Marlins' Mendez Takes Long Road To Bigs





FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA—Nine pitchers made their major league debuts for the Marlins in 2010. None had a longer road than righthander Adalberto Mendez.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Cubs in 2001, Mendez started his pro career as a catcher but moved to the mound after just one season.

"They always told me they saw a good arm and that I could be a good closer in the future," said Mendez, who spots a low-90s fastball with a decent slider. "At first I didn't want to, but now if they make me pick between hitting and pitching, I'd pick pitching."

Mendez, 28, spent six seasons in the Cubs organization before the Marlins selected him in the minor league phase of the 2007 Rule 5 draft. Before his September promotion to the Marlins this season, Mendez split time between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans. He went a combined 5-5, 3.98 in 40 appearances (nine starts) with 88 strikeouts and 41 walks in 86 innings.

With injuries to Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, the Marlins called upon Mendez for September rotation help. He started five games and boasted a 1.56 ERA over the first three (17 innings) before struggling down the stretch. He finished 1-3, 5.11 overall.

"I don't know how to explain (how) happy I am," Mendez said after his major league debut in Philadelphia.

If Mendez remains in the big leagues, it will likely be as a reliever. It won't be a difficult adjustment considering just 20 of Mendez's 350 career minor league appearances have been starts.

"We have to make a decision if we want him in the bullpen or as a starter," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He's been doing both with some kind of success. Knowing that we need some help in the bullpen next year, that's a pretty good arm to consider."

FISH BITES

• The Marlins called home two of their Arizona Fall League representatives. Shortstop Ozzie Martinez strained his groin and was expected to miss three weeks. Righthander Kris Harvey pitched four innings over three appearances before the Marlins shut him down due to a shoulder strain.

• The Marlins re-signed utility infielder Donnie Murphy to a minor league deal. Murphy dislocated his wrist on Sept. 1 and missed the remainder of the season. It's uncertain whether he'll be ready for the start of spring training.