JUPITER, Fla. - The Marlins have committed more errors than any team in baseball the last 3 years. They have made improvement in the field a priority this season.

So when the Fish made four errors in their exhibition opener against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium, it led to an interesting scene on the field. Normally reclusive president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest walked past a group of reporters talking to manager Fredi Gonzalez, and made a sarcastic comment about how his team at least had more runs than errors.

The writers thought Beinfest was kidding. He labeled the sloppy defense "unacceptable" and added: "I don't care if it's the first day or the last. We need to play better defense from the start, set the tone . . . It's not the way you want to start. This team is going to take pride in its defense."

Gonzalez' response? "Nobody's going to remember this game in September," he said. *

- Paul Hagen