Gurriel, Iglesias 'right where they need to be'

Newly signed infield duo makes spring debut for Marlins

March 14th, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. -- Three days after signing Minor Leagues deals, and made their Spring Training debut for the Marlins in a 9-3 loss to the Mets at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on Monday afternoon.

The pair was ready to play in a Major League exhibition game so quickly because after signing Friday, they received a combined 10 at-bats this past weekend in Minor League spring games.

Against New York, Gurriel, 38, went 1-for-3 before being replaced by pinch-runner Nasim Nuñez. Gurriel’s lone hit was a single to center field off Mets right-hander Stephen Nogosek in the sixth inning.

Iglesias, on the other hand, played four innings and went hitless in two at-bats against Mets right-hander Tylor Megill, but he also had three assists and one putout on defense.

“We have to go up there, see pitches and work the count,” Iglesias said. “We will continue to work on timing. … I felt pretty good at the plate. I missed a few balls, but that’s normal. … Each and every day, it’s going to get better.”

Both players will have a day off on Tuesday and get back into game action Wednesday against the Nationals. After Thursday’s off-day, Miami will determine how often Gurriel and Iglesias will play the rest of the spring.

“It’s all about timing for them right now -- defensively and offensively,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “A lot of players are in mid-spring season form, and [Gurriel and Iglesias] are just starting out. All things considered, … they are right where they are supposed to be right now.”

Gurriel, who won World Series titles with the Astros in 2017 and '22, is trying to make the team as part of a platoon with Garrett Cooper, who is the only first baseman on Miami’s Major League roster.

“I’m very happy with the dynamic of the team,” Gurriel said through interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. “I’m feeling a little strange, but it’s a matter of working. I was off the field for a bit. … It was a little better than what I was hoping for. Yes, I do have to make some changes with my routine to speed up the process and get ready for Opening Day.”

Iglesias, 33, had a solid season with the Rockies in 2022, and he will battle with Joey Wendle, Jon Berti and Garrett Hampson for the starting job at shortstop.

Iglesias said he is proud to wear a Marlins uniform because he lives in the Miami area with his family.

“This is my home. My kids are excited to watch me play every night,” Iglesias said. “I’m looking forward to playing for the Latin community. … I’m very excited about what is going on in this clubhouse and the staff they put together.”

Schumaker and his coaching staff have to make a decision in a couple of weeks about how the Major League roster is going to set up for Opening Day, which is March 30 against the Mets at loanDepot park.

“You look at the history of both of those players [Gurriel and Iglesias], they are legit big leaguers,” Schumaker said. “The older guys know what it takes to get ready. They take all spring to ramp up. They know what they need to do. Now it’s two weeks [before Opening Day]. The concern is -- for me -- just how much playing time do you give them without having to push them and then feeling they have to be pushed … because they are trying to fight to make a spot or make an impression with just two weeks left.”