Rojas' HR in return from illness holds up

August 22nd, 2020

One has to wonder how much Marlins shortstop missed the game of baseball. If you base it on Friday’s 3-2 win over the Nationals, Rojas missed it -- big-time.

Rojas, who had been sidelined since July 26 because of COVID-19, returned with a game to remember. He collected two hits and drove in all three runs for Miami with a second-inning homer that proved to be the game-winner and helped snap the Marlins’ five-game losing streak.

“It was a huge boost to help us out, get us on the board,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We have been struggling to score runs. We haven’t played with a lead for a while. It’s good to get [Rojas] out there. You feel his presence, as far as being that guy on the field. He is kind of running the show out there. It’s good to have him back and his energy back.”   

There was no score when Rojas came to the plate against left-hander Patrick Corbin with runners on first and second and two outs in the second. Rojas had a hitter’s count of 2-0 and hit a monster home run over the left-field wall. As he was rounding the bases, Rojas had a big smile on his face that said, “I’m back.” 

“I felt great,” Rojas said. “I felt a roller-coaster of emotions. I’ve been watching the game on TV and cheering on the boys through Twitter. I’m glad that I got a good pitch to hit in my first at-bat and hit a homer to put us ahead.”

Rojas acknowledged that he missed the game, but he had to be quarantined for several days. For more than a week, Rojas was under the weather and couldn’t do much. After he felt better, Rojas went to his batting cage and worked hard. 

“I didn’t feel great physically, but at least I was doing something after I got dismissed from the hotel,”  Rojas said.

Rojas was not done contributing after his home run. He would collect a single in the seventh inning off Corbin but was left stranded at third base.

The game Rojas had on Friday night doesn’t tell the whole story. Mattingly will be the first to tell you that Rojas’ work ethic is off the charts. The skipper should know. The two have worked together since their days with the Dodgers in 2014, when Rojas was a rookie.

Rojas is one of those players who makes his coaches smile. They feel he is getting the most out of his abilities. Whatever the team is getting from Rojas, it feels like he is giving maximum effort.

“He worries about being better and better,” Mattingly said. “He is a great example for our guys. I think you feel him out there and guys respect him.”

The Nationals made it a one-run game in the third inning when right-hander allowed a Trea Turner home run, Washington’s second solo homer of the night. Hernandez and four Marlins relievers combined to hold the Nationals scoreless over the final six innings, however, lifting Miami’s record to 10-9.