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Roster hopeful Sanabia cruises in first spring start

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- After getting some help from Jake Marisnick in center field, Alex Sanabia took care of business.

Sanabia tossed two hitless and scoreless innings, while striking out one on Saturday afternoon in the Marlins' 8-8 tie with the Mets at Tradition Field.

The 24-year-old right-hander is competing for a roster spot, either as the fifth starter or a long reliever. The last time he was in the big leagues was in 2011 for three games -- two starts -- and Sanabia is striving to show he belongs.

"He looked good," manager Mike Redmond said. "I thought he did a nice job. He gathered himself. He missed out of the zone early, but got himself back on track. He did what he needed to do to get through two innings."

Sanabia received an assist from Marisnick on the first batter he faced as Collin Cowgill crushed a drive to straight-away center to lead off the bottom of the first inning.

The speedy Marisnick, arguably the best defensive outfielder in the Marlins' system, turned and raced straight back. He reached and pulled in the liner for a spectacular catch.

"That was awesome," Sanabia said. "I thought that ball was over his head, or maybe out. He squared it up pretty good for him to be able to catch it. Instead of a guy being on second and third, it's one out with bases empty. Huge play."

From that point, Sanabia pounded the strike zone and got quick outs. He threw a perfect first inning.

In the second inning, Marlon Byrd reached on third baseman Chone Figgins' throwing error. Sanabia had a wild pitch, moving Byrd to second, but he got out of the inning by striking out Andrew Brown.

Without overpowering stuff, Sanabia focuses on attacking hitters. He threw 28 pitches, 16 for strikes. The pitch he is working on is his slider, which will be key in his hopes for winning a roster spot.

For the fifth starter, the Marlins are looking at Wade LeBlanc, Sanabia, John Maine, Brad Hand and Kevin Slowey.

"It's just pretty much go out and do my job and let them figure it out," Sanabia said. "Just go out there and perform the best I can and give myself an opportunity to make the team, or get a better look."