The Miami Marlins are softening their stance on stubble.
For the first time since Jeffrey Loria took over as owner in 2002, Marlins players will be permitted to grow and wear beards, but only as long as they’re neat.
“This year we’re going to let them have beards, but they have to keep them trimmed up, and the hair, too,” said manager Mike Redmond. “We just don’t want it to look sloppy.”
In other words, don’t expect the Marlins to become the modern-day version of the House of David, a barnstorming team in the early 1900s whose players were known for their big beards and lengthy locks.
Or even last year’s bushy-faced Boston Red Sox.
But it was a former member of the World Series champs, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who might have given Loria the idea to give in on his beard edict. Saltalamacchia said that when he met with Loria and front office executives before he signed his three-year deal with the Marlins, the topic of the Red Sox and their facial hair came up in the conversation.
Before you could say snip-snip, the rule was amended.
Already, several players at spring training are walking around with legal beards. Most noticeable of those: Saltalamacchia, third baseman Casey McGehee, and relievers Chaz Roe, Chris Hatcher and Mike Dunn.
“It’s the only hair on my head,” laughed Dunn, who shaves his head.
Roe said he likes his pointed beard because it makes him look intimidating.
Hatcher says he prefers a beard because his hair grows quickly and he doesn’t like shaving every day.
Saltalamacchia said the beards bonded Boston players last year.
“You can use it as chemistry like we did last year when everyone started doing it,” Saltalamacchia said. “I think the game is changing and evolving, and you always have to adjust to it.”
It’s not as though the Marlins had a complete ban on facial hair.
Goatees have been permitted. And a few players, most notably former pitcher Ricky Nolasco, tested the rules with extra growth. Nolasco didn’t shave on days he started, and rookie Jose Fernandez got away with it at times, too.
But now the ban has been officially lifted, just as the team rule prohibiting neck chains was amended several years ago. (Players can wear the chains but must keep them tucked inside their uniforms.)
“I’m a believer in rules,” Saltalamacchia said. “They’re there for a reason. Just don’t take advantage of them.”
Dunn said he wished he had known about the rule change before he shaved off his beard a few days before Saturday’s Winter Warm-Up at Marlins Park.
Now he’s having to re-grow his beard. At least he’s capable of growing one.
“We’ve only got a handful of guys who can even grow a beard,” Redmond said, laughing.
Redmond said he suffered a groin injury during a bowling outing Monday night.
“I’m a little beat up. I pulled my groin last night,” Redmond said. “I strained my groin in the 10th frame.”
Redmond said he rolled a 144 in the first game before suffering the injury in the second when he followed with a 104.
“I had to talk to the trainers to make sure I wasn’t going to do anymore damage,” he said. “And they cleared me for the third game and I bowled a 166, so I bounced back pretty good.”
Closer Steve Cishek cut short his bullpen session Tuesday because of a sore neck.