MIAMI -- Casual Friday is taking on a whole new meaning for the Marlins and the rest of Major League Baseball for the next few days with the launch of Players Weekend.When it comes to catchy nicknames and sporting bright colors, the Marlins were all-in for the inaugural weekend, where
MIAMI -- Casual Friday is taking on a whole new meaning for the Marlins and the rest of Major League Baseball for the next few days with the launch of Players Weekend.
When it comes to catchy nicknames and sporting bright colors, the Marlins were all-in for the inaugural weekend, where players can relax their normal dress code and express themselves in unique ways.
"It's fun," said right-hander Dan Straily, aka Rojo. "It brings a little different light to what's going on around baseball, these really loud jerseys. Having fun with last names. Guys having loud colored bats, different shoes and stuff. It's all for fun. I'm glad it's three days and not just one. So at least we have a chance to enjoy it. We'll probably be tired of it on Sunday and be ready to go back to our regular uniforms."
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Marcell Ozuna is "The Big Bear," Giancarlo Stanton "Cruz," Christian Yelich "Yeli," Miguel Rojas "Miggy Ro," Tyler Moore "T-Mo," and Brad Ziegler "Unicorn."
Ozuna started being called Big Bear shortly after he signed as a teenager with the Marlins. A native of the Dominican Republic, bear in Spanish is "oso."
A scout pinned the nickname on him.
"He said, 'Why do you eat so much?'" Ozuna said. "I said, 'I'm like a bear.' From that day, they put that as my name. 'Hey, Big Bear.' I like it."
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Rojas didn't want to go with simply Miggy, because that's what Jose Cabrera of the Tigers often goes by. Out of respect for his fellow Venezuelan countryman, Rojas went by Miggy Ro.
"I didn't just want to be Miggy because of Miguel Cabrera," Rojas said. "I really like the way he plays. He is one of the greatest hitters in this time. I put Miggy Ro, so I can be myself."
For his tribute patch, Rojas makes reference to his "abuelo" or grandfather, Rafael. As a child, grandpa Rafael, was Rojas' first baseball coach, and he helped introduce him to the game.
"It's cool," said manager Don Mattingly, aka Matt. "All weekend, the uniform things are encouraging. I know it's fun for guys to wear something different.
"The Big Bear, I like that one, with Ozuna. Most of them are kind of common. I've seen, T-Mo, Yeli, ones you use."
MLB and the MLB Players Association adopted Players Weekend for the next three days, allowing players to express themselves in a way they aren't seen the rest of the season.
The tribute patches also allow players to recognize those who have helped them in their paths to the big leagues.
"For me, it means a lot," Ozuna said. "Sometimes the players have to have fun - different coloring with their jerseys. It's something you can enjoy."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.