JUPITER -- Fans paid premium spring-training ticket prices to watch the Marlins take on the visiting Boston Red Sox on Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium but hardly saw any familiar faces from the team that won the World Series last October.
Only one player expected to be in the Opening Day starting lineup — center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. — made the trip over from Fort Myers. The rest of the players on that travel roster aren’t even expected to make the 25-man roster.
To make it fair for fans, a rule by Major League Baseball requires road teams to send at least four players who are “regulars.” Those can be starters, players who platoon, or even someone who has a legit chance to be a starter.
Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill said the team received an email from Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington during Thursday’s game, apologizing about the roster Boston sent over. “He said they had some injuries and were working on some things,” Hill said. “He apologized. I don’t know if that meant he got a call from the league or what.”
That apology did little to appease fans like Delray Beach resident Paul Trust, who took the day off from work and drove 45 minutes to take his 2-year-old son and wife, a Red Sox fan, to Thursday’s game. Trust said he dished out $91.20 for two tickets in Section 122 down the third-base line. He spent another $40 on food and $6 on parking.
Angry about what happened, Trust reached out to the Marlins, Roger Dean Staidum officials and MLB on Friday and got a response. Michael Bauer, the general manager at Roger Dean Stadium, offered to give him and his family tickets for another Marlins spring-training game. Trust said they eventually settled on tickets for a Marlins regular-season game at Marlins Park.
“Obviously we want to take care of them, we want to get them back to another game,” Bauer said. “This isn’t out the realm of unusual. We get one or two of these a year. Sometimes the Yankees come and don’t bring a boatload of the stars. We want to do what’s right for our fans.”
Although a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Thursday said the Marlins were “outraged” and complained to league officials about the team Boston sent over, Hill said that wasn’t the case.
“The league watches. They monitor all of our lineups,” Hill said. “So if there was an issue they’ll deal directly with the Red Sox. There’s no mechanism, no grievance [process].”
Were the Marlins outraged? “That’s a little strong,” Hill said.
Hill said the Marlins were guilty themselves “either last year or the year before” for a travel roster lacking regulars that they shipped to Port St. Lucie to face the Mets. Hill said teams are usually fined for not meeting the travel roster requirements.
It hasn’t taken new Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia long to establish a leading role in the Marlins clubhouse — comedic antics included.
Friday, the 6-4, 235-pound catcher nearly brought his teammates and manager to tears laughing when he showed up for pregame stretching exercises wearing purple pants, gold high top shoes and the jersey of National League Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez (6-2, 215). The pants and shoes were what Fernandez wore to camp Friday morning.
“Moments like that are what bring teams together, and I thought it was really funny,” said Fernandez, who said he special-ordered the gold high top shoes from Gucci. “I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Manager Mike Redmond, who once took indoor batting practice at Sun Life Stadium completely nude to draw laughs from his teammates during a losing streak in the middle of the 2003 World Series season, enjoyed the moment, too.
“I don’t know that those pants are going to fit Jose again ever,” Redmond said.
Asked who would receive the fine for wearing the outfit to the team’s stretching exercises, Redmond responded: “I would say Jose for having purple pants or the gold shoes … that’s what happens in baseball. You sit around too long you think of crazy stuff to do.”
• Second baseman Rafael Furcal was back in Miami on Monday morning as he and his wife welcomed a baby boy. Furcal wasn’t expected to travel with the Marlins on Saturday to Lake Buena Vista to face the Braves, so he will return to Jupiter on Sunday, Redmond said.
• Saturday: Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (0-1, 4.50) at Atlanta Braves RHP Freddy Garcia (0-0, 0.00), 1:05 p.m. Lake Buena Vista.
• Sunday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (0-0, 3.00) vs. Detroit Tigers RHP Rick Porcello (0-1, 7.20), 1:05 p.m. Jupiter.