Mattingly: Pitchers may be needed in a pinch

Marlins' arms get extra hitting work in prep for fill-in situations

Mattingly: Pitchers may be needed in a pinch

JUPITER, Fla. -- If the Marlins follow through with their plan to carry eight relievers and go with a four-man bench, pitchers may be asked to do some pinch-hitting.

The organization already is preparing for this scenario, and pitchers are doing extra work in Spring Training in the cages and on the designated bunting field.

"We're looking for our pitchers to be able to handle the bat," manager Don Mattingly said. "The guys we are looking at are multiple-inning guys, bridge-type guys. They may have to hit."

At least publicly, the Marlins have remained firm in their commitment to go with an extra pitcher at the expense of working with a shorter bench. This means pinch-hitting for a pitcher in the early or mid-innings may not occur. Or that a starting pitcher may be called upon to pinch-hit on his no-start days.

The same holds true for multiple-innings pitchers, like Dustin McGowan.

"He's going to have to be able to bunt or handle the bat," Mattingly said, using McGowan as an example. "We may not be able to pinch-hit for him, if we have to go to him in the fourth or fifth."

In 2016, the only Marlins reliever to drop a successful sacrifice bunt was David Phelps, who did it twice.

Worth noting
• Don't expect to see much of reliever Brad Ziegler in Grapefruit League games. Not that the veteran is nursing any ailments, but the 37-year-old doesn't need many innings to be ready for the season. On Tuesday, Ziegler faced hitters in BP on a back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex. He also isn't expected to face any National League East rivals in the Spring.

Ichiro Suzuki is still nursing a sore right quad/lower back but is expected to do full workouts with the team during batting practice on Wednesday, but isn't yet ready for games.

Jeff Locke, sidelined with left biceps tendinitis, should begin throwing later in the week or early next week.

A.J. Ellis was scratched from Tuesday's game with a tight left hamstring. Ellis caught Ziegler's live bullpen session on a back field prior to feeling some tightness during a running drill.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.