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Koehler to start first Grapefruit League game

Marlins face the Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. ET on Thursday in Jupiter, Fla.
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- Tom Koehler will start the Marlins' Grapefruit League opener at 1:05 p.m. ET on Thursday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Miami, the visiting team that day, will likely use Koehler, who projects as its No. 3 starter, for two innings. Barring a change in plans, seven relievers are scheduled to face the Cardinals.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Tom Koehler will start the Marlins' Grapefruit League opener at 1:05 p.m. ET on Thursday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Miami, the visiting team that day, will likely use Koehler, who projects as its No. 3 starter, for two innings. Barring a change in plans, seven relievers are scheduled to face the Cardinals.

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | Complete info

After Koehler, the Marlins will use Brad Hand, Kyle Barraclough, Mike Dunn, Dylan Axelrod, Andre Rienzo, Chris Narveson and Nefi Ogando.

"It's exciting," Koehler said. "We're going to be playing now in an actual stadium. There is not going to be a cage blocking in the hitter and everything. There is going to be a different energy. Just like the first bullpen you throw in Spring Training is different than the one you threw before when there was nobody watching."

Koehler, 29, went 11-14 with a 4.08 ERA in 2015, pacing the Marlins with 187 1/3 innings.

The Marlins open their exhibition schedule on Tuesday against the University of Miami at Roger Dean Stadium. Right-handed pitching prospect Jake Esch is scheduled to start.

Worth noting:

• Manager Don Mattingly repeated on Sunday that three rotation spots are basically set -- Jose Fernandez, Wei-Yin Chen and Koehler. They are expected to open in that order, but that is subject to change.

The fourth and fifth spots will be decided in camp. Jarred Cosart, Edwin Jackson, David Phelps, Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino are in the mix for two spots.

In Spring Training, some of these pitchers will piggyback each other. For example, Hand, a candidate to start or relieve, is pitching after Koehler against St. Louis.

"The main thing now is getting guys ready," Mattingly said. "Let's make sure their innings are built up and get them the work they'll need for the season.Then, we make decisions as we get closer. Let guys compete and just see where they're at. Let them make the decisions for us."

Video: Fernandez analyzes his bullpen session, health

• Fernandez, who threw live batting practice on Sunday, is scheduled to appear in a simulated game on Wednesday on a back field at Roger Dean Stadium. Fernandez is one of four pitchers who will face hitters in the 3 1/2-inning sim game.

Fernandez and Phelps are on one team, while Jackson and reliever Bryan Morris are throwing for the other squad.

"It will be a pretty light day other than that," Mattingly said.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Tom Koehler