The Marlins might be unable to trump a significant loss of home run power with better base running.
But they’re going to try.
“I think it’s fair to say we’ve got more speed,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We’re going to be aggressive.”
Mattingly doesn’t have a lot of choice.
The Marlins lost nearly 60 percent of their home run production when they traded Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Rather than sit and wait for the long ball, Mattingly hopes to manufacture runs by emphasizing better base running.
And he has the tools to do it.
Though the Marlins lost stolen base leader Dee Gordon in their trade with the Mariners, they improved their overall team speed with a number of additions, including outfielders Lewis Brinson, Magneuris Sierra and Cameron Maybin.
“We’re going to have more speed,” Mattingly said. “We’ve got guys that can run.”
The Marlins are providing more video instruction on base running techniques, and Mattingly is demanding that all players run hard to first and make good turns on the bases.
Mattingly admired the World Series champion Astros for the aggressive base running.
“Houston [players] got down the line, and they put pressure on you,” Mattingly said. “Every one of their guys ran hard.”
Mattingly said that style of base running puts pressure on the defense, causing infielders to rush their throws or outfielders to bobble balls, mistakes that can turn outs into hits or allow runners to take an extra base.
“I think our base running was a little better last year,” Mattingly said. “But it still has room for improvement. You have to have the right team.”
And the one Mattingly has now is better suited to manufacturing runs on the base paths than it is by putting the ball over the fence.
Mattingly said the Marlins are streamlining their system of positioning players defensively by using analytics, scouting reports and video, and involving coaches Ed Lucas and Brian Schneider in the process.
Lucas and Schneider will work together to design fielder placement strategies before passing that information along to infield coach Perry Hill and outfield coach Fredi Gonzalez.
“I think it’s just a matter of taking all that information and making sure it’s being fed down properly [to the dugout],” Mattingly said.
The Marlins had the best fielding percentage in the Majors last season.
Marlins outfielder Monte Harrison was one proud sibling when his older brother, Shaquille, made his NBA debut Friday with the Phoenix Suns.
Monte Harrison said his “heart stopped” when he watched his brother take the floor for the first time.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this dude’s really in the game,’ ” Harrison said. “I bet his heart stopped, too. It was a great feeling.”
Shaquille Harrison played 14 minutes and didn’t take a shot. But he dished out four assists, collected four steals and blocked a shot.
“I wish he had gone to the basket a little more,” Monte Harrison said. “But I feel like the scoring’s going to come.”
Sandy Alcantara retired all six batters he faced Saturday in what marked his first appearance in a Marlins uniform.
Alcantara, who is ranked as the Marlins’ No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was included in the deal that sent Ozuna to the Cardinals.
“I feel great because the Marlins gave me an opportunity,” Alcantara said. “I’m here to prove I can do it.”
Alcantara figures to start the season in the minors, but looms as a possible midseason call-up.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Tyler Cloyd at New York Mets RHP Robert Gsellman, 1:10 p.m., Port St. Lucie.
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Jose Ureña vs. Houston Astros RHP Francis Martes, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.