MIAMI -- Marlins catcher Rob Brantly believes he had just begun to hit his stride when last season ended.
The rookie catcher, acquired via a midseason trade with the Tigers, finished with a .290 batting average, three home runs, eight doubles and eight RBIs in 31 games. In September, he recorded a nine-game hitting streak.
That's why Brantly found the start to this season so frustrating.
The 23-year-old and hitting coach Tino Martinez have recently worked in the cages on his approach at the plate, taking a step back and not chasing pitches out of the zone.
"It's easy: You try to do too much and you get too jerky, mostly with your body," Brantly said. "He's helping me stay back and keeping me loose because it's quicker."
What the pair discussed seems to be working so far.
Over his past four games, Brantly is 6-for-13 (.462) with four doubles, five RBIs and three walks. His seven doubles lead the team.
"Part of the reason they told me they brought me over here is I can work the gaps pretty well," Brantly said. "Right now, I'll stick to doing my best to drive in runs with runners on base and getting in scoring position to lead off an inning."
Pierre not providing expected spark atop order
MIAMI -- Runs have been hard to come by for the Marlins in April -- just 61 over the season's first 24 games entering Sunday.
With nine home runs as a team, the offense has needed to manufacture runs. That can be difficult, however, when Miami's leadoff hitters post a Major League-worst .173 average.
"Just getting anybody on has been a struggle," Juan Pierre said. "If you're a leadoff guy -- that's why I was brought in to get on base and cause havoc and make it easier on the rest of the guys in the lineup. I haven't got it done."
Pierre, in his second stint with the Marlins, was signed in the offseason to be that presence at the top of the order.
Despite a solid spring when he hit .328 with a double, triple, four walks and five steals over 19 games, Pierre has struggled along with his teammates.
The 35-year-old is batting .207 after Saturday night's pinch-hit infield single in the seventh inning. Pierre has struck out 11 times and walked once. He has stolen five bases.
In 130 games with the Phillies last season, he hit .307 with 17 extra-base hits and 37 stolen bases.
"It just happens," Pierre said. "I've been through it before unfortunately. It's more that the team is not winning and I'm not doing well and me [contributing] to the team losing. I'm fine physically and mentally. It's frustrating, but something you go through in the course of a season."
• Marlins first baseman Joe Mahoney was out of the lineup Sunday with a tight right hamstring.
"I think it's to be determined tomorrow, see how he feels," Redmond said. "It's his hamstring and we'll see. Those things are obviously tricky. We're hoping it's just a short-term thing, but we're not sure yet."
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.