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New start for Mahoney with Marlins

By David Driver
For the Albany Times Union
Used with permission

New team for dream

CCHS grad Mahoney hoping to land in majors with Miami

David Drive, Times Union Copyright 2013 Times Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

By David Driver

Published 11:44 pm, Monday, March 11, 2013

VIERA, Fla. Joe Mahoney, 26, doesn't know if he will make the Opening Day roster of the Miami Marlins.

But the Catholic Central High School product does know that his new team has given him a new lease on his pro baseball life.

Drafted by Baltimore in the sixth round out of the University of Richmond in 2007, the strapping first baseman/outfielder was selected off waivers by the Marlins in late November.

"It was just bad timing," he said. "A lot of guys (with the Orioles) really had good years last year. It is understandable. I have moved on. I am just focused on the present."

And the present is going pretty well.

Mahoney is in training camp with the Marlins and the left-handed slugger socked his third home run of the exhibition season in his second at-bat against the Washington Nationals at Space Coast Stadium here on Saturday.

"It is definitely a breath of fresh air for me. Hopefully it will continue to work out for me," said Mahoney, standing in the Marlins' dugout before starting at first base and hitting cleanup against the Nationals.

His two-run homer came against Washington starter Chris Young and came on a day that Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back homers for the defending National League East champions.

Mahoney had one hit in five at-bats and struck out looking with one out in the top of the ninth with runners on base against reliever Jeremy Accardo, who then got the last out in an 8-7 win.

Mahoney made his big-league debut last July with Baltimore but it did not last long. He saw action in two games and was hitless in four at-bats before being sent back to Triple-A Norfolk of the International League.

If Mahoney doesn't make the Marlins' roster, perhaps as a reserve outfielder/first baseman, he most likely would head to Class AAA New Orleans, the top farm team of Miami.

Does he think he has a chance to make the big-league roster?

"I have no idea. You can read between the lines as much as you want," he said. "You can't worry about stuff like that. We will see how it plays out over the next few weeks."

In 30 spring training at-bats, he was hitting .233 with three homers, eight RBIs and a double. Two of those homers came in the same game, on March 2 against the Mets.

"I feel pretty good," he said. "I have hit the ball well. I am trying to get ready for the season."

Last year in spring training with the Orioles he hit .174 in 23 at-bats and in 2011 he had a spring average of .412 in 17 at-bats for Baltimore. He was the Brooks Robinson Award minor-league position player of the year for Baltimore in 2010.

Was it tough to leave the Orioles?

"It was definitely a little bit, being with them since 2007. Making my debut with them was special," he said. "It is weird to put on a new uniform. I understand. They had to move on."

Mahoney and his wife, Melissa, spent the past off-season north of Baltimore and the Albany native worked out with the baseball program at Towson University.

The couple is expecting their first child, a girl, in August and Melissa will work for a few more weeks as a pharmacist in Maryland and then join Mahoney wherever he ends up to start the season.

Logan Morrison could be the starting first baseman for Miami with Mahoney and Casey Kotchman, a big-league veteran, battling for a possible backup role.

"Obviously, Mahoney doesn't have the major-league experience Kotchman does. That's a factor," manager Mike Redmond told the Miami Herald in early March. "But at the same time we're looking for a guy who can provide some power in the middle of that order. Mahoney hopefully could fill that need. It's going to be interesting. It will be a lot of conversations over that spot. We still got a lot of games left."

Miami hit 30 homers from the left side of the plate last year, 15th out of 16 teams in the National League, according to the Herald story.

"I am getting healthy and getting in shape and feel good and getting ready for April 1, which is the most important thing. I feel great. I have been really healthy for the last year or two. Health has not been an issue for me," Mahoney said.

David Driver is a freelance writer.

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