WASHINGTON -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly indicated he will continue the tradition of having a player manage one of the final games of the season in this weekend's three-game set at the Mets."I haven't decided who it would be yet," Mattingly said. "J.T. Realmuto] could be a good guy for
WASHINGTON -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly indicated he will continue the tradition of having a player manage one of the final games of the season in this weekend's three-game set at the Mets.
"I haven't decided who it would be yet," Mattingly said. "[J.T. Realmuto] could be a good guy for that. ... Let him run the show, see what it's like."
Mattingly has bestowed the honor upon a veteran in the final game of each of his two previous seasons in Miami. Martin Prado had the honor in 2016 in Washington, and A.J. Ellis followed in the 2017 finale at Marlins Park.
In both cases, the players were assisted by a staff of their fellow teammates. And while the player manager might not make up the lineup, he "pretty much runs the game," Mattingly said.
In the process, players get a view of how hard the role can be, with the occasional blunder along the way. In 2016, Mattingly recalled Prado making a double switch that resulted in shifting veteran outfielder Jeff Francouer to third base. It was his first-ever appearance at the hot corner, in the final game of his career.
"I guess I was sleeping," Mattingly said.
Two years ago today
Two seasons after the tragic death of former ace Jose Fernandez, the Marlins have intentionally made 2018 a year of moving forward with a new club. Still, Tuesday's two-year anniversary of Fernandez's fatal boating accident is a hard one for former teammates like Miguel Rojas.
"This morning, when I woke up, I was thinking about him and his family and his little girl," Rojas said.
Later, Rojas saw the Twitter post of former teammate and current Mets reliever A.J. Ramos, sharing a video of Fernandez bantering at the 2016 MLB All-Star Game.
"I broke into tears earlier," Rojas admitted. "I couldn't contain it, because I remember that day, and I remember how sad it was in the morning. It's really hard to do."
However, Nationals Park is the scene of one of Rojas' happier memories of Fernandez, when he threw a fastball recorded at 100 mph on the stadium's radar gun. In the process, Fernandez outgrew the nickname Casi Cien -- or "almost 100" in Spanish -- Rojas had given him.
"It was a chopper to shortstop, and I was playing short," Rojas recalled. "I charged, I threw to first base, and then I tell him, 'You did it.' He hugged me, and I think I've got a picture of him hugging me and putting his arm on my head."
Ian Quillen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.