After a strained lat muscle kept him out for the first six weeks of the season, left-hander Andrew Heaney made his season debut Monday with Class A Advanced Jupiter.
Heaney, the Marlins' No. 5 prospect, delivered an impressive start. He struck out nine in 4 1/3 innings, allowing only an unearned run and four hits.
"Obviously, it felt really good," said Heaney, who was the ninth overall pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. "I had a little more adrenaline than usual and early I was able to put guys away."
Heaney's start came on the same day a tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., killing 24 people. Heaney grew up in Oklahoma City, about 10 miles from Moore. While his family made it through the storm safely, Heaney said he knew families who lost their homes in Moore. Some of them had only recently rebuilt their houses following a tornado that hit the city in 1999.
"To see that they had just rebuilt in the same path, my heart goes out to them," Heaney said. "It's devastating."
But Heaney was able to focus on the task at hand Monday night. He said he his rehab starts had gone well leading up to his season debut.
"I felt good in my extended spring training starts," he said. "I took that out on field the other day."
Heaney was injured on his final pitch before spring games began for Minor Leaguers. It was the first significant injury of his career. The timing of his injury and then not being allowed to throw for a few weeks meant Heaney had to go through building up his strength twice, effectively repeating Spring Training.
"I made it all the way through all of the buildup part of Spring Training," Heaney said. "To get hurt then and have to start all over again was mentally frustrating and fatiguing."
Now that he's healthy again, Heaney said he wants to keep improving.
"Just being a little more efficient with my pitches," he said. "Being able to throw my fastball for strikes and command both sides of the plate. Keep developing my changeup and slider."
Sharing closer role, Cishek seeking his comfort zone
MIAMI -- Steve Cishek understands there is little job security for closers.
The right-hander struggled in the role, especially against left-handed hitters, which led to the Marlins deciding to close by matchups.
"The bottom line is I didn't get the job done," the 26-year-old said. "I'm kind of disappointed in myself. I'm looking forward to trying to get back on the right track here, and for us as a team to get back on the right track."
Cishek has saved five of six chances, but he's had his difficulties. In 18 1/3 innings, he has a 4.91 ERA. A year ago, he finished with a 2.69 ERA in 63 2/3 innings, and he had 15 saves after taking over the closer role from Heath Bell after the All-Star break.
Miami manager Mike Redmond plans on giving Cishek chances to close, but for now, it will depend on matchups as to who gets the call. Chad Qualls, who once closed with the D-backs, is an option, as is left-hander Mike Dunn.
"Everybody makes such a big deal about defined roles, but we're still developing some of our young pitchers," Redmond said. "I think it's more important for these guys to go out there, especially a guy like Cishek to go out there and pitch and get innings in."
Because the team is off to a rough start, there haven't been many save opportunities.
"I think we're doing him a disservice if we sit him down there for five or six or seven days waiting to get in a save situation and not pitch him," Redmond said. "I think it's more important to give him consistent work. And if he gets the opportunity to save games -- which he will -- that's great and it's a huge experience."
With a sidearm delivery, left-handed hitters have enjoyed more success off Cishek. They're batting .333 (13-for-39) with two home runs. He's walked eight lefty batters and struck out 10.
Right-handers are hitting just .111 (3-for-27) off him, including two walks and eight strikeouts.
A year ago, lefties hit .279 off Cishek, compared to .185 for right-handers.
"Looking at some video, I've had three different arm slots in the past three years I've been up here," he said.
A couple of seasons ago, his arm slot was higher, and a year ago it was significantly lower.
"This season I'm back up there, I'm kind of in-between right now," he said. "I'm trying to find a place where I'm most comfortable. We've been working on a couple of things. We hope it works out."
Stanton takes BP on field, feels no discomfort
MIAMI -- Progress is being made on Giancarlo Stanton's road to recovery.
The Marlins slugger on Wednesday afternoon took batting practice on the field. He estimated about 50 swings, and felt no discomfort.
Stanton has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 30 with a Grade 2 right hamstring strain.
"I feel fine," he said. "I've been taking hundreds [of swings] in the cage off the machine. Hitting is no problem at all."
The big test will be running. He's been progressing from an anti-gravity treadmill to doing some light jogging and back-pedaling on the field.
"I was about 60-65 percent, running-wise," Stanton said of his jogging.
He hopes to pick up the pace on running by the time the Marlins return from their upcoming road trip, which will be next Wednesday.
"Hopefully, when they come back, I'll be ready to do the next level," Stanton said.
Manager Mike Redmond threw batting practice to Stanton.
"He looked good," Redmond said. "He looked like he was feeling all right. I didn't ask him how it felt, but just based on results, he hit a bunch of balls out and his swing looked good. I think it's an encouraging sign that he's getting closer to being back on the field."
Okla. tornado hits close to home for Ruggiano, Dobbs
MIAMI -- The devastation caused in tornado-stricken Oklahoma on Monday hit close to home for a couple of Marlins.
Justin Ruggiano, who lives in Texas, opened the 2012 season playing at Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Astros' organization. And Greg Dobbs, a California native, attended the University of Oklahoma.
The ravaged area of the tornado is close to where Ruggiano played a year ago.
Early in the '12 season, a tornado warning prompted Ruggiano to tell his wife to go to the Oklahoma City stadium for shelter.
"It was about this time last year, I was coming back from a trip and I had to tell my wife to go to the stadium because I knew it was the safest place to take shelter," Ruggiano said.
The team was returning from a trip to Albuquerque, N.M., when a threatening storm approached.
"The bottom of the stadium is one of the safest places to be," Ruggiano said. "I think all the wives went there."
The Marlins acquired Ruggiano in a Minor League trade for catcher Jobduan Morales on May 26, 2012.
A few weeks before the deal was made, Ruggiano recalls the Oklahoma City team had to take shelter at home as a precaution when another tornado passed through the are.
With great interest, Ruggiano and Dobbs are following the news from earlier in the week.
"It's awful. You feel for all the people for their loss," Ruggiano said. "It's also very encouraging to see how quickly people step up and help. You just wonder how they do it, but they do it."
Ruggiano said he plans to make a contribution through his church in Texas to offer assistance.
Dobbs has friends and former college teammates who live in Oklahoma. He has been in contact with several of them the past few days.
"It's obviously devastating, very sad," said Dobbs, who also is planning to contribute however he can to the area. "When you hear that children lost their lives in it, it's awful. It kills you inside."
Morrison, Mahoney continuing rehab stints
MIAMI -- First basemen Logan Morrison and Joe Mahoney continued their rehab Wednesday, bringing the injury-ravaged Marlins closer to returning to full strength.
Morrison (right knee) was slated to play nine innings at first base and Mahoney (right hamstring strain) served as the designated hitter for Class-A Jupiter.
Thursday will be a day off for Morrison, who will alternate between first base and DH for the Hammerheads this weekend before joining Double-A Jacksonville next week. Morrison, who was 2-for-8 with a walk in his first two rehab games, is recovering from knee surgery in September and has not suited up for Miami since last July.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond would not be surprised to see Morrison return by June 1, assuming the 25-year-old does not have any setbacks.
"I still have never seen this guy play any games," Redmond said. "I've heard a lot about him, and I'm actually, probably just like the fans, I'm really excited to see him play."
Mahoney will alternate between first base and DH through Friday before joining Triple-A New Orleans.
Mahoney was first placed on the 15-day disabled list on March 31 retroactive to March 22 with an intercostal strain. He was recalled from Triple-A on April 17 and played 11 games before landing on the DL again with a right hamstring strain.
Mahoney is batting .276 with a home run and four RBIs for Miami.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (right shoulder) will start for Jupiter on Saturday after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday. Eovaldi will be limited to 60-65 pitches.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.