Curtis Granderson hasn’t had a hit since Sept. 13, and lately, has been used exclusively as a pinch hitter. His one time up on Wednesday came to lead off the sixth inning when he hit for the pitcher, Wei-Yin Chen. The at-bat ended in a soft ground out, right into the shift at second base.
As he stepped up to the plate and as he jogged back to the dugout during the Marlins’ 10-3 loss to the Mets, the crowd at Citi Field gave the former Met a warm ovation.
Granderson has been in the league for 16 seasons and played for seven teams. He has been a fan favorite just about everywhere he has played, and on Tuesday he indicated that he wanted to keep it going a little while longer, be it in Miami or somewhere else in 2020.
Granderson could just as easily call it a career. The 37-year-old has hit 343 career home runs, played in two World Series and three All-Star Games and certainly won’t be around long enough to see the Marlins’ rebuild pay off. With 103 losses and counting this season, he could also just go through the motions these last few days of 2019, only to fade into the background and disappear after Sunday.
But Granderson has remained upbeat, and before Wednesday’s game spoke glowingly about the direction of the franchise and highlighted what he saw as his role, should he return.
“There are definitely the pieces to move this team forward,” he said, adding that his role next year would be similar to this year — starting when he can and providing a bat off the bench.
As Granderson pointed out, however, it comes down to which team, if any, is looking for his services. He is wrapping up the worst season of his career, batting just .185, though he’s still managed 11 home runs.
“Teams are going to have to show some interest, but I’ll continue to do everything like I’ve done every other offseason,” he said. “If it’s not in the cards, then it’s on to the next chapter.”
If it’s any indication, however, his manager appears to be ready to welcome him back. Don Mattingly went as far as to endorse Granderson for president on Tuesday and said he is a great example for the young team around him.
Isan Diaz, the 23-year-old second baseman who batted sixth for the Marlins on Wednesday, sees the veteran’s presence as a valuable one in the clubhouse.
“He cares about everyone, he’s willing to help anyone out at any given moment,” he said. “It’s someone you look up to and say, ‘This is something I want to be like when I get to his level.’ ”
Granderson has had a lot to offer lately in the advice department as the Marlins have made their rounds through the National League. He knows the league’s pitchers better than anyone in the Marlins’ lineup, and he knows the opposing ballparks better than any other outfielders on the roster.
“Just picking his brain on different hitters and different ballparks that you go to,” outfielder Lewis Brinson said. “He has a feel for how the outfield plays and the wind and climate, how that plays. In every meeting we have, he usually has something to say.”
Granderson’s advice has been so valuable that Brinson argued the aging outfielder would make a good manager once his playing days end.
“He’s kind of already the manager in our clubhouse,” Brinson said. “If anybody has any questions or if he feels that somebody is doing something wrong or something good, he’ll let you know in the nicest way possible.”
If Granderson has his way, however, that’s at least another year down the line.