Bullpen competition starting to heat up

Bullpen competition starting to heat up

JUPITER, Fla. -- It's about to get interesting for a couple of bullpen openings at Marlins camp.

There are a number of candidates for what may ultimately be two or three spots.

At the mid-way point of Spring Training, manager Mike Redmond is sending a reminder that the time is now to show something.

"Every outing is big for guys," Redmond said. "Camp now, is so short. We have so many pitchers, and we're trying to get a look at so many different guys. Honestly, I think every time they get the ball is important. There are not enough innings out there for guys to kind of ease into it.

"I've never been a guy who kind of eased into it. I want to see what you've got. I'm trying to make an evaluation. I want to take the best [12] guys we can. If guys are holding back for something, it's probably not the time to hold back."

Up for grabs are a right-handed setup role, long relief, and possibly a second lefty spot.

The club is expected to carry seven relievers, and 12 total pitchers.

"We have a bunch of guys really fighting for those spots," Redmond said. "We're looking for guys to step up."

In the mix for spots are Carter Capps, Arquimedes Caminero, Henry Rodriguez, Brad Hand (either starter or reliever) and Kevin Slowey (also a starter and relief candidate). Carlos Marmol is signed to a guaranteed contract, and Sunday was his first scheduled appearance.

Marmol is basically a lock.

Rodriguez is a non-roster invitee who struck out three and issued a hit on Saturday in one inning against the Braves. Command is key for Rodriguez, who throws in the upper 90s. He was throwing 98-99 mph in his first inning.

What impressed the Marlins is he was getting strikeouts on sliders.

Some of the lefties getting a look are Dan Jennings, Josh Spence and Edgar Olmos.

Secured of spots are closer Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos, Mike Dunn and Marmol.

There are some starters who may wind up in bullpen roles, like Tom Koehler, Hand and Slowey.

The Marlins are looking for relievers to replace the innings logged a year ago by Ryan Webb and Chad Qualls, who are with the Orioles and Astros, respectively.

"Where are these guys going to fit?" Redmond said. "Like I said, we lost Webby and we lost Qualls. We need guys to step up, and fill those innings. It's going to be an interesting battle to see who can be the most consistent and earn it. The bottom line is, these guys have got to earn it."

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