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Veteran Straily finds early spring success

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Throwing two innings and 26 pitches may seem like a small sample size for a first Grapefruit League start, but Marlins right-hander Dan Straily felt he accomplished plenty on Tuesday afternoon.

Straily scattered two hits in two scoreless innings against the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. He ended his outing on an upbeat note, recording back-to-back strikeouts with two runners on base in a game that finished in a 2-2 tie.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Throwing two innings and 26 pitches may seem like a small sample size for a first Grapefruit League start, but Marlins right-hander Dan Straily felt he accomplished plenty on Tuesday afternoon.

Straily scattered two hits in two scoreless innings against the Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. He ended his outing on an upbeat note, recording back-to-back strikeouts with two runners on base in a game that finished in a 2-2 tie.

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"The goal is to finish each inning strong you're out there," Straily said. "The next time out there, go three innings, the next time four, and keep going that way."

Straily and Jose Urena, who pitched on Monday, are the only two starters to have solidified rotation spots.

Marlins Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

With Straily, the Marlins know what they're getting. The right-hander is steady and dependable, coming off a 10-9 season with a 4.26 ERA in 2017. His 181 2/3 innings were the most on the team.

Straily fanned three on Tuesday, including catching Bryce Harper looking to end the first inning.

"Day One for me versus Harper, you don't want to tip your hand -- even this early on -- how you're going to pitch him this season," Straily said. "Not that I've figured that out already. It was like, random pitch selection. There's no rhyme or reason yet as to why I threw certain pitches in certain situations. It's more of execution."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Position battle

Adam Conley came on in relief of Straily to throw the third and fourth innings. In the bigger picture, he's in the mix for a rotation spot. Even though he made 20 starts in 2017 and 25 in '16, the 27-year-old has yet to secure one of the final three posts.

On Tuesday, Conley allowed one run in two innings, and he struck out one. After a clean third inning, he had to get out of trouble in the fourth, yielding a leadoff double to Harper, and a single to Anthony Rendon.

He allowed a run, but limited damage. Dealing with some traffic on the bases is part of the preparation process.

"That's largely what this is for, too," Conley said. "Holding runners. Changing the looks. Putting on some picks, and things like that. Going through some sign sequences with the catcher. That's all part of this, preparing to go through a long season doing that. You just try to take it for what it's worth."

Video: Marlins lefty Conley looks forward to productive 2018

Buying rotation time

The Marlins have already made one free agent move this Spring Training, signing outfielder Cameron Maybin to a one-year deal. Are they in the market for a starting pitcher?

As of now, the answer is no.

"We're comfortable with our numbers," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of his starting pitching options. "As the organization builds, it depends where your young guys go. But that veteran presence would be somebody that keeps somebody from having to pitch here too early."

The Marlins still could add a veteran starter to allow the organization to buy some time as some of their pitching prospects develop. The pitcher, though, may not be a free agent. Instead, it could be a pitcher that doesn't make another club, and becomes available in late March.

In camp, the Marlins have non-roster invitees like Jacob Turner and Tyler Cloyd, who are rotation options with big league experience. They are options if prospects such as Sandy Alcantara open the season in the Minor Leagues.

"I think philosophically, that's about letting your guys develop," Mattingly said. "There are a number of guys [on the rise] -- it's about preparing them to be here. You don't want to put them out there, and they're just in survival mode. You want them to have the weapons, be ready to pitch here and be competitive."

Injury update

Third baseman Martin Prado (right knee) and shortstop JT Riddle (left shoulder) are doing on-field activities. The earliest either is expected to see game action is mid-March. Right-handers Nick Wittgren (right elbow) and Jumbo Diaz (right hamstring) are tentatively scheduled to face batters in a live bullpen session on Wednesday. Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (elbow) continues on his throwing progression, and is expected to open the season on the disabled list.

Up next

The Marlins and Nationals square off again on Wednesday, but this time at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. In the 1:05 p.m. ET contest, right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne will make the start for Miami, against right-hander Tanner Roark. Catcher J.T. Realmuto will be back in the lineup for the Marlins.

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

Miami Marlins, Dan Straily