Marlins right fielder Garrett Cooper talks about Opening Day start
Garrett Cooper found out prior to Wednesday’s team workout that he’d be in the Marlins’ Opening Day starting lineup.
The former Yankee turned Marlin got the start in right field, where a pretty notable former Marlin turned Yankee — Giancarlo Stanton — once roamed.
No pressure, right?
“When you’re in the lineup on Opening Day and facing a guy like Jon Lester, that’s every kid’s dream to be starting,” said Cooper, who laughed when reminded he was playing in Stanton’s old spot.
Cooper was one of 12 players who earned spots on the Marlins’ Opening Day roster, experiencing opening a season on an active major-league roster for the first time in their careers.
Cooper, acquired from the Yankees in a November trade prior to the mega-deal involving Stanton that would follow three weeks later, was also one of five position players, along with center fielder Lewis Brinson, third baseman Brian Anderson, shortstop Miguel Rojas and catcher Chad Wallach, scheduled to make their first Opening Day starts.
Jose Urena is also making his first Opening Day start on the mound as he faces Lester, who will open the season for the Cubs.
Derek Dietrich, who started on Opening Day last year for the Marlins at third base, opened the season in left field as planned since spring training.
With J.T. Realmuto one of seven players who will start the year on the disabled list, the Marlins opened the season with three catchers with Wallach, Tomas Telis and non-roster invitee Bryan Holaday.
Wallach, the son of Marlins’ bench coach Tim Wallach, entered Thursday’s game with 11 career major-league at-bats in two starts and three games played overall last year with the Cincinnati Reds.
“With Chad, we really felt comfortable with his handling of the staff and his management of the game,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “And with Telis it really gets us to that pinch hitter we like, too, without being in a bind and we can use him later in the game.”
Another non-roster invitee, infielder Yadiel Rivera, made the team and will be part of a five-player bench that also includes outfielder Cameron Maybin and Braxton Lee, who would make his major-league debut whenever he gets into a game.
The bullpen consisted of Kyle Barraclough, Tayron Guerrero, Chris O’Grady, Drew Steckenrider, Junichi Tazawa, Jacob Turner, closer Brad Ziegler and Jarlin Garcia.
Mattingly said that the Marlins still plan on making Garcia a starter, but that he would initially be used in a long relief/spot starter role.
Mattingly has yet to name their fifth starter for Monday’s game against the Boston Red Sox. Caleb Smith is scheduled to start Friday against the Cubs with Odrisamer Despaigne starting Saturday and Dillon Peters starting Sunday.
“We’re still talking about Jarlin being a starter,” Mattingly said. “But some of the things that happened in camp changed our direction on that and we had to make some adjustments. There are still certain parts of this early season where you could see Jarlin starting.”
To clear room for Rivera and Holaday, the Marlins designated catcher Austin Nola for assignment and placed right-handed pitcher Brett Graves (left oblique strain) on the 60-day disabled list.
OPENING DAY ROSTER
Pitchers (12): Kyle Barraclough, Odrisamer Despaigne, Jarlin García, Tayron Guerrero, Chris O’Grady, Dillon Peters, Caleb Smith, Drew Steckenrider, Junichi Tazawa, Jacob Turner, José Ureña, Brad Ziegler.
Catchers (3): Chad Wallach, Tomas Telis, Bryan Holaday.
Infielders (6): Justin Bour, Starlin Castro, Miguel Rojas, Brian Anderson, Yadiel Rivera, Garrett Cooper.
Outfielders (4): Lewis Brinson, Derek Dietrich, Cameron Maybin, Braxton Lee.
NOTE: The Marlins have seven players opening the season on the disabled list — J.T. Realmuto (lower back contusion), JT Riddle (right shoulder tendinitis), Dan Straily (right forearm strain), Martin Prado (left hamstring strain), Elieser Hernandez (tooth infection), Wei-Yin Chen (left elbow strain).