Marlins focused on fresh start at Winter Warm Up

Marlins focused on fresh start at Winter Warm Up

MIAMI -- What happened last season will not be rehashed when the Marlins front office meets with the coaching staff on Sunday.

Instead, team president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest will be focused on the here and now, and the new beginning the organization is about to enter.

All the team's roster moves have been discussed, dissected and digested. Starting on Tuesday, Spring Training gets under way at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla., and the Marlins' full attention is on the upcoming season.

"I think I understand where the fans are coming from with the upheaval, but it is time to turn the page," Beinfest said. "Organizationally, we have.

"My preamble to the staff [Sunday] will not include anything about last season. Generally, when I open things up with our field staff, we talk a little bit about the previous season and how the winter went. My plan is not to talk about it at all."

In many ways, Saturday marked the first step in the new beginning. The Marlins hosted their MetroPCS Winter Warm Up at Marlins Park. Players signed autographs, and there were activities for fans on the West Plaza.

Manager Mike Redmond and his staff had a forum with season ticket holders, and the attitude is upbeat.

The turnout was substantially less than a year ago, when a high-priced, high-profile cast of players interacted with fans in the inaugural season at Marlins Park. Many of the big names from a year ago are gone, but there is plenty of enthusiasm from inside the organization.

For the most part, the day was a chance to meet and greet players.

Of note:

• Logan Morrison's surgically repaired right knee will be examined on Feb. 19 by Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo. The visit will determine when the first baseman will be cleared to run. Morrison will be at full-squad workouts on Friday, but he isn't scheduled to swing a bat until after his examination in Colorado.

• Henderson Alvarez said on Saturday that he will participate in the World Baseball Classic, pitching for Venezuela. He hopes to be the No. 2 starter behind Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez.

• Placido Polanco is expected to be the starting third baseman, but he could wind up at second base, depending on how the rest of the infield shapes up in Spring Training.

• Joe Mahoney, Greg Dobbs and Austin Kearns will see plenty of opportunity at first base during Spring Training.

• Steve Cishek is expect to close, and Jon Rauch is being looked at in a setup role. Cishek, under club contract, recently signed for $505,000. Rauch, a free-agent signing, has a salary of $1 million plus incentives.

For all the hype given to the 2012 Marlins, the team finished 69-93, triggering numerous changes.

"I think we need to talk about our young players, talk about the 2013 Marlins, and move forward," Beinfest said. "I think it's been hashed out enough. I think it's had its time. I don't really think it's productive. That will be how we start [Sunday], moving right into this camp and this season."

The Winter Warm Up marked the first day individual game tickets went on sale for the upcoming season. Tickets are available at marlins.com.

For Saturday only, the team is reducing each seat for the April 8 home opener against the Braves by $10.

Tickets also are on sale for the second round of the World Baseball Classic, to be played at Marlins Park from March 12-16.

With a drop in attendance at the Winter Warm Up, team president David Samson says the club is in the process of trying to win over as many fans as possible.

"You just keep working every day, one fan at a time," Samson said.

After making their highly publicized trades, Miami's payroll has dropped from roughly $100 million to around $40 million.

Through several trades, the Marlins have stocked up on young players, a number of whom will open in the Minor Leagues.

"I want to make it very clear, we're not aiming to have the No. 1 farm system in baseball," Samson said. "You'd always rather have the No. 1 MLB team. I mean it's nice to be on the cover of Baseball America, if that's what you're into. But that's not impressive to me."

The long-term plan is to build around mostly homegrown talent. And as the team improves, the hope is so will the crowds and revenues. In time, the payroll also will increase.

"Absolutely. That's the hope," Samson said. "People were disappointed last year, and they showed it. They were disappointed what happened off the field, they were disappointed with what happened on the field. They showed it towards the end of the season. The second half of the season, this park was not full, to put it generously."

Future payrolls, Samson said, will depend on revenue.

"We want to be a responsible team," Samson said. "We got away from that, and we're back to it. We are trying to fill this ballpark. We're trying. We're in the top seven in marketing budget, still. Which makes sense. When you're not drawing, you market, and you try to do deals.

"If you're selling out every game, you don't have a marketing department. Our signing-bonus budget this year is the highest in franchise history, by far. Not even close. It's also a function of losing. We have such a high pick. We've got extra picks, and all sorts of stuff going on."

The players also are ready to get started and work towards a competitive season.

"The things that have happened are in the past," said Ricky Nolasco, the projected Opening Day starter. "It's that time now to just concentrate on Spring Training, and getting ready and doing everything we can to jell as a team and win games. It's exciting. It's been fun this week meeting new players and stuff. I think everybody is just excited to get Spring Training to start."

Polanco, a veteran infielder, grew accustomed to winning while with the Phillies. The 37-year-old free-agent pickup feels Miami has plenty of talent to make the season interesting.

"It's just baseball," he said. "We're all full of talent. We can play hard and smart baseball and wind up winning. Nobody believed the Oakland A's were going to win it last year and they won their division. It's just one of those things. You look around, and we've got a lot of talent."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.