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Rojas credits offseason work for pop at plate

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- His role changes from day to day, and Marlins utility infielder Miguel Rojas readies himself for just about anything. On Wednesday, Rojas started at shortstop and showed some pop at the plate, belting a three-run homer and driving in four runs in a 9-5 victory over the Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The value Rojas has shown in his career is as a strong defensive player, with the ability to play all four infield positions. But in the offseason, the 28-year-old made a commitment to improve his offense.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- His role changes from day to day, and Marlins utility infielder Miguel Rojas readies himself for just about anything. On Wednesday, Rojas started at shortstop and showed some pop at the plate, belting a three-run homer and driving in four runs in a 9-5 victory over the Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The value Rojas has shown in his career is as a strong defensive player, with the ability to play all four infield positions. But in the offseason, the 28-year-old made a commitment to improve his offense.

View Full Game Coverage

"[It was the] first time my whole career in the big leagues [that] I played the whole season," Rojas said. "I made the sacrifice to play in Venezuela and get like 120 at-bats. I think that helped me a lot, because I needed some reps. As a bench player, I'm always going to be limited to get at-bats during the season."

Video: MIA@HOU: Rojas crushes three-run shot to left-center

A Venezuelan native, Rojas appeared in 29 games and had 94 at-bats playing for La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League.

"When I went to Venezuela, it was to get more at-bats and play baseball," Rojas said.

After returning to Miami in the offseason, Rojas spoke with Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez. They both recommended he do some training with Ricardo Sosa, who works with a number of big league players.

Video: MIA@HOU: Rojas collects fourth RBI on sac fly

"He worked with me two days a week the whole offseason," Rojas said. "He helped me a little bit with what I can do as a hitter. In Spring Training, I've been hitting the ball well."

Rojas has just three big league home runs, with one coming last year when he had a slash line of .247/.288/.325.

"Miggy is a really good player now," manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, he's a guy we see as playing all over. But this guy could possibly be an everyday second baseman [or] shortstop. In the middle of the lineup, he can be an everyday guy."

Rojas is working on more elevation and fewer ground balls. He bounced into 10 double plays in 2016.

"I'm never going to try to hit a home run," Rojas said. "I'm trying to get off the ground a little bit more. Don't hit too many ground balls. I think it's something that's been killing my career. When I got into situations with runners on first and third, I don't want to hit a ground ball into a double play. I want to put the ball in the air a little more this year."

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

Miami Marlins, Miguel Rojas