Mattingly back; Eddy Alvarez talks Olympics

August 14th, 2021

MIAMI -- After watching his ballclub from afar for nearly two weeks, manager Don Mattingly rejoined the Marlins for Friday's series opener against the Cubs at loanDepot park. Mattingly, who had been fully vaccinated since April, tested positive for COVID-19 on July 31.

The 60-year-old Mattingly said he first started feeling something during the July 30 game against the Yankees. When he took his temperature the next day -- something he had been doing on a daily basis since the pandemic began -- he had a fever for the first time. His mild symptoms of a fever and headache lasted for a couple of days.

"Did take the doctor's recommendation," said Mattingly, who isolated from his wife and kid. "I work out in the pool a lot. Try to get out there every day, work out, keep myself active like that. Other than that, what do you do in your house for 10 days?"

What Mattingly did was watch broadcasts of Marlins games. He was able to pick up on facial expressions that could provide insight into how a player might be doing. Mattingly remained hands-off, letting acting manager James Rowson put together the lineups -- something he had already been doing.

"It's really weird being gone and really just watching the club play ... you know everyone, and you know a lot of the personalities and what's going on in some way shape or form behind the scenes," Mattingly said. "It's a different way of watching your team. But definitely that gets old really quick. Once you start feeling better, it's like those last eight days are like, 'OK, let's go. I'm ready to go.'"

During Mattingly's absence, the Marlins went 4-8 in games against the Yankees, Mets, Rockies and Padres. The 44-year-old Rowson, who interviewed for the Red Sox's managerial job last offseason, is seen as a future skipper. He found the extended look in the role to be a valuable and rare experience. Rowson didn’t find the game speeding up on him, but he noted the difference between making a suggestion as the bench coach and being the one to make the decision.

"As far as the managing question goes, I always say, in those situations, you always just look for if it's the right situation for yourself, and if it's the right fit,” Rowson said earlier in the week. “It's not anything I'm chasing, it's just something that if the time is right and it's the right situation, and things fit, those things you would always consider. But as soon as this is done now, we'll lock in and we'll get back to focusing on the job at hand."

Welcome home

The Marlins hosted two-time Olympian and farmhand Eddy Alvarez on Friday night. Alvarez became the sixth athlete -- regardless of country -- to medal in a Winter and Summer event when USA Baseball earned silver at the Tokyo Games. He also won silver in the 5000-meter relay as a member of the United States Olympic speed skating team in Sochi in 2014.

Alvarez, who kept a diary of his Olympic experience for, arrived in the United States on Monday. It has been a whirlwind since. He appeared on NBC's "TODAY" and MLB Network before coming home and visiting youth ballplayers. Prior to Friday's game, Alvarez interacted with former teammates on the field. The Marlins later aired a video package honoring him.

"I've been recognized a little bit more," Alvarez said. "I guess that comes with the title of being the sixth person ever to do what I did, but it's an absolute honor. At the end of the day, I just want them to know that I'm just a regular guy. I went to the same high school that a lot of my peers and my best friends went to here in Miami -- Christopher Columbus High School, and I eat the same Cuban food that they go to. La Carreta, Versailles, Sergio's. It's been unbelievable, the welcome that I've gotten, the warmth and the love that I've received."

The 31-year-old Alvarez, who made his Major League debut for the Marlins on Aug. 5, 2020, is an infielder for their Triple-A Jacksonville affiliate. He will rejoin the Jumbo Shrimp next week with the ultimate goal in mind: returning to The Show with the Marlins.

"The fact that my son [Jett] gets to actually experience it for the first time," Alvarez said. “When he was born last year, he never really got to get the ‘coming-to-a-stadium-and-watch-his-dad-play experience,’ so I would love to be able to get back up here and get my son to watch the game."