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Leiter offers Marlins insight into young arms

JUPITER, Fla. -- The first bit of advice for any young pitcher is there are going to be growing pains.

It's inevitable, especially on a young Marlins staff.

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Former big league left-hander, Al Leiter discussed some of the points to pay attention to with young pitchers on Monday morning. Leiter, a former Marlin, was in town on assignment with MLB Network.

"The safest way to proceed with young pitchers is that, the psyche and the mentality is very fragile," Leiter said.

The Marlins revamped their roster and rotation by a number of offseason trades, including dealing Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to the Blue Jays.

"The picture that's painted from the outside is, it's not going to be a very good year, based on what they did this winter," Leiter said. "That's not like, 'Red Alert.' You've got to buy into them. You've got to see and trust that they're going to struggle. And the bumps are going to be -- inconsistent with command.

"If their stuff gets worse, then that's a red flag to be concerned. But if stuff is good, each and every start, if you can build on something that they did within the game that made mistakes. Whether it was in critical times during the game, and there was an opportunity to maybe pitch around a guy, pitch backwards to get to a lesser hitter."

In other words, build on the positives and dissect the negatives, pinpointing how to polish things up.

The bottom line is, the best teacher is experience. And sometimes the numbers won't tell the whole story.

"You can only learn that on a big league mound, in a big league setting and experience," Leiter said. "If you have a 5.00 ERA, oh well. You want the 3.00. But I would say, as a staff, as a pitching coach, as a manager, as a front office, you look for the guys with the plus stuff."

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