Entering year two in center field, Chisholm's confidence sky-high

March 6th, 2024

JUPITER, Fla. -- It’s safe to say that believes in Jazz Chisholm Jr.

It’s Wednesday morning at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. The Marlins center fielder has that swag in his step. He is not afraid to say that 2024 will be his best year to date. To do that, however, Chisholm must have an injury-free season for the first time in his career.

Last year, Chisholm had two separate stints on the injured list. He missed 38 games from May 14-June 25 with turf toe (right big toe) and 21 additional games from July 3-30 with a left oblique strain. Despite being absent for a lengthy period, Chisholm hit 19 home runs, drove in 51 runs and stole 22 bases in 97 games.

Was his first 30-30 season within grasp had he stayed healthy?

“I think that’s what everybody talks about, right? Sure, you can imagine [what could have been]. Until you do it, you imagine it,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “You have to prove that you can do it for 140, 150 [games]. Until then, it’s just an [imagination]. Those are predicted numbers. Prediction and [reality] are different. When you have 140 [games], you see if it’s real.”

This is how serious Chisholm is about not spending a day on the injured list: His daily McDonald’s trips are over. He hired a chef and it’s about eating right. He even has a personal physical therapist. According to Schumaker, Chisholm spent part of his offseason with former big leaguer Matt Holliday and talked about the art of hitting.

“This is the first year I actually put in my off-the-field efforts. This is the year for me to be healthy and doing all that stuff. A healthy Jazz is an MVP Jazz,” Chisholm said. “… If I play the games, it would be 30-something home runs. I just don’t play the games. This year I want to play healthy.

“It’s my first time even thinking about doing [off-field] stuff [with my body]. I’m taking care of my body. … I’m getting my right routines in after the game. I go home and be with my own private doctors. I work out every day now. I literally go and lift [weights] every day.”

This is year two of Chisholm playing center field for Miami. Talk to him about playing the position, one would have thought he was on his way to winning his first Gold Glove of his career. Remember, this is the same guy who made the switch from shortstop to center field at the start of last year. In the beginning, he looked lost. He had problems with fly balls going over his head, but as the season progressed, he looked more comfortable being one of the leaders up the middle.

“I feel like I’m an actual center fielder this year,” Chisholm said. “Last year, I was a shortstop. I’m a center fielder and it’s easier now. … You just keep working. That’s all it is. The more you work on it, the better you get. Really, you need the in-game reps. That’s all it is. Now that I’m a center fielder, I think I can win a Gold Glove. I’m confident in myself and I know I can play baseball.”

Even Schumaker sees the difference in Chisholm when it comes to playing the outfield.

“He progressed quite a bit compared to last year at this time,” Schumaker said. “Right now, it’s a complete 180. He didn’t know what he was doing [last Spring Training]. He was just being athletic and talented out there. Now he has an understanding how to be a leader out there -- moving the outfielders. [Center field] is a leadership position. I think he is becoming one of those guys out there, being more comfortable.”

Luzardo gets hit hard
Marlins left-hander , slated to be the Opening Day starter on March 28 against the Pirates, had an outing on Wednesday afternoon he would like to forget. He allowed five runs (four earned) in 3 2/3 innings in a 9-3 loss to the Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

Luzardo was off to a good start by blanking Washington during the first two innings, but he would then allow homers to Luis García Jr., Victor Robles and Dylan Crews.

“I was leaving the pitches up. The execution wasn’t there. That’s what it really boils down to,” Luzardo said. “It was executing and staying focused the full four innings. Next time, I have to stay locked in for two more innings."

Luzardo was not as sharp throughout because of the bad weather during the early part of the game.

“I would be lying if I said it didn’t [affect me],” he said. “It’s unfair to myself. It’s unfair to my teammates that mentally I was not fully there even with the rain and all that. No matter the circumstances, you should always be ready to go. … It’s not an excuse. It’s unacceptable even in Spring Training.”