During Friday’s media day, players and coaches for the Miami Marlins didn’t sound at all like a team who finished 24 games under .500 last season. Instead, they sounded like a team confident of one thing: earning a playoff berth.
Why does a team with just seven winning seasons in its 30 season history feel that way? Well, it starts with a pitching staff led by reigning Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara, the return of speedster Jazz Chisholm Jr. and offseason moves that brought in AL batting champ and second baseman Luis Arraez along with veteran shortstop Jean Segura and pitcher Johnny Cueto.
“They all want to win. I played with Johnny Cueto in 2014 and 2015, one of my favorite teammates,” said first-year manager Skip Schumaker. “Arraez, what stood out to me in our first conversation was ‘I’ll play anywhere’ so that was exciting and Segura was in a World Series last year and all he wants to do is get back to a World Series.”
Segura was signed in the offseason from the divisional rival Philadelphia Phillies while Cueto, who has not had a winning record as a starter since 2016, signed after spending last season with the Chicago White Sox. He’s expected to take the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Alcantara – a spot that was held by Pablo Lopez until he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Arraez.
“When you add two of those hitters, table setters that get on base at a really high clip, you add a different dynamic to the lineup that takes a little bit of pressure off other guys in the lineup,” said first baseman Garrett Cooper, who batted .261 last season and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career.
The most anticipated moment of spring training will be the return of Chisholm, who was placed on the cover of the MLB The Show video game this year after being diagnosed with a lower back sprain in mid-June and missed the remainder of the 2022 season as Miami finished with a 69-93 record.
“It’s always disappointing when you’re watching the team lose and watching the news saying it’s because you’re not playing,” he said. “You’re just seeing a downfall from where your injury started, so it was really hard.”
After starting his career with the Marlins in the infield, Chisholm will move to center field this season thanks to the arrival of Arraez.
“As long as he’s 100 percent ready to go and play center, he’s one of the best athletes in the league,” Cooper said. “He’s electric as a baseball player and personality too. He’s going to make that transition.”
Chisholm also did not hold back when asked about the team’s mindset for the upcoming year.
“We’re going to win. That’s our mindset. Our mindset is just to go out there and do what we have to do,” Chisholm said. “As we built ourselves in the offseason individually, when we come together in spring training, that’s when we build as a team.”
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