Hand makes his case with two solid innings

Hand makes his case with two solid innings

VIERA, Fla. -- Brad Hand made his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday afternoon against the Nationals, looking to take his first step toward a spot on the Marlins' Opening Day roster.

Hand, who could be an option as the No. 5 starter or in long relief, threw the first two innings of a 10-3 loss to the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium. The left-hander gave up one run on two hits, with no walks and two strikeouts.

"I felt pretty good. Everything was working pretty well," Hand said. "I was coming out, my first start of the spring and just wanted to throw strikes, get ahead of hitters, get ready for the season."

Hand did throw strikes, but ran into a little tough luck in the first inning. With one out, he struck out Ian Desmond, but the ball got past catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for what was ruled a wild pitch. Ryan Zimmerman then reached on a soft infield single before Wilson Ramos lined an RBI single to left field.

Still, Hand was able to retire five straight batters to end his outing, relying mostly on his fastball and curveball, while sprinkling in two or three changeups. He was followed by lefty Brian Flynn, another potential rotation candidate, who gave up two runs in two innings, on an Adam LaRoche home run.

This is an important spring for Hand, a former second-round Draft pick who turns 24 on March 20. After pitching 20 games for the Marlins over the past three years and going 2-10 with a 4.48 ERA, Hand is out of options and could wind up going to another organization if he can't stick with Miami.

"I'm not worried about it too much, just going out and trying to pitch," Hand said. "Can't really make them make a decision. Just go out and pitch well in the spring and see what happens."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.