Cosart among 6 contenders for 2 spots in Marlins' rotation
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) Jarred Cosart is healthy again, contending for a spot in the Miami Marlins' rotation and not worried about beating out his competition.
''I'm just happy to not be dizzy on the mound,'' he says. ''That's the biggest relief.''
A bout with vertigo limited Cosart to 13 starts with Miami last season. He spent five weeks on the disabled list and made two trips to the minors.
Now that the right-hander has his bearings back, he's part of a crowded field of contenders for two open spots in the rotation.
The scramble is the biggest competition in spring training for the Marlins. President of baseball operations Michael Hill and new manager Don Mattingly say they're confident the jobs will be capably filled from among half a dozen candidates, led by Cosart.
''I love the depth we've been able to accumulate,'' Hill says. ''You have a number of options that will be competing, and you're going to need them all over the course of a long season. The more depth you have, the better position you'll be in.''
The rotation is three-fifths set with ace Jose Fernandez, newcomer Wei-Yin Chin and Tom Koehler. Along with Cosart, contenders for the other spots include veterans Brad Hand, David Phelps and Edwin Jackson, and three pitchers who made their major league debuts last season - Adam Conley, Justin Nicolino and Jose Urena.
''It's a friendly competition,'' Cosart said. ''I have confidence in myself that I'm going to win one of those jobs. I'm sure they all feel the same way.''
The Marlins can choose from a variety of pitchers. They range in age from Jackson, 32, to Nicolino, 24. Hand, Conley and Nicolino are left-handers.
''We're pretty flexible,'' Hill said. ''If guys aren't part of the initial five, there's a place for them in the bullpen, or worst case they go back to Triple-A.''
Jackson, Cosart, Hand and Phelps have experience as long relievers. Conley and Nicolino would likely return to the minors if they fail to make the rotation.
''I want to pitch in the big leagues because that's where the best hitters are,'' Conley said, ''and I want to face the best hitters all the time. At the same time, if I can become a better pitcher pitching to Triple-A hitters, I'll do it. A lot of that stuff is not up to me.''
Conley, 25, went 4-1 with a 3.76 ERA in 15 games for Miami last year. Nicolino, 24, went 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 12 games.
Cosart is 25 but much more experienced. He went 13-11 with a 3.69 ERA in 30 starts in 2014, when he was traded by Houston to Miami at midseason.
''The ball comes out of his hand very nice,'' Mattingly said. ''He's one of those guys you think has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation guy. ... On the flip side of that, there are a ton of guys out there who have great stuff that for some reason have not put it together.''
Whoever puts it together best in spring training will be starting for Miami in April.