MIAMI -- Justin Ruggiano officially joined the Marlins' organization on Saturday, when he was obtained in a Minor League trade with the Astros for Class A catcher Jobduan Morales.
But the 30-year-old right-handed-hitting outfielder actually was targeted by the Marlins in the offseason.
Miami approached Ruggiano, hoping to sign him to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
For personal reasons, he decided to join the Astros' organization to be closer to home.
A native of Austin, Texas, Ruggiano's wife gave birth to a girl at the end of Spring Training. While he opened the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Ruggiano was 3 1/2 hours from home.
"In the offseason, when I chose not to accept my option with Tampa, I had a couple of options," said Ruggiano, who was in the Rays' system from 2007-11. "One option that was closest to home for me, was with the Astros. We had a little girl who was born right at the very end of Spring Training. I figured, with the timing of it all, it would make sense to be in either Houston or Oklahoma City, where I ended up being."
The Marlins selected Ruggiano's contract from Triple-A New Orleans on Sunday, and he is back in the big leagues.
"It worked out good," he said. "I was 3 1/2 hours from home. It couldn't have worked out better.
"I enjoyed playing baseball in Florida. I was here last year, and I just love being here."
Ruggiano is a right-handed pinch-hit option and a candidate to play left field against left-handed starting pitching.
"I want to get back into the swing of things and see if I can help this team," he said. "I'm going to do whatever I can do and try to stay within myself."
Ex-shortstop Hanley impressing at third base
MIAMI -- Adapting to third base has come rather quickly for Hanley Ramirez.
A career shortstop, Ramirez was switched to third after the Marlins signed Jose Reyes.
The transition to the hot corner was one of the most talked about moves in the game during the offseason. So far, Ramirez has made it appear rather seamless.
In 46 games, Ramirez had one error, which was tied with Washington's Ryan Zimmerman for the second fewest by a National League third baseman. And his .990 fielding percentage was second to Philadelphia's Placido Polanco, who is a perfect 1.000, not committing an error in 41 games.
Those figures changed a bit on Monday, Ramirez's 47th game of the season at third.
With two outs in the first inning against the Nationals, Ramirez committed a throwing error on Zimmerman's routine grounder to third.
The misplay, however, didn't do much damage, as Carlos Zambrano was able to strand Zimmerman at second.
Zimmerman made an error of his own in the second inning, tying him once again with Ramirez.
Overall, the progress Ramirez has made at third base has been impressive.
"He's a good athlete, and he's fundamentally sound," said Marlins bench coach Joey Cora, who works with the infielders. "He puts a lot of time into it. He wants to be good."
Even before the start of Spring Training, Ramirez was taking grounders at third base in the Dominican Republic. He continued to progress during the spring, and it's carried over to the regular season.
"He's got great feet, good arm, confidence, great hands," Cora said. "The difficult parts were going to be the situations. The catching the ball and throwing it, that wasn't going to be difficult for him. He's reacting very well.
"One of the plays he does great is the bunts, getting the ball, barehanded and throwing it. He did that as a shortstop too. But the situations are the difficult part in moving from one place to the other -- where you have to be, the cutoff man, where to throw the ball."
An area in which Ramirez has improved is ranging to his left, the shortstop side. Early in the year, he was adjusting to how far over he should range and when he should get the ball or give way to Reyes.
"He's getting better," Cora said. "Now you can tell he's reacting better. He's going to be good."
Military Monday extra special at Marlins Park
MIAMI -- Military Monday had a little more meaning this week at Marlins Park.
With Monday being Memorial Day, the United States Marine Corps presented the colors before the Marlins faced the Nationals.
A short video tribute played on the scoreboard before the first pitch. The theme was "One nation. One moment."
The Star-Spangled Banner was performed by trumpet.
For the day, the Marlins wore a special cap, with a camo design on their team logo.
Logan Morrison belted a special home run in Miami's 5-3 win, and when he approached the plate, he saluted to the sky in honor of his father.
Morrison's father, Tom, passed away in December 2010. He was formerly in the Coast Guard.
"I try to keep the emotions in check, and try not to do too much at the plate," Morrison said. "I wasn't even thinking about it when I hit the home run, but when I was crossing the plate, absolutely. It was pretty cool.
"I had goosebumps going around the bases. Giving him a salute was pretty cool."
As an organization, the Marlins have actively supported the military. In recent years, players and team representatives have traveled around the world to visit the troops.
During the season, the Marlins have their "Outback Steakhouse Military Mondays" promotion. The team offers complimentary tickets for military employees, active duty and retirees, Reserve, National Guard and their dependents.
Kearns targets early return from disabled list
MIAMI -- Once his 15-day disabled list stint is up, chances are Austin Kearns will be ready to be re-instated.
The Marlins outfielder went on the DL with a right hamstring strain on Thursday, retroactive to Wednesday. The earliest date the veteran would be eligible to rejoin the club is June 7, when Miami is at home against Atlanta.
"I hope so," Kearns said of returning at the soonest possible date. "I think that's a possibility. We'll see when we start doing more."
Kearns injured his hamstring while scoring from first base on a Giancarlo Stanton double last Tuesday against the Rockies.
In 22 games, he's given Miami production off the bench and in a spot-start role, primarily against left-handed pitching. He's batting .375 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 48 at-bats.
"I've just been riding the bike and walking on the treadmill," Kearns said of his rehab routine. "I took some swings off the tee. It's getting better. It seems like it is getting better each day. That's a good thing."