It may be big, but it isn't broken. So said Marlins president David Samson in response to questions about Marlins Park and its adverse effect on power. It's a very tough place to hit a home run, especially in the long ball wasteland that extends from gap to gap. Hitters have openly complained about it, including a few on the Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton and ex-Marlin Logan Morrison being just two. They have watched far too many fly balls that would be home runs in just about any other park land in gloves for routine outs.
But unless something changes over the course of the coming season, don't look for management to bring in the fences. Samson said internal studies using data from the first two seasons in the new ballpark reveal that the spacious dimensions has helped more than it's hurt the Marlins.
"All of us only remember when John Buck flies out two years ago with two men on, down two," Samson said. "Logan Morrison does it and everyone says, 'Oh god, we would have won that game.' Tommy Hutton loses his mind on TV, and all that happens. But when there's a (deep) fly ball (Christian) Yelich catches, or Stanton catches or (Marcell) Ozuna catches -- where (Steve) Cishek is on the mound and gets the save, and has 29 saves in a row -- everyone says 'Good game. Phew.'"
Samson said the in-house analysis shows the big house isn't so bad.
"Our park factor, if you ask some of our statistical 'Moneyball' guys that we hired off the geek squad, they would tell you that where we are is actually a benefit and the park factor, in terms of the number of home runs hit, is not as low as you might think," Samson said. "We do measure it because we've got smart guys. That's what they do. The fact is, where the fences are has helped us more than it hurt us."
That doesn't mean management will be completely stubborn about it and leave the fences where they are. Samson said more time is needed, and more games need to be played at the ballpark, before deciding whether changes should be made.
Samson said the two-year study isn't long "enough to convince us to move them up, or to move them even further back, because that's not a big enough sample size. We're not ready to tell you permanently what we're doing is because we're still studying it."
After watching attendance suffer a huge dropoff last season, the Marlins have lowered ticket prices across the board in an attempt to lure more fans into the park. According to team officials, season ticket packages were reduced from 6 percent to 69 percent while individual-game tickets were reduced from 11 to 55 percent. Every seat in the ballpark is less expensive than it was last season.
Pitchers and catchers report on Sunday and are scheduled to hit the field at 1 p.m. for their first workouts.
Reliever Chris Hatcher, who was designated for assignment earlier in the week, was outrighted to Triple A New Orleans and received an invitation to major league camp. Outfielder Jimmy Paredes, who was acquired earlier this winter by the Marlins, was claimed by the Orioles. The Marlins will have 68 players in camp.
Here are some taped interviews with the Marlins from Saturday's Winter Warm Up event at Marlins Park.