According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel, the Marlins will be contacting the league office after the Red Sox declined to bring any of their established regulars to Palm Beach for Thursday’s spring training game.
While teams are supposed to bring at least four “regulars” to road spring games, the rule has always been flouted and seemingly more so than ever these last couple of years. That’s especially true during the first couple of weeks of spring games, when many regulars play just every other day anyway.
The Red Sox on Thursday started just one projected regular: rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. In fact, he was the only guy in the lineup who figures to make the team at all. 2013 backups Ryan Lavarnway and Brandon Snyder were present, but they’re unlikely to be on this year’s Opening Day roster. The starting pitcher was Allen Webster, who is probably the team’s eighth starter in reality.
It’s hard to see how the Marlins have much of a leg to stand on here, though, if they do contact the league office. They’ve thus far played four road games, but the first of those was in their home park (they share Roger Dean Stadium with the Cardinals). In their three actual road games, they’ve brought along four starters just once:
March 1: Christian Yelich, Casey McGehee
March 2: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marcell Ozuna
March 5: Rafael Furcal, Marcell Ozuna, Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee
Their one draw, Giancarlo Stanton, has played in all four home games this month, but he hasn’t made any trips.
The truth is that many teams are going this route more and more frequently, and it’s not a bad thing if the Marlins and some other clubs do raise a stink about it and maybe force MLB to take some action. Spring games might be a whole lot cheaper than the regular-season contests, but they’re still expensive enough that fans should have some expectation of seeing players they’ve heard of. If the league started fining teams that didn’t bring a few regulars for its trip, the practice would likely end in a hurry.
UPDATE: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes that the Red Sox could face a possible fine for not bringing enough regulars to the game. However, such a punishment would not be announced.