I’m counting down the days until I finally fly down there myself, as Marlins Park already has a few games of baseball under its belt. The University of Miami and Florida International University each played an exhibition game against the Marlins this week at the new stadium, which is the sparkling feature of Miami.
On Tuesday, Hanley Ramirez welcomed his new home with a bang as he crushed an opposite field shot off the facade of the upper deck against Miami’s Alex Fernandez Jr. Ramirez, who is adjusting fine as a third baseman, has shown some incredible power this spring. On the mound, Mark Buehrle worked two perfect innings before giving up three runs in his third. The Marlins won their first real home game 7-6.
FIU came in against a split-squad Marlins team for Wednesday night’s exhibition, and the Marlins were on the ball. Emilio Bonifacio showed some rare homerun power as he jacked a 2-run shot to lead the Marlins offensively to a 5-1 win. Ricky Nolasco, on the hill, pitched three scoreless innings, an encouraging sign for the projected 5th starter who is coming off a down year.
The response to the new park has been nothing but positive. In front of just 15,000 fans Wednesday night, Nolasco said he, “can only imagine when it’s full. It’s going to be exciting.” Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine, wishes he could have, “donned a uniform and played in this building,” expressing his envy for the current Marlins.
For the next few weeks, the team will be working out in Jupiter, just a few hours north of Miami, and playing Spring Training games at Roger Dean Stadium. On April 1st and 2nd, the team will travel back down to Miami for two more exhibition games against the Yankees before they play Opening Night, April 4th, against the Cardinals. I will be traveling down for one of the Yankees games, so stay tuned for updates.