JUPITER, Fla. -- Ideally, the Marlins would have liked to see Henderson Alvarez work more on his slider than his sliding ability on Thursday, but Mother Nature had other ideas.
In a rain-shortened outing, Alvarez took strides to becoming ready for the regular season on the mound. But the play that showed his overall athleticism, while also causing some concern in the dugout, was the 24-year-old sliding home safely in the fourth inning of Miami's 5-3 win over the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
"That wasn't what I was looking for," manager Mike Redmond said. "I want him throwing strikes. I don't want to see him sliding into home plate."
An All-Star in 2014, Alvarez is projected as the Marlins' Opening Day starter. The announcement is pending.
"We're not there yet," Redmond said. "Close. We're getting really close."
As for his pitching, Alvarez threw the ball better than the results may have indicated. He gave up two runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in three innings.
"He looked good out there," Redmond said. "That's Henderson, the way he pitched. He looked nice out there. I would have liked for him to get his pitches out there on the big field, but I also don't want those guys to jeopardize themselves by going down."
Alvarez was primed to pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning until the heavy rains came down. So the right-hander was done after 43 pitches.
The game was delayed 55 minutes due to rain with two outs in the top of the fourth. Alvarez, who singled in the fourth off Adam Wainwright, was involved in the final play before the delay.
Alvarez was on second when Christian Yelich singled to right field. In wet conditions, Alvarez was waved home and he slid in ahead of Jason Heyward's throw.
"Rounding third, I slipped a little on the base," Alvarez said.
Immediately after he slid home safely, the rain intensified, prompting the delay.
Alvarez went to the cages and threw another 45 pitches on the covered mound, getting his total to 88 pitches for the afternoon.
"I want to finish Spring Training healthy," Alvarez said. "I'm excited for the season."
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.