With his chunky thighs and thick trunk, Justin Bour better resembles a football lineman — or even one of those burly softball sluggers who put on home run exhibitions — than he does the big-league first baseman that he is.
But don’t let his hefty looks fool you. Bour has shown he’s nimble around the bag and can hit a fastball in his brief time with the Marlins.
“He’s made the most of his opportunity,” said Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, before Miami opened a four-game series against the Giants on Thursday.
That he has.
With Michael Morse mired in an early season slump, Bour started all three games at first base in the Washington series, going 3 for 9 with a home run. Since being called up from the minors when Christian Yelich landed on the disabled list, he has gone
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9 for 18 at the plate.
Morse was back in the lineup on Thursday against his former team. But if his slump persists, Bour could see more time on the field.
That Bour even made it to the majors comes as some surprise. He wasn’t drafted out of George Mason University until the 25th round of the 2009 amateur draft.
“I was supposed to get taken in the fifth, and at the very latest, the 12th round,” Bour recalled. “I didn’t end up getting called until the 25th round. I was very surprised where I ended up getting taken.
“I was a little frustrated with that. But it was a learning experience. and I’m better because of it.”
And when the Cubs didn’t protect him on their 38-player Triple A roster, the Marlins grabbed him in the minor-league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 draft.
“You can’t always shop at Nordstrom’s,” said Marlins general manager Dan Jennings of reaching into the Cubs’ system to unearth Bour. “Sometimes you have to shop at Nordstrom’s Rack.”
Jennings credited Marlins evaluators Dan Noffsinger and Andy Barkett for making a push for Bour after watching him pla
y in the minors.
Now it’s looking like they discovered a hidden gem.
Bour played both baseball and football in high school, and was a defensive tackle until giving up the sport after his junior year. Bour played at the same Virginia high school (Westfield) that also produced NFLers Mike Glennon and Eddie Royal, among others.
But he credits football for helping to make him a better baseball player.
“I think in the long run it helped me with my football,” Bour said. “I think when you have the opportunity to play other sports, I don’t care what it is, it all helps.”
Manager Mike Redmond said Yelich will be back in the lineup Friday after he’s activated from the disabled list. But whether Yelich returns to his No. 2 spot in the lineup remains to be seen.
“I’ll let you know [Friday],” Redmond said.
Even though Ichiro Suzuki has filled in capably in Yelich’s absence, Redmond is looking forward to having Yelich back in the lineup.
“He’s a huge part of our team,” Redmond said. “This was our starting left field. It’ll be good to get Yeli back. We need him. We need a full squad.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Morse, a member of the Giants last season, was presented with his World Series ring in an on-field ceremony before Thursday’s game.
“It means a lot,” Morse said. “I was so fortunate to be a Giant and win a World Series with them.”
Morse said he has no intention of putting the ring in a bank vault for safe keeping.
“I’m gonna wear it everywhere,” he said. “It’s going to be tough to take off that thing. To me, it’s a symbol of what we went through last year. “
Morse said he will join the Giants on June 4 — an off day for the Marlins — when they visit the White House.
▪ Jarrod Saltalamacchia has a new baseball home. On Thursday, the catcher signed a minor-league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks after being released by the Marlins. The Marlins, who were unable to find a trade partner for Saltalamacchia, are on the hook for all but a small percentage of the $14.16 million still owed the catcher.