03/02/11 12:18 PM EST
Marlins seeing Buck as power pickup
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Perhaps that is the case with Marlins catcher John Buck. The 30-year-old comes off a career season for home runs and RBIs. With the Blue Jays in 2010, the All-Star hit 20 homers and drove in 66.
After trading slugger Dan Uggla to the Braves in the offseason, the Marlins are looking for ways to replace the 30-plus lost homers by their former second baseman.
Buck is expected to pick up a portion of the slack.
Will he be able to repeat a 20-homer season? It's not something he is overly concerned about.
"I haven't put too much thought into it," he said. "I'm just going to carry over the swing and the approach that works for me. I was more consistent hitting last year. The rest of that is all of a product of how the ball flies.
"Home runs and all of that, it's not something in all reality that you can control. It's about good at-bats, put the bat on the ball, and it goes where it goes."
Buck's previous home run high was 18 with the Royals in 2007. With Kansas City in 2008 and '09, he combined for 17 more.
In his lone season with the Blue Jays, he made some adjustments with his former manager, Cito Gaston.
"I worked on a couple of things that helped me stay shorter with my swing," Buck said. "I did some things as far as getting ready, and I did some things as far as approach wise, working with Cito.
"It was just knowing the situations and how to read them. He was very good at that stuff, and I was able to learn and grasp it and be more consistent."
A pivotal part of his 2010 season came on April 29 against the A's when Buck hit three homers in one game.
The Marlins are hoping to replenish the loss of Uggla's power by getting a little more production from a number of players. Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton all are capable of improving their totals from their rookie seasons.
Newcomer Omar Infante likely will chip in with close to 10.
"You lost 30 [from Uggla], but you gained 20 with me, and you gained 10 with Omar," Buck said. "There are two players that you got 30 back. I'm not saying that we're the home run hitters by any means of Dan Uggla. He's a budding superstar.
"We've got some guys who can hit for power on this team. Power is what usually comes later."
In Toronto last year, Buck watched former teammate Jose Bautista pace the Major Leagues with 54 homers.
"You'd ask, 'Why would they pitch to him like that?'" Buck said of Bautista. "The thing that made him able to do that was his ability to walk. He would just wait until they made that mistake on the fastball in, and then, 'Boom!' He wouldn't miss it."
Nolasco on track to start second game
VIERA, Fla. -- It looks like it is thumbs up for Ricky Nolasco to be the Marlins' No. 2 starter.
A sore right thumb has set him back in Spring Training, but it doesn't look like it will prevent him from taking the mound on April 2 against the Mets at Sun Life Stadium.
Nolasco threw a 55-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, his first mound activity this spring. On Wednesday morning, manager Edwin Rodriguez confirmed Nolasco projects to be the second-game starter.
"Oh yes, if everything stays in order, he will be fine for that," Rodriguez said before the Marlins faced the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium.
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Nolasco will next throw bullpen sessions on Friday, and then Sunday. From there, he will face batters in live batting practice. A simulated game also is part of his rehab schedule. And the team is hopeful Nolasco will pitch in a Spring Training game on March 13.
"If that happens, then Game 2 is going to be very realistic," Rodriguez said.
Josh Johnson will be Florida's Opening Night starter on April 1.
Johnson and Nolasco are the cornerstones of the Marlins' rotation. Both are signed to long-term contracts, and they were Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, last year.
In December, Nolasco signed a three-year, $26.5 million contract.
The 28-year-old right-hander was 14-9 with a 4.51 ERA in 26 starts last year.
Nolasco has a career record of 54-39, and he is second in franchise history in victories. Dontrelle Willis holds the team mark with 68 wins.
Rodriguez said Nolasco's body language the past few days has shown he is ready to get going.
"He was bouncing around, and he was having fun, which is always good," the manager said.