WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Marlins' offseason makeover has caused a few players to switch from being in supporting cast roles to taking center stage.Among them is first baseman Justin Bour, who is ready to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. The 29-year-old is now one
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Marlins' offseason makeover has caused a few players to switch from being in supporting cast roles to taking center stage.
Among them is first baseman Justin Bour, who is ready to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. The 29-year-old is now one of the franchise's most recognizable faces, as well as the team's most feared hitter.
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"I think each year you have to prepare the same and do what has gotten you to where you are today," Bour said. "But obviously, as things change, and as there's turnover, and new guys come in, the younger guys, they end up becoming the older guys. That's sort of the position I see myself in this year. Understanding what my role is on the team is important as I come into the season. I realize I'm not the same as I was last year."
Bour's career has progressed from being a "feel good" Minor League Rule 5 Draft pickup to an impactful big leaguer. On Tuesday, he was Miami's designated hitter, going 0-for-2, against the Nationals as the two teams tied 2-2 at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
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The left-handed hitting Bour broke in with the Marlins in 2014, and he became a regular a year later, and has handled a bulk of the work at first ever since.
In 2017, Bour belted 25 home runs and drove in 83 runs. But his production was overshadowed in a lineup that included Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich.
Now that all three have been traded, Bour's presence and personality are more prominent.
Bour's impact carries into the dugout, where he also handles the daily musical playlist in the clubhouse.
With broad taste that spans many genres, Bour has succeeded in finding something for everyone. On Tuesday, the song list included Asia's "Heat of the Moment," Toto's "Africa" and Creedence Clearwater Revivals' "Fortunate Son."
Monday had a country theme, with Billy Currington's "Good Directions" on the loop.
"I try to come with different stuff every day," Bour said. "The thing about it is, baseball players are some of the pickiest, judgmental people in the world. I was able to keep them relatively happy last year. I take some pride in being able to keep people from yelling at me and being happy with the music."
Bour has always had a passion for music. As a child, he sang in the church choir, and he was in the high school band, playing tuba and bass clarinet, although he quickly points out he couldn't play either instrument now.
"I'm not tone deaf, as they would say," Bour said.
Bour does dabble on the piano, and off Youtube videos, picked up how to play "Sail" by AWOLNATION.
"He's got a different sense of humor, a different outlook on things," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He's got a great personality."
But on the field is what Mattingly is most interested in, and Bour projects to bat fourth.
"I think we've seen, when this guy is on the field, he's dangerous," Mattingly said. "He can drive in runs, and he can hit. We've had two seasons now where little injuries, little things, turned into missing chunks of time. That hurts us."
If Bour can stay healthy, Mattingly envisions his first baseman as a 30-home run, 100-RBI threat.
It's a big if, because last season he was limited to 108 games, missing time with a right oblique strain. And in 2016, he appeared in 90 games, as he missed two months with a left ankle injury.
"I understand the player I am," Bour said. "I understand the hitter I am. I need to drive in runs, whether they put me at three all the way down to seventh, or pinch-hitting. That's kind of my job."
On a team searching for an identity, Bour is helping establish a personality. Part of it is through his play on the field and the songs he plays in the clubhouse.
"I started putting music on my rookie year, which was a bit of a [gutsy] move," Bour said. "I hated coming into the clubhouse and nothing was on. I told the guys, 'Look, I'm going to put something on, if you guys want to change it, I understand.' But this whole absolutely quiet clubhouse is just crazy. It started with that, and then it continued on into this full-time playlist."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.