I have not been with the Marlins very long -- this is my first year in Florida -- but I like what I see so far. One of the main reasons I signed here as a free agent this past winter was because of the talent that is on this team and the talent that is on this pitching staff. As a catcher, that is very attractive.

Coming into this, I was very excited. When I looked at the pitchers here I really wanted to be on the other side of the ball. They are all very good, and you had some guys who were getting ready to perform well in the big leagues. They had some experience in the big leagues, they had experienced some ups and downs, and they had learned how to pitch. I was very attracted to this staff, and they are doing what I thought they could do.

Our staff begins with Josh Johnson, but you quickly look at what Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez have already done this year. Then factor in what they have done of late with JJ out to injury. With the way they have been pitching, it really makes us comfortable that we can compete in this division. They have been huge, and when Johnson heals up and gets back to good health, we will only be that much stronger down the stretch.

Having seen this division now on the whole, my first impression is clearly that this is a very, very tough division. It reminds me a lot of playing with Toronto last year in the American League East. I felt that the AL East and the National League East were the two best divisions in baseball. Every day you have to come to the field and play good baseball. There is no rest. You have to bring your A game to win every series, but that is what you want to do at this level.

At the top right now is Philly, and I think it is safe to say that the Phillies have lived up to the preseason hype. It is no secret the hype was there because they are a good ballclub. You have to play a perfect game to beat them because they come at you every day with the personnel they have. They earned the hype, but I think we have shown ourselves that we can compete with them. We can stand right next to them.

Another club we are neck-and-neck with is Atlanta. They have a lot of good young players on that team. They have had a lot of pitchers performing well for them lately, but people are waiting for some of their big bats to come alive. They have a good lineup. You know with the track records some of their hitters have that they will be strong down the stretch.

Like I said, throw in everybody, every team in this division, and it is going to be tough. You can't go to sleep at all, not even for a minute.

Overall, I like playing in the NL. A lot of that has to do with my position. As a catcher, you like the chess match. There is more strategy. You are more aware of situations.

In the AL, you have to know every hitter. You know who is coming up and what they can do. You know there is no pitcher due up. You are constantly throwing your best stuff at the guy in that moment. Here, you can call pitches where you can be more, or even less, aggressive in the strike zone, based on the end of the batting order. It is good old-fashioned baseball, and as a catcher, your mind is always being tested.

Marlins catcher John Buck was an All-Star last year with the Blue Jays after batting .281 with 20 home runs, 66 RBIs and a .802 slugging percentage. This past November he signed a three-year contract with Florida, which started play on Thursday two games behind the NL East-leading Phillies.