Marlins resume play with revamped roster

August 5th, 2020

The Marlins’ season had been on hold since July 26, so having Tuesday's start time pushed back about 40 minutes wasn’t that big of a deal.

The reason for the short delay was the Marlins awaiting their COVID-19 test results. Once all those tests came back negative, at around 4:30 p.m. ET, Major League Baseball cleared the club to report to the ballpark.

“We’ve been tested daily for the last 10 days,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said via Zoom. “Most of the times, those results come back in the morning. Our results from yesterday’s testing were delayed. We were just waiting for clearance from Major League Baseball. About 4:30 we got clearance from Major League Baseball, and we reported to the field.”

The Marlins and Orioles opened a four-game series at Camden Yards on Tuesday.

Miami enters the series with a vastly different roster from Opening Day. With 18 players testing positive for coronavirus, the Marlins officially placed 11 players on the injured list on Tuesday: right-handers Sandy Alcantara, Jeff Brigham, Robert Dugger, Yimi García, Nick Neidert and Ryne Stanek; left-handers Adam Conley and Caleb Smith; catcher Chad Wallach; and infielders Sean Rodríguez and Miguel Rojas (8/4).

“We knew we needed to get to work, and we made the trades, we made the claims,” Hill said. "Luckily, we had depth in our system to help absorb some of the IL placements. We’re excited to be back on the field.”

As replacements, the Marlins announced the following moves:

Recalled right-handers Jorge Guzman, Justin Shafer and Jordan Yamamoto; left-hander Josh D. Smith; and outfielder Monte Harrison. Reinstated outfielders Lewis Brinson and Matt Joyce from the IL.

Selected the contracts of left-hander Dan Castano, right-handers Josh A. Smith and Nick Vincent, catcher Ryan Lavarnway and infielder Eddy Alvarez. With second baseman Isan Díaz electing not to play, Jonathan Villar went from playing center field to shortstop.

Harrison, acquired from the Brewers as part of the Christian Yelich trade, is Miami’s No. 9 prospect. He started in center field on Tuesday and hit ninth in his Major League debut. He struggled offensively, striking out in each of his three at-bats, but showed off his skills in the field with a sparkling catch in the Marlins' 4-0 win.

“Monte is a exciting player,” Hill said. “We wanted to have an opportunity to get him to the big leagues. With Isan opting out, just the flexibility of our roster, we knew that Jonathan Villar, we’ve seen him play the infield. We know he can fill in at shortstop. So it created an opportunity in center field. It was a perfect opportunity to make sure that when a young prospect comes up, he will have the opportunity to play and get at-bats. We’re excited to see what Monte will do getting that opportunity.”

Adhering to protocols
Chief executive officer Derek Jeter noted that the organization is getting another opportunity to return to the field after having games postponed since July 26 due to the club’s coronavirus outbreak.

With the Marlins on the road for the next three series, the organization is under tight orders to strictly adhere to the health protocols when it comes to wearing masks, social distancing and leaving the hotel.

“Moving forward, obviously, MLB has upped the protocols, and they made some changes to the protocols, and we have as well,” Jeter said in a Zoom call. “We just can't make any mistakes, that's the bottom line. We've been given an opportunity to hit the reset button. Moving forward, we just cannot make any mistakes here.”

The protocols were addressed by the front office and the coaching staff in a conference call.

“We had a call earlier, and [Hill] outlined even stricter protocols,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Just emphasized that we need to be better. We have to social distance, and everything you can possibly do. We just have to do it.”

Since the Marlins had no issues with COVID-19 during their three-week Summer Camp, the organization feels the traveling party may have gotten a little comfortable.

“Within our whole party, anybody who is traveling with us, anybody who is with us at the hotel or anywhere else,” Mattingly said. “Obviously, we weren't as good as we could have been. We've got to take care of ourselves, and hopefully this is a little bit of a lesson to the rest of the league on how dangerous this is.”

Taxi squad
Three players are being carried on the taxi squad -- right-hander Humberto Mejia, Miami’s No. 23 prospect; switch-pitcher Pat Venditte; and catcher Brian Navarreto.