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Searching for consistency, Ozuna gets breather

Searching for consistency, Ozuna gets breather

SAN DIEGO -- Greatness is coming in flashes for Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna.

In many ways, Ozuna is symbolic of where Miami is as a club right now. The 23-year-old has tremendous talent and potential. He's also comparatively inexperienced and lacks overall consistency.

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"He's a special player," manager Mike Redmond said. "Last year was big for him to come to the big leagues and get a few months of experience. That's helped him out a lot."

Ozuna was given a breather on Sunday in the series finale against the Padres at Petco Park.

In his first full big league season, Ozuna has already doubled his home run total from a year ago. On Friday night, the center fielder belted his sixth shot of the season, and it was a blast that reached the third deck of the Western Metal Supply building stationed beyond the left-field wall at Petco Park.

In 70 games as a rookie last year, Ozuna hit three homers and added 32 RBIs. Entering Sunday, he has 21 RBIs, which is third on the club. His six homers also are tied with Jarrod Saltalamacchia for second most on the Marlins, behind Giancarlo Stanton's 11.

"He's a young guy, and he's still learning his strike zone," Redmond said. "I think sometimes he has a tendency to get out of his comfort level, and he swings at a lot of pitches out of the zone.

"But he seems to always make an adjustment. It might be just one at-bat on any given night. But he's got a ton of power. When he swings at strikes, he's pretty good. That's the key for any young player, learning your strike zone and learning the pitches you can hit and the pitches you can't hit."

The ups and downs are part of Ozuna's maturation process. He's batting .263 with a .304 on-base percentage and a .431 slugging percentage. His strikeouts are an issue, as he's fanned 34 times in his first 137 at-bats.

When he makes contact, Ozuna is a threat.

"He has a lot of power," Redmond said. "I have a lot of confidence in him at the plate. He's a free swinger. I watched him in the Minor Leagues. I love his energy."

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