JUPITER -- I'll have a story posting up a bit later about the home run sculpture and how some Marlins believe it's possible the towering, pop art structure in deep left-center could be a distraction for a certain few, specifically left-handed hitters facing right-handed pitchers with sidearm deliveries. There was some talk (combined with light laughter) about how some pitches might look as though they're popping out of the pink flamingos contained in the artwork.
Already the Marlins are planning to remedy one potential distraction for hitters by re-painting the batter's eye in center from apple green to black. Now, as one player joked, will the Marlins be required to camouflage the trippy sculpture with, say, a large curtain, raising it only when a Marlin cranks a home run?
Don't count on it. The Marlins say the wacky sculpture is positioned in a spot -- just to the left of the batter's eye -- where it won't be a factor. "No issue whatsoever," David Samson said Sunday. Samson said MLB officials thoroughly checked out the new ballpark on Thursday to make sure it conformed to standards, standing on the mound, checking out all the angles, and so forth.
And even the players say they don't know for sure whether or not the sculpture could be a potential hitting hazard. After all, they've yet to play there. But catcher John Buck said he took a practice squat behind home plate several days ago and thought maybe -- just maybe -- it might be an issue. And Logan Morrison, a left-handed hitter, stood in the batter's box to see if he could tell. He couldn't say for certain.
"It's kind of my job to scope those things out," Buck said. "It might be close. It might be all right. I don't know. We'll see. I think for left-handed batters, it might be trouble."
One Marlin who isn't complaining is right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, who not only throws sidearm, but stands on the third-base side of the rubber. He said he welcomes any advantage he can get.
"If my arm's stuck behind that thing, that's fine with me, as long as the catcher can see it," Cishek said. "Sucks for the hitters, I guess."
Fellow reliever Ryan Webb has a low three-quarters delivery and could also potentially benefit. Like Cishek, he expressed no sympathy for any hitters that might be distracted by the sculpture, which stands as the signature feature of the new ballpark.
"That's the hitter's problem if they want to be staring at the sculpture," Webb said. "There's a lot of distractions in ballparks. There's also a fish tank behind home plate. If I get caught looking at that, I'm not going to make a good pitch, am I?"
No need to wait until tomorrow to get your lineup for the Marlins' Grapefruit League opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. Here it is:
1. Donnie Murphy, ss; 2. Aaron Rowand, cf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, 3b; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Greg Dobbs, dh; 6. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 7. Bryan Petersen, lf; 8. John Buck, c; 9. Nick Green, 2b. Pitching: Josh Johnson. The Cardinals are sending out Kyle Lohse.