When Peter O’Brien and Tyler Kinley stepped foot into the Marlins clubhouse on Sept. 4, they realized a dream.
Two South Florida baseball players getting the chance to play for their hometown team. They grew up following the Marlins, progressing through their amateur years during the franchise’s infancy.
And after getting a small glimpse of the atmosphere at Marlins Park before hitting the road for a three-city, 10-day road trip, both are ready to make a statement in the Marlins’ final homestand of the season.
O’Brien, a Cuban-American from Hialeah who played college ball at Bethune-Cookman and the University of Miami and is known for his powerful bat, has begun making strides at the plate. Heading into Monday’s series opener against the Nationals, O’Brien is hitting .400 with a pair of solo home runs and three runs scored over the past four games after hitting just .091 (1 for 11) in his first five games with the club.
“He’s shown some signs of being dangerous,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
It’s the same signs the Marlins saw from him in the minor leagues. O’Brien, 28, hit 30 home runs in 110 minor-league games this year, including 10 during his 36 games with Triple-A New Orleans.
O’Brien, who has been praised by Mattingly for always being keen with his pre-game preparation, said the game has begun slowing down for him now that he getting consistent playing time.
“The at-bats have been there,” O’Brien said. “They’re getting consistently better. That has to do with seeing pitching every day and knowing what they’re trying to do with me.”
Kinley, meanwhile, has been steady from the first time he trotted to the mound from the bullpen.
In five appearances with the Marlins this season, the Plantation native and Nova High grad has thrown 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out six. He complements his fastball, which regularly hits the mid-90s, with a quality slider.
“Just trying to do my best to get as many outs as I’m asked to get,” Kinley said. “Our goal in the bullpen is to get the ball to the next guy and keep the score where it’s at when we come in.”
The goal now is to continue that streak during the final homestand — this two-game series with the Nationals and a four-game set with the Cincinnati Reds starting on Thursday. After that, it’s six more games— maybe seven, depending on if the rescheduled game against the Pirates on set for Oct. 1 is played — on the road to close out the season.
“Finish strong,” Kinley said. “I think ultimately as a team, we want to win as many of these games as we can and go out on a good streak into the offseason.”
Mattingly said Monday that starting pitcher Jose Urena should be OK to make his next scheduled start on Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds after being pulled Sunday for precautionary reasons due to right hand cramping.
In his last five starts, Urena has gone 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA.
“Jose was good today,” Mattingly said. “He came out, regular catch. Everything was what they thought. He had some cramping. They got him some electrolytes and then did a little massage work. He was fine.”
As for Dan Straily, who strained his left oblique in the Marlins’ 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 7, Mattingly said he’s running out of time to come back.
“We haven’t officially said he isn’t going to pitch,” Mattingly said. “But unofficially he’s not going to pitch.”
Tuesday: Marlins’ RHP Sandy Alcantara (2-0, 1.42 ERA) vs. Nationals’ RHP Stephen Strasburg (8-7, 3.87)
Wednesday: Off day