MIAMI — Jarrod Saltalamaccia leaned back in his chair in the Marlins clubhouse to take in a little baseball before getting to work.
On the big screen?
The Boston Red Sox home opener, in which the franchise unveiled yet another banner for its World Series win in 2013.
Saltalamacchia, who played for the team from 2010-13 and was part of last season’s triumph, received an invite from the Red Sox, but could not attend the ceremony for obvious reasons.
"They wanted me to come today, but I wouldn’t have gotten back in time for my game," the Marlins catcher said.
Saltalamacchia did not get a chance to watch the pre-game ceremony, as he was working on hitting. But he said he came across a photo of the white gold ring adorned with rubies, sapphires and diamonds that he willl eventually receive.
But Saltalamacchia hardly seemed upset by missing the festivities, insisting he’d be watching a game regardless, trying to pick up tendencies of hitters.
"You try and take it from wherever you can take it — if it’s watching from the side or from TV, you see how hitters react," Saltalamacchia said. "You can learn from every different angle. For me, when I am in the game, I think I see things more. I see how pitches move and how a guy reacted to it. I can learn more from that aspect of it. I’ll take something out of everything."
Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria will bat leadoff for the Marlins on Friday, something manager Mike Redmond envisions as a part of Miami’s future plans.
"I believe that … if this guy hits, this guy has a chance to win a Gold Glove," Redmond said. "He’s that good. He means so much to our ball club. He can really run. We talked about it last year, I ultimately envision him at the top of the order, whether it’s first or second in the order with his speed and ability to steal bases. He can be a real weapon."
Hechavarria’s promotion came in part because he has been hitting well despite being slotted in the bottom of the order, and left fielder Christian Yelich has struggled against southpaws.
Yelich will have the night off. Reed Johnson will start in left field.
"It worked out perfect tonight that we can lead [Hechavarria] off," Redmond said. "Hopefully he’ll go out and have a big night, get on base four times and score some runs for us."
Jose Fernandez has a goal for Saturday when he makes his second start: Throw more strikes. At least that is what his grandmother, Olga, would like to see.
Of the 94 pitches he threw on opening night, 73 (78 percent) were strikes.
"Throwing strikes is amazing," Fernandez said, "Sometimes they go away. So when they’re there, you have to use them."
Could Fernandez actually throw more strikes to please his Abuela?
"I think so," he said. "We’ll see what we can do for her."
Redmond said utility player Ed Lucas’ surgery to repair a non-displaced fracture went well and he’s in shape to do a number of baseball related activities, except catching and swinging a bat.
The Marlins expect to make a decision regarding Rafael Furcal in the next couple days before they head out on the season’s first road trip.
"I’m expecting him to go out and start playing when we go on the road," Redmond said. "How long will it be? That’s up to him. He really didn’t have a spring training. We’re going to want to see him go out there and run and get an extended amount of at bats, that’s for sure."
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I could never bunt, but I always showed it because it’d just draw them in a couple steps and it would be a hit for me. That’s kind of the thinking. But he can actually bunt. And actually run. He can beat a ball out. I couldn’t." — Redmond, comparing his bunting skills with Hechavarria.
During Redmond’s pre-game press conference, the Marlins manager stopped for a long, almost terrified pause when he witnessed what appeared to be a ball hitting Fernandez’s hand during batting practice. "Jose just got jammed. I don’t remember what I was saying. I got really nervous there for a second," Redmond said.