38 lineups? Marlins looking for runs
Miami Marlins first-year manager Mike Redmond isn't one to make out mock lineups while riding in a taxi, during dinner at a restaurant or in the middle of night.
''I try not to think about it all the time,'' Redmond said, flashing a wry grin. ''I've saved that fun for when I get to the ballpark.''
He uses the word ''fun'' facetiously. The Marlins rank last in the majors in runs, batting average, slugging percentage and homers, which is why they have the NL's worst record.
They do lead the league in one category: Redmond has tried 38 batting orders in 40 games, which made Wednesday's game against Cincinnati unusual, because the Marlins went with the same lineup for the second night in a row.
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton's absence due to a hamstring injury has hurt continuity, and seven players have been tried in his cleanup spot. Five have batted leadoff, seven have hit second, and a whopping 11 players have batted in the No. 7 spot.
The only constant has been a lack of runs. The Marlins went into Wednesday night averaging 2.8 runs per game, lower than the franchise record set in 1994. The team batting average of .222 would also be a record.
''We definitely have some guys that are struggling,'' Redmond says. ''We need guys to step up. It's not something you need to tell them. They look up there on that big board and can see where they're at. We know we're capable of more offense than this.''
Feeble offense isn't a shock in the wake of owner Jeffrey Loria's latest offseason payroll purge, which ravaged the roster. Miami is battling Houston for the worst record in the majors while relying heavily on veterans near the end of their career and youngsters expected to provide a foundation for the future.
This season has quickly become a tryout camp, and on Wednesday rookies Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna batted third and fourth for the second game in a row. Both have fared well in brief stints, with Ozuna hitting .300 after 13 games and Dietrich batting .400 after four games.
''I'm excited to be out there in the lineup and try to contribute every day,'' Dietrich says. ''Wherever they want me to hit I'm going to treat the at bat the same way. Hopefully I'll get the job done.''
If he doesn't, he probably won't bat third for long. Redmond expects to keep tweaking.
''Tomorrow could be a totally different lineup,'' he says.
One change is assured, with catcher Jeff Mathis starting Thursday for the first time this season. That will make it 39 lineups in 41 games.