MIAMI -- When the Marlins open a three-game series with the Padres on Friday at Marlins Park, fans will get to see a different side of the players. You'll recognize the faces, but the names on the back of the jerseys may not be the same.MLB and the MLB Players
MIAMI -- When the Marlins open a three-game series with the Padres on Friday at Marlins Park, fans will get to see a different side of the players. You'll recognize the faces, but the names on the back of the jerseys may not be the same.
MLB and the MLB Players Association are introducing the inaugural Players Weekend Friday through Sunday, when players will have the opportunity to have a nickname placed on the back of the jerseys made by Majestic Athletic as well as a tribute patch on their sleeve. They'll also wear and use uniquely colored and designed spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catcher's masks and bats.
Players will also sport specially designed caps by New Era and unique socks from Stance. During pregame workouts and postgame interviews, they will wear T-shirts highlighting a charity or cause of their choice.
• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com
Most of the Marlins will have something other than their last names on their backs. Here's the rundown on the nicknames and the tribute patches.
Don Mattingly: "Matt"
Known as "Donnie Baseball" during his glory days playing for the Yankees, the Marlins manager is going with the shortening of his name, "Matt," this weekend -- the earliest nickname he can remember from his youth playing days.
Tribute patch: Pete Studer -- Studer was Mattingly's Little League coach who worked with Mattingly's father in the post office. "He was the guy at church every Sunday that said, 'I want tickets when you get to the big leagues,'" Mattingly said. "I went 'Yeah, yeah, whatever.' You never think about it until later. It was funny, because obviously I end up with the Yankees and Pete was from Yonkers, so it was pretty cool I was able to do that."
Dee Gordon: "Varis Strange"
The son of former MLB pitcher Tom "Flash" Gordon, Dee's full name is "Devaris," or Varis, for short. Varis Strange is a tribute to his late mother, Devona Denise Strange.
Tribute patch: Devona & Uncle Nick, Annie, Gwen, Aran, Chop, Heavy D, Tuck, Flash, Gene Clines, Studdy, Lo Bundy, Davey Lopes, Perry Hill -- Gordon's thoughts are with his family and several of his current and former coaches who have helped him reach his big league dream.
• What you need to know for Players Weekend
J.T. Realmuto: "JT"
Rather than go with his last name, Jacob Tyler Realmuto will go by what he is regularly called, JT.
Tribute patch: Mom & Dad, My Family, God -- Consistent with his personality, Realmuto is sticking to the basics, recognizing his loved ones and his faith.
Mike Aviles: Using last name
The backup infielder won't need much adjusting to his jersey. He is sticking with the traditional look.
Tribute patch: Mom & Dad, Jessy & Kids -- Aviles' parents, wife and children will be on his mind and his sleeve.
Marcell Ozuna: "The Big Bear"
"Oso" is Spanish for bear, and Ozuna has long adopted the nickname. The Marlins even had a Big Bear promotional T-shirt earlier in the season.
Tribute patch: Mi Familia, Mama y Papa, Mi Dios Amen Positivo Siempre -- In Spanish, Ozuna is recognizing his family, parents, God and positivity.
A.J. Ellis: "Dad"
A father of three, "Dad" is not only what he's called at home, but also a nod to his status as one of the oldest players on the Marlins.
Tribute patch: Mom & Dad, My Wife -- Like several of his teammates, Ellis has his loved ones on his mind.
Tomas Telis: Using last name
The backup catcher who is getting some time at first base is staying traditional.
Tribute patch: Papa y Mama, Hermanos y Hermanos, Mi Gorda TyM -- The Venezuelan native is appreciative of his parents and his siblings.
Miguel Rojas: "Miggy Ro"
Rojas is keeping his nickname short and to the point.
Tribute patch: Venezuela Abuelo Norma's -- A native of Venezuela, his thoughts are with his country and his grandfather.
Justin Nicolino: "Nico"
Short for Nicolino.
Christian Yelich: "Yeli"
Around the team, you hear him referred to Yeli more than you do Christian.
Tribute patch: Mom -- Although she lives in California, Yelich's mom attends a number of games throughout the season.
Dustin McGowan: "D-Mac"
When your last name starts with an Mc, chances are you will have some sort of "Mac" nickname. This one speaks for itself.
Tribute patch: Mom & Dad -- From Ludowici, Ga., McGowan hasn't forgotten his roots or his upbringing.
Junichi Tazawa: "Taz"
The players and coaches call him Taz, which makes for an easy nickname.
Tribute patch: Mom & Dad, Brothers, Teachers -- A native of Japan, Tazawa is keeping his family and those who helped give him guidance growing up in his thoughts.
Giancarlo Stanton: "Cruz"
Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton is the slugger's full name. His mother calls him Cruz.
Tribute patch: Dad -- Since he's honoring his mother on the back of his jersey, Stanton is recognizing his father, Mike, on his sleeve.
Tyler Moore: "T-Mo"
Combining his first initial and first two letters of his last name is catchier than Tyler.
Tribute patch: Whitney, Mom & Joe, Dad & Dena -- Appreciating and thinking about his loved ones.
Brad Ziegler: "Unicorn"
In Spring Training, because Ziegler was getting into shape on his own schedule, and rarely around the rest of the team. Justin Bour jokingly coined the nickname "Unicorn," because the players didn't see him much, so they didn't know if he really existed.
Derek Dietrich: "Dietz"
On social media, you'll see his fans spell it "Deets." But keeping in line with the spelling of his last name, we'll see "Dietz."
Tribute patch: Family, Steve Demeter, Friends -- The late Steve Demeter, a former player, Minor League and MLB coach and scout, was Derek's grandfather.
Vance Worley: "Vanimal"
When Worley showed up at Long Beach State as a 17-year-old freshman on a team full of 20-21-year-olds, he needed to put in the gym time to bulk up and hold his own. His strength and conditioning coach coined the name "Vanimal;" however at least one player starts the nickname in every clubhouse he's been in. He loves the name, but he swears he doesn't ask anyone to call him that. It just happens naturally.
Tribute patch: Fam -- Family will be on his mind when he puts on his uniform.
Kyle Barraclough: "Bear"
His name is often mispronounced, so it's been simplified. On his bio page, the correct pronunciation is "bear claw" The twist is, he's often called "Claw" by his teammates and coaches. He's going by "Bear" this weekend.
Tribute patch: God, Tyler & Cory, Mom & Dad -- Recognizing his family and those closest to him.
Brian Ellington: "Elli"
Another player going by a variation of his last name, keeping it short and obvious.
Tribute patch: Mom and Dad & My People Back Home -- From Gainesville, Fla., Ellington is giving a shoutout to those back home.
Ichiro Suzuki: "Ichi"
Since "Suzuki" is one of the most popular last names in Japan, during his playing days there he was cleared to put "Ichiro" on the back of his jersey. When he joined MLB in 2001, he asked and received permission to do the same. "Ichi" is even shorter.
Tribute patch: Blank -- Ichiro often does his own thing.
Dan Straily: "Rojo"
Because of his red hair, he's been dubbed "Rojo," red in Spanish.
Adam Conley: Using last name
Nothing fancy with Conley. He's staying on point and treating the weekend like any other.
Tribute patch: MA PETE 25 PARD -- Conley is thanking his mother, father and a former pitching coach, Pete Wilkinson, a friend of pitching guru Tom House. "He worked with me really hard, not only on the baseball aspects but as far as the responibility of being a man and taking care of the game the right way," Conley said. "He was kind of the first person out of my family that really challenged me in those ways and is honestly like family to this day." The coach and his mentee still see each other every year.
Jose Urena: "El Nueve"
"The Nine" in Spanish, "El Nueve" is a greeting used between friends in the Dominican Republic.
Jarlin Garcia: "Jarlin The Marlin"
Having a first name that rhymes with the team name offers the perfect opportunity to play off words. Garcia liked the sound of it, hence, "Jarlin The Marlin."
Tribute patch: Genesis, Mabel, Dios, Abreu y Belkis -- From the Dominican Republic, Garcia is thinking of his loved ones.
Drew Steckenrider: "Steckasaurus"
Teammate Brian Ellington, along with other fellow Minor Leaguers drafted at the same time, anointed Steckenrider with the dinosaur-themed epithet. As they've climbed the ranks, the name has traveled with them. "Who didn't like dinosaurs growing up?" Steckenrider said. "When Ellington came up with it, I was like, 'Oh yeah, that works, that's an awesome nickname.'"
Odrisamer Despaigne: 'Mili-Pino'
The nickname, which Despaigne will wear during a rare Major League start on Saturday, is a combination tribute. Mili is his wife's name, and "Pino" is a nickname his family calls him.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.