ATLANTA -- As the Marlins slogged through an awful April in 2013, Miami outfielder Christian Yelich honed his skills with Double-A Jacksonville. One year later, Yelich has helped revitalize the Marlins offense atop the lineup.
Yelich extended his career best hitting streak to 15 games in the first inning Monday against the Braves at Turner Field. Although Miami suffered a seven-game losing streak early on in Yelich's streak, his hot bat has helped the Marlins win four of their last five.
"Hitting streaks are good, but I'm definitely happier about us winning," Yelich said.
Should Yelich maintain his reliability as Miami's table setter, the Marlins can continue to rebound from a 100-loss season. The Fish entered Monday with a 9-10 record, which is already one win better than last season's 8-19 April.
Yelich entered Monday tied for fourth in the Majors with 15 runs scored, tied for 17th with a .333 (24-for-72) batting average and ranks 18th with a .407 on-base percentage. In 2013, Miami's leadoff hitters batted .229 (155-for-678) with 63 runs scored.
Yelich chalks up his success to simply doing what is required of a leadoff hitter. Miami's team batting average of .279 (48-for-172) with runners in scoring position, which was tied for fourth-best in the Majors entering Monday, also helps.
"That's basically your job when you hit at the top of the lineup -- get on for those guys behind you to drive you in," Yelich said. "They've been able to do that this year."
Marlins manager Mike Redmond described Yelich's impact in the leadoff spot as "huge," but he is also impressed by how well Miami's entire crop of young players have performed so far this season.
Marcell Ozuna has tallied 10 RBIs and 12 runs and is tied with Yelich for 17th in the Majors with a .333 (23-for-69) batting average. Adeiny Hechavarria ranks 25th with a .310 (22-for-71) clip, and he has already scored 11 runs. He did not score his 11th run last season until June 9 on his 186th plate appearance.
"They have a lot of confidence, which is great," Redmond said. "No panic. That's the beauty of our young guys. Probably because we got them some experience last year. They came into Spring Training kind of understanding what the big leagues is all about, and the comfort level for them is much better."
Friendship born from Boston bombing still strong for Salty
ATLANTA -- Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia first met Jeff Bauman of Chelmsford, Mass., when the Red Sox visited those injured by the bombings at last year's Boston Marathon. From there, a friendship was born.
"He made things easy," Saltalamacchia said. "We're in a hospital not knowing what to say, and he was like, 'Hey, you guys want to go to the store?' He just opened it up and was just a really cool guy."
Saltalamacchia texted Bauman -- who lost his legs in the bombings -- on Sunday night to congratulate him on his soon-to-be wife's pregnancy. He hopes Bauman will throw him batting practice during the upcoming offseason.
"He's got new legs, so he was walking on those," Saltalamacchia said. "They showed him out there [at Fenway Park] throwing BP to some of the guys for early BP, so that was pretty cool to see."
Saltalamacchia remembers the commotion and confusion surrounding the bombings that killed three and injured Bauman, among many others. The days that followed were filled with uncertainty for the Red Sox and the citizens of Boston.
"When we left, we had no answers," said Saltalamacchia, who first heard news of the bombings while boarding a team bus en route to the airport for a three-game road trip to Cleveland. "We had no clue what was going on."
Saltalamacchia and the Red Sox returned to Boston from Cleveland on April 18, but they did not play the Royals the next day as scheduled. The ongoing pursuit of suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev led to an area-wide shutdown.
"We were on lockdown," Saltalamacchia said. "Kansas City came to town, and they weren't allowed to leave the hotel. We weren't allowed to leave our apartments. It was scary. We couldn't do anything."
Even after police captured Dzhokhar, Saltalamacchia said there was tension as the Red Sox and Royals headed to Fenway Park on April 20.
"It was a lot of emotion because everyone's been locked up a few days trying to figure out what's going on. Is there going to be another attack? Is this it?" Saltalamacchia said. "So going to the park that day, I think a lot of guys were a little scared. First big-venue game after all this, what's going to happen?"
But Saltalamacchia said the first game back in Boston and the experiences he shared with the victims last year is something that "sticks in your mind forever." Despite leaving Boston to sign with Miami during the offseason, Saltalamacchia remains close with Bauman and others he met in the tragedy's aftermath.
"I can remember everyone I went and visited that day," Saltalamacchia said of his first encounter with the victims. "I'm not really good with faces or names, but that just kind of sticks in your mind. They came out to the stadium a lot, all of the victims, and we honored them as much as possible, because they were heroes in our minds."
Marlins considering four-man rotation through April
ATLANTA -- The Marlins have not yet decided whether they will go with a four-man rotation until early May, something off-days on April 24 and 28 make possible. By the time the stretch ends, Jacob Turner could be ready to return from the disabled list
The four-man rotation would consist of Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Tom Koehler. Right-hander Kevin Slowey started on Sunday in Turner's spot. Turner was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder sprain on April 9 (retroactive to April 4).
"We're still working on that," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We haven't decided yet. [Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez] and I started to talk a little bit [Sunday] about exactly what was going to be best for our young pitchers."
Miami recently replaced struggling left-hander Brad Hand -- who made two starts against the Nationals in Turner's spot -- in the rotation with the right-handed Slowey, who gave up two runs in five innings against the Mariners on Sunday.
In two starts this season, Hand gave up eight earned runs on 12 hits, walked three and struck out six in 6 1/3 combined innings. He owns a 6.35 ERA in four outings.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.