KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Donovan Solano didn't make the Marlins' big league roster out of spring last season, but a year later, manager Mike Redmond is hoping he'll be available come Opening Day, and calling him a key to the club's everyday lineup.
Redmond said the second baseman is progressing and feeling better, hopefully well enough to be back by the middle of the week. Solano tweaked his back Wednesday and has been out of the lineup since -- an MRI exam on Saturday showed no structural damage -- and that could create a spot on the Marlins' Opening Day roster for another utility infielder.
"With Solano out, if he is out, we're still deciding on a utility guy. We'll figure that out," Redmond said Sunday. "Right now, I've got him in [the Opening Day lineup]. Until I hear otherwise, then we'll adjust accordingly."
If he isn't ready, the Marlins could turn to veteran Wilson Valdez, signed to a Minor League contract on Saturday, or another utility option like Nick Green, Chris Valaika or Matt Downs to fill Solano's spot until he's able to play.
Valaika got the start at second base on Saturday, and Green lined up there Friday and Sunday. Valdez started at shortstop on Sunday, with Downs lining up at third base.
Redmond made it clear on Sunday that he believes Solano's absence is a big deal for the Marlins. When asked about his options to hit cleanup, Redmond turned the discussion back toward Solano's impact.
"Right now, I'm not as worried about the four-hole hitter. I'm worried about getting Solano back in there," Redmond said. "That's a guy that we need in our lineup, and he kind of helps to make that whole lineup come together."
Redmond's long spring approaching its end
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Mike Redmond is a week away from finishing his first Spring Training as Marlins manager, and a few things have stood out. First off, he said, it's been a long spring. But because of that, he's had a chance to accomplish his goal of seeing as many players, big leaguers and prospects, as possible.
Miami started the spring with 74 players in camp, and that number has dwindled to 39 as of Sunday. As much as he's seen already this spring, Redmond, his staff and the Marlins' front office still have a few roster decisions remaining before Opening Day.
"This is a long one. For my first one, with 74 guys, I would say that it was right into the fire, so to speak. It's been a lot of work, but it's been good," Redmond said. "Part of my goal when I came in here was to see as many guys as I possibly could, and I did. Got to see a lot of our young kids, a lot of our prospects and got to see the pitchers and position players. I've learned a lot this spring."
Redmond admitted he'd prefer to be winding down his spring work at this point, not trying to fill out his roster. But with the rotation and possibly bullpen set to be finalized soon, and the position-player setup not too far behind, Redmond's long spring is at least nearing an end.
"That's just where we're at. I would love to be sitting here with a set team, where we know exactly everybody and we could kind of just play it out like we would during the season. But we're just not quite there yet," Redmond said. "I know that our regular guys, most of our regular guys, they're ready to go like probably most players are at this point. Now it's just a matter of just keeping them sharp and making sure that we don't overuse them, but I feel like everybody at this point is ready to go.
"We just have a couple decisions to make. We've just got to make these decisions. Everybody's got tons of at-bats. All the guys vying for the extra infield spot, outfield spot, they've all got 40 at-bats and 45 at-bats. Everybody's ready to go."
• Asked for an update on first baseman Logan Morrison, Redmond said, "Still the same. He's progressing." Morrison, working his way back from right knee surgery last year, has been hitting off a tee and running on an anti-gravity treadmill. He hopes to play in a game around April 15.
• The Marlins will set their starting rotation Sunday night and announce it Monday, and Redmond hoped to gain some clarity regarding his bullpen during that time as well.
"We've just got a couple days left, so hopefully we'll get this thing set. I want it set, and I know the guys do and the players do," Redmond said. "It's been a stressful spring for everybody, but that's part of being in the big leagues. Every team comes down to the end with a couple players, and that's just part of the deal."
• Redmond said he will try to get relievers Chad Qualls, John Maine and Ryan Webb work in Monday's game against the Tigers. All three were scheduled to pitch in Sunday's rain-shortened game.
• The Marlins only scored one run over five innings Sunday against Astros Minor League right-hander David Martinez, but they did have 10 hits.
"We swung the bats and I was happy," Redmond said. Offensively, I've been happy with our approach. These guys are ready to go. Just trying to keep them motivated as much as we can. But I feel like we're ready to go out there Opening Day offensively."