Anderson ready to step up at third base
Marlins' No. 9 prospect getting chance with Prado sidelined
JUPITER, Fla. -- The past two Spring Trainings, Marlins third-base prospect Brian Anderson has been surrounded by some elite company.
At the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex, Anderson's locker is next to highly respected veteran Martin Prado. In 2017, Anderson's first big league camp, he had a locker beside Ichiro Suzuki.
"Having [Prado's] locker right next to mine is incredible," said Anderson, 24. "Last year I was really fortunate to have Ichiro next to me. You learn from guys like that, guys who have been around the league, guys who do it the right way. Guys who are true professionals."
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Anderson now has an opportunity to come out of the shadows and make his own mark.
The Marlins announced Wednesday that Prado (right knee) had a setback in his recovery, and will start on regular season on the disabled list. That clears the way for Anderson start at third.
"He's been kind of knocking on that door anyway," manager Don Mattingly said. "So, obviously, it puts more playing time on him. It's fair to say that it opens the door for him."
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Ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 9 prospect, Anderson showed promise in Spring Training last year, and opened the season at Double-A Jacksonville. He appeared in the Futures Game, then was promoted to Triple-A New Orleans before a September callup from the Marlins.
Anderson combined for 22 home runs and 81 RBIs in 120 Minor League games last year, and he appeared in 25 games for the Marlins with a slash line of .262/.337/.369.
Until he's officially on the Opening Day roster, Anderson isn't taking anything for granted.
"I'm not looking too far into the future," the former University of Arkansas standout said. "I'm just working on my game, keep improving, and trying to get my timing at the plate, see good pitches and put good swings on them. Whatever happens with the roster, it happens. I'm going to be the same player, either way."
The Marlins open on March 29 against the Cubs at Marlins Park.
"It's definitely a goal of mine, to one day make the Opening Day roster," Anderson said. "If it happens this year, it happens. But my focus is on baseball right now. Coming to the field every day, being a good teammate, and just keep working hard."
J.T. Realmuto anticipates resuming baseball activities in the next day or two, and the Marlins' front-line catcher fully expects to be ready for Opening Day.
Asked if he had any concerns about the opener, Realmuto said: "No, not at all. As long as I get a few more games under my belt, I'll be fine. Position players need a lot less time getting ready than pitchers."
Realmuto was shaken up Sunday, colliding with the Yankees' Gleyber Torres at second base. The injury occurred as Realmuto was picked off the base by catcher Gary Sanchez. On the play, Torres' knee made contact with Realmuto's back.
"His knee jammed into my back, and it created a little contusion in that area," Realmuto said. "It was a combination of that and me like twisting, trying to get away.
"It feels better today than yesterday, and yesterday felt better than the day before. It's slowly getting better."
Prado's injury creates more competition for potential bench roles in the infield. Anderson moves into a starting role, and the field is open behind him at third base. Eric Campbell, formerly with the Mets, is a non-roster invitee who had an RBI on Wednesday. Peter Mooney is a left-handed-hitting utility player who can also play shortstop and second base. Mooney, batting .333 this spring, also has seen time at third base.
Dan Straily, who will pitch the second game of the regular season against the Cubs, threw five shutout innings in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the Mets. The right-hander allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three. The next time out, Straily will pitch in a Minor League game, where the club can control his innings and pitches.
"I game-planned for today," Straily said. "You're kind of lying to yourself if you say you never game-plan. ... You're always working on something. You're working on something during the regular season. You're always working on your craft. That part never goes away. But really, for me, it was the last time through, the four innings. Any time you're facing guys more than once is kind of where I start paying attention to sequencing and how I'm going to pitch a guy."
The Marlins travel to Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Thursday to take on the Mets at 1:10 p.m. ET (watch live on MLB.TV). Dillon Peters is getting the start for Miami, with Matt Harvey slated for New York. Peters is in the mix to be in the rotation. Odrisamer Despaigne, also competing for a rotation spot, is scheduled to throw multiple innings in relief. Among the position players on the trip are Anderson, Lewis Brinson and Braxton Lee.