Mar­lins ‘in a good spot’ as spring train­ing be­gins

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS -

By Steven Wine MI­AMI » Speak­ing Tues­day at Mar­lins Park, Derek Jeter said he was about to jump in the car and head down to spring train­ing, even though the Mi­ami Mar­lins’ camp is ac­tu­ally up in Jupiter, 90 miles north on In­ter­state 95.

Now in his fifth month on the job, Jeter ac­knowl­edged he’s still find­ing his bear­ings as the Mar­lins’ CEO.

The team opens camp Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing a Jeter-led fire sale that purged the bat­ting or­der of four starters, in­clud­ing NL MVP Gian­carlo Stan­ton. The trades net­ted mostly prospects, mak­ing the im­me­di­ate out­look even bleaker than usual for a team that hasn’t been to the play­offs since 2003.

But be­fore head­ing to his first spring train­ing since his fi­nal sea­son with the New York Yan­kees in 2014, Jeter said his own­er­ship group is on the path to long-term suc­cess.

“We’re in a good spot,” Jeter said. “We are do­ing ex­actly what we set out to do.”

A beloved five-time World Se­ries cham­pion in New York, Jeter is now a rookie owner who has been faulted for his han­dling of the Stan­ton deal and other off­sea­son moves.

But Jeter said he has been en­cour­aged by the re­cep­tion he has re­ceived from the South Florida busi­ness com­mu­nity. It helps that his group bought the team from the wildly un­pop­u­lar Jef­frey Lo­ria.

“Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, we’ve got­ten a very warm wel­come from in­di­vid­u­als and cor­po­ra­tions who have reached out and said they want to be a part of this jour­ney,” Jeter said. “Peo­ple un­der­stand that there needed to be some change here.”

The same is true around base­ball. Jeter said he has been pleas­antly sur­prised by “the ad­vice and sup­port and well wishes I’ve got­ten from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions. It’s kind of awk­ward, be­cause you’re used to try­ing to beat those guys. Now it’s, ‘If you ever need any­thing, let me know.’ I kind of think I’m be­ing tricked.”

Jeter’s lat­est move was to hire for­mer NBA ex­ec­u­tive Chip Bow­ers as pres­i­dent of busi­ness op­er­a­tions. Bow­ers, who spent five years as chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer for the Golden State War­riors, blames the Mar­lins’ peren­ni­ally poor at­ten­dance on los­ing and ros­ter turnover.

“I think it’s very short­sighted for peo­ple to say this is not a base­ball mar­ket, be­cause it has gone through a lot of change, and when there’s change it’s hard to cre­ate sus­tain­able en­thu­si­asm,” Bow­ers said. “That’s why I’m here. It’s ob­vi­ous to me that from the ground up, Derek is go­ing to build a world-class or­ga­ni­za­tion at ev­ery level.”

Jeter, who has the fi­nal say on busi­ness and base­ball de­ci­sions, won’t be hands-on at spring train­ing. He said he’ll visit camp on oc­ca­sion but won’t be on the field and has no urge to swing a bat.

On other said:

— He in­tended to keep Stan­ton un­til the slug­ger said he didn’t want to be part of a re­build­ing. “We planned all along mov­ing for­ward with him,” Jeter said. “What changed is he didn’t want to be part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. He pre­ferred to be moved.”

— Own­er­ship has added in­vestors since the pur­chase of the team in Oc­to­ber. Jeter de­clined to pro­vide de­tails. “This is a well-cap­i­tal­ized own­er­ship group. If we don’t add an­other in­vestor, ev­ery­one is fine.” topics, Jeter


Mi­ami Mar­lins base­ball team CEO Derek Jeter talks with the me­dia dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at Mar­lins Park in Mi­ami, Tues­day.

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