Willingham recalls growing pains with '06 Fish

Willingham recalls growing pains with '06 Fish

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins left fielder Josh Willingham can relate to the Marlins' tough start with a young team.

Willingham, a steady run producer for Minnesota, was a rookie on the Marlins' 2006 team.

The '06 Marlins, managed by Joe Girardi, had more than 20 rookies play for them over the course of the season.

The 2013 Marlins are an inexperienced team going through a transition, and it's been reflected in their slow start.

In '06, the club was 11-31 at one point, but finished 78-84. That team actually got over .500 in early September and was in the Wild Card race before stumbling in the final few weeks.

"I think if you're a young team, that's the one thing you need to have is the pitching," Willingham said on Tuesday morning. "They can keep you in ballgames. It's going to be your constant. Young players, in general, are going to be up and down.

"If you have that pitching you can always rely on, it's a good starting point. We had that in '06."

The '06 rotation featured Dontrelle Willis, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Scott Olsen and Anibal Sanchez.

"When you think about those arms," Willingham said, "most of them are still playing. I think that kind of helped us get through the bad times."

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