When Johnny Bench talks, you listen.
Especially if, like Bench, you’re a catcher from Oklahoma.
“Everybody back home knows who Johnny Bench is,” said Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, who also hails from the Sooner State.
But even Realmuto was surprised at the novel advice the Hall of Fame catcher — and Binger, Oklahoma, native — gave him when the two met during spring training.
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“He told me — which is probably not great advice for everybody — to make sure in batting practice you take at least one round [of swings] and try to hit home runs,” Realmuto said.
Said Bench to Realmuto: “In my opinion, if you don’t practice it, you’re never going to be able to do it. So make sure you take one round and try to go deep, every single pitch, no matter where it’s at. Try to go deep.”
Bench ranks second all-time among catchers with 389 home runs.
Realmuto doesn’t have Bench’s power. But he’s no lightweight, either, with 10 home run each of the past two seasons.
The two catchers compare in other ways, though.
According to STATS LLC, Realmuto became the fifth catcher, along with Bench, to record at least 260 hits, 50 doubles and 20 homers in their first two full seasons in the majors. The others: Benito Santiago, Kenji Johjima and Russell Martin.
“That’s awesome, to be able to categorize with a guy like that,” Realmuto said. “It’s just the first two seasons, and obviously [I have] a long ways to go. But it’s pretty special.”
As for taking Bench’s advice on batting practice, Realmuto wasn’t so sure.
“Yes and no,” Realmuto replied when asked whether he practices what Bench preaches. “ Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. But I thought that was a funny piece of advice, because of the way he thinks. It’s definitely different than most people. It was pretty cool just to chat with him, though.”
Stanton Not Up To Speed Yet
Nobody expected Giancarlo Stanton to return as Usain Bolt.
But Friday, in his first start back from a groin injury, Stanton’s speed on the base paths left something to be desired.
“It was a little less than I thought,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who sat Stanton on Saturday. “I thought he was going to be closer to 90 percent running. And it looked like it was more like 70 to me.”
Stanton failed to score from first on Martin Prado’s double into the gap, stopping at third instead. And he didn’t go full-throttle to first when he grounded into a double play.
“If he’s able to run, he scores on that,” Mattingly said of Prado’s double. “It kind of opened my eyes a little bit. I thought there was more there than that.”
Stanton went 0 for 2, with a pair of walks in four plate appearances.
Going forward, Mattingly said he’ll have to decide whether the benefit of having Stanton in the lineup for three or four at-bats outweighs the drawback of his lack of speed in the outfield and on the base paths.
Odds and Ends
▪ The Marlins just missed equaling a franchise record in Friday’s 13-inning loss to the Phillies when they used 24 players. The team record of 25 players used in a game was set Sept. 9, 1999, in a 13-inning win over the Dodgers.
▪ When the Marlins employed a fifth infielder in Friday’s 13th inning with the bases loaded and one out, it was outfielder Marcell Ozuna who was brought in to play third. The reason: “He’s the one guy who takes ground balls [during batting practice],” Mattingly said. “You put him in the least likely spot to get the ball.”
▪ Over his past seven relief outings, Fernando Rodney has allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits and seven walks in 5 1/3 innings. Rodney had an 0.31 ERA when the Marlins acquired him in their trade with San Diego. With the Marlins, his ERA is 5.97.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Andrew Cashner (5-11, 5.22) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Alec Asher (1-0, 1.46), 1:35 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
▪ Monday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-4, 4.99) vs. Washington Nationals (to be announced), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.