Marlins Still Seek Help At Hot Corner Post-Hanley





FORT LAUDERDALE—Among the Marlins' top priorities for 2013 will be addressing third base.

They used five different players there after the July 25 trade that sent Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers, but none of those five—Greg Dobbs, Gil Velazquez, Donnie Murphy, Donovan Solano and Nick Green—are viable long-term options.

The Marlins had an intriguing in-house option in Matt Dominguez, but they traded the 2007 first-rounder to the Astros in early July for Carlos Lee.

The Marlins tried their best to acquire Mike Olt from the Rangers in a Josh Johnson deal that never materialized. They did land a third baseman before the trading deadline, but he doesn't appear ready to lock down the spot in 2013.

In exchange for righthander reliever Edward Mujica, the Cardinals sent the Marlins Zack Cox, the 25th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Arkansas. Regarded among the best bats in that draft, Cox signed a $3.2 million major league contract with St. Louis that included a $2 million bonus.

He opened 2012 with Triple-A Memphis, where he struggled to a .254/.294/.421 batting line for the Redbirds. Following the trade, the Marlins moved Cox down a level to Double-A Jacksonville, but his numbers didn't improve.

In 24 games with the Suns, Cox hit .253/.321/.368 with a homer and six doubles.

In his defense, Cox was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury at the time of the trade. The issue had not been resolved when he got on the field with his new organization.

Also, the Cardinals during spring training asked Cox to make adjustments to his swing that appeared to take him out of his comfort zone.

"There is a plus bat tool in there," Suns manager Andy Barkett said. "I've seen it. I've seen some power, too. I've seen some plus power—opposite field, real easy."

Whether the lefty hitter's power continues to develop is the question. He's not a natural pull hitter, so many of his well-struck balls right now would be outs in the bigger ballparks.

Manager Ozzie Guillen expressed a desire to get a look at Cox in September, but the Marlins opted to let him finish the season in Jacksonville.

FISH BITES

• Marlins third-base coach Joe Espada will manage Manati in the Puerto Rican League this winter. He also has been tabbed for Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic coaching staff.

• The Marlins moved Greg Norton from manager of Triple-A New Orleans to minor league hitting coordinator. He replaces Barry Moss.