- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

JUPITER, FLA. (AP) - Florida Marlins newcomer Emilio Bonifacio won a starting job at third base, and Jorge Cantu will move to first.

The lineup was solidified Tuesday when the Marlins optioned rookie first baseman Gaby Sanchez to Triple-A New Orleans.

Sanchez was given a chance to win a starting job after Mike Jacobs was traded during the offseason, but he hit .194 in 36 at-bats in spring training while being hampered by a bruised knee.

“We didn’t want him to sit on the bench,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It’s not good for him or for us.”

Bonifacio was acquired from the Washington Nationals to add depth. A natural second baseman, he impressed the Marlins with his speed and defense.

“I like him in that lineup some place,” Gonzalez said. “He has made unbelievable improvement at third base, a position he didn’t play. He’s been learning under the gun a little bit.”

Cantu played mostly third last season for Florida, but he started 23 games at first and is better there defensively. Before joining the Marlins last year he was primarily a second baseman.

Gonzalez now has plenty of options with his batting order. Bonifacio or center fielder Cameron Maybin could lead off, and either could bat second. Catcher John Baker is another option to bat second.

“I love it leading off,” Bonifacio said. “That’s what I’ve done in the minor leagues. I really like it.”

With Bonifacio, Maybin and shortstop Hanley Ramirez at the top of the lineup, their speed could put a lot of pressure on the opposing defense.

Right-handed pitcher Burke Badenhop was optioned to New Orleans. The Marlins want to get Badenhop innings in case they need an emergency starter.

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