Marlins end speculation, finalize rotation

Marlins finalize rotation

JUPITER, Fla. -- All the arms are finally aligned.

The Marlins put to rest any further speculation regarding their starting rotation on Thursday by formally announcing what had been expected over the past few days.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez tabbed Rick VandenHurk as the second-game starter, and Andrew Miller will take the mound in the third game, completing a youthful rotation.

With two early off-days, the Marlins are going with a four-man rotation until April 13, when a fifth starter will be added.

The Marlins open on Monday against the Mets at Dolphin Stadium.

In the three games of that series, the Marlins will throw Mark Hendrickson on Opening Day. VandenHurk will follow on Tuesday, and Miller completes the series on Wednesday.

"Rick has done a terrific job," Gonzalez said. "He deserves to go No. 2, and by doing this, it splits up the lefties."

The Marlins now will go with a lefty-righty-lefty trio in their first series.

The Marlins will be throwing, in order, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez.

Florida is off on April 3, and Scott Olsen will be the starter on April 4 against the Pirates. Pittsburgh will be throwing Matt Morris against Olsen.

Of the four Florida starters, three are left-handers. VandenHurk, the 22-year-old from the Netherlands, is the lone right-hander in the rotation at the moment.

VandenHurk had to battle through 4 2/3 innings on Thursday in a 2-0 loss to the Cardinals. The right-hander gave up two runs on five hits, he walked five and struck out three.

His key number of the day, however, was reaching the 100-pitch mark.

"My control was so-so today, and that is going to happen," he said. "I felt good out there. I threw a lot of pitches, and extended my pitch count a little bit."

Ricky Nolasco will begin the season with the Marlins as a long reliever. The right-hander may wind up being the fifth starter on April 13. For now, though, Gonzalez isn't saying who will throw that day, because something may change along the way.

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If for any reason, one of the first four can't make a start before April 13, Nolasco would be a candidate to fill that spot.

The Marlins haven't set their 25-man roster yet, and a number of players still in camp will travel to Miami and be available for the final spring exhibitions against the Yankees on Friday and Saturday.

Prospect Chris Volstad is slated to start against the Yankees on Saturday. The 21-year-old will get the experience of pitching in a Major League park over the weekend, but he likely will open the season at Double-A Carolina.

On Friday, Miller will get the start against the Yankees.

The Yankees will start Mike Mussina on Friday and Phil Hughes on Saturday.

The Marlins will carry 12 pitchers. They are expected to be: Nolasco, Kevin Gregg, Justin Miller, Taylor Tankersley, Renyel Pinto, Matt Lindstrom, Lee Gardner and Logan Kensing.

Doug Waechter and Joe Nelson, still on the roster, will open the season at Triple-A Albuquerque.

The rest of the roster, however, is being put on hold until more is known on a few position players who are resting minor ailments.

Center fielder Cody Ross and right fielder Jeremy Hermida each played in a Minor League game on Thursday. They also will play in Minor League games in Jupiter on Friday and Saturday before joining the Marlins for their workout at Dolphin Stadium on Sunday.

Ross has a bone bruise on the side of his left knee. Hermida has been hampered by a tight left hamstring.

Catcher Mike Rabelo, out with a left knee sprain, appears to be headed to the disabled list to open the season. Rabelo has yet to play in game situations.

He likely will be on the DL, retroactive to March 21, making him eligible to return on April 5.

Matt Treanor is expected to be the Opening Day catcher, and Paul Hoover has a strong chance to begin the season on the roster because of Rabelo's injury.

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