Marlins players reunite at Celebrity Golf Classic before hitting the diamond
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Major League Baseball players spend nearly everyday together over a nine-month period. And then, once the offseason arrives, they scatter around the world for vacation and family.
As the morning rain postponed tee time at Wednesday’s Jack McKeon Marlins Celebrity Golf Classic at Crandon Golf Course, new and old teammates got the chance to mingle before hitting the diamond. Two days remain before Miami Marlins pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter, Florida, for the start of spring training. The first full-squad workout comes on Tuesday.
At one table, All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton, Gold Glover Christian Yelich, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and right-handed reliever A.J. Ramos welcomed newcomer Dee Gordon. They played against Gordon in 2014 when the Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers met, but they all didn’t know him.
"It’s always great," Saltalamacchia said. "You get to know each other during spring training anyways, but it’s nice to get a face and name together. Usually in the clubhouse you talk about stuff and remember what so-and-so did when he almost hit you with the golf ball at the seventh hole. It’s pretty cool."
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During the Marlins’ Ayudan Week, players get to hang out at various stops in the South Florida community in more relaxed settings.
Earlier in the week, right-hander Mat Latos teamed up with closer Steve Cishek and right-hander Tom Koehler at the Florida Panthers game. First baseman Michael Morse and Latos stopped by for a radio hit on Tuesday.
All-Star third baseman Martin Prado reunited with former teammate Jeff Baker for Wednesday’s round of golf. Both Prado and Baker played for the Atlanta Braves in 2012.
Acquired from the New York Yankees in a December trade, Prado socialized with some of the team’s Latin players like shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, infielder Donovan Solano and center fielder Marcell Ozuna before the weather cleared.
"I played against probably half the team, so I know a couple guys pretty well," Prado said. "It’s always exciting to meet new people and just knowing there’s a lot of talent. And just to be here — play against my former team (in the Braves), a lot of friends. Can’t wait to get to spring training and get to know everybody."
Manager Mike Redmond, who underwent Achilles surgery in December, wasn’t partaking in the round of golf but did greet players and staff.
Other than right-hander Dan Haren and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, he has met all the newcomers. Miami had a busy offseason by adding Haren, Suzuki, Latos, Gordon — even lesser-known guys like right-handed reliever Aaron Crow and infielder Miguel Rojas.
"I’m filtering around," Redmond said. "A lot of new faces, which is good. It’s a great group of guys. I know the players — in talking to them — are really excited. I think that’s what you want. You want them to be ready to go and excited for the upcoming season. They’ll do a great job of welcoming the new guys and making sure that they understand what we do and how we play. It’s going to be fun to get going."