Their defense? Not so much.Hanley Ramirez embraced his move to the third spot in the order, hitting a two-run homer against the St. Louis Cardinals in the spring training opener for both teams Wednesday. But the Marlins committed four errors in the game, which ended in a 5-all tie after 10 innings."More runs than errors. We'll take it as a positive," general manager Larry Beinfest said sarcastically. "That's not the way you want to start. Yes, it is the first day, but we are capable of playing better defense, and we do have guys that are capable of doing it."After the Marlins finished third-worst in the majors in fielding last year, Beinfest stressed the need for better defense. But three starting infielders each made a misplay on a grounder -- shortstop Ramirez, second baseman Dan Uggla and rookie first baseman Gaby Sanchez."First day, man. We've got to get better," Ramirez said.All the Marlins want from Ramirez offensively is more of the same, but in a new role. After unveiling the lineup for the first spring game, manager Fredi Gonzalez confirmed Ramirez will bat third this season."That's where I think it makes sense in our lineup," Gonzalez said. "We're a better club with him in that spot."Ramirez has been one of baseball's best leadoff hitters since breaking into the majors in 2006, but he welcomed the change."That means I'm dangerous," he said with a grin. "All the good hitters are hitting third, fourth, fifth. I want to be around those guys."Ramirez walked in the first, lined out in the fourth and homered off Francisco Samuel in the sixth after John Baker walked."The guy might hit 40 home runs and drive in 125," Baker said. "Hopefully, I can get on base and practice my home run trot when he hits one."Skip Schumaker, rookie Colby Rasmus and Rick Ankiel each had two of the 14 hits by the Cardinals, who stranded 14 runners.Schumaker had two putouts starting at second base. He never played the position before this year but is the front-runner for the job, although manager Tony La Russa is in no hurry to grade his defense."Give him a fair chance before you start making a judgment," La Russa said. "Let him play."St. Louis starter Blake Hawksworth gave up three hits in 2 2-3 scoreless innings and won praise from La Russa."For a first outing, I thought it was all good," La Russa said.Florida starter Anibal Sanchez gave up three hits and three walks but only one run -- unearned -- in two innings.With Ramirez dropping in the order, rookie center fielder Cameron Maybin becomes the top candidate for the leadoff spot. He began the game with a single and finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.Ramirez has spent most of his career batting leadoff, where his on base-plus-slugging percentage is .941. Batting third, it's .777.But as Gonzalez noted, in the past two years the Marlins have a better record with Ramirez batting third (31-24) than leadoff (116-131). Uggla, who went 0-for-3 batting fifth, said he likes Ramirez hitting third."He fits perfect in that slot," Uggla said. "Obviously, he could hit anywhere in the lineup and he's still going to be Hanley."Last year Ramirez hit .301 with 33 home runs and 35 stolen bases.
Marlins right-hander Chris Leroux, a native of Montreal, has a Barack Obama doll on the shelf of his locker. "Obama's telling me I've got to make it," Leroux said. "I put it up there just to let me know if I don't make it, he's sending me back to Canada." ... The Cardinals were the home team, and the announced crowd of 3,844 was small by their spring training standards, perhaps a reflection of the economy.