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Cubs, Marlins proud to host Parkland families

Players sport T-shirts with '#MSDStrong' during batting practice
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MIAMI -- Right after the Cubs players had completed their pregame stretch routine on Friday, Anthony Rizzo led them over to a group from his hometown of Parkland, Fla., that included one of the students who was shot last month.

The Cubs and Marlins combined efforts to host four families as well as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball team. It was a touching moment -- one of many.

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MIAMI -- Right after the Cubs players had completed their pregame stretch routine on Friday, Anthony Rizzo led them over to a group from his hometown of Parkland, Fla., that included one of the students who was shot last month.

The Cubs and Marlins combined efforts to host four families as well as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball team. It was a touching moment -- one of many.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's going to be cool and it's going to be another weird, emotional moment, but I'm happy the families came out and the baseball team is here," Rizzo said. "I'm looking forward to seeing them."

Seventeen people were killed in the shooting on Feb. 14 at Rizzo's high school. There was a moment of silence before the game to honor the victims. Photos of each of the victims was shown on the video board before three victims' families and one student who survived the shooting took part in ceremonial first pitches.

"Even if it's for 30 seconds, to come out and watch a baseball game -- hopefully it'll be a well played game, [you want to do] anything you can do to help," Rizzo said.

The Cubs players wore T-shirts with "#MSDStrong" on the front and the high school name on the back during batting practice. The Marlins and Cubs are both wearing MSD patches for the entire four-game series at Marlins Park.

Tweet from @Cubs: Can't find a better man. #MSDStrong pic.twitter.com/3wNiy4ThdG

Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, who is from Coral Springs, which is close to Parkland, took part in the ceremonial first-pitch festivities.

"I think it's very special that they're doing something for the victims, throwing out the first pitch, and just honoring them," Brinson said.

On Opening Day on Thursday, after the national anthem, Brinson said he paid tribute in his own way to Stoneman Douglas.

Video: CHC@MIA: MSD coach on baseball's importance

"I patted that on my chest yesterday, after the national anthem," Brinson said. "Being in our community, down the road from us, it means a lot to everybody and anybody living in this country who is a baseball fan. Those people that lost their lives will be near and dear. That means a lot to me, wearing that patch."

Marlins first baseman Justin Bour and Brinson paid a visit to the high school during Spring Training and talked with the baseball team.

"The main thing for me is, baseball is a family, whether it's T-ball to the Major Leagues, we're in this together," Bour said. "Baseball is a family. That's what I said to them."

Rizzo has been supporting the students in any way he can.

"These kids are keeping the message going," Rizzo said. "As far as the healing process, it's helping some. I'm sure some are hoping it goes away and goes back to normal, but I think every day as time passes, you feel [a little more normal]."

Tweet from @Cubs: .@ARizzo44 walks the walk. #MSDStrong pic.twitter.com/qi2I58UfzR

Rizzo, Brinson, Miguel Rojas, and Bour caught ceremonial first pitches and there was a check presentation of $305,000 from money raised during an auction that will go to the National Compassion Fund and be directed to help the victims' families.

Video: Rizzo excited to meet Parkland students

Rizzo, who grew up in Parkland, knew the four families there well. He spent time with the baseball team this week.

"You just want to see what's best for them," Rizzo said. "There's nothing you can say, nothing you can do except be there. that's all anyone wants to do right now."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Joe Frisaro contributed to this story.

Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo