The Marlins’ 25th anniversary weekend celebration is over. The teal caps and pinstripe uniforms have been returned to storage. The former players on hand for the event have gone home.
It’s back to the bad season at hand.
But the nostalgic vibe will continue to linger for a bit longer when San Francisco Giants pitcher Dereck Rodriguez, the son of former Marlins catcher Pudge Rodriguez, faces the Marlins on Thursday in what will mark his third major league start.
“It’s weird coming back here because he played on this team,” Rodriguez said of his Hall of Fame father, who won a World Series in his one and only season as a Marlin in 2003. “This is a different stadium, a whole new environment.”
Rodriguez was 11 during the summer of ’03 and a frequent visitor to what was then known as Pro Player Stadium. He hung out with his father and the rest of the ’03 Marlins inside the clubhouse, played catch on the field, and shagged fly balls in the outfield during batting practice.
“It’s a lot of good memories,” he said. “I was homeschooled, so I was there (Pro Player) all the time.”
Pudge Rodriguez spent only the ’03 season with the Marlins, but it was a memorable one. With Rodriguez handling catching duties and mentoring a young pitching staff that included Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis, the Marlins won the National League wild card before going on to defeat the Yankees (whose shortstop is now Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter) in the World Series.
Dereck Rodriguez was on hand the day his father survived a home plate collision while applying the tag on the Giants’ J.T. Snow for the final out of the National League Division Series.
“It was a hard hit,” he said. “But that was a fun day, and the (clubhouse) celebration afterwards and the party back home. It was a day to remember.”
Rodriguez went on to play at Chaminade-Madonna in Hollywood before transferring to Monsignor Pace for his senior year. The Twins drafted him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft and he spent four seasons pitching for them in their minor-league system. The Giants signed Rodriguez as a free agent in November.
Rodriguez made his major league debut on May 29 out of the bullpen but has made two starts since, going 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA.
He keeps his offseason home in Plantation.
“I have a lot of family coming in, I can tell you that,” Rodriguez said of the number of tickets he’ll be buying for relatives and friends who plan to be on hand Thursday to watch him pitch. “I’ll be playing for free for a couple of days.”
That fan club will include his father, he said.
Rodriguez isn’t the only local baseball product pitching for the Giants.
Andrew Suarez, who played at Miami's Columbus High School and went on to play at the University of Miami, is scheduled to start for them Wednesday.
“He’s going to have a lot of people, too,” Rodriguez said.