Originally posted on MarlinsBaseball.com  |  Last updated 3/14/12

Anibal Sanchez made his first start of the Spring on Wednesday after recovering from soreness in his shoulder.  The Miami Marlins came away winners 4-2 over the Tampa Bay Rays in the first of three Grapefruit League match-ups between the interstate rivals.   The Marlins are now 6-3-1 this Spring.

Sanchez worked two scoreless innings in which he struck out four, walked none and surrendered two hits.    The veteran who will either start in the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation is expected to be up to speed by the time Opening Night rolls around.    Wade LeBlanc continued to be the story of the Spring hurling four perfect innings which gives him a total of ten scoreless innings this Spring.    LeBlanc was credited with his second win of the Spring and has incredibly only allowed two total baserunners in his ten innings.    After entering the Spring needing to win a spot, it appears LeBlanc has all but secured a job for Opening Night with his performance thus far.    Barring injury, his role should fall as long man in the bullpen taking over the role previously held by Burke Badenhop who was traded to the Rays this past off-season.   Chris Hatcher who is expected to start the year in the minors allowed two runs in the ninth after Edward Mujica and Steve Cishek each worked a scoreless inning.

Brett Hayes hit his first homerun of the Spring while Austin Kearns his his second.  In Kearns’ case there is an asterisk on the play as it was an inside the park homerun caused by a collision of Rays’ outfielders.   Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton collided while attempting to field the Kearns’ hit and both came up with soreness from the impact after being carted off.      Kearns who is battling for a bench role went 3-3 with three runs batted in to lift his Spring average to .400.    Aaron Rowand and Bryan Petersen went a combined 0-7 on the day as they also battle for a role on the bench.

On Thursday the Marlins will return to Jupiter to take on the New York Mets.  Josh Johnson will be on the mound for Miami while New York will send R.A. Dickey to the hill.   As Jose Reyes was off on Wednesday, it is likely that the shortstop will be in the lineup on Thursday to face his former team for the first time.

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