Hitless string ends, but Alvarez still solid

Hitless string ends, but Alvarez still solid

JUPITER, Fla. -- You have to go back to Sept. 24, 2013, to find the last time Henderson Alvarez allowed a hit in a Major League sanctioned game.

Spring Training statistics, obviously, don't count. But unofficially, Alvarez had a string of 13 straight hitless innings.

Alvarez, in line to be the Marlins' No. 3 starter, no-hit the Tigers in the regular-season finale, and he opened his Grapefruit League stint by tossing three perfect innings against the Cardinals last Friday.

The hitless string was snapped when Atlanta's B.J. Upton singled with one out in the first inning on Wednesday in Miami's 3-1 loss at Roger Dean Stadium.

"It happens," Alvarez said of yielding a hit. "I'm glad I got it over with."

The last regular-season hit given up by Alvarez was a one-out single to Philadelphia's Cameron Rupp in the seventh inning on Sept. 24.

Alvarez actually gave up five hits in 3 2/3 innings on Wednesday, with the biggest one being Evan Gattis' one-out home run in the fourth inning.

If you go back to Sept. 24, Alvarez had gone 21 straight innings without allowing a run before the Gattis blast to left.

"I felt good. Thankfully I'm healthy," the right-hander said. "I'm continuously working towards Opening Day and whatever role they put me in as a starter."

Alvarez offers a different style because he can change speeds probably better than anyone in the Marlins' rotation.

"He looked similar to me," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's got the ability to be able to pitch. I think he, probably unlike anyone else we have, is able to pitch successfully at 89 [mph], and then he can throw 96 when he needs to. That's the beauty of Henderson Alvarez: He's crafty when he wants to. When he wants to turn it on, he can turn it on. He threw some nice breaking balls. He got out of the jams he got in."

Alvarez is more at ease this spring. A year ago, he pitched for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic and he dealt with some right shoulder discomfort, which led to him opening the season on the disabled list.

"Last spring, I had issues with my shoulder," Alvarez said. "This year, thanks to the work I did in Venezuela, I was able to work on some things and I feel healthier."

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