Marlins' Mattison Working On Small Ball





FORT LAUDERDALE, FL— Kevin Mattison's speed is impressive. The key for his baseball career will be whether he can consistently show the skills to go with it.

"He can absolutely fly," Double-A Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett said of his center fielder. "He's as fast as anyone I've ever seen on a baseball field. Stealing bases, he's got some upside there. I don't even think he's good at it yet. I don't think he's an accomplished basestealer."

Even so, Mattison was successful on 35 of 51 basestealing attempts this season. For the purposes of developing Mattison's instincts, Barkett gives him a permanent green light. This season was the first that Mattison reached base regularly enough to really show what he can do on the basepaths since the Marlins drafted him in the 28th round out of UNC Asheville in 2008.

The Marlins advised Mattison how to maximize his speed before the season and he hit .338 (68-for-201) in April and May.

"Using the middle of the field, staying short, trying to be the best speed type of player he can be, and he was doing that exceptionally well," Barkett said. "He would fake bunt, the third baseman would come in, and he would pull it back and hit it by him for a double down the left-field line."

Mattison, 25, could not sustain the hot start. He has a naturally long swing, and once he put a few balls over the fence he became too enamored with power. Over 29 games in June and July he batted .194 (34-fof-175), and he was hitting .265/.360/.413 overall

"Early on, he really was doing a good job working the count and waiting for a pitch to hit, and trying not to do too much with that pitch when he got it," Barkett said. "Then that little man comes and sits on our right shoulder as hitters and says, 'Screw that approach, just try to hit homers' . . . Then the fly ball swing that kept him in A-ball for a while returned."

FISH BITES

• Over his first 42 at-bats after his promotion from high Class A Jupiter to Jacksonville, power-hitting outfielder Kyle Jensen hit .310 with four homers and six RBIs.

• With Leo Nunez given time off from his closer's role as he tries to find his form, rookie righthanded reliever Steve Cishek filled in admirably. He had recorded back-to-back saves and was 2-1, 2.79 with three saves this season.