Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Ozuna looking to rebound from rough 2015

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Marlins have high hopes for the "Big Bear."

Marcell Ozuna, Miami's "Big Bear," is primed to break loose in 2016. The Marlins are hopeful that this will be the season he taps into his potential.

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Marlins have high hopes for the "Big Bear."

Marcell Ozuna, Miami's "Big Bear," is primed to break loose in 2016. The Marlins are hopeful that this will be the season he taps into his potential.

In terms of upside, Ozuna has raw power and projects to be a threat every time he steps up to bat.

"I don't think we've touched [his potential] yet," manager Don Mattingly said. "We think he's got a lot more in the tank. I think we'll get that."

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | Complete info

It's a matter of doing what it takes to bring out the best in the center fielder, who is looking to rebound from a rough 2015.

Last Spring Training, Ozuna showed up out of shape, and his season never got on track. After struggling in June, he was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in early July, where he spent about five weeks in the Minors before being called back up.

In 123 games, Ozuna hit .259 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs. It was a downturn after he showed so much promise in 2014, belting 23 homers and driving in 85 runs.

After his rough campaign, there were questions regarding whether Ozuna would remain a Marlin. For much of the offseason, his name was repeatedly attached to trade rumors.

Video: ATL@MIA: Ozuna crushes his 10th home run of the year

At the Winter Meetings, the Marlins had conversations with clubs about Ozuna for a starting pitcher. It was only after Miami signed free agents Wei-Yin Chen and Edwin Jackson that Ozuna would stay in Miami.

Now, Ozuna is happy to be back. He's in better condition, and he is eager to get back to his fun-loving ways.

"I'm happy to be with my teammates again," Ozuna said. "I'm giving the most I can to my teammates."

One of the more popular players on the team, Ozuna keeps things loose as he goes about his business. He's also picking up pointers on preparation from Ichiro Suzuki.

Each morning, Ozuna uses some of Ichiro's specialized machines that are located in a trailer behind the Marlins' clubhouse at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

"I'm working on the same things I do every year, but last year I was a little uncomfortable going up and down [to the Minors]," Ozuna said. "That was a year to gain experience."

Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds are intrigued by Ozuna's potential.

"It's good working with Barry because you take from the experiences that he had," Ozuna said. "I think we're going to have a good year again."

The fact that he broke into the big leagues in 2013 after playing in just 10 Double-A games may have led to the inconsistencies Ozuna has experienced early in his career.

"I think that's one of the things with Miami, sometimes you've brought guys up to the big leagues maybe before they really are totally ready," Mattingly said. "Marcell is probably one of those guys who came up really quickly. I don't think he had hardly any Double-A experience, and he was here doing pretty well.

"There are bumps along the road. I think last year was a little bit of a rougher year for him. Again, you know what he's capable of, and it just gets back to continuing to help him develop."

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, Marcell Ozuna