Opening Day! Citrus Series tests Marlins against playoff-tested Tampa Bay
The Marlins reached the National League Division Series last year, while the Rays went to the World Series. The Citrus Series has the makings of becoming a more popular showdown in the state of Florida
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
MIAMI — The days of scoffing at the Citrus Series should be over.
The Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Series in 2020, and the Miami Marlins advanced to the National League Division Series.
Florida’s two MLB teams are matched up to start the 2021 season, a return to a 162-game MLB schedule after both being playoff-bound in the 60-game, 2020 season.
The Rays lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in the World Series, and many feel the organization will take a step back with starters Blake Snell and Charlie Morton now gone.
The story is a familiar one for the Rays, and they stick to what they do, and don’t pay much attention to public perception.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly certainly has a ton of respect for what the Rays have accomplished, and how they’re deep at the big league level, as well as sport an elite Minor League system.
The Marlins, in year four of their current ownership, are striving for sustainable success. The foundation is in place in Miami, with a high-end farm system, and growing confidence on the big league roster.
For baseball fans in the state of Florida, especially, the Citrus Series ultimately should be a rivalry fans anticipate and appreciate.
“Hopefully, it turns into a good rivalry,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said via Zoom on Thursday. “They’ve kind of dominated the rivalry. I feel like they’re probably a few more years into what they do. They’re really at what they do. Cash does a great job. They do a great job with their farm system, moving players up and moving players on, and getting those players in.”
The Marlins in 2020 reached the playoffs for the first time since 2003, and had their first winning season since 2009.
“I think we’re at the beginning stages of that,” Mattingly said. “We need to create that consistency to become that type of team. Hopefully we can build it into a good rivalry. But it is fun playing them.”
Sixto shoulder issue: Opening Day is always a reason for excitement, but some concerning news came out of about noon.
The Marlins announced pitching prospect, Sixto Sanchez, is experiencing “slight right shoulder discomfort.” This after Sanchez faced hitters on Wednesday. Man On Second Baseball heard Sanchez’s latest outings, he’d looked sharp, with his fastball reaching 100 mph.
The Marlins optioned Sanchez to their alternate training site, which is at the Triple-A Jacksonville complex. Too much of the organization’s future is riding on Sanchez being a big part of the rotation. Now, he will continue to be evaluated, and handled carefully.
Starting pitching depth is a concern for the club, and it become even more of an issue to monitor.
It may reach the point where the club considers making a trade.
Marlins announce 26-man roster:
PITCHERS (13): RHP Sandy Alcantara,RHP Anthony Bass, LHP Richard Bleier, RHP Paul Campbell, RHP Adam Cimber, RHP John Curtiss,LHP Ross Detwiler,RHP Dylan Floro, RHP Yimi Garcia, RHP Elieser Hernandez, RHP Pablo Lopez, RHP Zach Pop, LHP Trevor Rogers
CATCHERS (2): Jorge Alfaro, Chad Wallach
INFIELD (6): Jesus Aguilar, Brian Anderson, Jon Berti, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Garrett Cooper, Miguel Rojas
OUTFIELD (5): Lewis Brinson, Corey Dickerson, Adam Duvall, Starling Marte, Magneuris Sierra
INJURED LIST (3): RHP Jeff Brigham (60-day); RHP Jesus Sanchez (10-day), Jorge Guzman (10-day)
Outfield prospect JJ Bleday, who is not on the 40-man roster, will be training at the alternate site in Jacksonville, as will catcher Nick Fortes.