Ozuna benched for tardiness

Veteran Suzuki makes first start in his place

Ozuna benched for tardiness

MIAMI -- Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna was scratched from the starting lineup on Sunday for showing up late to morning batting practice. The disciplinary action resulted in Ichiro Suzuki making his first start of the season.

Whether Ozuna will sit more than one game is to be determined, according to manager Mike Redmond.

"We'll see," the manager said. "Ichiro is going to play center today."

After Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Rays, Ozuna was apologetic.

"My mistake," Ozuna said. "I said, 'sorry. It's not going to happen again.' They said check the board. I forgot to check the board."

Over the course of the season, the Marlins don't always hit on the field before Sunday afternoon games. But that decision ultimately is made on a per game basis. On Saturday night, it was posted on the message board in the clubhouse that batting practice would be on the field Sunday.

"He was late," Redmond said.

The Marlins are off to a slow start, dropping four of their first five. They entered Sunday having split the first two of three with the Rays.

"We're trying to win a series," Redmond said. "He owes it to his teammates to be here to prepare himself. Ichiro is ready to play. We'll sit [Ozuna] on the bench. Ichiro, we'll let him go out there and help us try to win a series. Everybody was here."

Suzuki got the nod to play center field, and bat fifth.

In his 15 years in the big leagues, Ichiro has played mostly in right field -- a total of 1,824 games. Sunday marked his 292nd game in center field.

As Miami's fourth outfielder, the 41-year-old is available to play all three outfield spots. He saw plenty of action in center field in Spring Training.

As a pinch-hitter, Suzuki is 1-for-4 this year. For his career, he is 155 hits shy of 3,000.

Ozuna, 24, is one of the power threats in the middle of Miami's order. The slugger is batting .263 with no extra-base hits or RBIs.

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.