Ng talks Rojas, Sandy, López; Clemente Day

September 15th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Marlins shortstop entered Wednesday's series finale against the Nationals just nine plate appearances away from activating his vesting option for 2022.

Could the Marlins look to extend Rojas beyond his current contract, like they did before the end of the 2019 season?

"First of all, we're really excited that he's going to vest," general manager Kim Ng said on Tuesday at Nationals Park. "In terms of an extension, probably not going to characterize any discussions if they exist."

How vital is it to have a player like Rojas, who not only produces on the field but also serves as an ambassador for the ballclub?

"I think for our organization, it's really important," Ng said. "That's an emphasis that [CEO Derek Jeter] has brought here from day one. He wants this organization to be a pillar of the community, and I think it's really helpful that Miguel embraces Miami. Miguel lives not in Miami proper, but very close. I think that's huge for the organization. If all players had Miggy's character and outlook, we'd be ecstatic."

Here are a few more tidbits from Ng:

Any prospects stand out on her trips to the Minor League affiliates?
Last week, Ng spent a couple of days watching Triple-A Jacksonville and saw No. 30 prospect Payton Henry up close for the first time. The Marlins acquired the 24-year-old catcher at the Trade Deadline from the Brewers for reliever John Curtiss.

Henry entered Wednesday with a slash line of .197/.293/.409 in 21 games for the Jumbo Shrimp. He played just 19 games with Triple-A Nashville in Milwaukee's system before joining the Marlins organization.

"It was good to see him and at least lay eyes on him," Ng said. "I would definitely rely on everybody else's eyes who have been with him every day before I would rely on my own. But it was good to see what he looked like."

Ng previously visited Double-A Pensacola, but she isn't planning a trip to High-A Beloit before the end of the season.

Is there a big decision coming up, based on how Sandy Alcantara is pitching?
Alcantara, who is making a strong case for the Marlins to extend him, has a 1.55 ERA in his past seven starts. He is also nearing his preseason goal of 200 innings for the season, and his 188 2/3 innings pitched ranks third in the Majors entering play on Wednesday.

"It's a great thing, and I think the thing that we see is, again, he turned it up a notch,” Ng said. “It's not to say that he wasn't trying every day before that, but it just seems like he's [on a] a little bit different level here. He's put himself in a great spot. We're all eyes wide open, and we're really excited for him."

With Pablo López's shoulder history, how cautious do you have to be relying on a 1-2 punch of Alcantara and him?
"I think you have to be aware,” said Ng. “You have to be aware and cognizant. We have to figure out, is there anything during the offseason that we can do to help him? Is there anything in his offseason training or conditioning? And then as we get into the spring, what should that look like? All of that's going to be evaluated."

Honoring a legend
Wednesday marked Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor the late Hall of Famer’s legacy as a humanitarian. On the 20th annual Roberto Clemente Day, MLB also announced that Sept. 15, which is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, will be celebrated as Roberto Clemente Day in perpetuity.

Marlins infielder , who was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, called it “an honor” to wear Clemente's No. 21 for the series finale at Nationals Park. Díaz had the opportunity to visit the Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh two years ago, and he even tried on a jacket the Puerto Rican-born Clemente once wore.

"It was crazy for me, honestly, to finally be able to go in and know just a little bit more, and kind of just see everything, and all the artifacts they had, especially the piece of the plane they still had left over," Díaz said. "Just stuff he wore, a bunch of other stuff they had that were old, they still had in the museum. It was obviously a special day, something that I'll never forget."