Notes: Olivo letting ball come to him

Notes: Olivo letting ball come to him

JUPITER, Fla. -- Using the entire field is one of the biggest objectives for Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo.

Noted for attacking the first pitch, Olivo has used Spring Training to be more patient, while focusing on hitting the ball more up the middle and to right field.

Last year, Olivo was a pleasant surprise at the plate, batting .263 with a career high in home runs (16) and RBIs (58). Quietly, he is hoping to reach the 20-homer mark, which is difficult to do, especially in spacious Dolphin Stadium.

"I'm working more on hitting the ball to right field," said Olivo, who is expected to handle a majority of the catching duties. "I feel more comfortable at the plate. That's what I'm working on right now, going to right field. The way to do that is letting the ball come to you."

At a compact 6-foot, 220 pounds, Olivo is one of the strongest players on the team. When he squares a pitch up, he's capable of monstrous home runs.

When he connects, it's usually to left field. Six of his seven home runs at Dolphin Stadium a year ago were to left field, with the other went to right-center.

Olivo spent the winter working on hitting the breaking ball away to right field. He lives in California and has a batting cage at his house.

"In Spring Training, I'm working on getting ready for the season," he said. "I feel good right now. My legs are good. I'm seeing the ball better, and I feel strong."

Along with working with hitting coach Jim Presley, Olivo also is picking up pointers watching one of the game's top hitters, Miguel Cabrera. Much of Cabrera's success is attributed to the fact he uses the entire field, and he has power everywhere.

"You learn from people like [Cabrera]," Olivo said. "Watching him is like watching one of the best in baseball. I watch what he is doing, and I try to do the same things, too. He's like a teacher."

Hill's impact: How much of an impact can an infield instructor make?

A case in point came during Anibal Sanchez's no-hitter against the Diamondbacks on Sept. 6, 2006, at Dolphin Stadium.

On the final out of the game, Eric Byrnes bounced a hard grounder to shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who was shifted slightly toward third. While Ramirez hesitated for a moment before throwing, Byrnes was called out at first on an extremely close play to secure Sanchez's historical performance.

Where Ramirez was positioned for Byrnes was set up by first-base/infield coach Perry Hill, who retired on Friday.

"He gave me the idea," Ramirez said. "Before the game started, we went over the lineup, so I knew where I was going to be [for Byrnes]."

Hill closely studied and charted hitter tendencies. Byrnes was hitting the ball hard that day, but right at people. Before the ninth, he had lined out sharply to Josh Willingham, who made a diving catch in left, and he smoked a ball right at Cabrera at third base for an out.

With Byrnes pulling the ball on Sanchez, Ramirez was shifted more in the hole, leaving a wider gap up the middle. The positioning paid off.

"I praised him every day," Ramirez said of Hill. "I think he's one of the best infield coordinators who's ever been."

On Saturday, Andy Fox, a former Marlin who also was coached by Hill, was named as his replacement.

Fox, who was coaching in the Rangers' system, will be in uniform with the Marlins on Tuesday.

Boone delivers: Aaron Boone's three-hit, three-RBI performance in a 6-5 win over the Mets on Saturday was a reminder that the veteran can play a vital role this season.

The all-purpose 34-year-old is seeing considerable action at first base, a position he has never played before in the big leagues. He can also offer relief for Miguel Cabrera at third base.

What the team is mainly looking for is contributions at the plate.

The three-hit game improved his statistics to 9-for-50 this spring, heading into Sunday.

"Booney has been unbelievable," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's a veteran guy who plays the game like a 21-year-old trying to make the club."

Boone, of course, was raised in a baseball family. His father, Bob, is a former player and manager, and his brother Bret was an All-Star. His grandfather, Ray, played from 1948-60 in the big leagues.

"He's been in the locker room since he was about six," Gonzalez said.

The Marlins are counting on Boone's leadership with some of the young players, and he offers the team playoff experience.

Coming up: The Marlins will be the home team on Monday, when they face the Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. ET at Roger Dean Stadium. Sergio Mitre continues his quest for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, while St. Louis is going with Adam Wainwright.

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