CHICAGO -- Mike Redmond remembers the last time he was at U.S. Cellular Field in a Marlins uniform. Everyone with that team remembers. It was September of 2004 and the Marlins, the defending World Series champs, were in the wild card hunt.
And then came Hurricane Ivan, which changed everything.
The Marlins were already in Chicago facing the Cubs, who were also in the wild card race, when Hurricane Ivan formed in the Atlantic and began to head on a path toward South Florida. Concerned that the storm would hit at around the same time the Marlins were scheduled to play a home series against the Expos, the decision was made to play those "home" games at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the White Sox.
"It was really weird," recalled Juan Pierre, who was also on that '04 team. "That's probably one of the weirdest games I've ever played in."
The Marlins tried making it seem like a home game. They flew up their own organist. They flew up Billy the Marlin. But it wasn't the same. It was bizarre. The crowds for the two games -- on Sept. 13 and 14 -- were small (4,003 and 5,457). Out of their hatred for the Cubs, some White Sox fans turned out just to cheer on the Marlins. Cubs fans showed up to cheer the Expos.
The Marlins won both games, but then collapsed, winning only seven of their remaining 21 games and dropping out of the wild card race. Right after playing the Expos in Chicago, the two teams flew to South Florida to play a doubleheader the next day.
"I think it kind of wore us out," Redmond said. "I think we were all looking forward to going home. And then we ended up going home and having to play a doubleheader. I remember getting home realy late and playing a doubleheader the next night, and I think it just wore us out. We were already kind of on fumes coming in. We had really fought hard to get back in it. And I think that was kind of the last straw where we ran out of gas. After that, we didn't play well."
It's unseasonably chilly here, so chilly that they've brought in space heaters to warm the Marlins dugout.
Kevin Slowey played catch earlier today and said he is good to go for his next start. Slowey came out of his last start with a lat injury, but said it wasn't severe.
Casey Kotchman (hamstring) made his first rehab start Thursday for Single A Jupiter and went 1 for 5. But another hamstring casualty, first baseman Joe Mahoney, complained of soreness after playing his first rehab game for the Hammerheads earlier in the week. Redmond said Mahoney will "back off" for a few days before returning to action.
Nathan Eovaldi is scheduled to make his first rehab start for Jupiter on Saturday. He is expected to throw 60-70 pitches.
Alex Sanabia said he had no idea that spitting on a baseball is prohibited.
"I didn't know it was illegal," Sanabia said Friday, four days after videotape captured the pitcher spitting on the baseball after giving up a home run to the Phillies' Domonic Brown. "I didn't think there was anything wrong with it. That's why I I openly did it."
Sanabia said he did what he did because the ball was slick.
"I wanted to get more grip," Sanabia said. "The next thing you know, I started getting messages saying you're on TV for spitting on the ball. I said 'You can't do that?' Well, apparently not. I don't read the rules, bro. My job is not to read the rulebook for (expletive) rule 821.29. Well now I know. I guess I should have known that, but I didn't. I'm pretty sure if I wanted to cheat, I wouldn't have rubbed it up the way I did. I would have just left that big ol' wad of spit on there and just threw it. But that wasn't the case."
Marlins: 1. Hechavarria, ss; 2. Polanco, 3b; 3. Dietrich, 2b; 4. Ozuna, rf; 5. Ruggiano, cf; 6. Coghlan, lf; 7. Olivo, dh; 8. Green, 1b; 9. Mathis, c. P -- Koehler.
White Sox: 1. De Aza, cf; 2. Ramirez, ss; 3. Rios, rf; 4. Dunn, dh; 5. Konerko, 1b; 6. Viciedo, lf; 7. Gillaspie, 3b; 8. Keppinger, 2b; 9. Gimenez, c. P -- Danks.