Miami Marlins

Marlins defeat Cardinals, 8-7, in Grapefruit League opener

Marlins defeat Cardinals in Grapefruit League opener

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly discusses the Marlins' 8-7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Saturday's Grapefruit League opener.
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Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly discusses the Marlins' 8-7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Saturday's Grapefruit League opener.

It’s a girl!

Maria Arias, who was Jose Fernandez’s girlfriend, delivered their child overnight on Friday.

The baby’s name: Penelope.

Fernandez picked out the name in August after finding out the baby’s sex. The Marlins pitcher and two companions died one month later in a boating accident.

“We’re excited, happy,” Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos said of the news. “But you’re also sad because Jose won’t get to see her.”

Fernandez was excited about becoming a father. At his funeral service, Fernandez’s agent, Scott Boras, described a conversation he had with the pitcher.

“He wanted to know, am I going to be a good father?” Boras said during the eulogy. “And I told him, you’re going to be a great father because you’re going to treat your child in the same way that your mother treated you and you’ll know exactly what to do. The next day he ordered a baseball glove in all those colors he loved and he put ‘Penelope’ on it.”

The baby weighed 9 pounds, 15 ounces.

“It’s great,” Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton said. “A piece of him shall live on in flesh.”

Said third baseman Martin Prado: “We all know that part of Jose is always going to be in that little girl’s heart.”

The family attorney for Fernandez — Ralph Fernandez, no relation — told the Miami Herald on Saturday that he intended to file court papers that would assign the pitcher’s estate to Penelope.

The families for Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Jesus Macias, who were also killed in the boat crash, have filed wrongful death lawsuits.

VOLQUEZ MAKES DEBUT

Were he still alive, Fernandez probably would have taken the mound for the Marlins on Saturday when they played their first Grapefruit League game. Instead — five months to the day after Fernandez’s death — it was Edinson Volquez on the mound to start the opener.

It was a brief outing for Volquez, who will take Fernandez’s spot in the Marlins’ rotation. As scheduled, Volquez went one inning and allowed a run in his Marlins debut after giving up a leadoff walk to the Cardinals’ Dexter Fowler.

“I just try to be me,” Volquez said. “I know he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. I don’t have to try to be the way he was. I just try to be myself and do the best I can.”

Volquez said he has never been a good spring training pitcher.

“Bad, really bad,” Volquez said. “You look at my [spring] numbers and say, ‘Why did you sign this guy?’ 

CONFIDENT KOEHLER

While many have marked the Marlins’ starting staff as a potential weak spot, Tom Koehler is bullish on the rotation.

“I think that’s the wrong way to look at it this year,” Koehler said. “For the first time, we have a rotation full of depth. Yes, there’s a glaring hole. We see that. We’re missing our ace. Nobody’s going to take that and fill in. We understand that. But now we have guys who have thrown 180 innings, 190, multiple times.”

▪ Justin Bour and Christian Yelich homered in Saturday’s 8-7 win over the Cardinals. Both said good health is crucial if the Marlins are to improve an offense that ranked 27th in runs scored last season.

“With our offense, it’s just a matter of us staying on the field,” Yelich said. “We haven’t really been able to do that the last few years. We’ve got to be out there.”

Said Bour: “I think this entire lineup has just sort of scratched the surface of what we can be. Stay healthy and take good approaches and good at-bats every single day, and I think we’ll shock some people.”

▪ Dee Gordon was scratched from the lineup and sent home early because of an eye infection.

▪ The results of an MRI on pitcher Jeff Locke’s left shoulder showed no structural damage. But Locke will not throw for at least a week, manager Don Mattingly said. Locke has been diagnosed with biceps tendinitis.

COMING UP

▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily at St. Louis Cardinals RHP Mike Mayers, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.

▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena at Minnesota Twins RHP Ervin Santana, 1:05 p.m., Fort Myers.

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