It turns out that Diamondbacks reliever Heath Bell made his return to Marlins Park on Thursday night, not for last night’s series opener. According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, Bell said that he took in Thursday’s Reds-Marlins game from the stands.
The D-backs arrived in Miami in the wee hours Thursday morning and Bell took a cab to Marlins Park, bought a ticket at the window and sat and watched the Marlins battle the Reds. After struggling mightily with the Marlins last year, Bell was heavily booed when he would come in to pitch and he expects a similar reception this weekend, but Thursday he sat among the fans in peace.
Why go to a baseball game on your day off?
“Why not go to the game?” Bell said. “Just bought a ticket and stayed low key. I didn’t wear a hat. I think with a hat, people would have recognized me more. We always watch games, but it’s just different to watch the game in the stands. Watching a game from the stands is just completely different from what we usually do. It’s almost like you want to go play, but you can’t. You have to wait a day.”
In all fairness, Heath, it’s easy to go unrecognized when nobody is around you.
While Bell did put a few dollars in Jeffrey Loria’s pocket on Thursday, the Marlins are paying $4 million of his $8.5 million salary this season. That technically makes him the team’s second-highest paid player behind right-hander Ricky Nolasco.
The entire Marlins roster will wear the number 16 on the backs of their uniforms in remembrance of pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident on Sunday morning. After that? “No one will wear No. 16 for the Marlins again,” team owner Jeffrey Loria said on Monday evening, as Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reports.
Though Fernandez only pitched parts of four seasons for the Marlins, he already ranks fifth in career WAR in club history, according to Baseball Reference. He also owns the best career winning percentage as well as the second-lowest single-season ERA (2.19 in 2013) and the second-lowest single-season WHIP (0.979 in 2013). Fernandez was already one of the best pitchers in Marlins history and was on his way to becoming a perennial All-Star, if not a Hall of Famer.
Then add to that his outstanding personality and what he meant both to the Marlins organization and to the city of Miami. Loria has gotten a lot of criticism over the years, but he nailed it with this decision.
As Craig mentioned earlier, the Marlins will all wear No. 16 jerseys to honor pitcher Jose Fernandez, who tragically died in a boating accident on Sunday morning. It’s a fitting tribute as the Marlins return to the playing field after Sunday’s game was cancelled.
We don’t often hear about the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on during these special circumstances. As Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports, workers at the Majestic manufacturing facility in Easton, PA — about two hours north of Philadelphia — stayed up all night Sunday night into Monday morning in order to make those custom No. 16 jerseys for the Marlins. They were shipped via air so they would arrive in time for the game tonight.
FanGraphs writer Eric Longenhagen notes how hard those Majestic employees work — often for low pay :
Kudos to Majestic for making a concerted effort to help the Marlins out in their time of need.