Marlins relievers highlight latest batting practice session. Here’s who impressed most.

Jordan McPherson

The bullpen remains one of the Miami Marlins’ biggest position battles that needs to be sorted out before their July 24 season opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Marlins almost completely overhauled their supply of relief pitchers this offseason and had little set in stone when spring training was halted three months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A handful of those competing for spots were on display Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park during the Marlins’ live batting practice session.

The standouts of the day: Righty Jeff Brigham and lefty Adam Conley.

Brigham, who didn’t pitch during spring training while tending to a right biceps injury, effectively mixed in both his fastball and his slider while facing Miguel Rojas, Jesus Aguilar and Brian Anderson. He got Anderson to whiff on a slider to close out a six-pitch sequence with a strikeout.

Conley, meanwhile, was particularly good against his group of hitters, which included Francisco Cervelli, Harold Ramirez and Isan Diaz. He gave up an opposite field line drive to Diaz but struck out Ramirez before that at-bat and Cervelli afterward.

Yimi Garcia, Nick Vincent and Ryne Stanek also faced four batters apiece on Wednesday.

The Marlins are going to be looking to their pitching to help carry them through the 60-game sprint of a season.

As the roster stands right now, veteran Brandon Kintzler is expected to be the team’s closer. Garcia impressed during spring training and should be a lock, too. The Marlins are also optimistic about Stanek and Drew Steckenrider. Sterling Sharp is a Rule 5 selection and will need to be on the Opening Day roster if the Marlins want to retain him. Starting pitching candidates who don’t crack the rotation — likely one of Jordan Yamamoto or Elieser Hernandez — could move into a long-relief role.

Stephen Tarpley, non-roster invitee Brad Boxberger, lefty prospect Alex Vesia and Vincent are the other main contenders.

“These young guys are already excited to be in the big leagues,” Kintzler said. “Although we are not going to have fans [in the stands], we know that these games mean a lot. Every day, for two months, you are in a sprint. It is great for me. It is actually really good for the older guys. We’re excited to be in a race like that.”

More practice observations

Both Diaz and Rojas impressed on the hitting side of live BP Wednesday. Diaz’s line drive to left field off Conley was his highlight, but he also made solid contact against Vincent. Rojas’ highlight included hard contact to the left side of the field against Stanek (to which Stanek quipped, “If I had a Miggy there, that would be an out.”)

Infield drills in Wednesday’s afternoon session included double play drills in the shift, with third baseman Anderson on the right side of the diamond between first baseman Aguilar and second baseman Diaz while Rojas manned the left side of the infield himself. Anderson’s quick hands and glove work were on full display.

Banfield to IL

Catcher Will Banfield, the No. 25 prospect in the Marlins’ system according to MLBPipeline, was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Monday. The team did not disclose what his injury is and as of Wednesday night did not make a corresponding roster move. Banfield has been practicing in Jupiter.

MLB has instituted a COVID-19 injured list this season, although the league will not announce which players are placed on it due to privacy laws regarding individuals’ health. Players are not required to address their status in regards to COVID-19 testing if they do not want to, and players do not count against a team’s 60-man roster pool while they are on this list.

It’s also worth noting that players do not need to test positive to be placed on the COVID-19 list. Potential exposure to a person who has the virus can be sufficient cause.

This and that

The Marlins are scheduled to have a semi-scrimmage/simulated game at Marlins Park for Thursday’s practice. Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith are both slated to throw five innings and between 70 and 85 pitches.

A group of hitters, presumably from the morning session, took extra batting practice reps on the field as media was allowed to enter. Included in the group was Eddy Alvarez, Jon Berti, Garrett Cooper, Lewin Diaz, Corey Dickerson, Sean Rodriguez, Jonathan Villar and Chad Wallach.

All results from the Marlins’ latest round of COVID-19 testing on Monday either came back negative or pending, according to manager Don Mattingly.