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Marlins emphasizing basics, daily improvement

Special to MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- With Spring Training working on a compressed timeline between full-squad workouts, the Grapefruit League opener and an earlier Opening Day, Marlins manager Don Mattingly is emphasizing the basics this year.

As the Marlins enter a rebuilding period after trading many of last year's starters, including National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton, Mattingly is making sure his team understands the importance of using Spring Training to develop.

JUPITER, Fla. -- With Spring Training working on a compressed timeline between full-squad workouts, the Grapefruit League opener and an earlier Opening Day, Marlins manager Don Mattingly is emphasizing the basics this year.

As the Marlins enter a rebuilding period after trading many of last year's starters, including National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton, Mattingly is making sure his team understands the importance of using Spring Training to develop.

"It doesn't matter if they're young or old: You want to continue to get better every day," Mattingly said. "There's a lot of people who say over the years, 'The day you quit trying to get better is the day you start getting worse.'"

Mattingly specifically praised the jump taken by utility infielder Miguel Rojas, who is battling rising sophomore JT Riddle for the starting shortstop job.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"It's very important for younger guys to know there's a process to getting better," Mattingly said. "Happens every day in your work, it happens every day with the way you work, it happens how you learn and the information you take in during a game. … It is an area that we will be asking guys to do."

Miami added a player on Wednesday in outfielder Cameron Maybin, who can potentially help younger players understand that process. Maybin is already in camp and will compete with the young outfielders, including top prospect Lewis Brinson, for a starting job.

Mattingly said he already had four different lineup combinations -- each mixed with veterans and prospects -- that "meet the qualifications."

"There's a lot of different guys that … we look at, internally, and say, 'This guy legitimately could be the starting center fielder' [or] 'this guy legitimately could be the starting right fielder,'" Mattingly said. "Obviously, there's stuff up in the air, so it'd be easy for us."

Video: Marlins add Maybin on a one-year deal

Captain Prado?
Though Marlins third baseman Martin Prado saw action in only 37 games and recorded 147 plate appearances last season before undergoing right knee surgery, Mattingly has high expectations for the former All-Star.

Prado's locker room presence, especially on a younger team, is especially wanted by Mattingly.

"When I first came over here, our club called him 'Captain,'" said Mattingly, a former captain himself for the Yankees. "Our group of guys really looked at Martin as a captain because he is a leader. The way he goes about his business is extraordinary. It almost works to a point where you're like, 'easy.'"

Prado hit a career-worst .250/.279/.357 in 2017, but he is just two years removed from slashing .305/.359/.417 with eight home runs and 75 RBIs. From 2009-16, Martin played at least 128 games each season for the Braves, D-backs, Yankees and Marlins.

"I think they wanted to start spring not more in terms that he's been doing this for a while from last season, but let's start from Day 1," Mattingly said. "Just make sure his progression is good. … We want Martin ready for Opening Day."

Prado is mainly participating in pitchers fielding practice (pitchers fielding practice) and is limited to hitting in the cage.

Video: Mattingly on Prado, Riddle injury updates

Worth noting

• Though Marlins players have not seen what their caps honoring Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will look like, Prado is grateful for the opportunity to honor those lost in last Wednesday's shooting. Seventeen people, including 14 students, were killed at the Broward County school, sending ripples through the South Florida community.

"It's the least we can do to support those families," Prado said. "Give those families a little bit of peace. I know there's so much pain, and I don't think that pain will go away."

Jacob Turner will start for the Marlins on Saturday against the Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, with Tyler Cloyd drawing the start in Port St. Lucie against the Mets on Sunday. Sandy Alcantara, acquired from the Cardinals in December's Marcell Ozuna trade, will see action on Saturday in relief of Turner.

Jake Elman is a contributor to MLB.com.

Miami Marlins