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Possible lineup glimpse given Tuesday

Possible lineup glimpse given

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Perhaps on Tuesday the Marlins gave a glimpse of what their Opening Day lineup could look like.

At this stage, of course, nothing is etched in stone. But manager Fredi Gonzalez went with a batting order that could mirror exactly which players line up to face the Mets on March 31 at Dolphin Stadium.

Facing the Dodgers on Tuesday afternoon, the batting order was: Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs, Cody Ross, Jose Castillo, Mike Rabelo and Andrew Miller.

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Miller, the 22-year-old lefty, is still competing for a rotation spot, and he may not take the ball in the first game. Still, the position players, and where they bat, may be identical.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez already is on record saying the multi-dimensional Ramirez is expected to lead off.

There had been speculation that Ugga, who hit 31 homers a year ago, may slide to the middle of the order now that Miguel Cabrera has moved on to the Tigers.

For now, though, Uggla is getting most of his at-bats from the second spot, where he has been a fixture the past two seasons. There was a brief stretch where Uggla batted lower a year ago, but that didn't last long.

"We'll see how it plays out, and what the offense needs from the middle of the lineup," Gonzalez said.

Uggla showcased his power again on Tuesday, connecting on a first-inning home run off Dodgers' sinker-ball pitcher Derek Lowe.

Hermida appears to be a lock to bat third.

The cleanup spot may come down to if the opposing starter is a left-hander or right-hander. While the right-handed hitting Willingham batted fourth against Lowe on Tuesday, he could find himself also in the cleanup spot on Opening Day against left-hander Johan Santana.

Jacobs, another lefty bat, would help balance the order behind Willingham. Ross, who has traditionally hit lefty starters well, would be the likely starter against Santana.

The Marlins center-field job remains a battle between Cameron Maybin, Ross, Alejandro De Aza and Brett Carroll.

Maybin, regarded as the center fielder of the future, may end up getting more Minor League seasoning when the year opens.

Castillo is competing for the job at third base. Defensively, he has been solid, but he is battling Jorge Cantu and Dallas McPherson. Cantu is having a terrific spring, and projects to make the club to relieve at first base or third.

The switch-hitting Rabelo has been competing with Matt Treanor.

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

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