Forgive Matt Dominguez for feeling like a fish out of water.
Ever since the Marlins made him the 12th overall selection in the 2007 Draft, Dominguez has been included among the organization's top seven prospects by Baseball America. Five years running, he's also been tabbed as the best infield defender in the system.
Dominguez, now 22, overcame a fractured left elbow and made his Triple-A and Major League debuts in 2011. So you can imagine his frustration when, in the course of Miami's eventful offseason, his third base slot apparently was filled just as he was preparing to fill it himself.
Imagine the frustration, because if it exists, Dominguez is keeping it beneath the surface for now. "We have a lot of great players, and hopefully I can be a part of it," said Dominguez, still the Marlins' No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com. "New stadium, new jerseys and everything -- it's exciting."
The Chatsworth, Calif., native took a break from his training regimen -- he's added muscle to his 205-pound frame and last month began hitting and throwing with teammates Bryan Petersen and Greg Dobbs at nearby Loyola Marymount University -- to chat with MiLB.com about getting away from and back into the game he loves.
MiLB.com: A week into 2012, how would you sum up your 2011?
Dominguez: It was a long year, missing a month because of injury and finishing up in the Arizona Fall League, but it was nice to be home [in California] for the holidays, relax, see family and get away from baseball a little bit.
MiLB.com: What gets your mind the furthest from baseball?
Dominguez: I like to fish a lot when I'm in Florida and will be headed back there soon; that's what I like to do during my downtime. Go out there with a couple guys and sit out there. It's relaxing, it's quiet, and I don't worry about anything except trying to catch the biggest fish.
MiLB.com: Do you have a favorite fishing hole?
Dominguez: A lot of those little ponds there are stacked with bass. There are a couple good spots that you don't really tell other guys about.
MiLB.com: Did you grow up with pole in hand?
Dominguez: In California, I'd fish on the ocean, off the pier and things. But when I first got to Florida, I had never bass fished before, so it was new to me. Good to get my mind off baseball. I'd go out there for a couple hours and relax. It's a blast.
MiLB.com: Every bait-man has a favorite fishing story, so what's yours?
Dominguez: You have to watch out for these snakes in Florida. I was standing on the edge of the water, fishing, when a couple water moccasins come swimming by. That's pretty scary to see those things, so I just jetted out of there. You don't want to be anywhere near those things.
MiLB.com: Some might assume you had a jump-from-the-boat reaction, too, toward the Marlins' signing of shortstop Jose Reyes, which ostensibly pushes Hanley Ramirez to your hot corner.
Dominguez: I don't know exactly where I stand, but I think the Marlins see me as a third baseman and not really anywhere else. I've just got to go out, work hard and control what I can control and play well in Spring Training. I can't really stress over what I can't control. [Ramirez] is an All-Star-caliber player, and everyone knows what he can do.
MiLB.com: How about the potential of playing for new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who had both fans and foes as White Sox skipper?
Dominguez: I have heard nothing but good things about him. A bunch of players like him. [They say] if you work hard and play hard, he'll have no problem with you. That's a good guy to have in your corner, someone who will back you up. He's a great coach and it will be exciting to meet him and play for him.
MiLB.com: What do you want to prove to Guillen and Co. in 2012?
Dominguez: The biggest thing for me is improving my hitting, just being more consistent as a hitter. I go through some good streaks, then some bad. That's what I'm really trying to focus on for next year.