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Notes: Reed recalls moment of power

Notes: Reed recalls moment of power

ARLINGTON -- Facing the Rangers at Ameriquest Field on Saturday night brought back some college memories for Marlins rookie Eric Reed.

The home of the Texas Rangers is the site of Reed's only college home run. A speedy center fielder out of Texas A&M, Reed belted a shot into the second deck in right field during the Big 12 Tournament against Oklahoma.

"I got good metal on it," said Reed, who hit that home run with an aluminum bat. "I was probably at third base when the ball landed."

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Power clearly isn't a big part of Reed's game.

The slender 5-foot-11, 170-pounder is the fastest player in the Marlins' organization. In terms of flat-out speed, he probably is faster than former Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre, now with the Cubs.

A left-handed hitter, Reed's style of play has been compared to Pierre. To capitalize on his speed, Reed is working on bunting for hits, and he's working on a slap-bunt to the shortstop. In Friday's game against the Rangers, Reed bunted for a hit with two strikes, something unusual because a foul ball would result in a strikeout.

Reed has paced the Marlins in stolen bases this spring, swiping 10 in 12 tries.

Manager Joe Girardi feels Reed can be a big base stealer in the Majors. Assuming Reggie Abercrombie starts in center field, Reed may see a bulk of his early action as a pinch-runner or a defensive replacement. Abercrombie is also fast. And it is likely Abercrombie would shift to left field, with Reed playing center.

"Obviously he has to get to know the league, pitchers' moves and catchers' arms, and what pitchers like to do," Girardi said of Reed as a base stealer. "He can be very good. He's extremely fast -- something most of us aren't blessed with."

A native of Monticello, Ark., Reed had some friends and former Texas A&M teammates visit him on Saturday. Also in the crowd were his high school coaches, Buck James and Randy Harvey.

Hermida ready for opener: In 2002, Jeremy Hermida was graduating high school about the time the Marlins made him their first-round pick. Now, the left-handed-hitting outfielder is on the brink of making his first Opening Day start.

Long regarded as the organization's top prospect, Hermida grew up in Marietta, Ga., and he attended some Opening Day games for the Braves as a youngster.

"Opening Day of a big-league season is part of that whole dream, putting the uniform on that first day ... it definitely will be exciting," Hermida said.

Hermida made his big-league debut on Aug. 31, 2005, and he began his career with a big slash, belting a pinch-hit grand slam in his first at-bat.

"Opening Day is very special," Hermida said. "You have those Opening Day jitters. There is so much anticipation. So much hard work went into getting the season started."

No lefty relief: Keeping the "best arms" has been a consistent theme for the Marlins throughout Spring Training. By doing so, the club appears ready to enter Opening Day on Monday at Houston without a left-handed reliever.

There were candidates in camp, but none were retained. The Marlins have high hopes for 2004 first-round pick, Taylor Tankersley, who will open the season in the bullpen for Double-A Carolina. Jimmy Anderson was a lefty possibility, but he was also sent down to the Minor Leagues.

Anderson, however, could be a quick callup option. The lefty has dropped his arm slot a bit, making him more of a sidearm thrower, and thus far, he is seeing improvement.

Michael Megrew, a Rule 5 Draft pickup from the Dodgers, who is on the disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis, could be a lefty out of the 'pen later on in the season.

While the bullpen will feature all right-handers, Todd Wellemeyer and Matt Herges have been effective against left-handed hitters.

Asked if not having a lefty out of the bullpen is an issue, Girardi said: "I don't think so. You use your right-handers that you feel have a good chance getting lefties out. There are a lot of right-handers out there who get lefties out better than they do right-handers, and vice versa. That true left-handed reliever to me ... there are not a lot of clubs that have that true left-handed reliever anymore.

"Some of the best lefties in the league are closers. You don't take them out when they're facing right-handed hitters in the ninth inning. You leave them in. That left-handed setup guy, or two-hitter guy, is a luxury for a club. But not all clubs have one."

Among the benefits of having a left-hander available is they can also turn a switch-hitter around. In the National League East, there are a number of power-hitting left-handed hitters, like Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd of the Mets, and Bobby Abreu and Ryan Howard of the Phillies. Chipper Jones of the Braves and Carlos Beltran of the Mets are switch-hitters, who would bat right-handed against a lefty pitcher.

Featuring 11 rookies? With the roster pretty much set, the Marlins actually are prepared to go into the season with 11 rookies. There has been some confusion over the status of Josh Willingham.

Willingham has 123 days of big-league service time, which includes two months of time accumulated while he was on the disabled list last year.

But while disabled list service time counts towards arbitration status, it doesn't factor into rookie status. According to the league, a qualification for a rookie is: "A player with no more than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues during the previous season or seasons, nor more than 45 days on a Major League roster during the 25-man player limit (excluding time in military service)."

So barring any trades or additional roster moves before Monday's opener, the rookies expected to suit up on Opening Day are Willingham, Chris Resop, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Hermida, Reed, Abercrombie, Josh Johnson, Carlos Martinez and Ricky Nolasco.

Coming up: Left-hander Dontrelle Willis gets the call in Monday's season opener in Houston, where the Marlins face the Astros at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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