Notes: Roster close to being finalized

Notes: Roster close to being finalized

JUPITER, Fla. -- Rosters officially have to be set by Sunday, but Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez plans on having his team in place well before that.

Gonzalez is hopeful to announce the 25-man roster that will open the season on Wednesday.

"I think it's important for the team to know who their teammates are," Gonzalez said Monday. "It's important for them to come together."

One unanswered question was resolved on Monday, when the Marlins acquired closer Jorge Julio and cash from the Diamondbacks for Yusmeiro Petit.

With the closer issue resolved, the spotlight turns to center field.

The center-field battle is down to three candidates, with the other two not likely to make the club.

Non-roster invitee Alex Sanchez is believed to be have the inside edge based on his previous Major League experience. But Eric Reed has had a solid spring, and he remains in the mix, as does prospect Alejandro De Aza.

Reed has one more option, so if he doesn't win the job, he can be sent to Triple-A for more grooming.

De Aza is the intriguing third choice. The 22-year-old who projected to begin in Double-A has been the surprise of camp. According to a number of scouts who have observed the Marlins all spring, De Aza clearly has the most upside and talent.

The initial plan had been not to rush De Aza, who shows he may end up being the long-term answer in center. So the team had been thinking of having De Aza open in Double-A for more seasoning. Then, if he is performing in a few months, the club could promote him.

Because of De Aza's progression, the club is less inclined to explore center field trade options.

Gonzalez said he is leaning toward a platoon situation in right field until Jeremy Hermida is ready.

Hermida is out with a bone bruise on his right kneecap.

Joe Borchard, a switch-hitter who is more effective against right-handed pitching, is viewed as the front-runner while facing righties. Either Cody Ross or John Gall could get the nod against lefties.

As of now, the Marlins are not viewing backup infielder Alfredo Amezaga as an outfield option. Amezaga isn't expected to play any outfield for the remainder of Spring Training. The switch-hitter saw considerable time in center field a year ago.

Tankersley update: Lefty reliever Taylor Tankersley will likely open the season on the disabled list, retroactive to March 23.

Health-wise, Tankersley is feeling fine. The 24-year-old, who was bothered early in Spring Training by shoulder inflammation, threw batting practice on Sunday, and that session went smoothly. On Wednesday, he will pitch in a Double-A game.

With Opening Day set for April 2, there doesn't appear to be enough time for the lefty to regain his command in game action before the season begins.

To keep him eligible to be retroactive to March 23 on the disabled list, Tankersley will not pitch in any Grapefruit League games. Players who open the season on the DL, retroactive to March 23, are eligible to play on April 8, or after the first six days of the regular season.

"Physically, there is no pain," Tankersley said. "It's a matter of time before I'm ready."

An eighth-inning and closer candidate, Tankersley is being counted on to be a key part of the bullpen.

"I feel like can get guys out right now," he said. "I don't have eight to 10 outings under my belt breaking camp, which is normal."

Gonzalez noted that the key is to make sure that whenever Tankersley is ready, he will be back for the long haul.

Mitre wins fifth spot: By trading Petit to Arizona, Sergio Mitre officially has been named the fifth starter. Because of an April 5 off-day, Mitre's first start will be April 10 at home against the Brewers.

Mitre threw five shutout innings on Monday in a 3-1 loss to the Cardinals. He scattered three hits, walked one and struck out two, logging 68 pitches with 46 strikes.

Mitre opened the 2006 season as the No. 2 starter, but he missed most of the year with a shoulder problem. So now, he looks at it as he's winning back a spot that he lost because of injury.

"I'm throwing strikes and I'm attacking the zone," Mitre said. "My arm feels good."

Nolasco's outing: While Mitre was making the start on Monday against the Cardinals, Ricky Nolasco was throwing three innings in a Minor League game on a backfield at Roger Dean Stadium.

Nolasco, the team's fourth starter, threw 64 pitches in extremely windy conditions while facing St. Louis' Minor Leaguers.

Nolasco will pitch in Florida's first home game, April 6, against the Phillies.

The team is deciding whether to start Nolasco on Saturday in Dayton, Ohio, when the Marlins face the Reds in the final Spring Training game. Mitre is the other choice to start in Dayton.

Ramirez returning: Shortstop Hanley Ramirez went 1-for-3 on Sunday afternoon against the Red Sox, and then later in the day he flew out of Fort Myers to his home in the Dominican Republic to take care of personal issues.

Ramirez went back to the Dominican to sign some visa-related paperwork for his wife. He is expected to be in the starting lineup on Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale.

Fish bites: Mike Jacobs flipped with Josh Willingham in the cleanup spot on Monday. Willingham had been batting fourth much of spring. ... New first base/infield coach Andy Fox is expected to be in uniform on Tuesday. Fox, a former infielder with the Marlins, replaces Perry Hill, who retired last Friday. ... Lefty reliever Renyel Pinto got some work on Monday throwing in a Minor League game and outfielder Cody Ross got five at-bats in the same game. ... Guests of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Monday included Bill Parcells and Bob Knight. ... In the eighth inning, De Aza, in left field, tripped over shortstop Alfredo Amezaga on a flare single by Adam Kennedy. Both were shaken up but remained in the game. ... Dontrelle Willis will throw a Minor League game on Wednesday rather than face the Nationals, the team he will face on Opening Day. Willis' pitch count will be scaled back to about 70 in his final spring start.

Coming up: The Marlins travel to Fort Lauderdale Stadium on Tuesday to take on the Orioles at 1:05 p.m. ET. Minor Leaguer Rick Vanden Hurk, who has not been in big-league camp, will get the start. Henry Owens, Matt Lindstrom, Nate Field, Felix Rodriguez and Roy Corcoran also are slated to pitch. Steve Trachsel also is slotted to pitch for Baltimore.

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