Turner takes step in right direction for Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. -- Roughed up by the Cardinals nine days ago, Jacob Turner was back on the mound Saturday looking to find his stride.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander took a step in the right direction, throwing three scoreless innings against St. Louis in Miami's 2-0 loss at Roger Dean Stadium.

Getting Turner going is huge for the upstart Marlins, who are counting on the 21-year-old to solidify a rotation spot.

Until Saturday's solid, 49-pitch performance, there were some questions. On Feb. 28, Turner was tagged for six runs (five earned) in one-third of an inning while facing the Cardinals. Since then, Turner tossed two scoreless innings in a B game against the Mets, and in front of 4,219 at Roger Dean Stadium, the right-hander was more inspired.

"It looked like he had a little more sense of urgency out there, and it looked like he was getting after it a little better," manager Mike Redmond said.

Turner attacked the zone better. His fastball was in the 91-94 mph range, compared to barely touching 90 nine days ago.

"I think any time you're kind of off the tracks a little bit, you need an outing that kind of gets you going in the right direction, and lets you build momentum," Turner said. "I think I've done that in my last two outings."

It was announced a few days ago that Ricky Nolasco would be Miami's Opening Day starter on April 1 at Washington. The other four spots have yet to be announced. Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Turner are expected to fill three of them. In which order, the Marlins haven't said.

"We're counting on [Turner] to be in that rotation, so definitely a good sign today," Redmond said. "Hopefully, he's on track, pounding the strike zone and doing the things he needs to do to be in that rotation."

In the first inning, Turner topped at 94 mph. He did allow a one-out walk to Oscar Taveras and a two-out double to Matt Adams, but he retired Ty Wigginton on fly ball to right.

Turner worked a perfect second inning. In the third, he allowed a leadoff single to Tony Cruz, but was able to set down the next three.

"Obviously, I felt a lot better," Turner said. "I think it showed in the command of the pitches and just how sharp they were. It's definitely a step in the right direction."

An adjustment he's made is with his timing, getting his upper body to work more in tune with his lower half.

"Every time I go out there, it's going to feel a little bit better," Turner said. "Even today, it felt better in the third inning than it did in the first inning. You start trusting your stuff more and more."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter