Notes: Rojas clicking; López stretched out

March 23rd, 2021

JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins shortstop has a checklist of things he would like to accomplish ahead of a 162-game season. Rather than worrying about results, the seven-year veteran pays attention to his feel and preparation, both of which he has been encouraged by throughout the spring.

That's not to say Rojas won't take the kind of production he put together Tuesday afternoon, as he went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in the Marlins' 5-3 loss to the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. After opening Grapefruit League play 3-for-18 with four walks, Rojas is 4-for-10 with one free pass over his last four games.

"The feeling of hitting a homer, it doesn't matter what time of the year it is, it gives you that extra confidence going into the season," Rojas said during a Zoom call. "I feel like my at-bats in Spring Training have been really solid. I've been hitting the ball where I wanted. Not getting a lot of hits early on, but seeing the ball well, walking. I was happy about that, finally getting a ball to the pull side.

"That was one of the things that I wanted to do before the season starts, because that's my sign right there when I hit the ball for power -- I hit it to the pull side. I was looking to crush a ball out front and hit it to my pull side. I felt really good, and I wasn't looking for anything specific. I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball and do damage early in the count. I got a base hit to the opposite field, and then a homer to the pull side, which is something that makes me feel really good."

All 23 of Rojas' homers since Statcast began tracking data in 2015 have been pulled. In Monday's fifth inning, he turned on All-Star Marcus Stroman's 89.4 mph cutter, sending it a projected 400 feet to center with a 102.3 mph exit velocity. It marked his first extra-base hit of the spring.

"B" side from López
While most of the Marlins' projected Opening Day lineup played the Mets in Port St. Lucie, No. 2 starter faced the Astros in a "B" game at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. López recorded 15 outs (five via strikeout), walked three and allowed three hits in Miami's 1-0, seven-inning win. Twice, an inning started by López rolled over -- in the fourth and fifth.

The most important takeaway from the outing was López throwing 83 pitches and having five up/downs as he builds toward his first regular-season start on April 2 against the Rays at Marlins Park. Rather than face the Mets -- a National League East rival -- for the third time this spring, the Marlins elected to get him work on the back field. That likely will happen again in his final tuneup on Sunday.

López, who focused on mixing in his offspeed and cutters, retired Astros All-Star Alex Bregman all three times. In the second inning, he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam by striking out consecutive batters.

"Once we had the bases loaded, one out, your instincts take over," López said during a Zoom call. "I'm like, 'OK, I'm not going to work on something right now, I'm just going to try to pitch out of this. And we tried to work a lot of the arm side to try to open the glove side, and I think we did a great job with that. We were making two-strike pitches from the first pitch. You don't want to give in. Even if it's an 0-0 count, you want to make a good pitch, an 0-2-type pitch. I think we did that, and we were able to get out of it."

Latest on Campbell
Rule 5 Draft selection allowed a pair of solo homers across two innings in his third Grapefruit League appearance. Those marked the first two hits and runs allowed by the 25-year-old right-hander, who must make the Opening Day roster or be placed on the injured list or else be returned to his original club, the Rays.

Francisco Lindor greeted Campbell with a leadoff homer to right in the fifth, connecting on an 87.4 mph slider. Miami's No. 29 prospect bounced back to retire Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. In the sixth, J.D. Davis pounced on a first-pitch, 92.1 mph fastball before Campbell got out Kevin Pillar, Tomás Nido and Dominic Smith. He did not record a strikeout despite throwing 15 of his 19 pitches for strikes.

Prospect watch
Nasim Nunez (No. 15) walked, stole a base and scored the lone run in Miami's "B" game.

Up next
The Marlins will play the Astros in another "B" game on Wednesday's off-day before returning to Grapefruit League play at 6:05 p.m. ET on Thursday against the Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Top prospect will make his third spring start as he tries to build up his pitch count up in time to be in the Opening Day rotation.