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Notes: Steckenrider returns; Alcantara struggles

February 29, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Marlins made a few upgrades to their bullpen with activity on the market this offseason. Now they’re poised to get a boost from within after Drew Steckenrider’s spring debut Saturday.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Marlins made a few upgrades to their bullpen with activity on the market this offseason. Now they’re poised to get a boost from within after Drew Steckenrider’s spring debut Saturday.

The right-hander’s inning of work in Miami’s 12-6 loss to the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium was the first he’s thrown since May 6, when he faced the Cubs before going on the injured list five days later with right elbow inflammation. He hoped to return later in the year, but complications limited him to just 15 games after he'd broken out with 128 strikeouts over 99 1/3 innings in his first two MLB seasons.

“It felt good to get my feet wet, just get back into competitive situations and back throwing again,” Steckenrider said.

His first Grapefruit League outing was a mixed bag. Steckenrider induced a popup from José Iglesias, then quickly drew an 0-2 count on Pedro Severino. But the O’s catcher worked the count full, then launched a solo homer to left-center field. Steckenrider rebounded to strike out Yusniel Diaz looking and get Pat Valaika to fly out to left.

“Everything felt good,” Steckenrider said. “I threw the one fastball that he hit over the fence; that was the only fastball I would say that kind of got away from me a little bit in a 3-2 count. It was pretty much middle-middle. My first outing of spring, everyone was probably expecting that.”

“With all our guys, we worry about that first outing,” manager Don Mattingly added. “Getting out there, seeing what it looks like, getting back to competing, getting used to the mound in front of them. So that was pretty good.”

Steckenrider said he hit the velocity marks he wanted to see and had good feel for most of his pitches after reworking his mechanics during the recovery process, though he said the changeup needs some more work.

“[I] shortened up a little bit,” he said. “Just to try to keep my deception, but also for my health long term. That was the main reason for wanting to do that. Not getting my initial release so far out behind my body. I’m just trying to keep that close.”

Though Steckenrider says he’s not feeling close to 100 percent yet, his debut is reassuring for a Marlins club that spent the offseason shoring up the bullpen with notable additions like closer candidate Brandon Kintzler and setup man Yimi García.

“It’s going to be exciting to see what happens the rest of spring,” Steckenrider said. “I think that we’ve got a good solid group, a good core, that can get us through the year, assuming everybody stays healthy.”

Game notes
Sandy Alcantara was unable to turn the corner in his second spring start, displaying the command issues that hurt him in his debut. Over 3 2/3 combined innings, the 24-year-old has allowed seven runs on seven hits and seven walks.

“We’ve got to get him going,” Mattingly said. “Just not sharp yet. We’ll just work through it and get it back to where he’s pounding the zone.”

• The position player prospects continue to stand out in spring camp. On Saturday, it was leadoff batter Jose Devers’ turn.

The Marlins’ shortstop, the club’s No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, began the game by roping a double down the right-field line, then walked in the third inning. He capped off his day with a deep fly ball to the warning track in left field for another double.

Despite the 20-year-old’s 6-foot, 155-pound frame, Mattingly is seeing a lot of pop to Devers’ bat.

“Jose’s been a fun guy to watch in camp,” Mattingly said. “He plays all over, got a good swing, knows how to play. He’s made some plays in the course of spring that are kind of out of the norm. ... He’s getting bigger, he’s getting stronger, but he’s a guy that seems to find the barrel.”

Up next
Jose Ureña will lead the Marlins into Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET tilt vs. the Mets at Clover Park. Ureña, who moved from the rotation to the bullpen in 2019, was efficient in his spring debut, inducing groundout after groundout to ease through two scoreless innings. New York will send new acquisition Michael Wacha to the hill, and the action will be live on Gameday Audio.

Jake Crouse is a reporter/editor for based in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter @JakeCrouseMLB.