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GONZALEZ EAGER TO LEAD

The Tampa native plans to take charge on a Marlins club not expected to compete.

Outfielder Luis Gonzalez hopes to make an immediate impact with the Marlins, even if it is in the clubhouse, not on the field.

"It's a bunch of good young players here," said Gonzalez, 40, the Tampa native and former Jefferson High standout. "Hopefully, the way I approach the game could rub off on a couple guys, and they realize that if they're out there competing and playing hard, it's going to make a difference."

Gonzalez, an 18-year veteran, signed a $2-million, one-year contract Thursday to play in Florida for the first time. He will add experience to a roster that is packed with young talent.

"I've always been vocal in the clubhouse and I'm very energetic," he said. "I enjoy being at the ballpark. ... I like to have fun but I like to compete, too. It's all about going out there and winning."

The Marlins set franchise records with 790 runs last season but still finished 71-91.

"This is a very young team," Gonzalez said. "There hasn't been a lot of veteran guys that have come through here. For me, I'm on the back end of my career and I just felt like this was going to be a good opportunity for me to come here and help along some of the younger players."

Gonzalez hit .278 with a .359 on-base percentage and a .433 slugging percentage last season with the Dodgers. He played in 139 games but became a part-time player in the second half. For his career, he has hit .284 with a .368 OBP and a .481 SLG.

He has spent most of his career in leftfield and likely will be Florida's fourth outfielder. Leftfielder Josh Willingham and rightfielder Jeremy Hermida return as starters.

"Obviously this is a new scenario for me, not being a starter right out of the gates," Gonzalez said. "It's a different challenge."

A'S: First baseman Mike Sweeney agreed to a minor-league deal, ending a 17-year association with the Royals. Sweeney, 34, is a five-time All-Star with a .299 average, a .369 on-base percentage and a .492 slugging percentage in 13 big-league seasons.

DODGERS: Mark Sweeney, 38, whose 163 pinch hits are second in history behind Lenny Harris, is nearing an agreement on one-year contract.

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