At one point during the 2003 season the Marlins were 10 games under .500, and even with the coaching change it didn’t look like the Marlins would contend that year. Ha, yea right. The Marlins started to cut into that 10 game deficit. The day finally came when on July 1, 2003 the Marlins beat the Atlanta Braves to finally be 1 game above .500, with a record of 43-42.
First we will start with the Marlins 8th inning pitcher, A.J. Ramos. Ramos pitched masterfully last year, showing some grit, and has some believing in south Florida that he could be a pretty solid closer. Ramos will likely start the season in the same set-up position as last year, even with the arrival of Carter Capps, a solid 8th inning guy in his own right.
Being crowned rookie of the year and placing third in the Cy Young voting was not enough. The defining moment, the moment when Jose Fernandez realized last season was not a dream, was when he walked into the Marlins’ clubhouse Sunday, the first day pitchers and catchers worked out.
Perhaps more than any player on the Marlins, Tom Koehler is intensely interested in the Winter Olympics. As pitchers and catchers were reporting to spring training Sunday and putting their lockers in order, Koehler was about the only person keeping an eye on the clubhouse television, which was turned to figure skating from the Sochi games.
Dempster made his major league debut with the Marlins eight days before Marlins manager Mike Redmond made his with Florida, represented the Marlins in the 2000 All-Star Game, and went 42-43 during his five years with the team.
Television cameras and tape recorders reflected off the orange lenses of manager Mike Redmond's wrap-around sunglasses Sunday. As Miami Marlins' pitchers and catchers stretched in advance of their first official workout, Redmond told the semicircle of gathered media he sensed "a buzz" about the 2014 team.
All week, the Marlins have branched out into the community, as players, coaches and front-office officials visited schools and youth ballfields. For five days, they mingled with fans and spread the word that Spring Training was approaching. Saturday culminated a week of meet-and-greets with the Marlins' annual Winter Warm-Up at Marlins Park. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, fans filtered through the ballpark, interacting with the players. There were autograph and photo sessions, as well as a variety of interactive games.
A year ago, Rob Brantly was the Marlins' Opening Day catcher. Entering Spring Training this season, the 24-year-old understands he is a long shot to be on the 25-man roster. Miami's catcher situation is pretty much set with the free-agent signing of Saltalamacchia and veteran backup Jeff Mathis. The way Brantly is handling his situation, he isn't thinking of himself as the No. 3 choice. He sees himself taking the steps it takes to improve his overall game.
The Marlins appear to have a successor to Juan Pierre for being the first to arrive to camp every morning. Jarrod Saltalamacchia plans on rolling into the Roger Dean Stadium complex around 5:15 a.m. ET each day. If he is running a little late, it will be around 5:30. "I like to get here early," the 28-year-old catcher said. "Usually, around 9 o'clock [it's stretching]. I like to get my work done and stay out of the way."
If adversity indeed makes you stronger, the Marlins certainly have plenty to look forward to as Spring Training officially began Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium. After enduring a 100-loss season for just the second time in franchise history, the still youthful squad is ready for a new beginning. For many returnees, they are a year older. The organization hopes personal experience will be their best teacher.
Success certainly hasn't changed Jose Fernandez. If anything, the 21-year-old Marlins ace is as humble and appreciative as ever. The 2013 National League Rookie of the Year is making himself as available as possible to the fans. He showed that on Saturday during the Winter Warm-Up at Marlins Park, staying late to take pictures. The players were set to leave the Warm-Up at about 1 p.m. ET, but because there was such a long line to see him, Fernandez stuck around until 2:30.
Around The League
At times fighting back tears and at other times displaying the type of self-effacing wit that made him a beloved teammate throughout his career, Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster announced Sunday that he won't pitch in 2014.
It's hard to blame Ian Kinsler for being a little lost when he reported to Spring Training on Sunday. It was his first "first day" since 2003. After 11 years in the Rangers' organization, the Tigers' new second baseman said he was "ecstatic" to get a fresh start this spring.
O's third baseman Manny Machado reported to camp on Sunday for his first workout, taking batting practice and fielding ground balls as he continues to rehab from offseason left knee surgery.
For the last four years, Bryan Price would drive to the Reds player development complex, change in the coaches locker room and get to work at a desk in a conference room across the hall from the manager's office to perform his functions as the team's pitching coach. This year, Price's route to get to the complex is the same, but now the manager's office belongs to him.
At Fish Stripes
The Miami Marlins did a patchwork job on their infield this offseason. Was it the right idea, or could they have done more?
Fish Stripes got a chance to talk to Marlins reliever Mike Dunn about the Spring Training for the Troops event and the upcoming 2014 season for the Miami Marlins.
The Miami Marlins knew what they were getting when they signed reliever Carlos Marmol, and have announced a clear-cut role for him. A Miami Herald report indicated that the Marlins plan to use Marmol as a setup man to closer Steve Cishek.