Hamstring tightness slows Maybin

Hamstring tightness slows Maybin

JUPITER, Fla. -- Speed is a big part of Cameron Maybin's game, but for the next few days, the Marlins center fielder is taking things slow.

The 20-year-old experienced tightness in his left hamstring on Friday in a game against the Nationals in Viera, Fla. On Saturday, he iced and did some throwing and hitting. He's basically doing as much as he can without running.

Maybin says he hopes to be back in action in a couple of days.

"It feels better than yesterday," the Asheville, N.C., resident said on Saturday morning. "I'm getting a little stretching in. I will still participate in BP and throwing, just no running."

Asked when he expects to return, he added: "Maybe in a couple of days, probably. It's nothing serious. It's just precautionary."

Considering the high expectations and the youth of Maybin, the Marlins are taking things slowly with a player many in the game regard as a future All-Star.

Maybin was removed from Friday's game in the ninth inning after he reached on an error. He felt something stretch in his hamstring when he was running to first base. Immediately, he was lifted for a pinch-runner.

"That's when it kind of stretched on me, but it was tight all day," Maybin said regarding his ninth-inning at-bat.

He added that he's never had hamstring problems before.

Maybin was one of the centerpieces the Marlins received from the Tigers in their blockbuster December trade that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit.

The organization has made it clear that Maybin was obtained to be its regular center fielder. It's just a matter of when he is ready.

In three Grapefruit League games, he is 2-for-9 with a pair of doubles.

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Maybin's raw talent is evident, but there has been a growing sentiment around the organization not to rush his development.

As highly touted and skilled as he is, the reality is he has only 69 at-bats above Class A. In '07, he appeared in just six Double-A games and had 20 at-bats.

In all, Maybin has appeared in 191 Minor League games and has 703 at-bats. Still, he's been productive, as evidenced by his .309 career Minor League average.

At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Maybin is a rare combination of speed and power potential. His natural abilities resemble shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

The difference between the two is experience. Ramirez was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2006 at age 22. Maybin turns 21 on April 4, which is less than a week into the regular season.

So if he isn't ready to assume the role by the March 31 season opener against the Mets, Maybin likely will be sent to the Minor Leagues for some more seasoning.

The 10th overall selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Maybin appeared in 24 games for Detroit in 2007. He had 49 at-bats and finished with a .143 batting average.

The Marlins are in a retooling stage, and they are keeping a watchful eye on a number of their young players.

There is a legitimate concern not to push too fast players like Maybin and left-handed starter Andrew Miller, who also was part of the trade with Detroit.

The same holds true with a number of the team's top prospects, including pitchers Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, Ryan Tucker and Brett Sinkbeil.

If Maybin isn't ready when the season starts, the Marlins have alternatives in Cody Ross, Alejandro De Aza and Alfredo Amezaga. There is a chance the position will be platooned. Ross is a right-hander hitter, while De Aza bats left-handed. Amezaga is a switch-hitter who posts better numbers from the left side.

For now, Amezaga is working exclusively as a backup infielder, but last year, he appeared in 87 games in center field.

Maybin, meanwhile, is doing a lot of icing and stretching in hopes of being back to full strength in a few days.

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