So much for Marlins manager Don Mattingly’s plans to platoon 38-year-old outfielder Curtis Granderson when a left-handed pitcher starts for the opposing team.
Granderson, who earned his roster spot after signing a minor-league contract with Miami in February, began his tenure with his seventh major league team with a bang by crushing a home run in his second at-bat of Friday’s 6-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Granderson became the 18th player in Marlins’ history to homer in his debut with the club. Teammates Neil Walker and Jorge Alfaro achieved the same feat in Thursday’s 6-3 loss.
Granderson, a left-handed hitter, also walked twice in the leadoff spot. Although the Rockies started left-hander Tyler Anderson on Saturday, Mattingly was forced to start Granderson again in left field because right fielder Garrett Cooper left Friday’s game in the fifth inning with a cramp in his calf.
Mattingly said that Cooper was available for pinch-hitting duties Saturday and was expected to start Sunday.
“We’re not taking a chance with him out in the outfield,’’ Mattingly said.
Granderson, a three-time All-Star who now has 333 career homers, will earn $1.75 million this season with a chance of a $250,00 performance bonus. He brings valuable experience to a young team with a 16-year resume that includes 64 postseason games and three World Series with three different teams (Tigers in 2006, Mets in 2015 and Dodgers in 2017).
Granderson has a career batting average of .262 against right-handers with 260 homers, and .222 with 73 homers versus left-handers.
“I platooned last year with Toronto and Milwaukee,’’ said Granderson, who hit .242 with 13 homers and 38 RBI in 123 games. “Obviously, an opportunity is going to be there, but those lefties get paid a lot of money to get lefties out.
“I’m trying to get a pitch to drive so then you have a chance to hit it out of the ballpark,’’ added Granderson, who has 20 or more homers in 10 different seasons.
Mattingly knows he will get consistent at-bats from Granderson.
“Grandy is going to be Grandy,’’ Mattingly said. “That’s the one guy you know isn’t going to put too much pressure on himself from the standpoint from a couple of at-bats. You see him come out with a pretty good plan up there. He took his walks and when he got something to hit, he did something with it.’’
Granderson hopes to mentor young Marlins such as Cooper, Lewis Brinson, Brian Anderson and Rosell Herrera with his work ethic and positive attitude.
“I knew there would be guys coming in without a lot of experience. Call it rebuilding or call it an opportunity to play the game,’’ he said. “I was in a situation like that in 2006 [in Detroit]. Me and [pitcher] Justin Verlander, no one knew who we were, and we got to the World Series that year.
“Even when you think, ‘Man, I can’t be a leader,’ everybody is watching. I’m always coming in ready to roll and always positive. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else is going to? That’s always been my mindset, and hopefully, that rubs off on a lot of the guys.’’
Ureña is fine
Mattingly said that Marlins Opening Day starter José Ureña isn’t expected to miss his next start Tuesday against the Mets because the swelling in the right-hander’s left knee has gone down.
“He will throw bullpen [Sunday] and unless something unforeseen happens then we’ll have to deal with that,’’ Mattingly said.
Urena (0-1) was struck by a line drive off the inside of his left knee by Rockies’ David Dahl in the second inning Thursday. He lasted 4 2/3 innings but was pulled in the fifth after allowing four earned runs on nine hits in Miami’s 6-3 loss.
Conley roughed up
Converted left-handed starter Adam Conley (0-1) is supposed to get left-handed batters out, but that didn’t happen in Friday’s 6-1 loss to the Rockies in which the 28-year-old entered a 1-1 ballgame in the seventh inning.
He gave up a leadoff double to Ryan McMahon and a two-out RBI double to Charlie Blackmon, both left-handed hitters who took Conley’s offerings to the opposite field.
“The ball was coming out of his hand good but one thing we talk about, not just him, but all our relievers, is leverage your best pitches and don’t get beat by your third pitch,’’ Mattingly said. “That’s what happened [Friday]. He got beat by his third pitch and he was in a top leverage situation.’’
Of course, Blackmon is a lifetime .302 hitter who led the NL with a .331 average in 2017 and has led the league in runs scored for the past two seasons.
“I didn’t think the location of the pitches were bad,’’ Conley said Saturday. “It was my first outing in a week and first time out this season against some pretty good hitters. Some times this game doesn’t treat you fairly. Some times you got to tip your cap to them.’’
Conley has 56 big-league starts, all with Miami, but last May was called up from Triple-A New Orleans in mid-May and pitched out of the bullpen, making 52 appearances with a 3-4 record, a 4.09 ERA, while notching three saves in six opportunities.
He has been compared to former All-Star converted starter Andrew Miller regarding their pitching style and southpaw delivery.
“I’ve heard that a lot, about Brad Hand and Andrew Miller, who used to be starters,’’ Conley said. “Truth be told, I just want to be the best Adam Conley I can be when I’m on the mound. … I hope someday in the future people will say to a pitcher, ‘Hey, you’re like Adam Conley and I hope that pitcher says, I’m not really like Adam Conley, I just want to be the best I can be.’ ’’