Notes: Elieser's spring debut; Anderson's spot
JUPITER, Fla. -- The way Sunday afternoon started off, Marlins’ right-hander Elieser Hernandez ended up giving himself a wakeup call.
Three batters in, the 24-year-old was down a run after hitting Victor Robles with a pitch to start the game, throwing a wild pitch and walking Adam Eaton, followed by an RBI groundout from Kurt Suzuki.
“I was a little upset with myself,” Hernandez said through an interpreter. “I was like, 'What am I doing? Attack!'"
From there, Hernandez was able to retire the final five batters he faced, including a strikeout of Juan Soto in the first inning. Hernandez was able to wiggle out of trouble and get through two innings in the Marlins' 5-2 win, even though it took him 40 pitches.
“The most important thing is I feel good,” Hernandez said. “I felt a little tumbling there with some of my pitches. That's one of the things I'm going to be working on, finding the grip on my pitches.”
Hernandez is competing for a spot in the back end of the rotation, where he's in the mix with Jordan Yamamoto, Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert.
The 24-year-old from Venezuela appeared in 21 games for Miami a year ago, making 15 starts. He was 3-5 with a 5.03 ERA. As a starter, he was 3-4 with a 4.58 ERA in 74 2/3 innings.
Due up second
No matter where third baseman Brian Anderson hits in the lineup, the 26-year-old is a threat to do damage. In 2019, he established a career-highs with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in 126 games. But his season was sidetracked in late August after he was struck by a pitch, which broke the fifth metacarpal in his left hand.
Now healthy, Anderson hit second on Sunday behind switch-hitter Jonathan Villar.
“Obviously, we put him there, but we're able to go back and forth,” manager Don Mattingly said, meaning going with a left-right combination against a right-handed pitcher. “Jonathan is a switch-hitter, then you have Andy.”
Anderson enjoys hitting behind Villar, who swiped 40 bases with the Orioles last year.
“Hitting behind Villar is going to be fun,” Anderson said. “The guy gets on base. He swipes bags. He's quick on the bases. He obviously gets on base a lot. It's exciting for me. If I'm in the two-hole, or wherever I am, I'm going to be OK with it. Either way, up and down, I feel our lineup got a lot more solid this year.”
Moment of silence
As part of Sunday’s pregame, a moment of silence was observed for the passing of long-time Marlins scout and executive Orrin Freeman, who died on Friday due to complications from diabetes.
Freeman, who was 70, was with the Marlins’ from the organization’s inception. A highly respected evaluator and beloved by his peers and the industry, he had his hands on many of the franchise’s major signings for more than two decades, including catcher Charles Johnson, right-hander Josh Beckett and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
Black History Month Moment
The Marlins and the Marlins Foundation on Sunday hosted 30 local youth from Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, Blanche Ely High School and S.T.A.M.P. The Marlins’ honored guests took part in the pregame ceremony, and the introduction of players for the Grapefruit League home opener.
On Monday, the Marlins are the host team against the Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. ET at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Fans can watch the game live on MLB.TV or listen on Gameday Audio. Right-hander Sandy Alcantara, expected to be Miami’s Opening Day starter, will make his first Grapefruit League start. St. Louis will send right-hander John Gant to the mound. Alcantara was acquired from the Cardinals after the 2017 season as part of the Marcell Ozuna trade.