Hatcher understands time to impress is now
JUPITER, Fla. -- It wasn't until the day before Spring Training started that Chris Hatcher knew for sure he would be in camp with the Marlins.
Hatcher was designated for assignment on Feb. 11 to make 40-man roster space for reliever Carlos Marmol. Four days later, the 29-year-old right-hander was outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans and invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
"It's a business," Hatcher said. "It's not like it came as a surprise. They've given me plenty of chances and I haven't proven myself yet. I feel like I still have an opportunity to make the ballclub. I'm not going to treat it any differently than if I were on the roster.
"I'm going to go about my business every day as I have been doing. Whatever happens happens."
The Marlins have a couple of relief positions open, and Hatcher is striving to win one of them.
A converted catcher, Hatcher has been pitching for three seasons. He's enjoyed success in the Minors, posting a career 2.26 ERA in 163 innings, plus 50 saves in 57 chances.
But Hatcher hasn't been able to achieve any sustainable success in the big leagues.
He's seen action with the Marlins in parts of three straight seasons, dating to 2011. His numbers have been shaky in 29 games, and 33 2/3 innings. His ERA is 7.22, and in 2013, his ERA was 12.46 in 8 2/3 innings.
In the early stages of Spring Training, Hatcher has been gaining some notice. He's establishing a downward plane on his fastball, and he is seeing better results.
When he's encountered trouble, his front elbow rotated, causing his back elbow to drop. The combination resulted in elevated pitches.
"When you get under the ball, the ball starts riding on you a little bit," Hatcher said.
Still, Hatcher is striving for a balance. He notes he's attained success in the Minors pitching up in the zone.
"I had some success in the Minor Leagues pitching up in the zone," Hatcher said. "If you can drive the ball down, down, down and then you change eye level with a high heater, and then you come back with some offspeed, it's helpful."