Turner eager to step up in Marlins' rotation
Young righty shooting for No. 2 starter spot heading into Spring Training
MIAMI -- Reaching the big leagues at age 20 is a pretty tall order. Jacob Turner was able to accomplish the feat with the Tigers in 2011.
Now entering his first Spring Training with the Marlins, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is being counted on to become a top-of-the-rotation starter. The job description requires a heavy workload, like making roughly 30 starts and logging close to 200 innings. The composed, poised Turner is ready to shoulder the task.
"As far as expectations, I think I put higher expectations on myself than anybody ever will," said the now 21-year-old. "I've worked really hard this offseason in order to be prepared. I'm definitely ready to go."
Turner is hoping a stringent workout program -- along with tacking on about 10 pounds to be around 220 -- will pay off.
"I'm just really excited," Turner said. "I put in a lot of work this offseason in order to be ready for Spring Training. Whatever they need me to do ... Whatever spot they put me in, I'm prepared for it."
With only 13 total big league starts, Turner may find himself as the No. 2 starter on an overhauled Marlins roster. Exact slots in the rotation have yet to be determined. Other than veteran Ricky Nolasco, projected to be the ace, competition in Spring Training will determine the other four starters. Turner, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez will be vying for the second, third and fourth positions. The fifth starter will be open to a number of candidates, including Wade LeBlanc, Alex Sanabia, Tom Koehler and Brad Hand.
For Turner, just having a position entering the season is rewarding.
A year ago at this time, he was a touted prospect in the Tigers' system. Detroit took Turner with the ninth overall pick out of Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis in 2009. He made his big league debut in 2011, and he was traded to the Marlins in July of last year as part of the deal for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. Miami also acquired catcher Rob Brantly in the trade.
This will be Turner's first Spring Training with the Marlins, and he will already be getting to know a new staff and many new players. Ozzie Guillen has been replaced as manager by Mike Redmond, and Chuck Hernandez is the new pitching coach, taking over for Randy St. Claire.
Turner will be a big focus when Miami opens Spring Training workouts in Jupiter, Fla., on Tuesday.
"I'm super excited," Turner said. "Obviously, I know with everything that happened in the offseason, it's kind of a fresh start for everybody. I think a lot of people are excited to see what they can do. There will be a lot of competition in the spring, which I think will be exciting for a lot of players."
Turner spent time this week in South Florida taking part in the Marlins Ayudan Week 2013. A number of players and team officials have been making stops around South Florida, promoting the beginning of baseball.
On Thursday night, the Marlins and the Marlins Foundation are hosting the 7th Annual BaseBowl charity event at Lucky Strike Miami Beach. Funds raised at the event benefit the Marlins Charity Partner program.
The week of events will be capped on Saturday with the MetroPCS Marlins Winter Warm Up, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET at Marlins Park. It is free and open to the public, providing a chance to purchase season tickets and get players' autographs.
Even though Turner spent the second half of last season with the Marlins, it's a new beginning for him. After being called up by Miami late last year, Turner made 10 starts, posting a 2-5 record with a 4.42 ERA.
But the season ended on a positive note, as Turner stepped up in September. Although he was 1-2, he posted an impressive 2.63 ERA, and a 1.13 WHIP in 24 innings.
"Building confidence at the big league level is important," Turner said. "I think every level going up, whether it's Class A ball, Double-A, Triple-A, there is definitely a learning curve. I feel like being able to go out every fifth day and just pitch, that really helped me.
"At every level, you learn to pitch deeper into the games. It was really good to pitch that last month and just kind of get acquainted with everything."