WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Move to a new position, and the game has a strange way of finding you. J.T. Realmuto discovered that in a hurry at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.Realmuto is being introduced to first base this spring, offering a right-handed-hitting option for left-handed-hitting Justin Bour.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Move to a new position, and the game has a strange way of finding you. J.T. Realmuto discovered that in a hurry at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Realmuto is being introduced to first base this spring, offering a right-handed-hitting option for left-handed-hitting Justin Bour. In the Marlins' 4-2 win over the Astros on Saturday, it didn't take long for the 25-year-old from Oklahoma to get involved in the action.
The first batter, George Springer grounded to third, and Brian Anderson threw across the diamond to Realmuto for the routine out. The next batter, Marwin Gonzalez, gift wrapped a slow roller to Realmuto for an easy, unassisted second out.
"I was fist pumping after I caught my first out," Realmuto joked. "That was nice to get that first one out of the way. Then the second batter hit that little dribbler. Probably the easiest ball I'll get all year. It started off pretty good for me."
Realmuto played five innings, and handled all of his plays without much difficulty.
Marlins starter Scott Copeland worked three perfect innings, followed by clean innings from Junichi Tazawa and Kelvin Marte.
So, Realmuto didn't experience having a runner on base.
"There was a lot more time in between pitches," Realmuto said. "I kind of caught myself staring in the crowd a little more. It was pretty good today. Our pitcher did a great job today, quick pace, and getting guys out. It was actually an easy day at first base for me."
The Marlins are giving Realmuto a look at first base for a couple of reasons. They don't have a natural right-handed option for Bour, and secondly, if he can make around 20 starts at the position, he can still get his at-bats without going through the rigors of the daily grind behind the plate.
Realmuto is scratching the surface on becoming one of the game's top catchers. Last year, in 137 games, he batted .303/.343/.428 with 11 homers, 48 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
His Fangraphs WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 3.5 was tied with Wilson Ramos for third highest among all MLB catchers. Realmuto paced his position with 12 stolen bases and a .357 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play).
"A guy like J.T., he's such a good athlete," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "To ask him to be really, really good over there, I think then you'll have to give him some time. But what we're asking is for him to be comfortable. Make the plays you should make, and don't try to do anything over the top. These guys can handle it."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.