Marlins settle on 25-man roster

Marlins settle on 25-man roster

JUPITER, Fla. -- After some early-morning decisions Thursday, the Marlins' Opening Day roster is just about set.

The final two pieces seem to have fallen into place, as Jason Wood and Lee Gardner were told they are being rewarded for strong Spring Trainings. The pair of longtime Minor League players are projected to be on the Marlins' Opening Day roster when the season begins Monday against the Nationals at RFK Stadium.

"Wood and Gardner, barring any injuries or trades, are going to be on the big club," manager Fredi Gonzalez said Thursday morning. "So they've made the club."

Assuming there are no other changes, the Marlins 25-man roster appears set for Opening Day.

The position players are: Infielders Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Mike Jacobs, Miguel Cabrera, Aaron Boone, Alfredo Amezaga and Jason Wood; catchers Miguel Olivo and Matt Treanor; and outfielders Josh Willingham, Alejandro De Aza, Joe Borchard and Cody Ross.

The starting rotation will feature Dontrelle Willis, Scott Olsen, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Sergio Mitre.

Seven relievers will be carried: Randy Messenger, Kevin Gregg, Henry Owens, Matt Lindstrom, Jorge Julio, Renyel Pinto and Gardner.

The team has already told Josh Johnson, Taylor Tankersley, Jose Garcia and Jeremy Hermida that they will begin the season on the disabled list.

As of now, the Marlins don't have a primary left-handed hitter off the bench. Amezaga and Borchard, who will platoon in right field with Ross, are switch-hitters.

Pinto is the lone lefty reliever until Tankersley is activated.

Wood and Gardner are examples of how perseverance can ultimately pay off.

At age 37, Wood has one year and 10 days of MLB service time. He was drafted in 1991 by the A's, and he has accumulated 6,434 at-bats in 1,785 Minor League games.

Able to play all four infield positions, Wood has enjoyed a terrific spring, batting .415 (17-for-41). His role will be as a pinch-hitter.

"These last few days have been a whirlwind. You go home at night and sit around, you add up numbers, and you think what could be -- what you could have done better and what could you have done more for the team," Wood said. "I didn't think there was a whole lot more I could have done. It's nice they gave me the opportunity to be here and be part of this team."

Shortly after receiving the news that he was going to be the Marlins' 13th and final position player on the roster Thursday morning, Wood called his wife, who is at their home in California.

"She was ecstatic," Wood said. "She was sleeping, but she's definitely not sleeping now in California. She was happy and excited for me at the same time."

Wood and Gardner were both told they were slotted to make the team after Gonzalez notified outfielder John Gall and reliever Nate Field that they would be reassigned to Minor League camp. Both are expected to begin at Triple-A Albuquerque.

The transactions have not yet been made official.

Gardner, a 32-year-old who has 80 days of MLB service time, spent the 2006 season playing for Triple-A Toledo in the Tigers' system. The right-hander signed as a non-drafted free agent with Tampa Bay in 1998.

Gardner appeared in five games for the Rays in 2005.

Wood and Gardner will be the oldest and third oldest players, respectively, on the squad. Aaron Boone is 34.

"We need to bring that average age up," Gonzalez joked.

Wood made an impression in September with the Marlins, appearing in 12 games and batting .462 (6-for-13).

An example of how he has endured: Wood went six years and 343 days between big-league hits.

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