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Move of Hermida may simply be to left

Move of Hermida may simply be to left

LAS VEGAS -- Jeremy Hermida could be on the move, but not necessarily to another team.

The Marlins are considering switching Hermida, their regular right fielder, to left field. The thinking is to use Cody Ross in right field, rather than left.

Ross became the front-runner to take over in left field after Josh Willingham was traded to the Nationals on Nov. 11. In assessing ways to improve their outfield defensively, the team feels using Hermida in left field may make more sense.

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"We've talked about the possibility of Ross in right and Hermida in left," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "There is nothing automatic."

At the big league level, Hermida has played just four games in left field. Those came when he was called up from Double-A in September 2005. He's played nine games in center field and 343 in right field.

In 2008, Hermida appeared in right field 132 times.

Word that Hermida could be headed to left field comes at a time his name is floating around in trade rumors at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The general feeling is the team would consider dealing the 24-year-old if the offer is tempting.

There are a handful of teams that feel they can bring out the best in Hermida, a first-round Draft pick in 2002. The Reds, Cubs and Rays are among the teams believed to have interest.

Right now, there is nothing on the table tempting Florida to deal Hermida.

The Marlins, however, did meet with two undisclosed teams on Tuesday in Las Vegas. And Beinfest said the team has talked about a possible "mid-level" trade.

At an otherwise slow Winter Meetings, the Marlins did get some recognition. They were named by Topps as the Organization of the Year.

Hermida is coming off a disappointing season, in which he batted .249 with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs.

While Hermida has struggled at the plate and in the field, he's always been a highly touted player. Since he came out of Marietta, Ga., as a high school sensation, many scouts marveled at Hermida's swing.

At times in his MLB career, Hermida has shown flashes of his potential. That was evident in the second half of the 2007 season, when he batted .340 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs after the All-Star break.

"He's had some consistency against good pitching," Beinfest said. "There are a lot of good things going for him. He's patient. He has a good idea of the strike zone.

"There are a lot of people who feel strongly here. I think it would be a little bit tougher to be as confident if we didn't see what he did in the second half of '07."

Defensively, Hermida made improvements in right field this past season -- .982 fielding percentage and five errors. In 2007, though, he had a rough season defensively -- making nine errors to go along with a .966 fielding percentage.

Ross, meanwhile, covers more ground. In spacious Dolphin Stadium, the Marlins think it may make more sense to flip-flop Hermida and Ross.

Ross made one error last year, and it came while he was in left field. He played all three outfield spots, seeing most of the action in center.

The Marlins are planning to go with Cameron Maybin in center field come Spring Training.

Possibly switching Hermida to left field doesn't diminish the Marlins' thinking that the left-handed hitter can still become an impact player.

"We think he can do better than he did, and he still hit 17 home runs," Beinfest said. "It's there. Everybody is confident that it's there. It just needs to happen and happen more consistently. He's still a young guy. Everybody adjusts to timetables a little differently.

"He comes with a lot of expectations. You can see the talent in him. We'll just keep working with him. Left-handed bats are tough to find."

The Marlins also are mindful that Hermida is still young. He turns 25 on Jan. 30.

"I think we lose sight because of how youthful our teams have been," Beinfest said. "We have kids coming up at 21 and 22 being successful right off the bat. I don't think that's the norm."

Hermida was among more than 20 rookies used by the Marlins in 2006. The team has been spoiled by the successes of so many talented young players. For instance, Hanley Ramirez was an impact player at age 22, and Chris Volstad at 21 showed he has the makings of being a quality starting pitcher.

"We've had guys who have been fortunate," Beinfest said. "We bring Chris Volstad up, and 'Wham!' He keeps winning, performing, throwing strikes and doing all those things. We lose sight that [Volstad] is 22 years old. It just doesn't happen that often.

"Cameron Maybin is just 21 years old. There is a lot of expectations on a lot of kids. They all react differently. In Jeremy's case, it's a little different. He's been nicked up. In terms of the talent, there is a lot of confidence that is there and that he can do it."

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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