Ge­orge

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

It’s hard.”

Mean­while, just five ex­its up I-95 at Roger Dean Chevro­let Sta­dium, Mar­lins man­ager Don Mat­tingly was hav­ing a hard time, too, try­ing to come up with names to fol­low Dan Straily and Jose Urena in his start­ing ro­ta­tion.

“I don’t see any Ker­shaws on our ros­ter,” said Don­nie Base­ball, who did have three-time Cy Young Award win­ner Clay­ton Ker­shaw on his side while man­ag­ing the Los An­ge­les Dodgers.

That was then and this is ouch, but if new Mar­lins CEO Derek Jeter needed a man­ager whose one true valen­tine is base­ball it­self, Mat­tingly is his man.

There were, for in­stance, only smiles dur­ing Mat­tingly’s 15-minute me­dia ses­sion. He took no ques­tions about Gian­carlo Stan­ton or Mar­cell Ozuna or Chris­tian Yelich or Dee Gor­don, be­cause they were shipped else­where dur­ing the off­sea­son. He took few ques­tions about the Mar- lins’ full squad in gen­eral, be­cause there are more than enough pitch­ers and catch­ers to learn, both their names and their games, be­fore mov­ing on to other mys­ter­ies.

“I know the Mi­ami Mar­lins have been around for a while,” said Mat­tingly, “but we all look at it as if this is the start. This is brand new. This is the be­gin­ning. This is the first part of the foun­da­tion.”

Sounds more like an ex­pan­sion team than any­thing else. Then you see for­mer Mar­lins man­ager Fredi Gon­za­lez walk­ing by in Mar­lins uni­form No. 33 and it feels like one again, too.

Back in 1992, be­fore the fran­chise had even fielded a ma­jor league team, Fredi man­aged the first col­lec­tion of pro­fes­sional prospects signed by the Mar­lins. They played in the Class A New York-Penn League as the Erie Sailors. Now Fredi is in his se­cond sea­son as Mat­tingly’s third-base coach, with new own­er­ship this time but the same old mis­sion of rein­vent­ing the wheel, or the di­a­mond, or some­thing.

Palm Beach County is blessed with four ma­jor league train­ing camps, with the St. Louis Car­di­nals and Washington Na­tion­als in­cluded. Some­times they will be good and some­times they will be bad but re­ally, did any­one ever guess that any two of them would ar­rive at spring train­ing as if touch­ing down from en­tirely dif­fer­ent plan­ets?

Funny thing is, Hinch can prob­a­bly re­late to what Mat­tingly is deal­ing with now. Hinch was fired in 2010 af­ter los­ing 123 of 212 games as the man­ager of a last-place Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs team over parts of two sea­sons. When any or­ga­ni­za­tion goes through a re­boot, there is much dirty work to be done, and some­body has to do it.

The Astros won’t spend any time wor­ry­ing about Mi­ami, though. They are fo­cused on be­com­ing the first re­peat World Se­ries cham­pi­ons since the Yan­kees, Jeter’s Yan­kees, strung to­gether three in a row from 1998-2000.

“We be­lieve in this team,” Hinch said. “We feel like we’ve made it bet- ter. It’s hard to make a team like last sea­son’s bet­ter, but our front office did a re­ally good job of ad­dress­ing some holes.”

The Mar­lins’ front office, of course, vol­un­tar­ily blew holes through a ros­ter that fin­ished 77-85 last year and trailed the Na­tion­als by 20 games in the Na­tional League East. The over­all idea is to strengthen the farm sys­tem and even­tu­ally send a cadre of cham­pi­ons to the ma­jor league level, but that grand no­tion must be­gin over the next six weeks in Jupiter with Mat­tingly scram­bling just to find start­ing pitch­ers to send out there in 2018.

“There’s a lot of guys we’re look­ing at,” Mat­tingly said. “There are non-ros­ter guys that are com­pet­ing for that spot. There are guys that were here in the past, and young guys that are just com­ing aboard.”

Pitch­ers and catch­ers and dream­ers. They’re all back and work­ing in Palm Beach County, and they’re all think­ing there’s way too much to be done be­fore spring train­ing ends in late March. PHILADE­PHIA — Mi­ami Heat guard Dwyane Wade was shaken by Wed­nes­day’s trag- edy at Stone­man Dou­glas High in Park­land. Wade’s sons go to school in Broward County, in­clud­ing Zaire, who at­tends Amer­i­can Her­itage in Plan­ta­tion.

Wade a nd Heat coach Erik Spoel­stra of­fered their thoughts and prayers to all of those af­fected Wed­nes­day by the shooting in which 17 peo­ple were killed and more in­jured when a for­mer stu­dent re­turned to the school and opened fire.

“Any­time some­thing that hap­pens any­where in the world, it’s sad and a lot of spec­u­la­tion on why,” Wade said. “I think as a par­ent, you al­ways fear for your kids leav­ing the house, pe­riod. But one of the safest places is school.

“It’s very un­for­tu­nate, all the fam­i­lies deal­ing with the un­known of what’s go­ing on with their kids, our prayers go out to them. The fam­i­lies that have been af­fected by this in­ci­dent, our prayers go out to them; it’s so un­for­tu­nate.”

Wade’s wife, ac­tress Gabrielle Union, sent a mes­sage through so­cial me­dia say­ing, “Like thou­sands in South Florida, we sent the boys to school in Broward County this morn­ing ... there are no words to de­scribe the de­spair, hor­ror & anger. This does not have to be our col­lec­tive re­al­ity. How many more? How many chil­dren must not make it home?”

A som b er Spoel­stra opened his pregame me­dia ses­sion be­fore Wed­nes­day’s game in Philadel­phia by ad­dress­ing the shooting.

“I’d like to just say our thoughts and prayers to all the stu­dents and fam­i­lies and teach­ers, ev­ery­body in Park­land that’s suf­fer­ing from just an in­cred­i­bly tragic and ab­so­lutely sense­less act,” Spoel­stra said. “It’s hor­ri­fy­ing; as we’re find­ing more in­for­ma­tion about it, I just want them to know we’re think­ing about them. It makes this game feel to­tally in­signif­i­cant. And it’s just mind-bog­gling.”

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