JUPITER, Fla. -- Chances are Dan Straily will see plenty of the Nationals during the regular season, so with less than a week left in Spring Training, the Marlins opted to have their veteran right-hander throw in a Minor League game on Monday afternoon at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium
JUPITER, Fla. -- Chances are Dan Straily will see plenty of the Nationals during the regular season, so with less than a week left in Spring Training, the Marlins opted to have their veteran right-hander throw in a Minor League game on Monday afternoon at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex.
Many teams similarly keep pitchers on track by throwing on backfields rather than face a lineup they may see a couple of weeks down the road when the games count. Right-hander Trevor Richards, the organization's No. 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline, got the starting nod and gave up one run in four innings in the Marlins' 9-1 win over the Nationals.
Against the Mets' Triple-A club, Straily pitched four scoreless innings, scattering three hits, walking two batters and striking out three. Of his 60 pitches, 42 were strikes.
"The less time they see us, I think that's the whole mindset behind it," Straily said. "We were able to get back there and hopefully get the same quality of work in."
Last year, Straily pitched against Washington three times, going 0-1 with a 4.80 ERA.
Already named Miami's No. 2 starter, Straily will face the Cubs on March 30 at Marlins Park. His final Spring Training outing will be on Sunday against the Astros, in Miami's final Grapefruit League game.
"We've got one more game left, next week, and we're right there," Straily said. "I feel the stamina is getting there."
Time is working against Elieser Hernandez being ready for Opening Day, but the Marlins are still giving the 22-year-old right-hander every chance to remain in the organization and be part of the rotation. It just may be shortly after the regular season begins. Hernandez played catch at 90 feet for the first time in a week on Monday.
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Hernandez had been shut down after undergoing extensive dental work. Because he is a Rule 5 pick, previously from the Astros' system, Hernandez must make Miami's active roster -- and stay the entire season -- or else be offered back to Houston.
"Obviously, this setback here pushes him past the point of kind of Opening Day," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He hadn't thrown in eight days or so."
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Hernandez had a wisdom tooth removed and underwent some additional work that left the right side of his face swollen. For about a week, he wasn't able to do baseball activities.
The Marlins will likely start Hernandez on the disabled list, and when he is ready, he could join the rotation. The club envisions him as a starter, not a long-relief candidate.
"I think it will be a little bit of buildup for him," Mattingly said.
The Marlins have yet to set three rotation spots. Odrisamer Despaigne, Sandy Alcantara, Jacob Turner, Caleb Smith and Justin Nicolino also are in the mix.
Hernandez has impressed in camp, striking out nine in 10 innings with a 2.70 ERA. But he hasn't pitched above Class A Advanced. Hernandez posted a combined 3.68 ERA in 73 1/3 innings between two Minor League levels in 2017.
"We've got a pretty good evaluation of Elieser," Mattingly said. "He's been pretty good in camp. It's really a matter of getting him back out there for this final part."
After a slow start to Spring Training, Garrett Cooper is starting to get locked in at the plate. He hit a solo homer off Max Scherzer on Monday, and he's now hitting .273 in Grapefruit League play with two home runs.
"Off a guy like that, you're not going to get too many mistakes," Cooper said. "Start of spring, you're trying to get back on your footing, your swings. Everyone goes through the same things in the beginning of spring. It's just progressions. You're seeing pitching every day. It's working in the right direction right now."
Cooper is competing for a bench job, backing up at first base and the corner outfield spots.
"He's a guy with a good swing," Mattingly said. "I did think early on, he seemed really to be trying too hard. But, as he's starting to see the ball better, you can tell, he's letting the ball come a little bit. He's a lot more relaxed."
The Marlins are getting plenty of looks at the Nationals this week, facing them four times. After hosting Washington on Monday, Miami visits West Palm Beach at 1:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday (listen live on Gameday Audio). Despaigne, who has emerged as a favorite to win a rotation spot, gets the nod. Stephen Strasburg is starting for Washington. Lewis Brinson is scheduled to lead off and play center. Most of the projected Opening Day starters are making the trip, including Derek Dietrich, Justin Bour, Starlin Castro, Brian Anderson, Cameron Maybin and Miguel Rojas.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.