Preview: Marlins, Cubs to honor Parkland shooting victims Friday night
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
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Friday's game between the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins figures to be about more than just baseball.
The teams will honor the 17 victims who were murdered this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day.
"This will be an emotional weekend for me, personally," said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, a 2007 graduate of Marjory Stoneman.
Rizzo and his foundation will present a check from money raised in an auction to the National Compassion Fund/Parkland. Four families connected to the shooting will throw out a first pitch, and Rizzo also invited the Douglas baseball team to the game.
The Marlins and Cubs are wearing Douglas patches during this weekend's four-game, season-opening series, which opened with Chicago's 8-4 win on Thursday. The patches have the school's colors and initials as well as 17 stars -- one for each of the victims.
"It's my city, where I'm from," Rizzo said of Parkland, Fla., where Douglas is located. "Every day, you think of them. Every day, you feel for what happened."
As for Friday's game, the Cubs will start right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who went 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 24 starts last year. Hendricks, 28, has a 2.94 ERA over four major league seasons, going 16-8 with a 2.13 ERA in 2016.
In his final 16 starts last year, he allowed one or fewer runs in eight of them. That includes a playoff start in which he blanked the Washington Nationals for seven innings on just two hits.
The Marlins will counter Hendricks with rookie left-hander Caleb Smith, who will make his Marlins debut after being acquired from the New York Yankees on Nov. 20.
Smith, 26, is filling in for established starter Dan Straily, who is on the disabled list.
A 16th-round pick out of Sam Houston State in 2013, Smith has nine games of big-league experience, all of them in 2017. That includes two starts and a 7.71 ERA.
With Smith being a left-hander, look for righty Cubs hitters such as Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez to be productive on Friday. Those three hitters combined to slug 73 homers last season.
The Marlins, undermanned with one of the youngest -- and most would say least talented -- rosters in baseball, will do their best to battle. There is no other choice, and the Marlins did indeed rally from a 4-1 deficit on Thursday, tying the score 4-4 before finally caving.
"I hope it will be an indicator," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said when asked about Miami's rally as it relates to the rest of the season and his team's character. "I think it will be -- I feel we will be alright. We will compete. Our fans will get to know these guys (Marlins players), and they are going to like them."
Marlins left fielder Derek Dietrich, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored on Thursday, said his team will not give up, even if they are massive underdogs in every game.
"Nothing changes whether it's spring training, Opening Day, playoffs or World Series," Dietrich said. "You have to stick with your approach and maintain your consistency. Everyone knows that's a good team (the Cubs) on that side. But we're going to score runs."