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Questions Surround Marlins Entering Spring Training

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- With spring training right around the corner, a lot of questions surround the Miami Marlins, from new leadership to the health of the team's biggest stars and everything else in between.

The signing of Don Mattingly as the club's new manager gives the Marlins a solid foundation from the top down and was the highlight of the team's rather lackluster offseason. The former Dodgers skipper took the job with Miami less than a week after he left Los Angeles, the only team he's managed since retiring as a player. With one trip to the NLCS and a 446-363 record, Mattingly brings a credibility to the dugout that they lacked with GM Dan Jennings playing manager last year.

Barry Bonds returns to the game for his first full-time big league job since retiring as the home run king in 2007. As the hitting coach, the organization is hoping the former slugger can help Giancarlo Stanton elevate his game after missing time last year with a broken hamate bone in his left hand.

The team says Stanton has fully recovered but hand injuries and power hitters can be serious.

Ace pitcher Jose Fernandez is also fully healthy. He went 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA after his return from Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss time the year before, as well.

The team's two best players haven't been in the same lineup since May 2014.

The pitching rotation added Wei-Yin Chen to a 5-year, $80 million contract. He'll likely be penciled in as the #2 starter behind Fernandez. With Tom Koehler and young lefties Justin Nicolino and Adam Conley, the pitching staff looks like it has a long way to go to compete with division rivals New York and Washington, who boast two of the best rotations in baseball.

At closer, A.J. Ramos performed admirably after the departure of Steve Cishek and should retain the job at the start of the season. Though, fire-baller Carter Capps has Mattingly's attention as a guy who routinely hits 100 m.p.h. on the radar and has the desired makeup the position requires.

Dee Gordon has established himself as one of the NL's best second basemen. Along with Adeiny Hechavarria, the defense up the middle is arguably the team's biggest strength.

The Marlins will look to OF Christian Yelich and 1B Justin Bour to further their development this year and the team could rise or fall based on their production, or lack thereof. Yelich was a slight disappointment in 2015 after signing a $50 million contract and although Bour has shown flashes of becoming the team's next great power hitter, he still has trouble with left-handed pitching, going .221 with 0 HR's against southpaws in his first full season.

Pitchers and catchers reported on Friday.

The Marlins kick off the spring with their first game against the Miami Hurricanes on March 1st at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. They play the Cardinals two days later for their first matchup against a professional club.


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