Opening day is right around the corner and Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond may have given everyone a preview of what they can expect to see on the first day of the regular season. The starting lineup for Sunday’s spring training game against the Cardinals may have been the exact same one trotted out against the Washington Nationals on April 1st according to Joe Frisaro at MLB.com. Ricky Nolasco who started the game has already been declared the Opening Day starter. Placido Polanco was at third base and batting second after missing several weeks with a back injury and Giancarlo Stanton was inserted in the third spot having just returned from competing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
-In a somewhat surprising move, batting in the cleanup spot and “protecting” Giancarlo was second year catcher Rob Brantly. The lineup around Stanton will likely be constantly shifting and relatively weak all year. Nicholas Rossoleti over at mlbreports.com expects this to negatively impact Stanton as pitchers avoid throwing him fastballs and exploit his free swinging tendencies with breaking balls. Personally, I would bet that Giancarlo realizes the change early on and becomes a more patient hitter.
-Speaking of Stanton, he and Steve Cishek spoke to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post about how playing in the WBC affected their preparation for the regular season. Stanton felt the players are thrown into pressure situations too early in their preparation while Cishek enjoyed being in a playoff type atmosphere.
-Undeniably, the atmosphere at Marlins Park was electric all week for the WBC and every game felt like a playoff game. MLB Executive VP for Business, Tim Brosnan, gave Marlins Park exuberant praise in a piece by Juan Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel. He called it the “right host for this mix of clubs you couldn’t imagine a better ballpark in a better city.” He also inexplicably praised Marlins president David Samson for some reason even though to me the only positive thing Samson did was stay out of the way and keep his mouth shut for once.
-Finally, over at Fish Stripes a post by henrylouisgomez takes a look at how the overlap of Miami Heat games on the same nights as Marlins games early last season may have had negative consequences for attendance at Marlins Park. He also notes that the schedule for this season calls for the same overlaps to occur.
It is debatable whether or not “line-up protection” has any real impact on a hitter, but I think it would be erroneous to say pitchers won’t take a look at the on deck circle to see who is coming up next when Giancarlo Stanton is at the plate this season. Who do you think would be the best option to hit behind Stanton this season?