Lewis Brinson’s confidence doesn’t waver whenever he’s chasing a ball down in the outfield.
He showed when he used his 6-foot 3-inch height to leap and steal a home run from Boston’s Mookie Betts last week.
And also when he charged at full speed and ran down a potential double off the bat of Jason Heyward against the Cubs.
Brinson’s confidence at the plate appears steady even though it has been a struggle so far this season for the former South Florida standout from Coral Springs High.
While Brinson’s bat has yet to ignite at the major-league level, many scouts have raved about his potential to become a 20-homer hitter in the majors.
“My timing has been a little off,” Brinson said. “I just have to get it done. It’s early so I’m not worried. I’ve started off slow before so I know I’ll be OK. I belong up here, and I’m going to be successful up here for a long time. It’s just a matter of staying confident and just put the work in.”
Brinson, 23, has been busy, and stellar, in the Marlins’ outfield through their first 10 games, executing all 30 of his defensive chances (which ranks second among National League center fielders) without an error.
But the Marlins’ top-ranked prospect and 27th overall in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com, is 0 for his past 18 at-bats and 7 for 43 (.163 avg., .217 OBP, .163 slug.) with one RBI, no extra base hits, two walks and 14 strikeouts during the season’s first 10 games.
Four of those seven singles came in a 17-inning win on March 30th against the Cubs.
Brinson, who hit in the leadoff spot for the first seven games, dropped to second in the batting order and then sixth in consecutive games before manager Don Mattingly took him out of the lineup on Monday against the Mets. Brinson entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement and went 0 for 2.
“I just think he needed to take a step back,” Mattingly said. “We wanted him to take a day to watch and work on some things and get ready to go.”
Brinson said he took advantage of the extra time Monday in the batting cages to work with Mattingly and Marlins hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo on improving his timing at the plate.
Brinson, who the Marlins acquired in the trade with Milwaukee for Christian Yelich in January, started the first nine games of this season, marking his longest stretch of games in the majors so far. In his major-league debut last season with the Brewers, Brinson went 5 for 47 (.106/.236/.277) in 21 games.
Brinson hit .331 with 13 home runs and had 39 extra-base hits overall at Triple A last year.
During the initial stretch of this season and spring training, when Brinson hit .328 with two homers and nine RBI, he said he has benefited from facing not just major-league pitching but several former All-Star level aces such as Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Chris Sale.
“In spring training we faced everybody’s top guy it seemed,” Brinson said. “It’s good to face guys that have been either Cy Young winners or in the top three. For me personally, it’s good to see those guys so next time I know what they’ve got and know what their stuff looks like and we’re putting up good at-bats against these guys.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Starting pitcher Dan Straily threw 29 pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday as he continues to rehab from right forearm inflammation. Straily said he felt no discomfort at all and the Marlins will evaluate him Wednesday to potentially have him pitch in extended spring training and then go on a rehab assignment.
Straily had never been on the DL in his career before this issue.
“I’ve never gone through this so I don’t really know yet,” Straily said. “It’s going to depend on how my body responds. But when I do, I just want to come out here and be here the rest of the year. Let’s just deal with this [injury] one time and put it behind us.”
▪ Catcher J.T. Realmuto took six at-bats in an extended spring game on Tuesday as he continues his rehab from a bruised back that’s kept him out since March 11.
Wednesday: Marlins LHP Jarlin Garcia (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. New York Mets RHP Zack Wheeler (3-7, 5.21 in 2017), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.