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Eovaldi ready, eager for season to get underway

Eovaldi ready, eager for season to get underway

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- As a formality, Nathan Eovaldi will have one more Grapefruit League start, which is set for Wednesday against the Braves at Lake Buena Vista.

But mentally and physically, Eovaldi is pretty much ready for the regular season.

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The hard-throwing right-hander showed it on Friday in his 4 1/3-inning, two-run stint against the Astros in the Marlins' 7-2 win at Osceola County Stadium.

"From his last start to this start, the ball was definitely coming out of his hand better, crisper," manager Mike Redmond said. "He looked to me like he's ready."

The Marlins open the season on March 31 against the Rockies at Marlins Park, and Eovaldi projects to be the No. 2 starter behind Jose Fernandez.

In his second-to-last start, Eovaldi allowed two runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts. His fastball was lively, ranging between 93-96 mph. He continues to work on his secondary pitches, which will be crucial to complement his fastball.

Overall, the 24-year-old felt he threw the best that he has all spring.

"I felt a lot better this outing than all of my other ones," Eovaldi said. "We fixed a few things, mechanically. My curveball felt good today. I was able to locate the fastball away, for the most part. I felt good."

With the season around the corner, Eovaldi noted that it's hard to stay focused.

"It's like you're ready for the season," he said. "You're ready for it to get here. How many more days before it gets here?"

There is some added eagerness because Eovaldi has never been on an Opening Day roster. In 2012, when he was with the Dodgers, he was sent down on the last day of Spring Training. That year, Los Angeles brought in veterans Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang.

Last year, Eovaldi was tabbed as the Marlins' No. 2 starter. But the day before the season got underway, he was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

Friday started off promising for the Marlins. Before Eovaldi threw a pitch, he was working with a two-run lead, courtesy of Garrett Jones' home run.

Eovaldi started off strong, striking out Dexter Fowler and Robbie Grossman. Eovaldi was lifted with one out and the bases full in the fifth inning after throwing 85 pitches.

In relief, Carter Capps ended the threat with a pair of flyouts to short left field.

"I've been feeling good all spring," Eovaldi said. "No issues. I'm just ready to get going."

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