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Mattingly says Alfaro's 'going to be dangerous'

@JoeFrisaro
April 13, 2019

MIAMI -- With the Phillies last year, Jorge Alfaro caught 19 of Jake Arrieta's 31 starts. On Friday night, Alfaro faced his former teammate from a different vantage point. Now the starting catcher for the Marlins, Alfaro collected two singles, and scored the lone run Arrieta allowed in Miami's 9-1

MIAMI -- With the Phillies last year, Jorge Alfaro caught 19 of Jake Arrieta's 31 starts.

On Friday night, Alfaro faced his former teammate from a different vantage point. Now the starting catcher for the Marlins, Alfaro collected two singles, and scored the lone run Arrieta allowed in Miami's 9-1 loss at Marlins Park.

In his first game against his former team, Alfaro made his presence felt on a night when Arrieta earned his 100th career win and Philadelphia seized control with a five-run third inning off Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara.

“If he will stay with the approach and the plan, he's going to be dangerous,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Alfaro. “He will swing at way more strikes, and hit a lot more pitches. He just has to stick with it daily, and stay with his work. I think he understands what we're trying to get to. I honestly think, if he sticks with it -- and he's not a kid who is afraid of anything at all. You can see it. He's not afraid of the ball in any way, shape or form. He's going to be dangerous, if he will stay with the plan and the approach on a daily basis.”

The Marlins have now dropped five straight, and fell to 3-11 on the season, but Alfaro continues to be one of the bright spots in an otherwise slow start. He’s batting .286 with an .885 OPS, while also emerging as a vocal leader.

“Baseball is all about learning,” Alfaro said. “Every day you learn about everything. I think we just had a couple of bad innings, but we battled. I try to stay positive for my pitchers, and that's all I do. I just try to communicate with them, and let them know I'm with them.”

The overriding storyline of Friday was the return of J.T. Realmuto to Miami. Alfaro was one of the centerpiece players in the early February trade that sent Realmuto to the Phillies. The Marlins also acquired pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart, along with $250,000 of international bonus money.

On a night when Alcantara gave up six runs on 11 hits in five innings, Alfaro made it clear he will always be there for his pitchers.

“They're never going to be alone on their own on the mound,” Alfaro said. “I'm going to be their bodyguard out there. Just try to stay positive for them. That's all I'm trying to do. I try to let them know the positive things, not the bad things. Just stay positive.”

Realmuto had a productive night as well, with two singles and an RBI.

Alfaro singled in the second inning, then in the seventh -- with Miami trailing by six runs -- the catcher singled sharply to center. According to Statcast, the laser up the middle was tracked at 109.9 mph.

Alfaro later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Austin Dean, who was recalled earlier in the day. The run snapped a 21-inning scoreless skid.

On a team looking for power production, Alfaro has shown he can impact the baseball. He has three of the four hardest-hit balls in play on the team -- 113.7 mph, 110.5 mph and his 109.9 mph single on Friday. Lewis Brinson also has a ball struck at 109.9 mph.

Alfaro is committed to being an all-around player.

“There's two Alfaros,” the Miami catcher said. “Whenever I'm going to hit, I'm a hitter. And whenever I'm out there for my pitcher, I'm going to be all focused on them.”

Signs of snapping out

Brian Anderson is showing some positive signs at the plate, going 1-for-2 with two walks on Friday.

After finishing fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2018, Anderson got off to a rough start this season, entering Friday night hitting .178 with no homers and one RBI.

Even Anderson’s exit velocity has been down compared to a year ago. In Miami’s first 13 games, his average exit velocity was 85.8 mph, according to Statcast, compared to 90.2 mph in his rookie season.

Signs that Anderson was snapping out of his slide initially surfaced on Thursday in a 5-0 loss at Cincinnati.

The 25-year-old went 2-for-3 with a walk at Great American Ball Park, after he had been hitless in 11 at-bats over his previous three games.

In the first inning against Arrieta, Anderson’s single was tracked by Statcast at 101.9 mph.

As for his two hits against the Reds on Thursday, both had an exit velocity north of 100 mph -- 102.6 mph off Sonny Gray in the first inning and 100.6 mph off Zach Duke in the sixth.

He said it

“He can't be tentative and be a No. 1 or a No. 2 [starter]. If you're going to be a No. 1 or a No. 2, you've got to get people. I don't care if it's the Phillies or 1927 Yankees. You've got to go get people." -- Mattingly, on Alcantara

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.