- Associated Press - Sunday, February 27, 2011

JUPITER, FLA. (AP) - Mike Stanton showed off his home-run trot in the first inning, then limped from the field in the second.

The young slugger strained his right quadriceps running out a grounder Sunday in the Florida Marlins‘ exhibition opener, a 9-8 loss to the Miami Hurricanes.

The Marlins declined to predict how long Stanton will be sidelined, saying it’ll depend on how his thigh feels in the next couple of days.

“We’ll see how it is Monday,” he said. “Better now than April 1. It’s never a good thing, but I would rather it be now and have some time to heal.”

Stanton hit the first pitch he saw for a two-run homer, showing the sort of power that won him raves as a rookie last year and a spot batting cleanup in this year’s lineup.

“It would have been nice if he could have hung in there a little longer,” baseball operations president Larry Beinfest said. “Hopefully we have time on our side and he’ll be OK.”

The Marlins subsequently blew a 7-1 lead. Five relievers _ none likely to make the team _ combined to give up 11 walks.

For Florida, the biggest loss was Stanton. He said his thigh tightened about halfway to first base after he hit a high-hopper to the pitcher. He limped across the base and crumpled to his knees

“The whole dugout went quiet,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “It’s amazing, a kid 21 years old, the impact he has on the team.”

Stanton eventually rose to limp off the field, then rode a cart from the dugout to the clubhouse to ice the injury. Two hours later he emerged from the training room, spotted a food buffet and grabbed a plate, his appetite still healthy.

But he said the discomfort in his thigh was “pretty high.”

“It’s frozen right now, so it’s going to be a little more,” Stanton said.

Last year the big right fielder hit 22 home runs with 59 RBIs in 100 games, and a buzz began to build regarding his tape-measure blows. The latest came in batting practice Friday, when he homered over the roof of the building beyond center field at Roger Dean Stadium.

Marlins offseason acquisition Javier Vazquez started and retired all six batters he faced, striking out three. He needed only 21 pitches and was so efficient that to complete his day’s work he threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen.

Prospect Matt Dominguez, trying to win a starting job at third base, went 1 for 3 and was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.

Newcomer Omar Infante had an RBI single. Chris Coghlan, playing his first game since tearing the meniscus in his left knee last July, had no chances in his new spot in center field but singled in two at-bats

“We played a very good game until the fifth inning,” Rodriguez said. “But you can’t defend all those walks.”

Rony Rodriguez doubled in the go-ahead run for the Hurricanes in the eighth inning. Michael Broad hit a grand slam to cut the Marlins‘ lead to one in the sixth.

“That was pretty fun _ a grand slam versus them,” Broad said. “Playing them, you’ve got to forget they’re major-leaguers and take it as a regular game. If you go out there thinking, `I’m facing a professional,’ you’re never going to win the battle.”

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