03/14/07 6:22 PM EST
Notes: Team looking to solidify bullpen
Marlins like veteran relievers, interested in Diamondbacks' Julio
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Sources say the Marlins have an interest in Arizona's Jorge Julio.
The 28-year-old right-hander fits the profile of the team's desire to have someone with big-league experience. Julio had 16 saves in 20 chances for the Diamondbacks a year ago. For his career, he has 99 saves in 124 chances.
While the Marlins are not bashful about going with young pitchers, they do feel it is important to have some veteran relievers.
Over the past few years, the Marlins have had success reenergizing the careers of veteran relievers like Armando Benitez (2004), Todd Jones ('05) and Joe Borowski ('06).
Currently on the roster, the Marlins are impressed with hard throwers Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens. Owens threw a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the Orioles.
Julio struck out 88 and walked 35 in 66 innings for Arizona a year ago, and he has 345 career strikeouts in 357 2/3 innings.
More so than center field, solidifying the bullpen is the highest club priority.
After optioning Reggie Abercrombie to Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday, the center-field battle is between Alex Sanchez and Eric Reed. While the club is exploring trade options for center, they are more concerned about bullpen help.
Julio is slated to make $3.6 million in 2007.
Internally, Lindstrom and Owens have enhanced their chances to close. Kevin Gregg is another candidate, and Randy Messenger may get some consideration.
Olsen outstanding: Gradually, Scott Olsen is getting into season shape.
Entering Wednesday, the 23-year-old lefty was 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA.
Projected to be the third starter, Olsen stepped up with a stellar five-inning outing at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
The lefty allowed two hits over five shutout innings, striking out three while walking one. Now 1-3, Olsen's ERA dropped to 3.55 after his 66-pitch performance.
"I felt good, and I'm more consistent than each time before," Olsen said. "We're not taking steps back, which is good."
Olsen's outing helped lift the Marlins to their first two-game winning streak of Spring Training.
And for the second straight game, the starter was solid. On Tuesday, Anibal Sanchez tossed four shutout innings, yielding just one hit.
"I'm probably 70-75 [percent]," Olsen said of being regular-season ready. "I need to get my changeup to do what I want, and my slider needs to be more consistent."
Olsen's fastball command was on the mark, and he was down in the zone.
In the second inning, he used nasty sliders to strike out Ramon Hernandez and Corey Patterson.
Finding consistency: Generating consistent offense has plagued the Marlins all spring. In Wednesday's win, the offense started to show signs of life.
"The hitting is coming around," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I've never been too worried about that."
To three-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera, the offense should kick more into gear once the regulars are playing together consistently.
What Cabrera means by that is the projected lineup has yet to be on the field at the same time. Because of the evaluation process and easing players into shape, a different group is on the field at various times each day.
"Right now, we're not playing together," Cabrera said. "Some days, [Dan] Uggla and Hanley [Ramirez] play. The next day [Mike] Jacobs plays, and then we get a day off. Most of the games we haven't played together. Let's see what happens when the lineup is put together, and see if we score runs."
Cabrera has been his predictable dominating self, enjoying a stellar spring as he tunes up.
"I'm not worried too much because I know the guys. I know how they play baseball and I know they know what they're doing," Cabrera said. "Right now, we've got to keep playing and play hard."
Sanchez's start: Sanchez got a good look in center field, playing all nine innings and going 2-for-5 with a run scored and a stolen base, as well as a caught stealing.
Sanchez and Reed are now the prime contenders to start in center field.
Defensively, Sanchez made a couple of nice plays. On one of them, a running grab in left-center, he made a hustling basket catch.
Afterwards, outfield instructor Bo Porter had a brief conversation with Sanchez about not getting too fancy.
Gonzalez said Porter told Sanchez to "make sure you catch the ball."
"You don't get extra outs and style points," Gonzalez said.
Fish bites: The Marlins have no interest in signing catcher Javy Lopez, recently released by the Rockies. ... Several teams have expressed interest in outfielder Cody Ross, who projects to make the team as a reserve outfielder, if he isn't moved. ... Jason Wood continues to make things happen. The 37-year-old started at second base Wednesday, doubled and scored in the fourth inning. Wood went 2-for-4 and raised his spring average to .478.
Up next: The Marlins take to the road again Thursday, when they visit the Astros in Kissimmee. Ricky Nolasco will get the 1:05 p.m. ET start for Florida, while Houston will go with lefty Wandy Rodriguez.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.