O'Gara Stretches Out For Success





FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. It was supposed to be a spot start, but righthander Joey O'Gara turned it into much more.

O'Gara was at extended spring training last season when the need arose for a starter at high Class A Jupiter. One start turned into 16 for O'Gara, who in spite of being earmarked for low Class A Greensboro spent the remainder of 2010 with the Hammerheads.

"I threw five innings and then stayed there and it kind of worked out with injuries, and I was throwing all right so I got to stay up," O'Gara said. "I was never expecting that going in."

A 31st-round pick out of Indiana in 2009, O'Gara spent all but a fraction of his first pro season as a reliever. The 6-foot-7 O'Gara came out of the pen for all but three of 15 appearances in 2009 with short-season Jamestown, going 3-4, 6.36 in 39 innings. When the Marlins decided they wanted him starting full-time, they left him in extended spring training to get stretched out.
With the Hammerheads, O'Gara went 7-6, 3.84 with 42 strikeouts and 19 walks in 96 innings. He yielded just three home runs, thanks in part to the heavy sink of his two-seam fastball.

Through his first two starts this season at Double-A Jacksonville, O'Gara showed the Marlins were right to put him on the fast track. He was 1-0, 3.75, with three walks and five strikeouts in 12 innings.

"Really it's just being more mature and making my pitches when I had to," O'Gara said of his 2010 season. "I thought the biggest difference was being able to throw pitches when I was behind in the count."

Primarily a sinker/slider pitcher, O'Gara has also incorporated a four-seam fastball into his arsenal. And while he didn't top 89 mph through his first season at Indiana, he now sits at 90-92 mph, and uses the four-seamer mostly to jam lefthanded hitters and work away to righties.  

"I was always a two-seam guy growing up because I never really threw that hard," O'Gara said. "In college I threw a two-seam and a cutter."

FISH BITES

• Triple-A New Orleans righthander Alex Sanabia had yet to throw a pitch this season. Sanabia, who made his major league debut in 2010, was diagnosed with a forearm strain and put on no-throw status for a month.

• The Marlins signed utilityman Oscar Salazar to a minor league deal. Last season, Salazar appeared in 85 games with the Padres.