Associated Press

Wins and loses not as important as making the Marlins a better ball club

Wins and loses not as important as making the Marlins a better ball club

They are hitting, they are fielding. Players are taking their cuts and working of outfield drills. Baseball is in full swing down in Jupiter, Florida for the Miami Marlins.

The record this Spring Training may not be at or near the top of the National League, but manager Don Mattingly isn’t focused on what the scoreboard says. Players are developing, chemistry is being built and most of all, the path to opening day is on the horizon.

This is a team that isn’t worried about how many wins it has.

As Glenn Sattell of pointed out, rather, it's more about evaluating the long list of potential candidates who could help the club.

There aren’t a lot of roster spots left for the Marlins’ opening day roster. Finding the right fit, making pitching staff decisions and eyeing progress of minor league prospects is what is on the mind of the organization.

"You bring guys in that are from the organization, other guys are outside of it, and you're getting a chance to look and see, make some decisions on that," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

The team has seen some players make a good first impression like Austin Nola and Dillon Peters. The non-roster invitees are playing more due to the World Baseball Classic and there are veterans who are getting back in the swing of playing ball once again. It’s a time before the real season starts where preparation is so vital to this team – one that has not made the playoffs since 2003.

"So, it's really a good time for us and an opportunity for them. We just have to kind of try to evaluate. Even your main guys, you can't judge everything that's happening right here. Some guys are slower starters and not quite built up to where they want to be yet."

That's not to say that a few Marlins prospects haven't had their share of superlatives this spring. First baseman Tyler Moore entered Thursday's game tied for the Grapefruit League lead in home runs with three. Outfielders Matt den Dekker and Destin Hood both came in hitting .278.

There were 63 players in camp at the start of Spring Training. There will be 25 players on the opening day roster. Minor league assignments must be made. Decisions on non-roster players to be evaluated. This is not just about at-bats and strikeouts on the mound.

This is where the foundation is built for the 2017 season.

"Unfortunately, you don't get that many opportunities, so you are looking and judging and trying to make the best decisions on guys," Mattingly said.

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