Halfway through their homestand of 15 games in 11 days, Marlins manager Don Mattingly faces a daily challenge of trying to keep players as fresh as possible.
It’s a tough task, especially with the regulars absorbing the brunt of the game volume.
On Wednesday, center fielder Starling Marte was not in the starting lineup for the first time since he was acquired from the D-backs on Aug. 31. The reason: He’s worn down.
“He’s a little beat up,” Mattingly said, not giving anything specific. “We’re having a little collateral damage probably from all of those games that we’ve played in a short period of time with Philly.”
The Marlins opened their homestand with an unprecedented series of seven games in five days against the Phillies. Marte played in each of those, including two doubleheaders.
Monte Harrison started in center field on Wednesday against the Red Sox. The Marlins hope to get Marte back in the lineup on Thursday for their series finale against Boston.
“We’ve got some things we want to stay on top of,” Mattingly said of Marte. “I hate taking him out of the lineup at any time.”
In 16 games since the trade, Marte is hitting .266/.288/.484 with three home runs and 11 RBIs.
While the 2020 season has been reduced to 60 games, Marte has played in 49 games, counting his 33 with Arizona. That’s more than the Marlins as a team. Miami played its 47th game on Wednesday.
The Marlins are in the process of making up about a weeks’ worth of games postponed early in the season when they dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak. The Marlins play a series with the Nationals this weekend that will include doubleheaders on Friday and Sunday.
“It’s not worth the risk of [Marte] playing with a little something, and that turning into something bigger, and we’re missing him for five, six games,” Mattingly said. “Hopefully, we can give him a day today, and he’s right back out there tomorrow.”
Hispanic Heritage Month
Miami is labeled the Gateway to the Americas, and the Marlins organization has been observing Hispanic Heritage Month.
The Marlins began the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Saturday with Comunidad305 Celebration. The virtual pregame event celebrated the Hispanic culture of South Florida and featured special messages and participation from Marlins players, Marlins alumni and local heritage leaders.
“Miami, in itself, is basically part of the Caribbean,” said infielder Sean Rodríguez, a Miami native. “I take a lot of pride in that.
“Both of my parents were born and raised in Cuba. They came over between the ages of 9 and 12. My uncles, my aunts, my grandparents -- all born over there. Me and my siblings are first generation, born here in Miami.”
The virtual event also included musical performances by the Marlins Pachanga Band, Leslie Cartaya and the Homestead-Miami Mariachi Conservatory. Fans can catch the replay of the event at marlins.com/events.
The celebration continues this weekend at Marlins Park with additional performances by the Marlins Pachanga Band and Leslie Cartaya.
Neidert ready for any role
Without a Minor League season, the Marlins’ alternate training site has become a multipurpose facility.
Along with getting the players there ready for a potential call to the big leagues, it’s a place where many of the organization’s top prospects are developing.
“We’ve got the best hitters in the org there,” Neidert said. “It’s fun facing Encarnacion, JJ Bleday, Devers and guys like that.
“They really challenge you every single time they get in the box. You have to be creative in ways to get them out. Yeah, it’s a scrimmage, intrasquad game, but there is that competition factor. I want to get you out, and you want to hit me. It’s really good in-house competition.”
Neidert was reinstated from the injured list Sunday. In building up, he was at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter.
The rookie is an option as a long reliever or spot starter. He could start in one of the doubleheader games against the Nationals on Friday or Sunday.
“It was really good, honestly, being in Jupiter,” Neidert said. “They have a lot more technology there you can use. You get to break down a little bit more video, and get your mechanics going on different pitches.”