SD@MIA: Yelich rips a triple to left-center

WASHINGTON -- Who is on the mound helps determine if Christian Yelich will bat first or second for the Marlins.

Sometimes the 22-year-old sits against left-handed starters. On other occasions, he has batted second when Adeiny Hechavarria gets the nod to lead off.

The constant with Yelich is he will work counts and see pitches.

"He's going to hit at the top of the order, first or second," manager Mike Redmond said. "It goes, depending on how we go. I like the fact that he takes a lot of pitches and he's patient. He takes his walks."

In Wednesday night's 10-7 loss to the Nationals, Yelich reached base five times. He had three hits, including a double, and he walked twice.

The busy night helped drive up Yelich's average of seeing pitches. So much so that Yelich ranks seventh in the Majors in average pitches faced per plate appearance. Yelich averages 4.65 pitches per plate appearance. The MLB leader is Cleveland's Carlos Santana, who averages 5.05.

"I don't really go up there like, 'I'm going to see a ton of pitches,'" Yelich said. "I go up there trying to just have a good at-bat. The count just comes with the territory. I've gotten deep into some counts and got a few walks. I've had a few eight-, nine-, 10-pitch at-bats early so far. I just lay off the bad ones and try to get a good pitch to hit."

The Marlins have been effective scoring runs, largely because of Giancarlo Stanton and the middle of the order.

"That's really the key to the top of the order for us," Redmond said. "We need those guys to get on base. That forces their hand with Stanton and the middle of our order."

Hand earns another start while Turner is out

Brad Hand labored, but blanked the Nats until a Bryce Harper homer.

WASHINGTON -- Brad Hand didn't log as many innings as he would have liked on Wednesday night, but the left-hander did enough to show the Marlins he is deserving of at least another start.

The Marlins plan on keeping Hand in the rotation now that Jacob Turner is on the disabled list.

An MRI exam confirmed Turner has a strained right shoulder, and there is no timetable for his return.

Hand started in place of Turner on Wednesday night, and he was notified of the start the previous afternoon. Turner injured his shoulder while hitting in the batting cage.

A career starter in the Minor Leagues, Hand made the Opening Day roster as a long reliever/spot starter.

In Miami's 10-7 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday, Hand gave up three runs in 3 1/3 innings.

"I thought he did fine," manager Mike Redmond said. "He gave us everything he had for four innings, facing a great lineup. We knew going in we were hoping for five or six innings."

Hand threw 85 pitches and was lifted after surrendering a three-run homer to Bryce Harper.

Miami kept two long relievers on their Opening Day roster, and it turns out they need both. Kevin Slowey is a right-handed long relief option.

Owings could help Marlins down the road

STL@WSH: Owings homers to right in the ninth

WASHINGTON -- Pitching depth is always crucial over the course of a long season. When the pitcher can also hit, it makes the player even more intriguing.

In Micah Owings, the Marlins feel they've got a potential piece for later on in the season.

"If a pitcher can hit, it's a plus," Marlins general manager Dan Jennings said. "He can do that."

Owings a few days ago signed a Minor League contract with Miami, and he is getting into game shape initially in extended spring training in Jupiter, Fla. Once he is ready, he will join Triple-A New Orleans' rotation.

The Marlins had considered signing Owings to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

"We talked about it," Jennings said. "What we needed to do was to make sure we had a spot."

A roster spot wasn't available in February or March, but an opportunity is there now for the 31-year-old, who last year gave up pitching in hopes of making it as an outfielder.

Marlins assistant general manager Mike Berger was formerly in the D-backs' organization, and he had a good read on Owings, who broke in with Arizona in 2007.

"Mike Berger saw him a few times," Jennings said. "He liked the way the arm worked. We've all seen him since high school."

After giving outfield a shot, Owings has decided to return full-time to pitching. The fact he can hit gives him value down the road.

"That was his decision, to pitch," Jennings said. "That's what prompted Berger to go have a look. You are going to use pitchers. You can never have enough pitchers."

Worth noting

Rafael Furcal is increasing his activities at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. The 36-year-old second baseman is on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, and he is expected to begin playing in extended spring training games on Monday. Furcal is testing his leg by pushing it a little more. He isn't expected to be reinstated this month.

Once he is more comfortable, Furcal will play his rehab-assignment games with Class A Jupiter. The club expects him to play all or close to the 21 days position players are allowed on rehab assignment.