'It's nasty': Jazz takes BP vs. Sandy's best stuff

February 19th, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. -- vs.  

The Marlins' top pitcher and top position player squared off during the first live batting practice of Spring Training on Sunday morning at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. 

"For me when I was a player, I wanted to face the best guy," manager Skip Schumaker said before the matchup. "You're not supposed to get a hit off Sandy, so when you get a hit off Sandy, you're pretty excited where you're at."

Chisholm fouled off Alcantara's middle-middle offering before taking the next four pitches. With Alcantara scheduled to throw five pitches apiece to five batters, the intense bout ended on what Chisholm said was a 3-2 count. 

"Sandy looks exactly how he always looks: like a Cy Young," Chisholm said. "His stuff is electric. It's nasty. He's just having fun out there."

Sunday presented both players with the opportunity to work on things.

As the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, Alcantara would like to increase his curveball usage from 0.3 percent in 2022 to 10-12 percent in '23. He plans to spend the early part of camp working on the pitch, deploying the same grip but being more aggressive with it.

Besides Chisholm, Alcantara went up against Austin Allen, Joey Wendle, Jon Berti and Garrett Hampson.

"Everything was good, trying to do my best," said Alcantara, whose fastball hit 97 mph. "First live BP in Jupiter. I threw a couple before, and I feel really good. Everything was there. Fastball command was there, breaking ball. Everything was good. I don't Iike to face my own teammates, because they don't want to swing early against you. It's part of the game. That's your job. You've got to go outside, face your teammate, throw your best stuff and compete against them."

As the MLB The Show 23 cover star, Chisholm has waited eight months to face live pitching again. Since last appearing in a game on June 28, he has been rehabbing a stress fracture in his lower back and recovering from right knee surgery. 

On top of that, the All-Star second baseman is learning to play a new position in center field.  

"I felt like it was good," said Chisholm, who also faced Trevor Rogers. "No swings and misses. That's what I planned the first day: no swings and misses today [against] everybody. And especially to face Sandy, that's who I really wanted to face today.

"It's great. You get to learn yourself, see yourself and understand like, 'OK, it's Sandy.' And then when you face other guys -- Sandy's the Cy Young, he's the best pitcher in the league -- so you face other guys and you realize, 'OK, I understand why Sandy is Sandy and these guys do what they do.' You go and face other guys from other teams, you feel comfortable. When you face Sandy, it's just like, 'Dang,' you know?"

Though the first full-squad workout isn't until Tuesday, there was a buzz on the back fields with front-office members, prospects Eury Pérez and Sixto Sánchez and projected starter Edward Cabrera, among others, eager to watch Miami's ace face its rising star.

The Marlins' success in 2023 hinges on Alcantara's and Chisholm's health and performance.

"It makes me feel really good," Alcantara said. "I was [a] part of them a couple years ago. I got to go outside and watch Jose Ureña and the other guys throw live BP. It's something that I own, because the time that I have in here, the progress, discipline, the hard work and all the stuff, I love when they go outside and watch me do my job, because they try to learn something from me."