Injuries could open door for Marlins' 'fringe guys'

Injuries could open door for Marlins' 'fringe guys'

JUPITER, Fla. -- With less than three weeks until Opening Day, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said his team is almost ready to play. In the final stretch of Spring Training, the club will be evaluating players on the bubble as well as keeping fingers crossed that players remain healthy.

The organization received a jolt on Wednesday night when third baseman Martin Prado strained his right hamstring while playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. The team leader is returning to South Florida to be examined by team physicians, and the Marlins are hopeful he will be ready for Opening Day on April 3 at the Nationals.

Injuries aside, Miami generally knows how its roster is shaping up.

Prado injured, leaves game

"You kind of know your main core guys," Mattingly said. "It's the fringe guys that have a chance to help you over the course of the season that you really get a good chance to look at here. I feel good about all of that."

Nothing is set in stone and roster spots are certainly subject to change, but here is a projection of how the Marlins' roster may look when they break camp.

A.J. Ramos (closer)
Brad Ziegler
David Phelps
Kyle Barraclough
Junichi Tazawa
Dustin McGowan
Jose Urena
Hunter Cervenka

Before the Marlins arrived for Spring Training, they spoke about carrying eight relievers. They continue to lean that way, but an injury has altered how the bullpen may look. Jeff Locke's left biceps strain is expected to land him on the disabled list.

Urena is out of options, and Miami really doesn't want to lose the hard-throwing right-hander. He could make the club as a long reliever/spot starter.

Mattingly on Conley, Urena

A competition remains between Nick Wittgren, Brian Ellington and Cervenka for one spot. The edge could be with Cervenka, who would be the only lefty in the 'pen.

Ichiro Suzuki
Miguel Rojas
A.J. Ellis
Derek Dietrich

The Marlins' depth is already being tested. Ichiro missed time early in Spring Training with a bruised right quadriceps and a tight lower back. Ellis, the backup catcher, continues to recover from a left hamstring strain. Prado's strained right hamstring could open the door for Dietrich to start at third base.

Non-roster invitees Brandon Barnes, Tyler Moore and Matt den Dekker continue to compete for a spot. All three have out clauses. Moore and Barnes are right-handed hitters who can play first and left field. Barnes also has played center field in camp.

Barnes' nice running catch

Barnes may have an edge, because if he makes the Opening Day roster, he has an option left. So if he makes the club, he wouldn't have to clear waivers if Miami wanted to send him to Triple-A New Orleans at some point during the season.

1. Dee Gordon, 2B
2. Prado, 3B
3. Christian Yelich, CF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
5. Justin Bour, 1B
6. Marcell Ozuna, LF
7. J.T. Realmuto, C
8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS

If Prado is not available, Ozuna is a possibility to bat second, with the left-handed-hitting Dietrich batting either sixth or seventh.

Edinson Volquez
Wei-Yin Chen
Tom Koehler
Adam Conley
Dan Straily

Nothing has changed in terms of the Marlins' projected starting five, but the order could be switched up. Mattingly has yet to announce an Opening Day starter, but he hinted that Volquez could get the nod. If that is the case, splitting up left-handers Chen and Conley could set the rotation as listed above.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.