Marlins hitters get chance to step into box against pitchers

Marlins hitters get chance to step into box against pitchers

JUPITER, Fla. -- After two days of going through the fundamentals, the Marlins took things up a notch Thursday. For the first time this spring, pitchers faced hitters in live batting practice.

It's not typically a fun day for hitters, because pitchers already have had a head start in their preparations. But it represents a big step for batters to get tuned up for Spring Training games, which start next week.

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The day also marked the first time Giancarlo Stanton saw pitches off the mound since he was struck on the face by a fastball last Sept. 11 at Milwaukee. Stanton stepped in against Henderson Alvarez and Brad Hand. The slugger tracked all 10 pitches, not offering any swings.

Stanton will be wearing a protective guard on his helmet, but that personalized helmet had not arrived in time for practice on Thursday.

For Miami, it was also a chance to see newcomers Dee Gordon, Ichiro Suzuki and Michael Morse against pitchers.

"As a hitter, you try to judge where you are," manager Mike Redmond said. "This is the first day of seeing some live pitching. Some guys enjoy it. Some guys don't."

The Marlins will have live batting practice Thursday and Friday, before having simulated games with umpires on Saturday and Sunday. Miami will face Florida International University on Monday at Roger Dean Stadium.

In live BP, pitchers are throwing from behind a screen and hitters are under a cage.

"For some reason, that cage over their head is just uncomfortable," Redmond said. "We do a couple of days of tune-ups and then a couple of sim games. Guys actually are able to swing the bat, run the bases and there is a defense. There is a realistic situation. They seem to like that better."

• Redmond has not yet scheduled his pitchers for the upcoming simulated games or the first couple of college games, set for Monday (FIU) and Tuesday (University of Miami). Pitchers who threw on Thursday will again pitch in the simulated games on Saturday. Alvarez will be one of those pitchers.

• The Marlins were one of the teams that made a push to sign reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Brewers on Thursday morning. Miami was looking to add K-Rod as a setup option for closer Steve Cishek.

• Even though the Marlins missed out on signing K-Rod, the team is happy with its cast of right-handed relievers. They have 12 right-handers in camp who throw 95 mph or higher.

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.