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Marlins exploring options after losing Mathis

VIERA, Fla. -- The search for a backup catcher has already begun.

The Marlins are exploring all avenues for depth now that Jeff Mathis is out for at least six weeks with a fractured right collarbone.

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The club is combing through other rosters, exploring possible trade options and trying to figure out which teams have a surplus.

Losing Mathis so early in Spring Training is a tough blow, but time is working in the team's favor.

Had it occurred closer to Opening Day, there would be more urgency to make a quick move.

Mathis suffered the injury after absorbing a foul tip off the bat of St. Louis' Matt Holliday on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium. He took himself out of the game after feeling discomfort while throwing.

An X-ray revealed a non-displaced fracture.

In all likelihood, Mathis will be out more than six weeks because that is the estimated time for the bone to heal. The injury is preventing him from throwing and swinging a bat for more than a month.

Over the next few weeks, the Marlins will look at their internal options.

The candidate closest to being big league ready is Kyle Skipworth, the team's first-round pick in 2008.

Skipworth spent the past two seasons at Double-A Jacksonville, and the 22-year-old has 444 games of Minor League experience.

Skipworth will be making the start on Monday against the Braves at Lake Buena Vista.

"I like him," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's a big, physical guy for a catcher. He's going to get a chance [Monday] to catch. Obviously, we're looking for one of those young kids to step up. Any time you get guys playing time in big league Spring Training, you see what you've got. You see how they handle the pressures."

Jake Jefferies got a chance to play on Sunday in Miami's 2-2 tie with Washington.

If Miami carries Skipworth on its Opening Day roster, they would have two left-handed hitting catchers.

Rob Brantly, the projected starter, also bats lefty.

"Obviously, there is an opportunity there for someone," Redmond said. "We'll see how that plays itself out."

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