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Veteran Ziegler to get first shot at closing

Bour reaching out to Parkland high school team; free-agent outfielders on radar
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

JUPITER, Fla. -- Spring Training will determine a number of roles for the Marlins, but the closer position is not one of them. The tentative plan is for Brad Ziegler to get the call to lock down games.

Ziegler has essentially handled the role since AJ Ramos was traded to the Mets last July. In the second half, he had 10 saves, and he has 95 in his career.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Spring Training will determine a number of roles for the Marlins, but the closer position is not one of them. The tentative plan is for Brad Ziegler to get the call to lock down games.

Ziegler has essentially handled the role since AJ Ramos was traded to the Mets last July. In the second half, he had 10 saves, and he has 95 in his career.

At age 38, Ziegler has the experience and savvy to get the final outs.

• Marlins' Spring Training information

Aside from having handled high-leverage situations, Ziegler also is getting the nod partly because it eliminates any doubts about when he will be used.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

A year ago, Ziegler spent time on the disabled list due to back issues, and the Marlins are trying to avoid situations where he is warming up but not entering games.

"For the best use of our guys, and for his health and his preparation, I think using him late is best," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's not really a guy you can get up and down. He gets ready pretty quickly, usually. But he's at an age and he's had certain health issues, that If I get him up and the situation changes, I may have burned him from the standpoint, I may not have him today. I may not have him tomorrow."

• Castro warming up to new environment

Spring Training preparation isn't an issue for Ziegler, because he will know beforehand what inning he's pitching. But when the season starts, if his role has changed, it could present some problems.

"At my age, one of the harder things to do is to get up in one inning and sit back down, then get up the next inning and sit back down," Ziegler said. "Especially last year, I was dealing with the back thing all year. If I just know, this is my spot, assuming the game situation is a certain way, I can gear everything towards that one spot."

Bour reaching out to Parkland team
Wanting to assist any way possible, Justin Bour has reached out to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball team. The Miami first baseman plans at some point to meet with the players and perhaps take in a game at some point during Spring Training.

The school and Parkland community are dealing with the tragedy of last week's mass shootings.

"I just want to go, spend some time with the guys and talk baseball," Bour said. "To talk with them about whatever I can, and spend some time with them, really. Nothing more than that."

As a team, the Marlins are planning a tribute to Stoneman Douglas on Friday before their first Grapefruit League game. Miami plays the Cardinals at 1 p.m. ET Friday, and pregame they will wear Stoneman Douglas baseball caps.

Worth noting
• Although Ziegler will open as closer, that role could change at some point during the season. Ziegler is a soft-tosser with a submarine-style deliver. The Marlins have several hard-throwers who may emerge as closer candidates later in the season. Kyle Barraclough could be next in line, followed by Drew Steckenrider and Nick Wittgren.

• The Marlins remain open to signing a veteran, free-agent outfielder. Jon Jay and Melky Cabrera have already been reported as possibilities. Another possibility is Cameron Maybin, who was with the Marlins from 2008-10. Maybin was with the Angels and Astros last year and was part of a World Series title team.

Up next
The Marlins have a team meeting Wednesday morning and are not expected on the field until about noon ET. Workouts are open to the public at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex.

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

Miami Marlins, Brad Ziegler