JUPITER, Fla. -- An MRI revealed Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano has a back strain. Being so early in Spring Training, Ruggiano is not being rushed back on the field. There is concern because the 30-year-old dealt with back spasms last season.
"It's always a concern any time you get a guy banged up in Spring Training," manager Mike Redmond said. "Being that it is so early, I'd rather have it now than two weeks left in Spring Training before the season starts.
"At the same time, too, those backs can be touchy. Sometimes they take a little time. We have to make sure that he's healthy and ready to go for the long run, and not just Spring Training games."
Projected as Miami's starting center fielder, Ruggiano tweaked his lower back while fielding a ground ball in the outfield on Thursday. He had an MRI taken later in the afternoon.
"I'm not sure how long he is out," Redmond said. "He is getting treatments. We'll just have to see day-to-day, how that progresses."
On Friday morning, Ruggiano still felt tightness in his lower back. "It feels the same," he said.
The Marlins open their Grapefruit League schedule on Saturday against the Cardinals. Gorkys Hernandez will get the start.
Other center field possibilities include Chris Coghlan, Bryan Petersen and Kevin Mattison. The Marlins have prospects Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick as well, but both are expected to open the season at Double-A Jacksonville. They will likely see plenty of game action early in camp.
Redmond appreciates Matheny's support
JUPITER, Fla. -- Shortly after Mike Redmond was announced as the Marlins' manager in November, he received a congratulatory text message from someone with a similar background -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Matheny, now entering his second year as a big league skipper, took the initiative to contact Miami's new skipper, offering congratulations and any advice he could offer.
"I reached out to him," Matheny said. "I always appreciated that there were guys who reached out to me. Not that I've got this wealth of knowledge of experience, but it was pretty fresh in my mind the challenges that come up with a guy stepping into the situations. So yeah, we talked quite a few times."
Redmond and Matheny share common bonds. They're similar in age -- Redmond is 41 and Matheny is 42. They are both former big league catchers who played against each other.
"There are only 30 of these jobs," Redmond said. "But everybody has made me feel welcomed, wished me congratulations and good luck. It is like a fraternity. Guys who have been through it, they all have advice, which is good."
In terms of career paths, Matheny made the leap in 2012 to managing in the big leagues, despite not having any previous MLB coaching experience. Redmond, who retired as a player after the 2010 season, also has never coached in the big leagues. He did manage teams in Toronto's farm system for two seasons.
"He texted me, and we've had several conversations," Redmond said. "He's managed for a year now. If I have a question, I feel confident that I can go to him. He's been through with it already, and I haven't. There will definitely some things that will come up, and I'll feel free to ask him.
"I have a lot of respect for him and his career as a player. I know a lot of guys say a lot of great things about him, and the type of manager he is. I know that he is a great guy. He was probably one of the first guys to text me, and say congratulations, and if there is anything he can help me with, to feel free."
Stanton to bat third on Saturday
JUPITER, Fla. -- Two days after being plunked on the back of the head by a Jose Fernandez fastball, Giancarlo Stanton returned to workouts with the Marlins.
Stanton took park in Friday's drills, and the All-Star right fielder is scheduled to start and bat third on Saturday against the Cardinals in the Grapefruit League opener at Roger Dean Stadium.
Manager Mike Redmond is looking to get Stanton plenty of at-bats before the slugger leaves on March 3 to join Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. He has weighed whether to bat Stanton third or fourth. By hitting third, he is guaranteed to bat in the first inning.
"I want to get him as many at-bats as we can," Redmond said. "We've got to get him ready for the Classic. He needs to get in there, and get as many at-bats as he can, so that he feels comfortable that when he leaves here, he's ready to go there. In that Classic, they're going to play multiple games. He needs to feel like he's ready to play, and play a full game, by the time he leaves."
• Miami opens its Grapefruit League season on Saturday, facing the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. Both teams share the complex. Miami will be the home team. John Maine will start for the Marlins, and he is scheduled to pitch two innings.
• Manager Mike Redmond has yet to announce his batting order for Saturday, but he did reveal who would start: Jeff Mathis (catcher), Joe Mahoney (first base), Donovan Solano (second base), Adeiny Hechavarria (shortstop), Placido Polanco (third base), Juan Pierre (left field), Gorkys Hernandez (center field), Giancarlo Stanton (right fielder) and Alfredo Silverio (designated hitter).