Marcell Ozuna is in a zone. Call it the O-zone.
He’s getting his hits, driving in runs, and producing at the plate for the Marlins. He took a four-game hitting streak and .412 average into Saturday’s game against the Mets.
“I’m working on looking for my pitch and being aggressive,” he said.
The Marlins hope he keep it up for a full season and not just half of one. A year ago, Ozuna was selected to his first All-Star team after a big first half in which he hit .309 with 17 home runs.
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His second half? Not so good. Ozuna hit just .209 with six homers after the break.
“I think when he came back after the All-Star Game, he didn’t seem to be as patient,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He got away from his game.”
Mattingly said Ozuna is at his best when he waits for a pitch to hit and uses the entire field.
“I’ve said it many times,” Mattingly said. “You are what you eat. If you’re swinging at everything and not swinging at strikes, you’re not going to hit.”
Part of Ozuna’s second-half swoon could be attributed to injuries to Justin Bour and Giancarlo Stanton. Without either Bour or Stanton in the lineup, Ozuna stood alone. Pitchers worked him differently and gave him fewer pitches to hit.
Instead of laying off, though, Ozuna became a little too aggressive, trying to single-handedly make up for the loss of two big pieces in the middle of the Marlins lineup.
“Guys [try] to do more to help us win, and sometimes that’s not always the way to go,” Mattingly said.
Now Ozuna is trying to stay within himself.
“Now I’m looking for my pitch,” Ozuna said. “If the pitch is not there, I have to take the walks.”
Ozuna would love nothing more than to make the All-Star Game a second year in a row, especially because it’s being played at Marlins Park.
“When you’re selected for the All-Star Game, it makes you feel great, because [that means] they think you are a good player,” he said.
THIS AND THAT
▪ J.T. Realmuto was in the leadoff spot on Saturday, replacing Dee Gordon.
Mattingly said he simply wanted to give Gordon a day off, not because he’s started slow by going 3 for 18.
“We’ll try to do it with our [starters] over the next week,” Mattingly said.
Realmuto is no stranger to the leadoff spot. He started 23 games there in 2016 when Gordon was serving his 80-game suspension. Realmuto hit .330 in the leadoff spot.
“Some guys don’t like to be moved around,” Mattingly said. “J.T. doesn’t seem to be bothered by anything I do with him.”
Realmuto took a .583 average with two home runs into Saturday.
▪ The Marlins will be on prime time Sunday when they face the Mets. The game is ESPN’s Sunday Night game (8:08 p.m. first pitch).
“I would have liked it as a player because everybody’s watching that game,” Mattingly said.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (0-0, 0.00) at Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard (0-0, 0.00), 8:05 p.m., Citi Field.
▪ Monday: Off day.