LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Marlins didn't sign free agent Chone Figgins to a Minor League contract until February 8. And his name hasn't come up much since.
That may be starting to change. Figgins went 4-for-4 in Sunday's 10-2 win over the Braves at Champion Stadium, one day after going 2-for-3. That raised his Grapefruit League average to .333 and put him in the mix, competing for the utility spot with Matt Downs, Chris Valaika and Nick Green, who are also non-roster invitees.
"[Figgins] has had some good at-bats," said manager Mike Redmond. "So it was nice to see him come out and get some hits. He's a guy vying for one of those bench spots. He's a utility guy. He plays third. He plays second. He's played short and the outfield. He fits that utility role need for us.
"We brought him in thinking an equal competition for everyone. We're playing all these guys. They're all playing the same amount of time. That's something that we'll have to sit down with at some point, figure out what we're looking for and who fits that need the best. But there's still time. There are still at-bats out there for these guys."
Figgins also scored twice and drove in a pair of runs on Sunday.
Redmond noted that, with Adeiny Hechavarria penciled in at shortstop, he'll place a premium on finding a bench player who can play shortstop. The candidate with the most experience at that position is Green.
With sight on rotation, LeBlanc delivers strong start
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It's two-and-a-half weeks until the regular season opens, a month until the Marlins would need a fifth starter. So there's plenty of time for things to change.
Still, after Wade LeBlanc pitched four more shutout innings in a 10-2 win over the Braves on Sunday at Champion Stadium, it's fair to say he has the inside track. He's now pitched 10 Grapefruit League innings. He's allowed six hits, hasn't walked a batter and has a 0.00 earned run average.
"Absolutely," said manager Mike Redmond. "He's pitched well. He's had a great spring. And he definitely made a case for a spot in that rotation. He's just got to keep going out there and showing that consistency and let all the chips fall where they may."
"You know what, man? I feel good just because I'm healthy," LeBlanc said. "As long as you're healthy, you have a shot. Priority No. 1 is to make sure you're healthy and can bounce back the next day and be ready for the next game, whenever that is. Then you leave those decisions to those guys. As long as you're healthy and prepared for every outing, there's really nothing to worry about as far as any of that stuff."
Also working in his favor is that he's currently the only lefty candidate for the rotation, and he's out of options.
LeBlanc's only hiccup was a start against Venezuela in a World Baseball Classic exhibition when he was charged with three runs (two earned) in 2 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two strikeouts. Then again, Venezuela isn't on the Marlins' schedule this season.
Also in the running for the fifth spot are right-handers John Maine and Kevin Slowey. Redmond said there still could be opportunities for pitchers who aren't starters on Opening Day. "There's an option there for a long guy in the bullpen, too. That's something that we'll have to figure out as we get farther into it, see what direction we want to go," he pointed out.
Redmond not worried about possible injury to Alvarez
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Watching the World Baseball Classic on television, Marlins manager Mike Redmond noticed that a trainer visited the mound while right-hander Henderson Alvarez was pitching for Venezuela against Puerto Rico.
Since he's one of the players Miami received in the blockbuster trade with Toronto last December, and since he's penciled into the rotation, that caught Redmond's attention.
Before Sunday's game against the Braves at Champion Field, he said he didn't think there was a serious issue. "I'm hoping. It looked like he just stumbled off the mound. I haven't heard anything. If it had been something, we would have gotten an e-mail on the injury report. And we didn't. So that's good," he explained.
Alvarez took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk in three innings. With Venezuela eliminated, Redmond added that he didn't know when Alvarez would be back in camp.
• Outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who had been sidelined all spring with a lower back strain, responded well to his first Grapefruit League action. He didn't make the trip Sunday, but will start Monday against the Red Sox at Roger Dean Stadium. "He said he's feeling fine, so that's good news," said Redmond.
• Chris Coghlan, the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year who is fighting for a roster spot, went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .344.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.