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While competing for roster spot, Ozuna sustains cramp

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Marcell Ozuna, who is battling Jake Marisnick for the Marlins' center field job this spring, left Sunday's 8-4 win over the Tigers in the fifth inning because of a cramp in his left leg.

After the game, manager Mike Redmond preferred to take a wait-and-see attitude. "We'll see how he feels in the morning," Redmond said.

But Ozuna insisted, "I'm fine. No problem. I'm good. It was just a little cramp. I'll be back in the lineup Monday."

"I'm anticipating him to be OK," Redmond agreed.

Ozuna, who had walked, was 0-for-2 Sunday, dropping his spring average to .174. Marisnick, who did not play Sunday, is currently hitting a team-leading .436 in 17 games.

"We've got to decide what to do -- both guys are doing a nice job, both bring excitement to the lineup," Redmond said. "You don't always take Spring Training numbers into consideration -- it comes down to consistency.

"You try to figure out who is the most prepared to play in the big leagues, who is best going to help us win ballgames."

"Spring Training is about at-bats -- it's not about numbers," Marisnick said.

The Marlins are looking at both Ozuna and Marisnick in left field as well as center. And Redmond said Sunday, there's a chance both might make the team.

"We need to push each other to get better," Marisnick said. "Whatever they decide, it's about development right now. I just need to keep competing."

The 23-year-old Ozuna, who began Spring Training as the front-runner in the battle for the center-field job, has been working with hitting coach Frank Menechino to straighten out his swing.

Redmond has said, "I expect him to be out there on Opening Day."

Ozuna began last season at Double-A Jacksonville, and was a surprise callup when right fielder Giancarlo Stanton went on the DL in late April with a strained hamstring.

Ozuna showed flashes in 2013, batting .265 with three home runs and 32 RBIs in 70 big league games as a rookie before his season was cut short due to a left thumb injury sustained in late July, which required surgery.

Jim Hawkins is a contributor to
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