JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -Scott Olsen will start the Florida Marlins' spring training opener against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, and he hopes to get the nod for opening day too.
Dontrelle Willis, traded to the Detroit Tigers in December, started Florida's past two spring training openers and wound up starting on opening day both years.
But manager Fredi Gonzalez stopped short of saying that Olsen will start the Marlins' season opener March 31, against the New York Mets.
``That's not necessarily the case,'' Gonzalez said. ``We could tweak that later on any way we want to.''
With Willis gone, Olsen is trying to become the team's ace and rebound from a disastrous 2007 season in which he struggled both on and off the field.
The lefty went 10-15 with a 5.81 ERA. He was suspended a game for fighting with a teammate and was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, resisting an officer with violence and fleeing and eluding an officer. He enrolled in a pretrial diversion program.
``Obviously I want to start opening day,'' Olsen said. ``I'm not the only one. It can be taken away and it hasn't been given to me.''
Right-hander Sergio Mitre is considered the other candidate to start the season opener.
To tune up for Wednesday's game, the Marlins will play an intrasquad game Monday and play the University of Miami on Tuesday.
Right-hander Chris Volstad, Florida's No. 1 draft pick in 2005, will start Monday against right-hander Daniel Barone.
Right-hander Bobby Keppel, a non-roster invitee who was the Mets' first-round draft pick in 2000, will start Tuesday against the Hurricanes.
Gonzalez said he plans to put most of his regular players from last season in the starting lineup Tuesday. After four consecutive days of full-squad drills, players say it's time to play ball.
``Anytime you're playing in games, you're looking forward to it,'' Olsen said. ``It's better than running around doing drills.''
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