PLAY BALL!

THE MI­AMI MAR­LINS KICK OFF THE 2017–2018 BASE­BALL SEA­SON WITH EX­CIT­ING BUZZ BOTH ON AND OFF THE FIELD.

Ocean Drive - - Front Runner - mi­ami.mar­lins.mlb.com BY JARED SHAPIRO

“This is the year” is some­thing every sports fan says about his or her beloved home team at the start of every sea­son. But for the Mi­ami Mar­lins, the sen­tence hasn’t re­ally been ut­tered since 2003, the last year they won the World Se­ries. This year, how­ever, there is a new buzz of op­ti­mism, thanks to new faces and old, plus a work ethic in part due to sec­ond-year man­ager Don Mat­tingly. Hit­ting coach Barry Bonds is gone, re­placed with Mike Pagliarulo. And as the team and the city con­tinue to mourn the death of star pitcher José Fernán­dez, who lost his life in a boat­ing ac­ci­dent in Septem­ber, the goal is to con­tinue on to­wards a bright fu­ture.

A 79-82 record last year just put them out of the play­offs. Fa­mil­iar faces Gian­carlo Stan­ton, Dee Gor­don, and Chris­tian Yelich are stronger than ever, while new pitch­ers Edin­son Vólquez (pre­vi­ously with the Roy­als), Dan Straily (Reds), Brad Ziegler and Ju­nichi Tazawa (Red Sox), and Jeff Locke (Pi­rates) now will all proudly don Mar­lins uni­forms.

The fish will al­ready be six games into the sea­son when they re­turn to Mi­ami to take on the Atlanta Braves for our home opener on April 11. Three days later, it’s Don Mat­tingly Bob­ble­head night on the 14th against the Mets (the first 10,000 fans will win the big-headed doll), and fire­works fol­low­ing the Fri­day-night game on April 15. Mark June 22 to 25 on your cal­en­dars, too, as the Mar­lins play host to the World Se­ries Cham­pi­ons, the Chicago Cubs, on a four-day home stretch. But the tick­ets that everyone wants will be the 2017 All-star Game as Mar­lins Sta­dium hosts a jam-packed, days-long ex­trav­a­ganza from the Home Run Derby to Fan­fest at the Mi­ami Beach Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, cul­mi­nat­ing with the July 11 All-star game for the first time ever in Mi­ami!

ơƞƫƞ ƚƧƝ ƚƛƨưƞ ƫƣơơƭ Mar­lins Park dur­ing open­ing day be­tween the Mi­ami Mar­lins and the Detroit Tigers last year. ƭƨʃ ƥƞɵƭ The Mar­lins’ Gian­carlo Stan­ton at bat in 2016.

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