By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
Wade LeBlanc likes how the Miami Marlins’ new uniforms look. He hopes to be wearing one next April.
The Marlins acquired the left-hander from the San Diego Padres on Tuesday for catcher John Baker. LeBlanc went 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA for the Padres last season, winning three of his last four decisions and hoping that strong finish carries over into spring training when he’ll try to win a job.
“Baseball’s a big confidence game,” said LeBlanc, who expects to compete for a job at the back end of the Miami rotation. “And anytime you can …string a few games together like that, that shows yourself that you can do it and more importantly shows your team and your coaching staff, gives them confidence in you going forward.”
// <img width=1 height=1 alt=”” src=”http://us.bc.yahoo.com/b?P=2zMVPEPDlB_8dVbhTsEg_wFPTGx9j07MYP0AC3va&T=1debggb6g%2fX%3d1322017021%2fE%3d95861673%2fR%3dsports%2fK%3d5%2fV%3d2.1%2fW%3dH%2fY%3dYAHOO%2fF%3d236029261%2fH%3dY2FjaGVoaW50PSJzcG9ydHMiIGNvbnRlbnQ9ImxlYWd1ZT1tbGI7IHJlZnVybF9zcG9ydHNfeWFob29fY29tIiByZWZ1cmw9InJlZnVybF9zcG9ydHNfeWFob29fY29tIiBzZXJ2ZUlkPSIyek1WUEVQRGxCXzhkVmJoVHNFZ193RlBUR3g5ajA3TVlQMEFDM3ZhIiBzaXRlSWQ9IjQ0NTc1NTEiIHRTdG1wPSIxMzIyMDE3MDIxODU2NzIxIiB0b3BpY3M9InJlZnVybF9zcG9ydHNfeWFob29fY29tIiA-%2fQ%3d-1%2fS%3d1%2fJ%3dB4868962&U=13fcn0ei0%2fN%3dR..mLEoGYzw-%2fC%3d779960.14320535.14193376.13648090%2fD%3dSKY%2fB%3d6128704%2fV%3d1″>
In parts of four seasons with the Padres, LeBlanc went 17-22 with a 4.54 ERA, starting 52 times and coming in as a reliever twice. He split time last season between San Diego and Triple-A Tucson, where he went 9-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 106 2-3 innings, with 92 strikeouts and 28 walks.
Miami president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said LeBlanc—who beat the Marlins in August, the lone time he faced them in 2011—will have a chance to win a rotation job this spring.
“When you haven’t firmly established yourself you have to fight every year and we’ll put him in the mix,” Beinfest said. “We liked when he pitched against us … not overpowering stuff, but throws strikes. Got a very good changeup which gives him the ability to pitch to right-handed batters as well as left. So again, just an opportunity to add pitching depth.”
Beinfest said the groundwork for the deal was put in place at baseball meetings last week. Earlier this month, the Marlins officially dropped the“Florida” from their title, and they’ll open play in a new downtown Miami stadium next year.
A California native, Baker was limited to 16 games last season after having elbow reconstruction surgery in September 2010. He was 2 for 13, all but one of those at-bats coming as a pinch-hitter. In 212 career games with the Marlins, Baker batted .271 with 14 home runs and 89 RBIs.
“We believe John fits well into our catching situation,” Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. “As a left-handed hitter with a good history of getting on base, he will provide us with depth and will help balance the roster from a left-right perspective.”
Among pitchers with 40 at-bats or more, LeBlanc’s batting average of .318 since the start of 2010 ranks second-best in baseball. He hit 4 for 6 in three games against the Marlins.
“Kind of bittersweet,” LeBlanc said of leaving the Padres. “San Diego was the only organization that I’ve ever known. But it’s business. It’s part of baseball and I’m excited.”