By CHUCK KING
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton was hitless in his first two at-bats in a major league game since being struck in the face by a pitch last September, and Jason Heyward singled in his first at-bat with the St. Louis Cardinals, a 4-1 victory over the Marlins on Thursday.
Stanton wore a helmet with a partial face mask that protected the left side of his face, where he broke his orbital bone and damaged several teeth when he was hit by a pitch from Mike Fiers that ended his season.
“I felt good in the box,” Stanton said. “We’re right on track. It was good to be in a game setting again.”
Acquired in an offseason trade with Atlanta, Heyward’s spot in the Cardinals’ lineup has been a popular topic of speculation. He batted second on Thursday, going 1 for 2.
Heyward flashed his speed moments later, breaking for second when Matt Holliday hit Dan Haren pitch’s to deep left-center field. Christian Yelich lost sight of the ball in sun, allowing it to bounce over the wall for an automatic double.
“I thought I had a good jump,” Heyward said. “It’s just good to know it doesn’t bother Matt when I’m running — hitting the ball — because he drove that ball pretty well.”
Heyward then scored on a two-run bloop single by Matt Adams off Haren, who was making his first appearance for the Marlins after being acquired in an offseason deal with the Dodgers. He allowed two runs and three hits while walking one in two innings.
“I thought he looked fine for his first outing,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He was all over the plate.”
St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez impressed in his bid to claim the fifth spot in the Cardinals’ rotation, striking out three of the six batters he faced and sawing off Michael Morse’s bat at the handle on a weak grounder to short.
Martinez retired all six batters he faced, throwing 21 of his 28 pitches for strikes in two innings.
“That’s basically my main focus right now, to focus on the strike zone and go pitch by pitch,” Martinez said through a translator.
Dee Gordon, who came in the trade with Haren, went 1 for 2 with a bunt single. But Gordon was thrown out at second after breaking too early on a steal attempt.
The Marlins and Cardinals, who share a complex, had their eyes focused on the back fields where two of the best pitchers in the National League were working their way back from injuries.
Marlins: Jose Fernandez threw off the mound for only the second time since undergoing elbow-ligament replacement surgery.
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright threw for the second time since returning to Jupiter after being diagnosed with an abdominal strain. Wainwright has yet to run, an activity that aggravates the strain, but is expected to face batters in a Sunday bullpen session.
Cardinals: Center fielder Jon Jay, who is recovering from offseason wrist surgery, took batting practice on one of the back fields for the first time this spring. Manager Mike Matheny called it “a step in the right direction” and said Jay is ahead of where he expected to be.
Matheny said Mark Reynolds will make his debut with the Cardinals on Friday at first base. The right-handed hitting Reynolds is expected to provide a power option off the bench for St. Louis and could platoon with Matt Adams if the left-handed hitter struggles against lefties.
Ichiro Suzuki went 0 for 3 with a strikeout as Miami’s designated hitter. Suzuki hit seventh in his debut with the Marlins. Signed as the fourth outfielder, Suzuki needs 156 hits to reach 3,000 in his career.
Marlins: travel across the state to Fort Myers to face Boston Friday. Tom Koehler is slated to start.
Cardinals: Will be the home team for the first time in the Grapefruit League this spring. Marco Gonzales gets the start against Houston.
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