Olsen making strides toward return

Olsen making strides toward return

JUPITER, Fla. -- At last there is some encouraging news regarding an injured Marlins' starting pitcher.

Scott Olsen threw pain-free during a bullpen session on Thursday, and the lefty is slated to throw a simulated game this weekend.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters on Thursday that the hope is to have Olsen in the rotation when the season opens on March 31 against the Mets.

However, Olsen is not considered a likely candiate to pitch on Opening Day. Just having Olsen as one of its first four starters will provide a boost to the club.

Olsen has been rebounding from left shoulder tendinitis. He has made two Grapefruit League starts and he's tossed five scoreless innings. The team feels he can quickly make up for lost time.

Olsen was scratched from a March 6 start against the Cardinals because of a sore shoulder. Prior to the setback, he was considered the frontrunner to pitch on Opening Day. Now, veteran Mark Hendrickson may have the inside edge.

Because of two early off-days, the Marlins will go with a four-man rotation until April 13.

There are six candidates for those four spots: Olsen, Hendrickson, Ricky Nolasco, Rick VandenHurk, Andrew Miller and Gaby Hernandez.

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