Alvarez appears poised to claim Opening Day nod

Righty works two shutout innings vs. Mets; Redmond delaying announcement

Alvarez appears poised to claim Opening Day nod

JUPITER, Fla. -- When Jose Fernandez underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery last May, Henderson Alvarez assumed the Marlins' role as ace. Most likely, Alvarez will also assume the honor of being Miami's Opening Day starter.

But for now, that announcement remains on hold. But based on all Alvarez did in 2014, and how he is throwing thus far in Spring Training, the decision appears to be a formality.

Asked if Alvarez would be the starter for Miami's April 6 opener against the Braves at Marlins Park, manager Mike Redmond laughed and replied: "I'm not even going to answer that."

Although some teams have already announced their Opening Day starters, the Marlins are electing to wait. There is plenty of time before making anything official, so the announcement promises to be more toward the middle to end of Spring Training.

"He had a tremendous year last year," Redmond said. "He stepped up at a time we needed somebody to step up. He was that guy who really took off and had a tremendous year, being an All-Star."

The 2014 numbers speak for themselves. Alvarez was 12-7 with a 2.65 ERA, which was sixth best among qualifying starters in the National League.

If Alvarez is the Opening Day starter, he would be honored. If not, he isn't too concerned.

"It will be a thrill for me if I get it," Alvarez said. "If I don't, I'm still going to compete and keep working to help the team win."

On Saturday, Alvarez made a strong first impression in his Grapefruit League debut in an 8-7 victory over the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium. The right-hander breezed through two scoreless innings, allowing a one-out single in the second inning. He struck out one, Juan Lagares, to lead off the game.

"I felt good," the Venezuelan native said. "My game plan was to keep the ball down, throw strikes and go through the batters quickly."

A quick worker by nature, Alvarez threw 22 pitches, with 16 strikes.

Getting back into game action was a welcome relief for Alvarez, who continues to use his quirky, long windup only for his first pitch of a game.

It's an awkward move where he lunges his left leg forward, then coils upright before delivering his pitch. If you miss the first pitch, you miss the wacky windup, because he only does it once.

"It's been a long time since I've done it," Alvarez said. "It felt normal. It's customary."

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.