Just like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James did before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Marlins have decided to honor the young life and spirit of local cancer fighter Bella Rodriguez-Torres, who passed away on Tuesday after a six-year battle with a rare, aggressive form of the disease.
The Marlins will hang a jersey with the phrase "#LiveLikeBella" in their dugout during Wednesday's game at Marlins Park against the Tampa Bay Rays. Tuesday, Wade and James wrote the same phrase on their sneakers before they took on the Pacers.
Rodriguez-Torres's fight against cancer made news over the last few the years as her story picked up steam on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Her father wrote a book about his daughter’s ordeal with rhabdomyosarcoma as she went through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery and coined the phrase, “Live Like Bella.” The family created her own popular website.
"You guys obviously know about my experience with cancer and my father," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "Being a part of the community down here I know this has been a story that's touched so many peoples lives. I just thought it was appropriate we got a jersey for her and kind of honored her. It has affected my life, cancer, losing my dad. A story like that out of such a young girl, 10 years old, obviously touched me. I know some of the guys know about it too. We just felt it was the right thing to do, the appropriate thing to do to honor her."
LUCAS GETS CALL
After 10 years of fighting through the minor leagues, veteran utility man Ed Lucas finally got the call up he had been hoping for Tuesday when the Marlins designated infielder Nick Green for assignment and selected the contract of the 31-year old Lucas from Triple A New Orleans.
Lucas, a former eighth round pick of the Royals and the oldest player in the Marlins organization who had yet to play at the big league level, is expected to be used all over the field while the Marlins wait for several of their injured players to return from the disabled list.
"It was a pretty big surprise," said Lucas, who was hitting .304 with five homers and 14 RBI for the Zephyrs. "I'd been doing OK. But it's been 10 years and to finally get that call. At some point you kind of stopped expecting and kind of put it in the back of your mind, hoping it will come."
Lucas said he and his New Orleans teammates were running sprints before their game Tuesday when manager Ron Hassey called the entire team into the clubhouse "and broke the good news in front of everybody."
"Lot of hugs, lot of congratulations, especially in my case just because I've been around so long," said Lucas, who in 925 career minor league games is a .278 hitter with 66 homers and 418 RBI. "I think a lot of people who have put in a lot of time can relate to my situation. A lot of well wishes, a lot of congratulations and its really good to see that kind of support from the team. In this kind of day in age it's dog eat dog. It was nice to get some heartfelt appreciation."
Lucas said his parents, who live about four hours north of Miami in Deltona, along with his sister and fiancee were making the trip down for Wednesday's game. Lucas graduated from Dartmouth in 2004 when he was named the Ivy League Player of the Year. He majored in Sociology and Economics.
"This is the fun part of the job when you get to bring a kid to the big leagues who has been in the minor leagues forever," Redmond said. "Hopefully he'll come up and bring some energy and get some big hits for us."
THIS AND THAT
All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, out since April 30, is still fighting his way back from a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Stanton said he's been picking up his speed while running on the outfield grass and simulating the cuts he needs to make while running the bases. But he still isn't going at full speed.
"It's really just up to him and to how he's feeling now and when he's ready to start," Redmond said. "He can start anyday. It's really up to him when he feels good to go start on a rehab [assignment]."
Stanton said he no longer feels pain in his hamstring and adds it's "more muscle memory and being able to let it go."
> Logan Morrison went 0-for-3 with a walk in Double A Jacksonville Suns debut Tuesday. He's now 4-for-26 (.154) with three RBI in seven minor league games since beginning his rehab assignment. Redmond said he expects Morrison will stay in the minors until his 20-day stint ends on June 8th.
> Marlins (13-39): 1. Chris Coghlan LF, 2. Placido Polanco 3B, 3. Derek Dietrich 2B, 4. Marcell Ozuna RF, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Greg Dobbs 1B, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Rob Brantly C, 9. Tom Koehler RHP.
> Rays (27-24): 1. Ben Zobrist 2B, 2. Matt Joyce RF, 3. Kelly Johnson LF, 4. Evan Longoria 3B, 5. James loney 1B, 6. Desmond Jennings CF, 7. Yunel Escobar SS, 8. Jose Molina C, 9. Roberto Hernandez RHP.