The Miami Marlins resume their 2020 season tomorrow in Baltimore, weather permitting. On Monday, the Marlins hosted a Zoom call with CEO Derek Jeter, President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill and manager Don Mattingly. The three discussed the team’s COVID-19 related issues, as well as what’s to come.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Marlins Zoom call this afternoon.
Marlins Zoom: COVID Not Result of ‘Salacious Activity’
Over the last week plus, members of the national media have posited irresponsible rumors and wild accusations about the Marlins COVID-19 outbreak. MLB and the team conducted investigations and both determined players were lax with the protocols. No discipline has been levied toward any player or the organization.
Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said on the Zoom call Monday that the affected players are “doing ok.” Jeter reinforced the reports that the players were largely asymptotic or suffered just mild symptoms.
“All things considered, they’re in good spirits,” Jeter said of the 18 players and three staff members who’ve tested positive.
Jeter blamed the COVID issues on a “false sense of security” and said: “Guys let their guard down and as an organization we have to pay the price.”
Jeter flatly denied the rumors surrounding the outbreak, saying there was no “salacious activity.” He admitted a couple players left the hotel in Atlanta, but just to get coffee and buy clothes. One went eat dinner at a former teammate’s house.
“Hopefully, this has been a wakeup call not only for our team but the rest of baseball and sports in general.”
Players are Expected to Return
Jeter also claimed the team expects all 18 players to return at some point this season.
“I expect them to come back. They expect to come back,” Jeter said. “Who knows what that timeframe is, but our players are looking forward to getting back on the field.”
While the team hasn’t officially moved all 18 players to the IL, several have been. Jorge Alfaro, Garrett Cooper, Harold Ramirez and Jose Urena all await their teammates on the injured list. Among those expected to be placed on the list Tuesday: Sandy Alcantara and Miguel Rojas.
One Marlin who will not return in 2020 is Isan Diaz. The second baseman informed the Marlins that he’s opting out for the remainder of the 2020 season and posted his full statement to his Instagram Story.
“This has been a tough week to see so many of my teammates come down with this virus, and see how quickly it spreads. After much deliberation and thought, I have made the difficult choice of opting out for the remainder of the 2020 season. This has been a decision that I have discussed with my family, and I feel it’s the best one for me and my overall well-being. I will deeply miss my teammates and competing on the field. I wish my brothers the best and look forward to taking the field again with them soon!”
Jeter spoke with Diaz prior to the announcement and backs his young star.
“Every player has the right to opt out,” Jeter said during the call. “We support and respect him for making that decision. We look forward to him coming back next season.”
Manager Don Mattingly also had kind words for Diaz.
“We respect Isan and his right to make a choice for himself,” Mattingly said. “We’ll support him through that and look forward to him being back next year with us.”
Marlins Zoom: Some Prospects to Join the Big Club
Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill also took part in the Zoom call. Hill expressed concern for the afflicted players and reiterated that the team is supporting them in every way possible.
He also called the reality of replacing more than half an active roster over a week’s time a considerable undertaking.
“When you have to put 18 players [on the IL], it’s something that you never really expect,” said Hill. “It’s been a challenge for our entire baseball operations department.”
Hill and his staff have signed several free agents, made multiple waiver claims, completed two trades and purchased a contract from an independent league. Many of those players will join the team in Baltimore.
But, in order to fill all 30 roster spots, the Marlins will also call up a handful of prospects.
“We’re not going to put a player in the big leagues who we don’t feel is ready to be in the big leagues,” Hill said.
Who’s On the Roster Now?
The Marlins roster on Tuesday will look very different from Opening Day’s. Hill revealed on the Marlins Zoom call that, in addition to Harrison, Guzman and Mejia, the team also promoted INF Eddy Alvarez, C Ryan Lavarnway, RHP Josh A. Smith and RHP Nick Vincent.
Alvarez, a Miami native and former silver-medal-winning Olympic speed-skater, will make his MLB debut, as will Harrison, Guzman and Mejia.
The team will have several of the recent acquisitions in tow, too. All are bullpen arms, including LHP Richard Bleier, RHP James Hoyt, LHP Brian Moran, RHP Mike Morin and RHP Justin Shafer. Free agent second baseman Logan Forsythe will also be with the club.
Mattingly has yet to meet all of the players acquired but knows some from previous tenures with the team.
Harrison will likely slide right into the starting lineup. Mattingly mentioned one of the reasons for Harrison not making the club out of summer camp was in an effort to get Harrison consistent at-bats.
“I think the South Florida fans are going to love this guy,” Mattingly said of Harrison over the summer.
Tough Road Ahead
The Marlins are faced with a monumental task of piecing together a team on the fly. And these players have a tough road ahead. Miami will play four games in three days versus the Orioles, proceed to face the New York Mets, then travel to Buffalo to play the Toronto Blue Jays. The Marlins aren’t currently scheduled for a home game until August 14th.
Mattingly announced Pablo Lopez will start tomorrow’s game and Elieser Hernandez will start one of the two games for Wednesday’s doubleheader. There was no mention of Caleb Smith, which means he might be IL bound.
The Marlins are currently 2-1 and in second place in the NL East, 1.5 games behind Atlanta. This week, they’re facing an Orioles team that sports the third-best record in the AL (5-3).