TAMPA — The tone in Mike Redmond’s voice suggested Jacob Turner’s spot in the starting rotation could be in jeopardy.
One day after Turner labored in a minor-league game, the Marlins manager said Turner is “definitely a concern.”
“He’s still got a couple of more outings, so hopefully he can get it going,” Redmond said. “But he just struggled, mostly command problems. His last outing was much better, but this one, it seemed he scuffled.”
Redmond said Turner went three innings Thursday when he faced the Cardinals’ Triple A team on one of the back diamonds at Roger Dean Stadium and walked three. In his two Grapefruit League outings, Turner has given up six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings while walking four and also hitting a batter.
“He’s definitely not where he was at the end of the season last year,” one major-league scout said of Turner, who joined the Marlins in late August, not long after being acquired with catcher Rob Brantly in a trade with Detroit for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. “It looks like he’s lost a little velocity and sharpness in his breaking ball.”
Turner was expected to be part of a rotation with Ricky Nolasco, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and a yet-to-be-determined fifth starter. Left-hander Wade LeBlanc has looked sharp this spring and could claim that spot.
But, with Turner’s status now appearing uncertain, the Marlins will start considering fallback options, such as veterans Kevin Slowey and John Maine, who started Friday against the Yankees.
“Slowey has been throwing the ball very well,” the scout said. “His stuff isn’t super sexy, but he knows how to pitch and throws strikes.”
And the Marlins want someone to get the ball over the plate.
“We need a guy in that rotation who can go in there and pound the strike zone and give us innings,” Redmond said.
“We’re so young in that rotation that we’ve got to make sure that guy gives us the innings that we need. We are young there, and we are going to have some times where guys will struggle through lineups.”
Turner made a favorable late-season showing for the Marlins after being obtained in the Detroit trade. Though his record from seven starts was just 1-4, he had a 3.38 ERA and issued only nine walks in 42 2/3 innings.
He hasn’t looked sharp this spring, however. Then again, he also struggled last spring when he was with the Tigers, giving up six earned runs and walking six in four innings.
“He’s not missing many bats,” the scout said of the 21-year-old. “Maybe he’s just not a spring guy. He’s definitely not sharp with anything — command, pitches, body language. It’s all a little suspect right now.”
Turner, who was the ninth overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, is scheduled to start Tuesday in Jupiter when the Marlins face the Cardinals.
In four appearances this spring, Slowey has given up three earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. Slowey was a mainstay in the Minnesota Twins rotation at one time before injuries knocked him out of the majors. Similarly, Maine was a member of the New York Mets rotation before injuries derailed his career.
Placido Polanco and Greg Dobbs, both of whom have been battling injuries, are expected to play Saturday, Redmond said.
Polanco has been dealing with an oblique injury, and Dobbs has been out with a strained right calf.
Maine gave up a pair of home runs Friday, and the Yankees broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh with a pair of runs to pull out a 7-3 victory at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Maine gave up a solo shot in the second to Francisco Cervelli and a two-run blast in the third to Travis Hafner.
The Marlins tied it in the seventh on Donovan Solano’s RBI single.
But the Yankees scored twice in the seventh on a passed ball and a throwing error by J.T. Realmulto, and twice more in the eighth to put the game away.
• Saturday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (9-14, 4.85 ERA) at New York Mets RHP Shaun Marcum (7-4, 3.70), 1:10 p.m., Port St. Lucie.
• Sunday: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (12-13, 4.48) at St. Louis Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn (18-7, 3.78), 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.