Notes: Loria likes outlook for team

Notes: Loria likes outlook for team

JUPITER, Fla. -- Looking to build upon the successes of a year ago, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is optimistic the franchise can take major steps forward on and off the field in 2007.

New manager Fredi Gonzalez takes over a team that finished 78-84 with a roster populated predominantly by rookies in 2006. There is a quiet optimism around the club, which features some of the most exciting young players in the league.

Loria also is pleased with the progress being made on another front, the franchise's lengthy quest to secure funding for a new retractable-roof stadium. Support is building in the Florida Legislature to award a $60 million sales tax rebate for a proposed 37,000-seat stadium in downtown Miami.

"I think this is going to be a fun year for Marlins fans," Loria said. "I'm excited about this group of young players. Essentially, this is the team we had last year, and they've had a year of experience to grow. You can sense it, you can feel it, that they are hungry and they play with a lot of joy and enthusiasm. Frankly, that's what makes this team fun to watch."

The Marlins haven't said much publicly about their stadium push.

On the subject, Loria said: "I'm very optimistic, and that's really all I can say. I'm optimistic, and we'll see what happens."

While he hasn't been at Marlins camp before Saturday, Loria has been in constant contact the front office and with Gonzalez, as the two talk several times a week.

"If he has a question, he calls me. If I have something I want to talk about, I call him," Loria said. "There is a tremendous amount of communication with Fredi and everyone else. That's what organizations are supposed to be about. And we do a good job with that."

Regarding the dismissal of former manager Joe Girardi, Loria said: "I moved on. It's history. Most people that I came in contact with approached it the same way I did, it's yesterday's news. It happened. It's done. We moved on."

In Gonzalez, Loria said he has a manager whose "time has come."

"I met this man a while ago, and he's terrific," Loria said. "He's from Miami. He's an exciting young guy. He's very level headed, and we're very pleased to have him on board."

What stood out in early meetings with Gonzalez?

"His straight forwardness," Loria said. "I met him a year ago. I was very impressed. When the time came for us to do something, he was our No. 1 choice. Fredi's time has come. We wish him a lot of good luck. He's got some talented young players. We're glad he's here.

"Fredi has been terrific. He's got a great baseball mind. He's an interesting young man. He's dedicated and he relates very well to these players. Having been in the Marlins organization, he's had that managerial experience [at the Minor League level]. We couldn't be happier."

With the stadium situation unsettled, the Marlins payroll again will be the lowest in the league.

It is widely believed that without the security of a new stadium, the Marlins won't be able to retain Dontrelle Willis ($6.45 million) and Miguel Cabrera ($7.4 million) when they are eligible to become free agents after the 2009 season.

"They're the two guys that were there when we won in '03," Loria said of the Marlins' 2003 championship season. "For me, they're the ones to show the younger players the way to get there. They set the examples. They were young leaders, but now they're on the stage, it's their spotlight and they're gong to show a number of these guys. Miguel is talking about he thinks we can do some pretty good things this year."

Asked if both superstars will remain with the team all year, Loria said he never makes such guarantees.

"I never answer those type of questions," Loria said. "Our players are terrific players, and we just have to do what's good for the franchise."

Sanchez shaky: Walking the bases loaded in the first inning and then throwing 15 strikes out of 36 pitches aren't ideal results.

The bottom line with Anibal Sanchez's outing on Saturday afternoon was the right-hander felt strong in 1 1/3 innings. His command was a bit shaky, which was expected since the team has been cautious with him because of some shoulder discomfort in January.

Sanchez faced eight Cardinals on Saturday without allowing a run or a hit, striking out two and walking one. In the first inning, he threw 28 pitches, 11 for strikes.

In an encouraging sign, his fastball touched 92 mph, showing velocity is not a concern. He was clocked between 85-92 mph on an assortment of fastballs and sliders.

Sanchez said his shoulder feels fine, and he noted that he has been working through a mechanical glitch in his delivery that he had noticed about a week ago while watching some video of him pitching.

Tankersley cautious: Taylor Tankersley has not ruled out his availability for Opening Day. But the lefty is more concerned about being fully healthy, and that may mean he will be eased back to work a couple of weeks into the season.

"I'm listening to my body right now," said Tankersley, who is nursing inflammation in his throwing shoulder. "Right now, it feels like the inflammation is moving out."

An MRI taken on Monday revealed inflammation, but no structural damage. Tankersley hopes to begin throwing in the next few days.

"Opening Day is realistic," Tankersley said. "But if it's April 10, and it means it won't bother me the rest of the season, that's the main thing. Whenever it is, I want to be here to stay. It's a minor setback. I'll be back."

Mitre progressing: If all goes well, Sergio Mitre will be ready to pitch in the Grapefruit League toward the end of this upcoming week.

The right-hander is being built back up slowly after missing a majority of last season with a shoulder problem.

Mitre threw a live batting practice session on Friday, facing batters for the first time this spring. In the next few days, he will toss a simulated game. From there, he should be ready for game action.

If healthy, Mitre is a frontrunner to fill the rotation spot expected to be vacated because of Josh Johnson's arm injury.

Fish bites: Yusmeiro Petit will start on Tuesday against the Red Sox, who are going with Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka at Roger Dean Stadium. More than 100 Boston media have signed up to attend the game. ... First-base coach Perry Hill was back at his position on Saturday after sitting in the dugout on Friday because he had fluid drained from his left knee. ... Gonzalez says Gaby Hernandez has a legitimate shot to break Spring Training with the club, although it is more likely he will open in Double-A. Hernandez, Gonzalez said, may not be far away from being called up should he not make the Opening Day roster. ... Highly-regarded Minor League pitching prospect Sean West is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., to check on his sore left shoulder. A recent MRI revealed inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

Coming up: Left-hander Scott Olsen (0-1, 5.40 ERA) makes his second spring start on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 ET against the Cardinals, who are going with Anthony Reyes. Olsen is slated to toss about three innings, or 45-50 pitches. Chris Volstad, Lee Gardner, Randy Messenger and Harvey Garcia also are set to throw for Florida.

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