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Ruggiano sidelined with back tightness

JUPITER, Fla. -- Grapefruit League games have yet to get under way, and already some pesky setbacks are starting to add up for the Marlins.

Justin Ruggiano, the projected starting center fielder, experienced tightness in his lower back while fielding a ground ball Thursday morning. He will be out at least a few days.

There is a reason for frustration because the 30-year-old dealt with back spasms a year ago.

Miami's first preseason game is Saturday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium, and Ruggiano isn't expected to be available.

"I guess he had that last year, so we're just going to make sure that we get him some treatments and get him feeling good and healthy and back on the field," manager Mike Redmond said.

In all likelihood, Ruggiano will not be ready for at least three or four days.

"It's not fun," the outfielder said. "It's annoying, and it's frustrating. I'm angry that I have not got a hold on what to do."

Physically, this has been a rough week for the Marlins, who have dealt with freaky and scary incidents.

On Monday, Casey Kotchman received four stitches on his left ring finger in a bizarre collision. The first baseman crashed into the machine that flings pop flies to the infielders. He's a few days away from swinging a bat.

And on Wednesday, there was a scare when Giancarlo Stanton was plunked in the back of the head by a Jose Fernandez fastball.

Redmond said they dodged a bullet with Stanton, who has no concussion-like symptoms. On Thursday, the slugger took it easy, lifting weights and conditioning, and he said he is ready to go Friday.

Ruggiano is a middle-of-the-lineup hitter who offers power and a solid hitting approach. In 91 games for Miami last year, he batted .313 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs.

"You don't want to go out there right now and make it worse," Ruggiano said.

The back tightness occurred before Ruggiano did any hitting. He was fielding a ground ball in the outfield.

Until last year, Ruggiano had never had back issues.

"Why it's happening? I have no idea," he said.

Last year, he had MRIs and X-rays taken, confirming there is no structural damage.

"I know it's nothing structural," he said.

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