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J.T. Realmuto, Starlin Castro make the best of an awkward situation

Castro at 2018 Marlins FanFest: “Everybody looks happy. Everybody looks good. I think it’s a good opportunity for me to be here.”

J.T. Realmuto meets with reporters at FanFest.
Photo by @AndySlater/Twitter

Catcher J.T. Realmuto and second baseman Starlin Castro are focused on just doing their jobs. As expected, both veterans put on a smile for Saturday’s FanFest at Marlins Park, and entering spring training, they are projected to play in the everyday lineup.

”I know what you guys know,” Realmuto told assembled media (h/t “Obviously, there’s trade rumblings and people out there talking about it. But for me, I’m just getting ready to play the season. That’s all I can do. I’m ready to be here, ready to play the season, whether it is in Miami or somewhere else. I’m just here to do my job and play baseball.”

Meanwhile, Castro expressed his excitement to play for a rebuilding team after arriving from the New York Yankees in December’s Giancarlo Stanton trade.

”They told me they’re happy to have me be here, and I’m happy too,” Castro said. “I’m going to be out there and try to play hard. Everybody has to do their job, like me. I think we’re going to be together and fight together.”

Spring training starts for both of them shortly. Realmuto will report to Jupiter with the other pitchers and catchers on Wednesday, and full-squad practices are set for Feb. 19.

Because Miami’s rebuild is geared towards developing success long term, the organization knows established players on the current roster like Realmuto and Castro must set a positive tone. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill and manager Don Mattingly had numerous discussions with them behind the scenes to make sure they were committed to the process.

“Once the season starts, all of this is going to be behind us,” Realmuto explained. “I’m going to show up and play and prepare the same way I have in the past. Nothing is going to change in that aspect. So, for me, once the season gets going and we know where we’re at, we’ll have this behind us.”

The Marlins could still deal a number of players, but have made it clear they’d only entertain trading Realmuto for a huge prospect haul. Sure enough, minutes after FanFest ended, SiriusXM’s Craig Mish reported that the World Series-champion Houston Astros are the latest team to engage in discussions about Realmuto. Miami is interested in outfielder Kyle Tucker, MLB’s No. 11 overall prospect.

”The trade discussions are always ongoing,” Hill said. “That’s something that never stops. The phone never stops ringing. Probably the focus at this point of spring, because there have been so many free agents out there, has been with agents, if there are opportunities in free agency. But you never stop looking at ways to get better.”

The Marlins have had a busy offseason, shipping Stanton, Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna away to trim payroll and replenish the farm system. Stanton and Yelich, in particular, weren’t enthusiastic about the new direction of the franchise.

“I played five, six, seven years with those guys,” Realmuto said. “It’s tough to see them getting traded like that. Not that I disagree with what they’re doing, but just from my point of view, it’s tough to see those guys go and get traded. Like I said, I have to just show up and play.”

At FanFest, Castro did all he could do—introduce himself to new fans and teammates, and try to get acclimated to the organization.

Photo by @sportsradiopd/Twitter

“I tried to know everybody first,” the four-time All-Star said. “I know Mattingly a little bit. The sense I got here, I see everybody’s face. Everybody looks happy. Everybody looks good. I think it’s a good opportunity for me to be here.”