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Slowey making case for rotation job

Despite friendship with Redmond, righty out to prove he's worthy of roster spot

JUPITER, Fla. -- Even though Kevin Slowey is a former teammate of Marlins manager Mike Redmond, it was understood right away that there would be no preferential treatment.

Redmond made that clear shortly before Slowey opted to sign a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

"The thing that was very special to me, and one of the reasons I came here was because the conversation I had with Mike when it came down to where I wanted to go to camp," Slowey said. "He said, 'Look, don't come to camp if you think you have a job here.' He said, 'Come here if you're ready to win a job here.'"

The blunt honesty didn't scare the 27-year-old away. In fact, it accomplished just the opposite.

Slowey signed with Miami because the right-hander wasn't guaranteed anything and he wanted to prove something.

So far, the right-hander is building a case to make the Opening Day roster. Not being on the 40-man roster certainly hurts his chances, but the Marlins are also looking at what Slowey offers.

The team is looking for a fifth starter or long reliever candidate. Slowey is in the mix with John Maine, Wade LeBlanc and Tom Koehler.

Slowey made his first Grapefruit League start on Monday and he had an interesting outing. His line: three innings, three runs, two hits, five strikeouts, a home run, two walks and a hit batter.

"I felt pretty good out there," Slowey said. "The numbers aren't what I'd particularly want. While I appreciate striking guys out, that's not usually my game. That usually does lead to nibbling a little too much, because I'm out there saying, 'Well, I'm striking guys out.' It kind of gets me off my game a little bit, which is my strength, throwing strikes."

Of Slowey's 54 pitches, 34 were strikes. There were some positives and negatives on a day the Marlins rallied to an 8-7 walk-off win over the Red Sox on Christian Yelich's two-out, two-run homer.

On the plus side were the strikeouts and Slowey's ability to miss bats without having over-powering stuff.

Slowey also was in an immediate bind. His first pitch of the afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium was swatted over the wall in left field by Jackie Bradley Jr.

Slowey settled, but in the third inning, he allowed two more runs, walking two and hitting Mike Napoli on the left wrist.

"You know what you're going to get out of Slowey," Redmond said. "He's going to go out there, and over the course of time, he's going to pound the strike zone and eat up innings."

Performance over past relationship will factor into whether Slowey makes the team, but the fact that Slowey has history with Redmond brings familiarity.

On June 1, 2007, Redmond caught Slowey's MLB debut with the Twins. Slowey wasn't involved in the decision that day. Minnesota won, 3-2, with Redmond -- who else? -- knocking in the decisive run.

"Mike is the kind of guy, from the moment I came into the clubhouse in Minnesota, he made it a point to make me a better baseball player," Slowey said. "Not just a better pitcher, but a better teammate, a better clubhouse guy."

Redmond's honesty helped attract Slowey to sign.

"We played together, but that's all it is, we played together," Slowey said. "Why he's going to be a great manager and a great leader for a young, talented team is they need somebody who is going to look them in the eye and tell them just how it is."

The Marlins opened camp with 38 pitchers and it was made clear there would be competition.

Slowey has had a solid Spring Training, posting a 2.89 ERA in 9 1/3 innings.

"I feel healthy, and I understand there is a lot of opportunity in this clubhouse," he said. "There is a lot of talent, too. I think that sometimes gets overlooked with the whirlwind of a year they've had in Miami. There is a lot of talent in here. A lot of good arms. A lot of good arms that were sent out recently.

"My hope is I could be, not one of those young guys, but help balance it out a little bit. At the end of the day, if you ask anybody in the clubhouse, they're going to know there are decisions that are going to be out of their hands."

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.

{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }