Notes: Marlins eyeing world market

Notes: Marlins keeping eye on world market

JUPITER, Fla. -- Expanding Major League Baseball to all parts of the planet is important for the prosperity of the sport, according to Marlins president David Samson.

There was an international flavor and lots of fanfare on Tuesday afternoon, as the Red Sox spotlighted Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Since Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is on the league's international committee, the club is active in seeing baseball's popularity grow worldwide.

"It's very important," Samson said. "If Major League Baseball is going to be a global powerhouse and compete with the other sports, both here and around the country, you have to expose us all over the world. And Japan is a market that frankly, while we've had some success, we're just beginning to tap. Then you look at other markets like China, Australia and the continuation of Latin America -- it's critical."

Already, the Marlins are pumping in more revenue to the recruitment of international players.

"What we did this year is we put a lot of money and resources in the Dominican Republic," Samson said. "We wanted to really beef up our resources in the Dominican. We're going to start branching from there."

Marlins director of international operations Albert Gonzalez is spending the majority of his time in Latin America signing players. With so many players signing at the age of 16, the organization expects to see some of the young talent in the Dominican develop over the next two to three years.

Samson said the Marlins will eventually show more interest in Asian players. Because of the team's limited financial resources, however, they don't foresee being in position to compete for players like Matsuzaka.

Frankly, Samson questions spending in the $100 million range for players who haven't had any big-league experience.

"To give $100 million [for] a pitcher who has never pitched in the Major Leagues is a tremendous risk that very few teams would be willing to make or could make," Samson said. "To get a return on that, he better win the Cy Young just about each and every year. So, I think you have to be very careful in the international market to find value, as opposed to trying to expand resources panning for gold."

Petit impresses: While the international community was focusing on Matsuzaka, Marlins starter Yusmeiro Petit stepped up with his finest outing of the spring.

Able to command his fastball down in the zone, Petit tossed three scoreless innings, striking out five of the 10 batters he faced.

The Venezuelan native gave up just one hit -- an infield single to Kerry Robinson with two outs in the third.

"Throwing strikes, that was key for me," said Petit, who had good movement and location on his fastball.

Now that Josh Johnson will be out at least two months, Petit is in the mix for a rotation spot.

Johnson said he has ulnar nerve irritation, and he is taking anti-inflammation medication.

A year ago, Petit made 17 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque, going 4-6 with a 4.28 ERA. While with the Marlins, he appeared in 15 games, with one start. He was used mostly in long relief.

His first Spring Training outing was in relief, as he entered in the third inning.

Petit says he is much more comfortable starting, because that's what he has done throughout his career.

Francona on Ramirez: Hanley Ramirez showed off his power with a two-run homer in the fifth inning Tuesday.

Formerly with the Red Sox, Ramirez was obtained by the Marlins after the 2005 season as part of the Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell trade.

"I think from my limited knowledge of him, I think he might have gotten there a little quicker than maybe we expected," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I think that's a fair thing to say. Whatever he does on the field shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. This kid is as talented as there is. But he got there pretty quick. That's probably as honest as I could be about it."

Marlins on Matsuzaka: In his three-inning performance, Matsuzaka impressed the Marlins.

"I'm glad he's in the American League," said Ramirez, who grounded out and lined back to Matsuzaka.

Ramirez was the first batter the Red Sox right-hander faced. In the third inning, Ramirez smoked a hard liner up the middle, but Matsuzaka reached his glove up and snagged it.

"I told him, 'Come on, man? You come here from Japan and you're stealing my hits,'" Ramirez said jokingly to the right-hander. "He's good. His slider is good."

Dan Uggla had the first hit off Matsuzaka, lining a clean single to right in the first inning.

"I thought his fastball was sneaky quick," Uggla said. "This is his first time out. I imagine he is only going to get better."

Catcher Miguel Olivo noted that while Matsuzaka had a deliberate full windup, pausing slightly, and that from the stretch he speeds everything up.

"His slider is nasty," said Olivo, who claimed it broke in two directions -- down and over. "With men on, he works faster."

Fish bites: Sergio Mitre threw a simulated game on Tuesday afternoon. The right-hander is now set to see his first Grapefruit League action on Sunday. ... Lefty pitcher Sean West, a highly regarded prospect, is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews next Monday to check out shoulder inflammation. West says he is feeling better and calls the visit precautionary. ... On hand for Tuesday's game was former Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, who mingled with some reporter friends in the press box.

Coming up: On Wednesday, the Marlins have their first split-squad day of the spring. Both games are at Roger Dean Stadium. Dontrelle Willis will face the Orioles at 1:05 p.m. ET, while Gaby Hernandez gets the start in the 7:05 p.m. contest against the Dodgers.

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