Not long after Martin Prado finished dressing before Monday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the parade of well-wishers began.
Chase Field clubhouse staff. Diamondbacks staff. Teammates — one, pitcher Jarlin Garcia, who saluted Prado with “Mi Capitan” as he walked by.
The omnipresent love and respect for the 35-year-old Prado, who is in his 14th big-league season, continues. Even in Phoenix, where he played only a season and a half (2013-2014).
“I don’t go around and tell people ‘You gotta do this, you gotta do that. I just do my thing,” Prado said. “I don’t cross the line with anybody. I respect the game, and I respect guys who respect the game the same way I do.”
Prado isn’t an everyday player anymore, but he understands he has a duty to help bring the Marlins’ many young players along. It hasn’t been easy for him to come off the bench so often, but Prado is an integral part of the club’s veteran leadership and is a respected voice in his native language, Spanish, and English among his teammates.
“It’s like your kids. You’ve got to just let them look around, try everything, and when they go too far out, too far away from you, then you say ‘Hey, you’ve got to come back and start again,’” Prado said. “You can’t just tell them on the field what to do every time. You try to be the same guy every day no matter what. In this generation, you have to be patient with these young kids.”
Prado was in the Marlins’ lineup at first base Monday, starting for the just the fourth time this month. He’s in line for more regular playing time, especially with Garrett Cooper out with what may or may not be a short-term knee problem.
“I realized that sometimes there’s stuff that you cannot control. If you think too much about it, you’re just going to drive yourself crazy,” Prado said. “So what I do is, whatever time I have to play, I do it with so much passion that even if I play one time a week, they see the passion that I have for that one time I play.”
Prado’s attitude and leadership have meant a lot to teammate Isan Diaz.
“The guy’s a gamer. He’s a leader in this clubhouse, he’s our captain and everybody looks up to him a lot,” Diaz said. “Everyone sees how he is and how competitive he is whether he’s playing or not. He’s the same guy every day. When you see a guy like that, you kind of look up to him and you kind of want to be that.”
SMITH GETS FRESH START
Monday marked the first day as a Marlin for right-handed reliever Josh Smith, who was claimed by Miami off waivers from the Cleveland Indians last Saturday after being designated for assignment.
Smith, who made his major league debut with Cleveland this season at age 29, said he’s hoping to add bullpen depth and innings as a middle reliever at present, and start competing for a spot on the big league roster with the Marlins in 2020.
“It’s a good feeling to be here,” Smith said. “It’s the same game. You’ve got to be yourself more than anything. I think I was trying a little bit too hard over there [with Cleveland], trying to impress people.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Cooper flew back to Miami for further evaluation and an MRI of his knee. Cooper hasn’t played since Friday’s game at San Francisco. “We don’t think it’s anything serious but I think we want to be cautious,” manager Don Mattingly said.
▪ Pitcher Austin Brice (right forearm strain) is progressing with his throwing program, tossing a 15-pitch bullpen session Monday.
▪ Pitcher Jordan Yamamoto (right forearm strain) threw a 66-pitch simulated game Monday. Mattingly said he wants Yamamoto to make a regular start, as opposed to opening for an inning or a few more, when he returns.
▪ Former Marlins pitcher Zac Gallen, traded to Arizona at the deadline earlier this season, caught up with ex-teammates on the field before the game.