Dempster, Redmond and Gonzalez Sent to Minors

Marlins assigned the following players to the minor-league camp: Pitchers Aaron Akin, Joe Fontenot, Brent Billingsley, Rey Mendoza and Ryan Dempster, catchers Scott Makareqicz, Mike Redmond and Ryan Robertson, first baseman Brian Daubach and outfielder Chris Sheff. Pitcher Blaine Mull, second baseman Amaury Garcia and outfielder Julio Ramirez were optioned to Double A Portland, and shortstop Alex González was optioned to Triple A Charlotte.

Marlins Young Lineup to Face UM in Spring Opener

Jim Leyland will present a young lineup for tomorrow’s opening game against the Univeristy of Miami: left fielder Fletcher Bates (23 years old), center fielder Julio Ramirez (20), right fielder Ryan Jackson (26), first baseman Brian Daubach (26), second baseman Amaury Garcia, shortstop Alex González (21), third baseman Josh Booty (22), catcher Scott Makarewicz (30), and designated hitter John Roskos (23). Right-hander Joe Fontenot (20) will start, followed by Brent Billingsley (22), Ryan Dempster (20), Blaine Mull (21), Aaron Akin (20), Rey Mendoza (27) and Nelson Lara (19).

Leiter Traded to Mets for Burnett, Sanchez and Stratton

The Marlins trade Al Leiter and Ralph Milliard to the New York Mets. In return, the Marlins receive minor-league pitchers Jesus Sanchez and A.J. Burnett and outfielder Robert Stratton. Marlins removed $3 million in salary by trading Leiter.

Milliard became the odd man out in the infield with the emergence of Renteria, Counsell, and Castillo.

Sanchez, 23, LHP, 13-10 with a 4.30 ERA and 176 K in 165.1 inning at Class AA.

Stratton, 20, OF, hit .249 with 15 HR in 245 AB but struck out 94 times and walked 19 BB in Rookie League.

Burnett, 22, RHP, allowed only 28 hits in 44 innings at Class A, but walked 35.

Darren Daulton Retires

Darren Daulton officially announced his retirement after 17 years of professional baseball. Daulton was a member of the Phillies organization for all but the last three months of his career, when he joined the Marlins (in exchange for Billy McMillon) and helped them to a World Series Championship.

With Abbott Gone, Castillo and Gonzalez to Patrol Infield

Marlins trade utility infielder Kurt Abbott back to the team where they found him four years ago, the Oakland Athletics. Abbott, who made $650,000 last year and was headed to arbitration lost his starting 2B job when the Marlins acquired Craig Counsell. With a wealth of young talent available in the infield, including Alex González and Luis Castillo, Abbott became expendable. In return, the Marlins receive much needed pitching help with RHP Eric Ludwick.

Cook Traded; Payroll Down to $31 Million

Marlins traded Dennis Cook and his $850,000 to the New York Mets for minor leaguer outfielder Fletcher Bates and pitcher Scott Comer. The Marlins’ payroll is now down to $31 million. Subtracting the $5 million the Marlins will probably receive in insurance for Alex Fernandez’s injury, the Marlins have reached the general range they wanted their payroll to be. Al Leiter and jim Eisenriech are the next players to go.

Alex Arias DFA

Marlins designated Alex Arias for assignment, releasing the last member of the original 1993 Florida Marlins. The 30 year old Arias was one of the leagues best pinch-hitters during his stay with the Marlins. He was originally acquired from the Cubs in 1992 on expansion draft day.

Also, the Marlins picked up Brandon Cromer of waivers from the Pirates. The 23 year-old Cromer hit .232 with eight homers and 36 RBI in 68 games at Triple A last season.

Saunders and Duvall Taken in Expansion Draft

Marlins left-handed starter Tony Saunders was the first selection in the 1997 expansion draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Left handed minor league reliever Mikue Duvall was taken in the second round by Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays also chose minor leaguer Randy Winn in the third round. No more Marlins can be taken in the draft. The loss of Saunders along with the injury to Fernandez and the potential trade of Brown and Leiter means that none of the Marlins starting rotation on opening day of 1997, will be around next year (Hernandez joined the team in mid-season).

Leyland to Return for 1998 Season

Jim Leyland announced to day that he will manage the Marlins next year. Leyland stated that he wanted to give Don Smiley a chance to buy the club and get a new stadium. Leyland will evaluate the situation again at the end of next season. Should the Marlins get a new stadium, it is likely that payroll can be raised again and Leyland will stay.