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Notes: Yamamoto battles; Harrison impresses

@JoeFrisaro
February 22, 2020

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Perhaps the most commonly used word in Marlins’ camp is “competition.” The organization has made it clear that roster spots must be earned, not given. Jordan Yamamoto finds himself in one of the most watched spring battles -- a spot in the back end of

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Perhaps the most commonly used word in Marlins’ camp is “competition.” The organization has made it clear that roster spots must be earned, not given.

Jordan Yamamoto finds himself in one of the most watched spring battles -- a spot in the back end of the rotation.

The 23-year-old, who logged 78 2/3 innings in 15 big league starts a year ago, was given the ball on Saturday in Miami’s first Grapefruit League game, a 5-3 win over the Mets at Clover Park.

Yamamoto is competing with Elieser Hernandez, Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert for a rotation spot. Dugger threw two clean innings of relief in the win.

Although the outing wasn't completely smooth, Yamamoto was able to overcome some first-inning adversity and make it through two innings, allowing three runs (two earned).

“Things go wrong, and you have to find a way to kind of slow the game down and trust your defense even more,” the right-hander said. “Today, nothing was really there to strike guys out. It was one of those things; I had to really trust the defense today.”

Yamamoto faced seven batters in the first inning, when all three runs scored.

Natural elements played a factor in the outing as center fielder Monte Harrison dropped a fly ball off the bat off Pete Alonso two batters into the game. Harrison battled the sun, and the ball popped out of his glove.

The heavy winds also came into play with the bases loaded. Wilson Ramos drove a fly ball to right, and while JJ Bleday headed towards the track, the wind drifted the ball towards the foul line and bouncing over the wall for a two-run ground-rule double.

“Jordan gets a sun ball, and a ball that is blown to the line,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I guess it could have blown into the seats. But, in general, he was pretty clean.”

Yamamoto made it through the inning on 22 pitches, and the biggest takeaway is the fact that he got the three outs, considering the first four reached.

“The first inning, I was a little slow-tempo, I was kind of relaxed,” he said. “The second inning, I got after it a little bit.”

The sailing was much smoother for Yamamoto in the second inning. He set the Mets down in order with a pair of strikeouts before retiring Jeff McNeil on a comebacker.

In two innings, Yamamoto threw 38 pitches, 22 for strikes.

“It started out a little rough, the first time out,” Yamamoto said. “The end of the day, it is the first outing. My body is healthy, my arm felt good, so that’s the main key right now.”

Monte making things happen
Harrison, who was ranked the Marlins' No. 5 prospect last season by MLB Pipeline, has the raw athleticism to change a game in a variety of ways. On Saturday, he made an immediate impact with his legs. The 24-year-old slapped a single to right field in the first inning before stealing second and third base. He scored on Garrett Cooper’s RBI single.

Harrison’s hit was off an established big league starter, Rick Porcello.

“Set the tone,” Harrison said. “Once I got on base, I was locked in. I was going.”

Harrison swiped 20 bases in 56 games with Triple-A New Orleans last year.

“[Steals are] a big part, just because they can change the game,” he said. “People say they’re a lost art in the game. Everybody is looking for home runs. You can steal bases and score runs at the same time. How do you win the game? Scoring runs.”

Cooper said Monte set the table for him.

“Stealing two bags,” Cooper said, "that’s the kind of dynamic player that he is. I think, if given a chance, he could steal 30, 40 bags. He’s got that kind of speed. … It’s a lot more fun having guys on second and third all the time.”

Prospect watch
Shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm, the No. 54 prospect in baseball, had two singles and a stolen base. Chisholm scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning on Lewin Diaz’s RBI single. Diaz was Miami’s No. 12 prospect in 2019.

Up next
The Marlins make their home debut on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Competing for a rotation spot, Hernandez makes the start for Miami. Also expected to play for the Marlins are newcomers Jonathan Villar, Jesús Aguilar and Corey Dickerson. Right-hander Erick Fedde is scheduled to start for Washington.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.