On his first trip to Roger Dean Stadium this spring, owner Jeffrey Loria spent Tuesday morning trying to dispel the notion that his Marlins are a minor-league team.
A few hours later, they made Loria look good by putting on a power display in a 7-5 win over the New York Mets.
Giancarlo Stanton hit his first homer of the spring, former Astros utility man Matt Downs added a solo shot and first baseman Casey Kotchman hit a grand slam despite four stitches in his left ring finger.
“These are not Triple-A ballplayers. If you want to use those terms, I can’t prevent it,’’ Loria said when a Miami TV reporter used that phrase to describe how Marlins fans perceive the stripped-down roster.
“It’s not a Triple-A ball club. It’s a ball club with some pretty impressive players.’’
A lot of the Marlins’ success will depend on how Stanton, the team’s lone slugger, performs in a batting order that still lacks a hitter to give him protection.
That wasn’t a problem in the sixth inning when Stanton drove an 0-2 fastball from Hansel Robles, a Mets minor leaguer, over the center-field fence.
Stanton hit 37 home runs last year, second in the league, without ideal protection. So he’s confident that he will continue to blossom as a hitter even if pitchers are tempted to walk him a lot.
“I’ve never had these guys in front of or behind me,” said Stanton, who is in his fourth season. “At the end of the day they still have to throw me strikes or not throw me strikes.”
The key will be for Stanton to swing at hittable pitches and not chase whatever he is thrown, manager Mike Redmond said. But he doesn’t want Stanton to worry about that too much this spring.
“You want guys to be aggressive and swing at those because you’ve got to find out where you are. If you just go up there and take, you never see where you are,’’ Redmond said.
Redmond said Stanton is capable of piling up both home runs and walks, just as Barry Bonds did in his prime.
“They’re going to pitch him tough. He’s going to have to be patient but we’ll figure out somebody to hit behind him,’’ Redmond said.
“Guys make a lot of mistakes in this league and you just have to be ready to hit the mistake. They pitched around Barry Bonds for how many years and he still hit 70 home runs (73 in 2001).’’
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