JUPITER, Fla. -- There's no substitute for a real game atmosphere, which is why Marlins left-hander Adam Conley was elated to be back on the mound Tuesday against the Tigers at Roger Dean Stadium.The results were mixed for Conley, who gave up a run in three innings in Miami's 7-1
JUPITER, Fla. -- There's no substitute for a real game atmosphere, which is why Marlins left-hander Adam Conley was elated to be back on the mound Tuesday against the Tigers at Roger Dean Stadium.
The results were mixed for Conley, who gave up a run in three innings in Miami's 7-1 loss. But it was the first time in 12 days that the 26-year-old was in a Grapefruit League contest.
"It certainly is hard to get it going on the back fields," Conley said.
Conley had the long layoff because after facing the Mets on March 2, his next scheduled start fell on scheduled day off for the Marlins. So he threw against Minor Leaguers five days later, around 9 a.m. ET, on a rainy day.
"It was an off-day, so nobody else is in here," Conley said. "The routine is out the window. It's raining, so I don't even know if I'm going to be out on the field. They're talking about it being in the cage.
"You can hear the crickets. There's nobody around. It's kind of like throwing a bullpen [session] and you've got a guy trying to hit off you."
The surroundings were different on Tuesday. Conley faced a Tigers lineup that featured Jose Iglesias, J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton.
"I was fired up about the lineup too," Conley said. "They sent a bunch of their regulars. I know a bunch of the Tigers are in the [World Baseball Classic] right now. I faced a lot of good hitters today. The results weren't terrible, but I'm just not very pleased with the way I feel right now. We're ironing out some stuff right now to regain some athleticism and some freedom in my delivery."
Conley, who was 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA in 25 starts last year, projects to be in the middle of the Marlins' rotation this year. But the rangy 6-foot-3 left-hander has been struggling finding the rhythm in his delivery. On Tuesday, he allowed five hits and struck out four.
"I just don't feel like he's totally synced up," manager Don Mattingly said. "As far as mechanics, he's got long levers. He's long and lanky and just trying to get all that synced up where it's a little smoother and easier for him."
In the third inning, Conley surrendered a run when Dixon Machado doubled and Iglesias had a RBI single. The lefty did work out of a first-and-third, one-out jam when he fanned Upton and retired Steven Moya on a grounder to second.
Conley was scheduled to throw four innings, but with his pitch count at 59, he was lifted after three. Although the results were mixed, being back in a big league game environment was a relief.
"Just in general, it's a great task to try and mimic what happens against Major League Baseball players," Conley said of back-field work. "It's such a task that you just can't do it. There is nothing like being out there and pitching against J.D. Martinez. You face this lineup, there is nothing you can do to mimic that."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.