Marcell Ozuna Q&A: Offense much improved in first full MLB season

Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna has hit 20 home runs and 80 RBIs this season. 

Steve Mitchell/Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna has knocked 20 homers and driven in 80 runs in 2014 — his first full season in the big leagues.

Those are comparable to Milwaukee Brewers’ Carlos Gomez (21 HR/67 RBI) and Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen (22 HR/74 RBI).

Ozuna earned his call-up last May for an injured Giancarlo Stanton, but saw his season end in July after he broke his thumb diving for a ball. This spring, he won the job over prospect Jake Marisnick and has since played in all but two of Miami’s 142 games.

Recently, FOX Sports Florida’s Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) caught up with Ozuna to talk about baseball’s importance in the Dominican Republic, his improvement at the plate and more…

FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: When did you start playing baseball?

MARCELL OZUNA: When I was 12.

FSF: Is it sort of true that everyone in the Dominican Republic ends up playing baseball?

OZUNA: Yes. When everybody has kids the younger kids are put in baseball because they need more money. Sometimes the kid doesn’t like baseball.

FSF: Where have you seen the most improvement for yourself this year on the field?

OZUNA: Offense. It has been impressive this year because I do the same I did in the minor leagues hitting home runs, help the team with RBI driving in runs. A lot more this year.

FSF: Who nicknamed you Oso the Big Bear? What’s the origin? (‘Oso’ means ‘bear’ in Spanish)

OZUNA: Because I was in High A and when I made a Twitter I put the ‘Big Bear’ because they kept calling me ‘Ozo, Ozo, Ozo, Ozo.’ I put the Big Bear and I got that nickname.

FSF: And it stuck with you.

OZUNA: Yea.

FSF: That throw last week that sailed into the dugout. Have you accidentally done that where it got away from you?

OZUNA: It was a little… I tried to throw to home plate and then I saw I didn’t have a chance and thought it was easier to throw to third. The ball got released.

FSF: Did that ever happen when you were younger?

OZUNA: No. Every time I throw I try to hit the cutoff.

FSF: What’s been your favorite play as a big leaguer whether it be a throw or a hit?

OZUNA: I like everything.

FSF: How do you like playing center field? I remember during spring training you said you didn’t mind as long as you were playing.

Stanton matches record

OZUNA: It’s the same thing. I like it because (Giancarlo) Stanton, (Christian Yelich) and me help out a lot, talk a lot. ‘Move that way. You got that one. This guy.’ We help each other.

FSF: How do you feel about your first full big-league season? Last year you got hurt and were struggling.

OZUNA: It feels good because they trust me and give me the opportunity. I have to take it.

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.