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Notes: Boone learning on the fly

Notes: Boone learning on the fly

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Veteran Aaron Boone has appeared in 969 games as a big leaguer, with none at first base.

That's going to change this season for the Marlins' 34-year-old free-agent pickup. A natural third baseman, Boone is seeing plenty of action at first base, where he is viewed as a spot starter and right-handed-hitting option to spell lefty-batting Mike Jacobs.

Since the start of Spring Training, Boone has worked extensively with respected infield instructor Perry Hill on adjusting to first base. Now what he is lacking is actual game experience.

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"I know what to do right now," Boone said, referring to his various first-base assignments. "I can go out and practice things. Now it's a matter of experiencing it at game speed and reacting."

Boone made the trip to Kissimmee, Fla., on Thursday, when the Marlins faced the Astros. He started at third base, however, because Miguel Cabrera didn't make the trip.

The Marlins view Boone as a backup at first and third.

"Just working with Perry, I've learned a lot," Boone said. "There is a lot of comfort in going out there and at least knowing what to do. Now it's just a matter of reacting in games."

Hill said Boone will learn on the fly, such things as angles on throws from third on bunt plays, and making the flips to first base when the pitcher is covering the bag.

"I'm trying to think ahead of time on what things can come up," Boone said.

"The positioning and all the plays -- cutoffs and relays and all that stuff -- that's the most difficult part," Hill said. "I'm not worried about him fielding a ground ball and all that stuff. It's the things during the game that are new to him."

Offensively, like many of the Marlins, Boone has gotten off to a slow start, batting .114.

The nine-year veteran isn't too worked up about Spring Training statistics, which often aren't a true indicator.

"I put no clout in any of it," Boone said.

Rotation update: In the next few days, manager Fredi Gonzalez expects to officially announce the pitching rotation.

One reason for the delay is the team sees an opportunity to set up matchups for the first couple of series.

In all probability, the rotation will be Dontrelle Willis, Anibal Sanchez, Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco and whoever wins the fifth spot, probably Sergio Mitre. Because of an April 5 off-day, a fifth starter isn't necessarily needed until April 10, at home against the Brewers.

Off-days on April 12, April 26 and May 3 give more flexibility to switch up the rotation the first six weeks.

Nolasco goes five: Going through five innings on Thursday afternoon keeps Nolasco on pace to enter the rotation when the season starts.

While Nolasco gave up four runs (including three homers) in five innings, the right-hander threw 64 pitches with 45 strikes. He should build up to around 75 in his next outing.

Ideally, Gonzalez is looking to get the starters ready to last 100-115 pitches by Opening Day, although none will obviously throw that many during the spring.

Because of Josh Johnson's injury, Nolasco is no longer being considered as a closer candidate. Gonzalez said Thursday he expects the right-hander to be part of the rotation.

"[Gonzalez] told me to concentrate on starting, and that's what I was doing," Nolasco said. "I just want to come in and get my pitch count up, and try to make quality starts during the year."

A year ago at this time, Nolasco was used as a reliever before he joined the rotation in May.

"It's a lot easier to know I can concentrate on one thing that comes most naturally to me," Nolasco said. "Like I said before, down the road, if the time comes and they want to push me to the bullpen, that's fine."

Stadium support grows: More support for a new stadium for the Marlins came on Thursday from the state of Florida.

Legislation approved Thursday would allocate $60 million in a sales tax rebate. The Marlins are seeking a retractable-roof stadium in Miami, and officials from the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County are urging the legislature for the rebate, which would be $60 million over 30 years.

The proposed stadium is estimated at $490 million.

Fish bites: Second baseman Zach Sorensen made a diving catch in short right field with the tying run on third base to preserve the 9-8 win Thursday. ... John Gall had a big game, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs. ... Pitching prospect Sean West, a 6-foot-7 left-hander and first-round choice in 2005, underwent shoulder surgery Monday to repair a labrum problem. West likely will miss the entire season. He was projected to open at Class A Jupiter. ... While Olsen was sharp Wednesday, tossing five scoreless innings in a win over the Orioles, the left-hander's velocity was down a tad from his first few starts. Olsen's fastball was between 86-89 mph, compared to 88-92 in his first outing. Olsen felt very good after his Wednesday start. Velocity tends to fluctuate throughout the year. ... Hanley Ramirez had an interesting at-bat in the sixth inning. Using Dan Uggla's bat, he took a big swing and the bat flew into the stands. Instead of retrieving the bat, he turned again to Uggla, who was on deck. Ramirez then tripled. "He's taking all my hits," Uggla joked.

Coming up: Mitre turned in a strong first spring start Sunday, and on Friday night the right-hander will look to build off that scoreless two-inning outing when the Marlins face the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium. The 7:05 p.m. ET start is close to being sold out. New York is going with Tom Glavine.

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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