MIA@NYY: Marlins discuss Mo and playing in Panama

JUPITER, Fla. -- A couple of days in Panama gave Christian Yelich a lifetime's worth of memories, as he toured the Panama Canal and came home with an autographed jersey of his favorite player growing up.

The Marlins returned from their two-game exhibition series with the Yankees, and on Monday, Yelich sported a Derek Jeter autographed jersey in his locker. Yelich also brought home a signed Mariano Rivera jersey.

A California native, Yelich grew up a big fan of Jeter. Actually, the 22-year-old outfielder met Jeter last spring before a game in Tampa. The introduction was set up by former Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre.

"That was probably one of the coolest things I got to do, was meet him," Yelich said.

In Panama, Yelich approached Jeter in the cages.

"I said, 'Hey, man, I don't know if you remember or not, but Juan Pierre introduced me to you before a Spring Training game last year in Tampa,'" Yelich said.

Jeter agreed to sign for the young Marlins outfielder. Rivera also signed a jersey for Yelich, and the all-time saves leader signed baseballs for every player on the trip.

"It was awesome. He put on an awesome event," Yelich said. "It was a really cool experience going down there. He came to the locker room and thanked us. He didn't have to do that. We should have thanked him for inviting us down there."

Hand impresses while waiting for roster fate

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Brad Hand was part of a combined no-hitter against the Yankees on Saturday in Panama, but the left-hander is unsure if he will be on the Marlins' Opening Day roster in a couple of weeks.

Out of options, Hand is fighting for a spot either in the rotation or bullpen. If he is not part of the team's plans, the lefty will likely be a trade piece.

Hand is certainly making a case to open the season in Miami. He has an 0.75 ERA and has struck out 15 in 12 innings, while walking just two. Against the Yankees, the 23-year-old struck out six in five innings.

"That's the best I've seen him," manager Mike Redmond said. "There was a tremendous atmosphere, 27,000 people in Panama. He was in complete control."

Hand, Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos and Arquimedes Caminero combined on the Spring Training no-hitter in a 5-0 Miami win.

The Marlins arrived back in Jupiter around 11:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, and on Monday, it was business as usual. The club is in the process of putting together its roster, and Hand is firmly in the mix for a rotation spot with Tom Koehler and Kevin Slowey. All three are candidates to start or pitch in long relief.

It appears the club may only be able to carry two, not all three.

"I can't really control anything," Hand said. "I've just got to keep going out there and pitch. Obviously, I'm trying to make this ballclub and I want to be part of this team. I've just got to go out there and pitch, and whatever happens happens."

Hand stepped up in a game that featured an energized atmosphere. Pregame, they had a tribute to Mariano Rivera, and the Yankees were the fan favorites.

"I've never pitched in winter ball, but they said that's what winter ball was like," Hand said. "They did a little ceremony for Mariano. I was out there in the outfield warming up. 'Enter Sandman' came on, and he came in from right field to throw the first pitches. Everybody was going crazy.

"It was like regular-season feel, when you've got 30,000 fans yelling and screaming. We got there at 4 o'clock and people were out there already."

When it came time to play, Hand was certainly ready. In the past, the lefty has had issues with command, but he's been able to throw strikes this spring.

"My changeup has been working really well this spring," he said. "That's been the biggest part of where I've struggled, getting behind hitters, walking guys. That's one of the big things I've been working on, getting ahead and staying ahead.

"I feel like last year I really made some big moves, and I was really starting to throw a lot more strikes. Walks were down. I started getting ahead. Maybe a little bit of confidence, going out there saying, 'Here it is.' Throw it middle-down and let them hit it."

Furcal to show he can run well before return to games

Rafael Furcal aggravated a hamstring strain on Saturday.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Before Rafael Furcal gets back into game action, the 36-year-old will first go through a running progression.

Furcal aggravated his left hamstring on Saturday, and he was on the field Monday doing some very basic drills. The Marlins are off on Wednesday, and after that, they anticipate him doing some running.

"We'll send him through a running progression after the off-day and start building him back up and testing his hamstring," manager Mike Redmond said.

Furcal strained his left hamstring on March 10. He played two innings on Saturday before suffering a relapse.

When Furcal is ready to play in games, at least initially, it will be in Minor League games, where they can control how much they want him to run or test the leg.

"It's just easier to control the situation in the back [fields]," Redmond said. "They don't have to run the bases if you don't want them to run the bases. We can control all of that stuff."

Redmond admitted there is a concern whether Furcal will be ready for Opening Day on March 31 against the Rockies at Marlins Park.

"Of course, it's getting later in camp and he doesn't have a lot of at-bats," Redmond said. "At the same time, too, he's played a long time. I think he knows what it takes for him. I'm not as worried about the at-bats. I just want him to go out there and feel good and have his legs under him. I think that's the most important thing at this point."

Infielder Ed Lucas (left hamstring) is making steady progress, and he could be back in games as early as Thursday or Friday.

"After the off-day, he should be fairly close to being able to play," Redmond said. "We will probably start him off getting at-bats on the Minor League side of it."

Veteran infielder Greg Dobbs also is resting a quad injury.

Worth noting

Mike Dunn and Carlos Marmol each threw an inning on Monday morning in Minor League games.

Jacob Turner will start on Tuesday against the Astros, and after the Marlins are off on Wednesday, Tom Koehler will start against the Cardinals. Jose Fernandez will start on Friday against the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla.