we can kind of get those guys a few extra days of batting practice. Get them a little more comfortable. Get their hands used to swinging a little bit before we throw them in there against the pitchers, live."
The extra time is because Spring Training is a week longer this season because of the World Baseball Classic.
Technically, Miami's first full-squad workout was Friday. But because of rain, hitting was done in the cages.
Saturday was the first time everyone was on the field, and hitters took batting practice thrown by the coaching staff.
"We're trying to ease into it a little bit," Redmond said. "We've got a lot of time. We've got that extra week. You don't want to get this thing too monotonous where we are doing the same thing, continuously, day in and day out."
• The competition in center field may take a couple of different twists. Manager Mike Redmond said on Saturday that Juan Pierre, who has been speculated as a main option in left field, could see time in center this spring. While Pierre lacks arm strength, he does possess speed. Justin Ruggiano has been considered the frontrunner for center, but he could be in left.
• Pitching prospect Grant Dayton has been reassigned to rehab after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow. There are 73 players in camp.
• Grapefruit League play gets under way on Feb. 23, when the Marlins face the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. The team is weighing who to start in that opener. It could be Henderson Alvarez, who will be leaving the club early in March to join Team Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic. Or maybe Wade LeBlanc or Kevin Slowey -- two candidates for the fifth starter spot -- will get the nod. "We haven't really settled on exactly who is going to start," Redmond said.
• Miami will work out at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.