Sunday, July 25, 2021

Starling Marte continues to impress for Miami Marlins


Miami Marlins base runner Starling Marte (6) crosses home plate during the seventh inning of an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at loanDepot park in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, on Sunday, June 13, 2021.

Pick where you want to start with Starling Marte’s performance on Sunday. You could go with the outfield assist in center field that stopped an Atlanta Braves runner from scoring for a second consecutive game. Or any of his other timely catches in center field. Or his two hits that ultimately led to all four of the Miami Marlins’ runs in their 6-4 loss at loanDepot park.

“He single-handedly tried to keep us in the game,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Sunday served as a microcosm of what Marte has brought to the Marlins this season. His .351 batting average, .443 on-base percentage, .568 slugging and 1.010 OPS lead the team among players with at least 100 plate appearances. His 26 runs scored are the third-most among Marlins players and his eight stolen bases are second on the team only behind Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s nine.

Since returning from the injured list on May 28 after missing more than a month with a fractured rib, Marte is hitting .389 (21 for 54) with three home runs, seven RBI, five doubles, seven walks, five stolen bases and 11 runs scored. He has at least one hit in 13 of 15 games played, including five multi-hit games.

“One of those guys that’s just kind of truly one of those five-tool guys you talk about,” Mattingly said. “He runs, throws, hits, hits for power. And he’s a leader in our clubhouse as well. He’s good with our guys and understands how to play. He’s been really good.”

Millar talks Marlins

Kevin Millar, a 12-year MLB veteran and now an analyst for MLB Network for the past decade, still remembers his time in the Marlins organization fondly. He made his MLB debut with the club in 1998 and played with the Marlins for five seasons sandwiched between the club’s two World Series titles without winning a ring in South Florida.

The club still holds him in high regards as well, enough to make him the subject of one of their bobblehead giveaways during the 2021 season. The Millar bobblehead, which depicts him at-bat with a goatee and wearing the Florida Marlins teal jersey, was given to fans at loanDepot park on Saturday and was the Marlins’ second bobblehead giveaway of the season.

“That is the organization that gave me my opportunity,” said Millar, who went on to play three seasons with the Boston Red Sox and win a World Series in 2004 before finishing his playing career with the Baltimore Orioles (2006-2008) and Toronto Blue Jays (2009).

Millar, who has been with MLB Network and hosted the network’s show “Intentional Talk” since the show’s inception in 2011, said he sees the direction the Marlins are going with their rebuild but still believes they are at least one or two years away from the chance to be regular contenders.

“They’re just a little bit fresh still,” Millar said. “They’ve got power arms and a couple position players, veteran guys that hold that lineup together.”

As for the bobblehead?

“I mean, it looks like me,” Millar said. “The facial hair was on point, the stance, the whole shebang.”

This and that

Shortstop Miguel Rojas, on the injured list with a left index finger dislocation since May 28, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with the Triple A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp on Sunday night. Rojas fielded ground balls and took part in batting practice this week pregame at loanDepot park.

Jose Devers, who started at second base on Sunday, exited the game in the third inning with right shoulder discomfort. Isan Diaz replaced Devers in the infield after serving as a pinch-hitter. Corey Dickerson was also removed in the seventh inning as a precaution.

Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.

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