Versatile Rojas seeing action at first base

March 10th, 2016
Miguel Rojas has never appeared at first base in the Majors. (AP)Jeff Roberson/AP

JUPITER, Fla. -- Miguel Rojas' glove collection is growing.

Along with having his middle-infield gloves, the Marlins' utility player now has a personalized first baseman's mitt, and the 27-year-old expects to use it.

Manager Don Mattingly is looking for versatility from his reserves, and Rojas projects to play all over the diamond. He is the club's primary backup shortstop, but he also plays solid defense at third and second. This season, he could become a late-innings option at first, a position he has yet to play in the big leagues.

If the Marlins are seeking to put their best four defensive infielders on the field at the same time, a case can be made for Rojas to be a logical fit at first.

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Justin Bour is the regular first baseman, and Chris Johnson is a right-handed-hitting platoon option. But if Miami is looking to pinch-run for Bour, Rojas is a candidate who could step in and remain in the game at first.

The challenge is Rojas' inexperience. He did see action at the position in four Double-A games (two starts) when he was in the Reds' system in 2012. This offseason while playing winter ball in Venezuela, he appeared in one game at first.

Rojas broke in with the Dodgers in 2014. In his Major League career, he has played shortstop in 98 games, third base in 28 games and second base in 12. He has even seen two innings of action in left field.

Because of his athleticism, infield coach Perry Hill approached Rojas about also playing some first base late last season.

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"Last year, I was talking to Bone about this," Rojas said. "I was working at first base with him. Bone is about a lot of fundamentals."

In warmups, Rojas has moved all over the field.

In Wednesday's 5-3 win over the Cardinals, Rojas was inserted at first base in the late innings. He even made a nice pick on a one-hop throw from shortstop prospect J.T. Riddle.

"As much as anything, that's what we're trying to do, make sure he works all over the diamond," Mattingly said. "You're going to see guys move all over the place."