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.”