MIAMI -- Spring Training starts in 11 days for the Marlins, but on Saturday a few players got to experience some Opening Day activities.Miami players and team representatives were located throughout Miami-Dade County in the morning taking part in youth baseball and softball opening day ceremonies.Center fielder Lewis Brinson threw
MIAMI -- Spring Training starts in 11 days for the Marlins, but on Saturday a few players got to experience some Opening Day activities.
Miami players and team representatives were located throughout Miami-Dade County in the morning taking part in youth baseball and softball opening day ceremonies.
Center fielder Lewis Brinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch to help launch the Howard Palmetto Baseball and Softball Association. And at South Miami Youth Baseball League, right-hander Pablo López and outfielder Magneuris Sierra also took part in first-pitch festivities.
Former Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, a current Fox Sports Florida analyst, represented the organization at Danny Berry's Baseball/Kendall Little League.
It's part of the Miami Marlins "Take Over Opening Day" initiative at youth baseball and softball leagues.
In conjunction with the takeover of Opening Day, more than 100 teams across 16 youth baseball and softball leagues have joined the inaugural season of the Miami Marlins Tee Ball Initiative, presented by Ultimate Software.
"This is awesome to be out here and see these kids just getting their season started," Brinson said. "Just seeing the joy in their faces that they get to play baseball."
A native of Coral Springs, Fla., Brinson grew up playing in South Florida baseball leagues.
"Definitely, I remember getting to the field and seeing all my friends," Brinson said of his young playing days. "Hanging out after the game. Getting snacks after the game. I probably looked more forward to that than the actual game.
"But just hanging out, meeting new friends. I still talk to people that I played T-ball with to this day. It's kind of a lifelong friendship."
Lopez grew up playing baseball in Venezuela, and being at the youth fields on Saturday reminded him about what the sport is supposed to be all about -- having fun.
"I remember growing up playing baseball at such a young age," Lopez said. "Seeing the excitement from them and the parents. At such a young age, you are playing to have fun. That's something we should never forget. No matter what level you're playing, you should learn to enjoy the game.
"They just want to have fun. They just want to play baseball. If the Marlins keep doing what they're doing, keep reaching out, hopefully these kids growing up will be Marlins fans and, eventually, hopefully, they can become Marlins players, just like I am."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.