Almost half of the players on the Marlins 40-man roster met up Thursday afternoon at a baseball field near the team’s spring training complex.
“We’re getting ready, we’re getting prepared,” Miguel Rojas explained in a live video on his Instagram account. “We’re negotiating something, but at the same time, we’re working together to be ready to give you guys a good product and put a good product on the field.”
In footage provided by Rojas and Daniel Álvarez-Montes of El Extrabase, players could be seen taking live batting practice and fielding drills. The participants included Sandy Alcantara, Anthony Bender, Richard Bleier, Jon Berti, Paul Campbell, Daniel Castano, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Garrett Cooper, Isan Díaz, Lewin Díaz, Nick Fortes, Braxton Garrett, Sean Guenther, Jordan Holloway, Jesús Luzardo and Cody Poteet, as well as ex-Marlins/current free agents Lewis Brinson and Deven Marrero. The group was mainly comprised of guys who make their offseason homes in South Florida and played for the Fish in 2021.
Álvarez reports that Luzardo’s fastball velocity reached 98 miles per hour and Alcantara’s nasty changeup was working as intended.
From the portions of the livestream that I was able to watch, the audience peaked at around 80 people. I would suspect that the majority of those viewers identify as “Marlins fans,” but there were fellow professional players in there too, like prospects Víctor Víctor Mesa and Cherif Seymour and former Miami infielder Eddy Alvarez (now with the Dodgers organization).
Posting to IG and Twitter afterwards, Rojas and the others preached togetherness as Major League Baseball attempts to pressure them into accepting a owner-friendly collective bargaining agreement.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the media earlier in the day, expressing optimism that the 2022 season could still stick to its original schedule. His braintrust will be presenting an updated CBA proposal to the players’ association on Saturday.
But unless said proposal is exactly what the players have been seeking, a delayed spring training is inevitable. Too much time has been wasted. For many teams, the pitchers and catchers report date is next Wednesday. It’s completely unreasonable for most of those players to meet that deadline with such minimal advance notice.
In the absence of major league coaches and athletic trainers, it’s difficult to fully replicate a spring training environment. Don’t drastically change your expectations for the Marlins based on this showing of camaraderie. However, perhaps there are some slight tangible and intangible advantages to be gained being so proactive.