Group chats 'pump up' resilient Marlins
The Marlins were taking batting practice on Thursday at Wrigley Field when they were informed that Game 2 of their National League Wild Card Series with the Cubs had been postponed until Friday.
For a Miami team that has pretty much experienced it all already, waiting another day with an opportunity to clinch a series was no big deal.
This resilient Marlins club has withstood 18 players testing positive for COVID-19, used 61 players and finished the regular season playing 28 games in 24 days.
“MLB makes that decision on what they think is going to happen,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “They’re trying to be fair to both clubs, the starters, and all those kinds of decisions. We basically took a little BP, some ground balls, and there’s not much more you can do. Just go back to the hotel and staying in the bubble.”
The way the Marlins handled the day was pretty much how they’ve dealt with every day. They stayed connected through their group chat.
Started by the veterans in the offseason as a way to welcome in newly acquired players prior to Spring Training, the team has leaned on each other’s words of inspiration to make it through an unprecedented season.
“In the group chats, there’s always guys saying something every morning,” first baseman Garrett Cooper said. “Just to pump us up. To give us a little more adrenaline. To keep everyone on the same line. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. It’s everyone going with the right train of thought.”
Miguel Rojas, the team leader, has been a driving force in the group chats.
“It’s been a thing since we started the year,” Cooper said. “We started it up in the beginning of the offseason to welcome the new guys. To have a daily thing so we can voice what we want as a team together. It’s just a daily thing to kind of amp us up, each day, each morning, to get ready for that day.”
Win the day has been a team mindset. And if players have something on their minds, they can express themselves in the chats.
The chat alerts were buzzing frequently on Thursday, as the team wondered what was next. The club ultimately learned it would be playing at 2:08 p.m. ET on Friday after the Padres defeated the Cardinals in Game 2 of their NL Wild Card Series.
“It’s been what we’ve been dealing with all year,” Cooper said. “Tell us where and when, that’s been the mantra before the season. We’re not surprised by anything that’s happened this year.”
Status quo for Starling
An extra day off allowed center fielder Starling Marte to receive more treatment on his left pinkie. The 31-year-old had a splint fitted for his finger, which has a small non-displaced fracture. The Marlins started Magneuris Sierra in center field for Game 2, with Marte’s status still unclear.
The Marlins remain hopeful Marte can play in some capacity in the series. And if Miami advanced, he could return in the NL Division Series against the Braves, who are moving on by eliminating the Reds.
“We’re just trying to keep the swelling out,” Mattingly said of Marte’s hand/finger. “He got splinted yesterday. The training staff hasn’t come to me today to say there is a huge difference or he’s ready to play, anything like that. Still, we feel like there’s going to be things that he’s going to be able to do during the game.”
Fan of bat flips
Fernando Tatis Jr. had a couple of memorable bat flips during his two-homer game in the Padres' Game 2 NL Wild Card Series win over the Cardinals on Thursday night.
Cooper was asked about his thoughts on bat flips.
“You hear so much about it, about the old baseball rules, the unwritten rules about what guys should and shouldn’t do,” Cooper said. “If you hit a home run, I’m all for it. Do whatever you want to do. But if the pitcher strikes you out, be ready for what he’s going to do. It’s a big social media frenzy nowadays, with bat flips and pitchers walking off the mound.”