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Mattingly preaches new foundation in place

Said manager: 'This is a beginning. This is where we can build from'
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- Before the Marlins took the field on Wednesday afternoon, manager Don Mattingly stressed to his young club that it has a chance to be part of building something special in South Florida.

"I know that the Miami Marlins have been around a while, but the way I look at it is, this is a start," Mattingly said. "This is a beginning. This is where we can build from, and this is the first part of the foundation."

JUPITER, Fla. -- Before the Marlins took the field on Wednesday afternoon, manager Don Mattingly stressed to his young club that it has a chance to be part of building something special in South Florida.

"I know that the Miami Marlins have been around a while, but the way I look at it is, this is a start," Mattingly said. "This is a beginning. This is where we can build from, and this is the first part of the foundation."

After a busy offseason headlined by trading veterans Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon, the Marlins treated the opening of Spring Training as if it was the start of a new beginning.

"It is exciting, and you look forward to getting started," Mattingly said. "It's nice to get on the field. There's been a lot of talk, a lot of things around the club. I think it's finally nice to get on the field, be able to get our young guys out and start the process."

Marlins' Spring Training info

Pitchers and catchers took to the back fields at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in the afternoon.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

With so many new faces and inexperienced players, Mattingly made it clear that jobs are up for grabs. Three rotation spots, several bullpen and at least two outfield spots are in play.

"Guys know there is an opportunity here to be a part of the foundation of this organization," Mattingly said.

Under new ownership, the organization split up the core from the last few years. Chief executive officer Derek Jeter says resetting the roster was necessary because the team wasn't winning, the core became costly and the franchise lacked the necessary organizational depth to seriously contend.

"We get a chance to set the expectations, and also be the leaders and lay that footprint down," Mattingly said.

After the offseason moves, one of the faces of the franchise is J.T. Realmuto, who has emerged as one of the top catchers in the game. The 26-year-old batted .278 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs last year.

But there's speculation he could possibly be dealt before Opening Day.

Video: Mattingly looks ahead to 2018, change within Marlins

Realmuto addressed the trade rumblings Saturday at FanFest, and he isn't talking about them now that camp has opened.

On Wednesday, Realmuto caught two bullpen sessions (for Jose Urena and Sandy Alcantara). His takeaway for the first day was there's plenty of talent at camp.

"Who doesn't like the underdog?" Realmuto said. "Look at the Eagles this year. Nobody was looking at them to win the Super Bowl. It's kind of fun to play that role."

Closer Brad Ziegler, who signed a two-year contract in 2016, understands the business side of the sport and why organizations sometimes make sweeping changes.

"I had people ask me in the offseason, would you request a trade or anything like that?" Ziegler said. "I've just never felt you should request a trade for baseball reasons, just because you want to be on a winning team. There's nothing in our contracts, nothing in this game, that says you're owed the opportunity to play for a contending team. I signed a contract to come in here and play for two years, and I fully expect to do that."

With many inexperienced players, the Marlins will be counting on veterans such as third baseman Martin Prado to provide leadership.

"I've seen a couple of teams that had been rebuilding the last four years, and they've been in the World Series," Prado said. "Speculation is out there that it's going to take this many years. It all depends on the work, the belief, the passion the coaches and staff put in. I think they've got the right people around here. Jeter has got some ideas."

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

Miami Marlins