Notes: Nolasco sidelined by injury

Notes: Nolasco sidelined by back spasms

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- As a precaution, Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco was scratched from a Grapefruit League start on Monday against the Orioles at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

Nolasco is resting back spasms that first bothered him last Friday.

"It's nothing major," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It happened a couple of days ago, and we decided to scratch him."

Filling in was lefty Chris George, who is finding himself in the mix for a possible rotation opening because of Josh Johnson's arm injury.

Nolasco will throw on the side on Wednesday, and if that goes well, he will be scheduled to make his next start -- which would be Saturday against the Dodgers at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.

Nolasco threw two scoreless innings of relief last Wednesday. Monday was going to be his first spring start.

The 24-year-old right-hander, who went 11-11 with a 4.82 ERA as a rookie in 2006, projects to be the Marlins' fourth starter.

George is a non-roster invitee who is vying for a spot. With Johnson facing a likely disabled list stint to open the season, the Marlins are already down a projected starter.

Along with George, Sergio Mitre, Yusmeiro Petit, Wes Obermueller and Jose Garcia are candidates for a rotation spot.

George struggled in the Marlins' 5-3 loss to the Orioles on Monday, giving up four runs on four hits with a walk and two strikes in 1 2/3 innings.

As a non-roster invitee, George noted that he has to produce in his Grapefruit League opportunities to make the club. He offers the club a lefty option, either out of the bullpen or as a starter.

Offensive woes: The Marlins fell to 1-5 in Grapefruit League play on Monday. Once again, the offense struggled to produce runs.

First baseman Mike Jacobs, who went 0-for-3, remains hitless in Spring Training.

"It's kind of frustrating, I know for me, and for everyone else," Jacobs said. "Maybe we're being a little too aggressive."

Jacobs noted that it's common to be a bit anxious for that first hit. Right now, the hits and runs have been hard to come by for the entire team.

Jacobs had a little scare when he collided with catcher Matt Treanor on a foul pop off the bat of O's outfielder Jay Payton. Jacobs did make the catch, but he and Treanor ran into each other, causing some concern. Both players are fine.

Obermueller's Japanese experience: Obermueller, who pitched for the Orix Buffaloes of Japan's Pacific Baseball League a year ago, experienced playing in another culture.

A candidate for a rotation spot this spring, Obermueller said preparation was much more rigorous in Japan.

"They are tough over there," Obermueller said. "They call it 'work baseball' instead of 'play baseball.' I know some guys have fun with it, but it's taken pretty seriously."

A typical day has about one hour, 45 minutes of batting practice. Before throwing a pitch, Obermueller said there was 45 minutes of stretching and running.

"You are at the ballpark for quite a while, and it's a lot of work," Obermueller said. "They throw and throw and throw and throw. Even after you long toss, you go back there and throw some more. Their pitch counts run from 150 to 160 over there. Then you go run a lot to try to get in shape for that."

Obermueller's team faced the team of new Red Sox sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka. But Obermueller didn't actually see Matsuzaka pitch, because pitchers aren't always required to go to the park when they aren't pitching.

"He's a pretty big deal. He's one of the superstars over there," Obermueller said.

Special guests: Gonzalez invited a couple of special guests to Monday's game. Former Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy, a big Marlins fan, and ex-Florida pitcher Alex Fernandez were on hand.

Fernandez was on the Marlins' 1997 World Series title team. With this being the 10th anniversary of the franchise's first title, the organization has asked Fernandez to toss out the ceremonial first pitch at the April 6 home opener against the Phillies.

Charles Johnson, another standout in 1997, will catch Fernandez's first pitch.

These days, Fernandez owns a few baseball sporting goods stores in South Florida. "Alex Fernandez's StrikeZone" has stores in Cooper City and Pinecrest.

Fernandez is also passing his time coaching a couple of his son's highly competitive travel baseball teams. His son's 14-year-old team has had many of its players together since they were nine. They've won several national tournaments, including claiming titles in Cooperstown and St. Louis.

Fish bites: Officials at Roger Dean Stadium are recommending fans attending Tuesday's sold-out contest with the Red Sox arrive early. The game begins at 1:05 p.m. ET. ... Miguel Cabrera, the designated hitter, was pegged on the left leg by a Jeremy Guthrie fastball in the third inning on Monday. Cabrera is fine, but will not play Tuesday, as he was already scheduled for a day off. ... After losing a fly ball in the sun, resulting in a third-inning single for Baltimore's Aubrey Huff on Monday, Reggie Abercrombie threw Huff out trying to advance to third on Ramon Hernandez's RBI single. ... Josh Willingham made a strong throw to second, nabbing J.R. House, who was trying to stretch out a double in the fourth. ... Taylor Tankersley, resting inflammation in his left shoulder, should begin throwing off flat ground by the end of the week.

Coming up: On Tuesday, Petit is slated to make his first Spring Training start when the Marlins play host to the Red Sox at Roger Dean Stadium. Boston is going with Matsuzaka.

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