COOPER CITY, Fla. -- It was a back to school day for several Marlins players and manager Don Mattingly on Tuesday morning.May is recognized as Education Month at Marlins Park, and the organization is in the midst of its Think Tank Week. A part of the initiative, Marlins players and
COOPER CITY, Fla. -- It was a back to school day for several Marlins players and manager Don Mattingly on Tuesday morning.
May is recognized as Education Month at Marlins Park, and the organization is in the midst of its Think Tank Week. A part of the initiative, Marlins players and staff have been stopping by 15 participating elementary schools in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Right-hander Dan Straily visited Griffin Elementary School in Cooper City, in Broward County.
"It's just cool to come back here, and that little bit of giving back, seeing those smiles on their faces," Straily said. "Hearing some of the questions was pretty fun. It's one of my favorite things about coming back here and having fun like that."
Mattingly and outfielder Lewis Brinson were in Miami-Dade County visiting Lorah Park Elementary. Also in Miami were Martin Prado and Starlin Castro at Sweetwater Elementary.
"As much as anything, it's cool to visit the kids in those schools," Mattingly said. "Just to be able to be at those schools and let them know the Marlins are part of the community."
At Griffin Elementary, Straily fielded questions from about 20 fifth grade students in the classroom of Lauren Ruder, the student council representative.
"I learned about time lines here at Griffin Elementary," Straily said. "They went through their Marlins' history timeline for us, and mixed in a few of my trade dates as well, to show me they did a little research on me."
Straily fielded questions, signed some autographs, took some pictures and presented the students with tickets to a Marlins' game later this month.
The Think Tank initiative offers opportunities for schools to connect to the Marlins through interactive programs.
The students at Griffin Elementary worked on time lines geared towards the Marlins growth as a franchise as well as Straily's playing career.
In Miami, math was the program the students built around.
"Part of their project was using batting averages and figuring out on-base percentages, and using that in math," Mattingly said. "A couple of them were using angles to build stadiums."
Brinson, who grew up in Coral Springs in Broward County, enjoyed the interaction with the students.
"I get a lot out of that," Brinson said. "I was one of those kids. I went to Plantation Park Elementary School in Broward County. These kids are in school all day, learning and studying. Then for me and Donnie to come in, professional baseball players, even if they don't like baseball. I know it meant a lot to them. They had some funny and interesting questions."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.