Mattingly sees Miami's vets paving way for Diaz

August 21st, 2019

ATLANTA -- During his early playing years for the Yankees, Marlins manager Don Mattingly had no shortage of veteran players to help him learn the ropes in the big leagues. 

When he dealt with the tough times, Mattingly could always lean on the likes of Rich "Goose" Gossage, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Bobby Murcer and others. 

Having a strong support staff assisted in Mattingly's development. The left-handed-hitting first baseman enjoyed a stellar 14-year big league career, batting .307 lifetime to go along with six All-Star appearances, along with being named the 1985 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner.

“There was just a whole group of guys in New York that were older guys,” Mattingly said. “If you acted right, and if you handled yourself right, they wanted to help you. It’s a good thing.”

As Marlins manager, Mattingly noted Wednesday that the veterans on his current team are offering a helping hand to second base prospect, Isan Diaz, who has committed five errors in his last three starts, including two Tuesday in a 5-1 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park.

Miami veterans Starlin Castro, Neil Walker, Martin Prado and Curtis Granderson have been offering support to Diaz, the organization’s fifth-ranked prospect, who is also rated No. 84 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100.

“Those guys have been through it,” Mattingly said. “They’ve been through it. They’ve had their bad days, their bad times.”

The Marlins are giving Diaz, their second baseman of the future, the final two months of the 2019 regular season to help adjust to the big leagues. 

To accommodate Diaz at second base, Castro has agreed to play third base. 

“It’s the way it’s really been in the game,” Mattingly said. “The older guys are helping you when you first get to the big leagues. That’s what you pass down. Guys who have had some mentors in the game that have helped them out.”

As a manager, Mattingly provides the experience of once being a prized young player. 

Mattingly appeared in seven games at age 21 with the Yankees in 1982. He was a rookie in 1983 when he played in 91 games and hit .283/.333/.409 with four home runs and 32 RBIS. 

Mattingly’s career took off in 1984, when he was an All-Star for the first time, and paced the American League in batting average (.343), doubles (44) and hits (207). He was the MVP the following year.

Diaz is being given the opportunity to play through his struggles, on the field and at the plate. 

“You want when Isan overcomes this, and when he’s been in the league for a while, and you’ve got some kid coming up, he’s going to be able to talk from experience,” Mattingly said. “He hopefully will reach out and help that kid.”

Worth noting

• Right-hander Elieser Hernandez, who exited Tuesday’s loss at Atlanta due to a right middle finger blister, is tentatively scheduled to make his next start, slated for Sunday against the Phillies. Hernandez has been managing the blister for a couple of weeks, and he likely won’t throw a bullpen session.