Marlins Excited To See What They Have In Jose Ceda

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — The Marlins don't know how they fared in the trade that sent Kevin Gregg to the Chicago Cubs after the 2008 season. They hope to find out this year.

Reliever Jose Ceda came back for Gregg, but the Marlins haven't seen what they have in the burly righthander. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Ceda was shut down last spring with discomfort in the back of the shoulder. The problem ultimately required surgery that sidelined Ceda for all of 2009.

"We believe it happened in winter ball right after we acquired him," President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest said. "He's throwing well in Jupiter. We love the arm, love what he did in Double-A before he got hurt and it looks like he's back. We're going to take a real good look at him this spring."

Beinfest added that putting Ceda, who turns 23 on Jan. 28, on the 40-man roster was a no-brainer considering his upside and progress in rehab. Ceda made one appearance in winter ball last year, walking two and throwing a wild pitch. The rest before spring training didn't quell the shoulder issue.

Save for a holiday break, Ceda has spent the entire offseason rehabbing in Jupiter. The Marlins are encouraged by what they've seen.

"He's totally healthy," said Jim Fleming, vice president of player development and scouting. "We're very pleased with where he's at and the injury is resolved. I saw him throw in minicamp. It was free and easy. With a shoulder injury that's the first thing you look for. Is the joint flexible and moving and there's no restriction. It was good."

When Ceda is right, his fastball sits around 96 mph and touches 100. He compliments that pitch with a hard slider, which helped him strike out 42 and walk 14 over 30 innings after the Cubs promoted him from advanced-A Daytona to Double-A Tennessee in 2008. He also converted nine of 10 save opportunities for the Smokies.

Twelve of Ceda's 15 Florida State League appearances that season were as a starter. Once he reached the Southern League, Ceda pitched exclusively in relief, a role he prefers. For his career, Ceda can boast 227 strikeouts and has allowed just 114 hits (nine homers) in 180 2/3 innings.

Initially a catcher and third baseman growing up in the Dominican Republic, Ceda converted to pitcher at 14. Weight issues at times have precluded him from repeating his delivery, so Ceda has to stay on top of his conditioning.


• Righthander Rick VandenHurk started four games for Carolina in the Puerto Rican League and went 1-0, 1.80 with a walk and 18 strikeouts in 25 innings.

• The Marlins signed former Expos reliever Scott Strickland, 33, who has not pitched in the majors since 2005, to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.