Marlins must address three big questions this spring

Team eager to monitor Stanton, Fernandez, newcomers at camp

Marlins must address three big questions this spring

MIAMI -- Finally, it is time to play. After spending months putting together a roster expected to contend, the Marlins are primed for action.

Pitchers and catchers begin workouts around 1 p.m. ET Friday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. It will be the first time the newly constructed squad takes the field.

"People are excited," Marlins president David Samson said. "But again, to me, what's exciting is that we get to now play. We get to have our fans enjoy what I hope is a great team. These players want to win. They're excited to play. It's a good time right now, and our fans deserve that. I'm definitely hopeful."

The organization has been retooling for the past few seasons. This year, the expectation is winning. To long-suffering Miami fans, who have endured five straight losing seasons, that is a relief.

After pitchers and catchers get going on Friday, manager Mike Redmond, entering his third season, will oversee the first full-squad workouts on Tuesday on the back fields in Jupiter.

"I like the fact that we have a team of 25 players who are collectively interested in the team," Samson said. "That is very attractive because that can lead to winning."

There are plenty of reasons for optimism. But MLB.com looks at three questions that must be addressed.

1. How will Giancarlo Stanton rebound?
Stanton's goal of playing in every game in 2014 was cut short when he was struck in the face by a pitch at Milwaukee on Sept. 11. The slugger sustained multiple facial fractures and dental damage. He will wear a face guard on his helmet in the spring, and all eyes will monitor how he responds.

9/11/14: MLB.com FastCast

2. When will Jose Fernandez be ready?
The Marlins added Mat Latos and Dan Haren to help ease the loss of Fernandez, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May. Early in Spring Training, Fernandez is expected to throw off the mound. His window to return is June 15-July 15. The strides that Fernandez makes in spring will help determine when the club can get its ace back.

3. Will the new pieces fit in?
The Marlins' front office was active, adding 13 players who were with other clubs last year to their 40-man roster. On paper, everything looks good. But will the mix blend together? Will Dee Gordon get on base enough? Will Latos bounce back from injury? Will Haren, who wanted to pitch out West, embrace Miami? If so, it should fun in South Florida.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.