By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Since 2010, Martin Prado has hit .339 against the Marlins with 33 RBIs, more than he has against any other team.
So they traded for him.
“He won’t kill us anymore from the other dugout,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
The offseason acquisition of third baseman Prado was part of an infield makeover designed to upgrade the Miami dugout — and lineup. The Marlins also traded for All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon, and they signed free agent Michael Morse to play first base.
The only infield holdover in spring training is shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. All four were in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s exhibition game against the University of Miami.
The Marlins’ young outfield ranks among the best in baseball, starting with $325 million slugger Giancarlo Stanton. But that group carried a lopsided share of the offensive burden last season, and the Marlins were eager to beef up their infield.
“It was a goal of ours,” Hill said. “We had imbalance last year. We didn’t get the production we needed out of first base. Second base was a merry-go-round, and we didn’t get what we needed offensively or defensively.”
Third baseman Casey McGehee was voted the NL comeback player of the year, but he’s 32, batted only .243 after the All-Star Game and finished with only four homers in 616 at-bats.
Prado batted .282 with 12 homers for the Diamondbacks and Yankees. He was acquired from New York along with right-handed pitcher David Phelps for right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, first-baseman Garrett Jones and a minor league pitcher.
Prado has played every position except catcher and center field in his 10-year career, but the Marlins want him at third base.
“It’s good to come to the field knowing you’re going to play one position,” he said.
Gordon gives the Marlins stability at second base, where they started seven players in 2014. He led the majors last year with 64 stolen bases for the Dodgers and will bat leadoff.
“Having Gordon, we have some speed and can put some pressure on pitchers,” Prado said. “Having that guy on base, they might just make a lot of mistakes against Stanton.”
Gordon, obtained in a seven-player trade, batted .289 last year and scored 92 runs. Detractors note his career on-base percentage is only .314 with 68 bases on balls in four seasons, but he blanched at the suggestion he needs to draw more walks.
“I scored like 90-plus runs,” he said. “Some guys with .380 on-base percentages didn’t do that.”
While Gordon and Christian Yelich will try to get on base ahead of Stanton, Morse draws the important task of batting behind him in the cleanup spot. Stanton led the NL with 37 homers last year and ranked second with 94 walks.
“He’s going to get pitched around a lot of times,” Morse said. “I’ve got work ahead of me. I’ve got to do what I can to get him good pitches to hit. It’s going to be a tough job.”
Jones, Morse’s predecessor at first base, flopped in the cleanup spot last year and batted only .246 overall with a .411 slugging percentage. Morse batted .279 with a .475 slugging percentage for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Morse, a South Florida native, signed a $16 million, two-year contract to play for the hometown Marlins. With their deep young pitching staff, talented outfield and new look in the infield, Morse believes he joined a team poised to end an 11-year playoff drought.
“Last year with the Giants, we weren’t the best team — we didn’t win our division,” Morse said. “But it shows you the best team doesn’t always win. When I look at the 2014 Giants, I see a lot of similarities with this team.”
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