JUPITER, Fla. -- Since 2005, no major league pitcher can boast more appearances than Chad Qualls. Since 2006, that distinction belongs to Jon Rauch.
Both are in a Miami Marlins uniform this spring.
Rauch joined the Marlins on a one-year deal and likely will serve as Steve Cishek's setup man. Qualls as a non-roster invitee has to make the club. If he does, the Marlins in Rauch and Qualls will have two pitchers with a combined 11 seasons of 70 or more appearances. Three of those campaigns were of 80 or more games.
The Marlins during their 20-year history have never featured an 80-game reliever. Braden Looper established the club's single-season record at 78 in 2002.
"When you have a lot of young guys on your staff that is a luxury, having a couple of veteran guys you can punch in there more than one night in a row and know they've been through that already," manager Mike Redmond said. "With so many young guys we might need that."
Both rank among the top 20 -- Qualls 14th (597) and Rauch 20th (541) -- in career appearances among active pitchers.
"That includes me having knee surgery in 2009," said Qualls, who was limited to 59 appearances after undergoing a season-ending procedure that September. "I've always had a really resilient arm. Even in the minors when I was a starter I'd bounce back real easy. When I was working on pitches sometimes I would throw two bullpens between starts.
"It's kind of funny. You have younger guys in here that walk around with 5 percent body fat and I tell them, 'God might not have blessed me with the best body, but he blessed me with a shoulder and elbow.'"
God also blessed him with a resilient knee. Qualls needed one more out to close an Aug. 30, 2009 game for the Diamondbacks against the Astros when Jason Michaels hit a liner at his head. In the process of raising his glove and evading the screamer, Qualls awkwardly twisted and shredded his left knee.
When Qualls returned in 2010 he still didn't trust the knee. As a result, his usual fall off to the first base side became more exaggerated. Qualls adjusted his mechanics to finish in a Greg Maddux-like fielding position, but in doing so he sacrificed his slider.
"I cut off my slider and got real slow and loopy on it," said Qualls, who tossed a scoreless inning in Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Cardinals. "I was doing that for the past two years and never really had that good slider."
Pitching for six teams (and six pitching coaches) the last three seasons didn't help. Last June 30, the Phillies designated him for assignment and ultimately traded him to the Yankees, who kept him for a month before shipping him to the Pirates at the July 31 trade deadline.
Qualls during the offseason started from scratch. He re-implemented his old delivery and returned to getting over his front side and finishing his slider.
When Qualls was at Triple-A in 2004, the Astros informed him he was headed to the bullpen. He considered it a death sentence, thinking he would never get promoted.
"Two weeks later I was in the big leagues and here I am nine years later," Qualls said. "Obviously it was a great transition now that I look back on it."
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