Miami Marlins

J.T. Realmuto draws managing assignment for what could be final game as a Marlin

Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto (11) retires Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb (15) on a sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning of the game at Marlins Park in Miami, Monday, July 23, 2018.
Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto (11) retires Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb (15) on a sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning of the game at Marlins Park in Miami, Monday, July 23, 2018. snavarro@miamiherald.com

J.T. Realmuto’s final game in a Marlins uniform could be as their manager.

As is his end-of-season custom, manager Don Mattingly ceded his role to one of his players -- Realmuto, in this case -- to call the shots from the dugout in Sunday’s season finale.

Whether it proves to be Realmuto’s final game as a Marlin remains to be seen. The Marlins are expected to offer their All-Star catcher a contract extension. If he doesn’t accept, they could decide to trade him.

“I haven’t thought about that at all,” Mattingly said. “I don’t want to think about that.”

Realmuto wasn’t in the lineup Saturday and Mattingly said Chad Wallach would likely be behind the plate on Sunday.

“I asked him last night if he wanted to call it a day,” Mattingly said of Realmuto’s season. “I feel like he’s had a solid player. I know he wanted to catch Jose Urena (on Friday). So putting those together, there’s no reason for him to keep going.”

Regardless of what transpires this offseason between Realmuto and the front office, Mattingly isn’t done managing the catcher. Realmuto said he intends to accept an invitation to join Major League stars on a tour of Japan in November. Mattingly has agreed to manage that team.

In the near term, Realmuto will be center stage inside the Marlins dugout on Sunday when the Marlins close out their regular season against the Mets.

“I asked him if he wanted to manage and hee’s like, sure,” Mattingly said. “Then he told me last night that we would have to talk about who we used out of the bullpen today because he wanted to keep certain guys available for tomorrow. He was taking over. I’m sure he was messing with me.”

Mattingly had Martin Prado manage the season finale in 2016 to mixed results while A.J. Ellis was given the honor last season.

“I actually think it’s a good exercise for guys,” Mattingly said. “Prado was , like, I’m never going to question you again. It’s good for them to see the other side a little bit.”

Prado made a glaring managerial gaffe in the late innings when he muffed a double switch and was forced to play Jeff Francoeur at third base. Francouer, who retired after that season, spent his entire 12-year career as an outfielder.

Prado said when he informed the veteran outfielder that he would be going in to play third, Francoeur was incredulous.

“Are you out of your mind?” Francoeur asked Prado. “You don’t know what you’re doing?”

“You’re right, I don’t know what I’m doing,” Prado replied.

Prado said never again.

“It was really hard,” he said. “After that, I had so much respect for managers. You never understand until you’re in that situation, when you have to make a call, that everybody around you is waiting for your call. You’re literally making every decision. It’s a lot going on. It was fun. But, at the same time, it was stressful.”

It will be Realmuto’s turn to manage Sunday.

Said Mattingly: “I think he’ll be better than Prado, for sure.”

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