Alfaro endures injury scare in spring opener
JUPITER — Four innings into the spring training season, disaster nearly struck for the Marlins.
In Saturday’s Grapefruit League Opener, Cardinals third baseman Jedd Gyorko popped a lazy foul ball near Miami’s dugout and Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro took off running.
One of the team’s key offseason acquisitions, Alfaro lost track of the dugout and collided full-speed with assistant Trey Hillman and the dugout rail, hammering his knee and leaving him down on the ground.
While Marlins fans waited a few minutes with bated breath, the 25-year-old not only emerged on his own — but re-entered the game.
“I’ll be fine,” said Alfaro, who grounded out in his one at bat. “I was running to the ball, “[The players] were yelling at me, but I didn’t hear it. I got my eyes on the ball and I tried to catch it. I didn’t know how far I was from the fence, but I’ll be good.”
“It was pain, but I just wanted to breathe a little bit and get some water...I always like to finish what I start. They [wanted to take me out], but I said ‘I want to keep playing’. It doesn’t matter [that it’s spring training], it’s a game. You have to win and compete.”
Acquired from the Phillies in the J.T. Realmuto trade, Alfaro exited the game, which Miami lost 11-1, in the fourth inning in a scheduled move. For the Marlins, seeing their catcher go down was a startling sight.
“[It] was pretty scary,” Rojas said. “It was really his first time playing on this field. He didn’t know the dimensions of the ballpark
and the first game is always hard. Your heart is racing. We’ve been playing baseball for 20 years and it’s like that same feeling — every first time, you feel like you’re going 100 miles per hour.”
Sandy solid in debut
Getting the start against his former team, Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara was solid in his season debut. The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings, giving up one hit, one walk, while striking out three on 31 pitches — 22 of which went for strikes.
In a promising sign, the 23-year-old’s fastball hovered between 96-98 MPH on the afternoon.
“My fastball felt really good coming out,” Alcantara said. “I prepared in my offseason, working a lot [on it].”
Acquired last year from St. Louis in the Marcell Ozuna trade, Alcantara made six starts for the Marlins in 2018, posting a 3.44 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. The right-hander is being counted on to be one of Miami’s core starting pitchers going forward.
Still, Alcantara has to earn a spot in this year’s rotation with six other players — Jose Urena, Trevor
Richards, Pablo Lopez, Caleb Smith and Wei-Yin Chen — competing for five spots.
“I feel good — I hope they give me an opportunity to be in the rotation and I hope that I’ll be there,” Alcantara said.
Victor Victor Mesa makes pro debut
The Marlins crowning achievement this offseason, highly touted Cuban signee Victor Victor Mesa made his professional debut. The top-ranked international free agent, Mesa entered the game in the sixth inning at center field. In his one plate appearance, he grounded out to short.
For Mesa, there will likely be a lengthy adjustment process before he hits the major league level. It’s been nearly two years — 23 months to be precise — since he last played organized baseball.
“I felt good for being my first game after all the time without playing,” Mesa said.
“My timing’s still off, but it’s something positive that I made contact,” Mesa said. “I’m talking about speed I’ve never seen before and I made contact with these type of pitchers.”
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara threw two scoreless innings in Saturday’s spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Marlins center fielder Victor Victor Mesa made his spring training debut Saturday against the Cardinals.