The Marlins’ new ballpark is a hitter’s haven

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OK, so maybe it’s a small sample size, but the Yankees topped the Marlins 10-8 in the first major league game played at Marlins Ballpark on Sunday.

With the roof closed on an 85-degree day, Derek Jeter lined the very first pitch of the game from Ricky Nolasco into right field for a double, setting the tone for the day. There were 26 hits in all, including the first homers of the spring for the Yankees’ Nick Swisher and the Marlins’ Gaby Sanchez.

Fortunately, the nightmare sculpture in center field, which will open a portal to Hell for 15 seconds with each Marlins homer during the regular season, wasn’t operational for this one.

Apart from that, the new park received mostly positive reviews, though one player wasn’t so happy with his day at the beach: “That infield out there is like running in sand,” Swisher said after the game.

Expectations were that the park would suit pitchers better than hitters, particularly with the roof closed, as it’s expected to be most of the time. But while that still might the case, it certainly didn’t hold true today. CC Sabathia gave up three runs in his four innings of work, and Mariano Rivera, pitching the fifth, allowed a run in a spring training game for the first time since 2008.

The Nats want Trea Turner to attempt 75-80 stolen bases this year

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When it comes to cliche spring training stories, we talk a lot about “Best Shape of His Life.” Sometimes we talk about the “[Pitcher] has been working on a changeup” or “[Hitter] has made an adjustment to his swing” stories too. Then there’s the “we’re really going to focus on fundamentals” quotes managers love to give in February and March. They’re evergreens. 

Another one in that category is the “we’re going to run more” or “we plan to be aggressive on the base paths this year.” You hear that from at least one or two managers every spring. I imagine because, like the fundamentals one, it deals with something over which they have at least some moderate control. It’s a good quote.

We’re hearing it from Nats training camp this year with respect to one particularly speedy player in Trea Turner. From Mark Zuckerman at MASN:

Davey Martinez called Trea Turner into his office this week and told the speedy shortstop he wants him to attempt more stolen bases this season. How many? Let’s just say even the ultra-aggressive Turner was taken aback.

“Yeah, he gave me a number,” Turner said. “And I was like: ‘Wow, all right.’”

Martinez later revealed to assembled reporters that he thinks if Turner “attempts 75-80, we’ll be in great shape.”

Turner led the National League with 43 stolen bases on 52 attempts in 2018. The year before he attempted 54, which was his career high. Only only four players have attempted 80 or more stolen bases in the past ten years, so yes, 75-80 would be quite the escalation.

Which is not to say it’s silly. On a very basic level, yeah, if he is stealing bases more often, even without changing his basic approach, the Nats WILL be in great shape because it’ll likely mean that he’s on base more, and that’s good. If it’s merely a matter of him being more aggressive in the same number of times on base, well, let me know, but I’m not holding my breath.

I guess it’s nice to have goals, though.