Jeff Mathis was perched in a tree stand, hunting deer in southern Illinois, when he received a call on his cell phone on Nov. 19, 2012, that would shake the baseball world and rattle the Marlins’ fan base in South Florida.
When he noticed that the caller was Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous, Mathis thought, ‘Oh shoot, something’s going on.’ Was it ever.
Mathis and six other Blue Jays had been traded to the Marlins in a blockbuster in which Miami gave up Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson and John Buck.
In Toronto on Monday, the Marlins and Blue Jays will meet on the field for the first time since their mega-deal, one that was the culmination of a roster selloff by the Marlins that caused fans to explode with anger.
“I think now, people judge it fairly,” said Marlins manager Dan Jennings, who was in Miami’s front office at the time. “It was a good baseball trade for both teams. It was a reset for the Marlins and it gave Toronto some experienced guys, and they were in the go-for-it mode.”
In addition to Mathis, the Marlins received shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani, outfielder Jake Marisnick and infielder Yunel Escobar.
The Marlins traded Escobar to Tampa Bay to acquire Derek Dietrich, dealt DeSclafani to Cincinnati to obtain Mat Latos, and sent Marisnick to Houston in the trade that netted Jarred Cosart.
“I think if you judge it fairly, it was a good baseball trade for both that probably was unfairly and overly scrutinized at the time because it appeared that the Marlins were throwing in the towel when, in truthfulness, we were hitting the reset button,” Jennings said.
Buehrle will face the Marlins on Tuesday for the first time since the trade.
Neither of the pitching lines for Jose Fernandez and Cosart on Saturday were exactly stellar. But Jennings said it would be a mistake to draw any conclusions from either.
Making his first minor-league rehab start for Single A Jupiter, Fernandez gave up five runs on eight hits in only three innings of work. Cosart, who pitched in an extended spring game, gave up six runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks in five innings.
“The numbers right now — the results — truly doesn’t matter,” Jennings said. “I haven’t talked to Jose, but I have to believe he was very amped up, first time back in a competitive situation. And knowing the way he likes to compete, I can pretty well close my eyes and see how he was trying to amp up.”
Jennings said Fernandez is scheduled to make another rehab start for Jupiter later in the week while Cosart will go to Triple A New Orleans to make his first rehab start since going on the disabled list with vertigo.
This and that
▪ With the designated hitter in use in Toronto, Jennings said he plans to start Ichiro Suzuki in all three games of the series, both as an outfielder and as a DH.
▪ Jennings was impressed with right-handed reliever Kendry Flores, who made his major league debut Saturday and pitched 21/3 scoreless innings. The Marlins acquired Flores from the Giants for Casey McGehee last offseason.
“For a young kid to come to any ballpark, but especially here, and to be able to settle his nerves down and make quality pitches, I thought it was very good,” Jennings said. “I was pleased how he stepped up and handle that opportunity.”
▪ Monday: Marlins LHP Brad Hand (1-1, 4.24) at Toronto Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada (2-3, 3.77), 7:07 p.m., Rogers Centre.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Dan Haren (6-2, 3.18) at Toronto Blue Jays LHP Mark Buehrle (7-4, 4.35), 7:07 p.m., Rogers Centre.