Marlins rookie Brian Ellington said he’d carry a kids backpack around the rest of his career if it meant he could stay up in the big leagues.
For now at least he’ll get to do both.
The 25-year-old right-hander made his major-league debut in the ninth inning of Monday night’s 12-1 blowout loss to the Mets, but only after he carried a green backpack full of goodies to the Marlins bullpen before the game.
It’s a longtime tradition for pitchers with the fewest days of major league time to get saddled with backpack duty.
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In the Marlins’ case, they’ve now got three rookies spliting those duties after the previous rookie, Sam Dyson, was traded to the Rangers last week: Ellington and 25-year-old left-handers Adam Conley and Chris Reed.
On Tuesday, veteran Bryan Morris brought in two new more kid-friendly backpacks for the rookies to carry out: a green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bag and a blue Minions bag.
“Honestly, when he handed me the bag and I expected it to be Hello Kitty or some little princes bag from that movie Frozen,” Ellington said. “It could have been worse, right?”
When Morris was with the Pirates, he said he carried the goodies backpack for three years until they finally brought up a rookie.
“They’ve got it made right now the three of them splitting it,” Morris joked. “We’re just trying to have some fun with it. This season hasn’t been the best so we need to find ways to enjoy the ride.”
Meanwhile, Ellington, a 2012 16th round pick by the Marlins out of West Florida, hit 98 mph on the radar gun several times in the ninth, including his strike outs of Michael Conforto and Lucas Duda.
“Big arm, big, strong, physical guy and I’ve got to tell you one of the more impressive things to me was the breaking ball that he struckout Duda on,” manager Dan Jenning said. “It was a 3-2 pitch. For a young kid to have the confidence 3-2 to throw that pitch in that situation was huge.”
Tomas Telis’ first at-bat with the Marlins went down in the scorebook as a fly ball to center in the ninth inning for the final out of Monday night’s blowout loss to the Mets.
But he’ll remember it for another reason. The 24-year-old Venezuelan-born catcher lost control of his bat earlier in the at-bat and it hit a fan in the neck sitting behind the Marlins dugout.
The fan was treated and released by the Marlins, who said the fan avoided serious injury. But Telis said he felt terrible about it.
“I’ve lost my bat swinging before in Texas and when I was in the minors,” he said. “I’m not sure why I lose the bat sometimes. I have to put more pine tar on it I guess. I’m just glad the guy wasn’t seriously injured.”
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP David Phelps (4-7, 3.93) vs. Mets RHP Matt Harvey (9-7, 2.91), 7:10 p.m.
▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (1-5, 4.37) at Braves RHP Matt Wisler (5-2, 4.44), 7:10 p.m.