With the exception of a few players who either wore Yankee pinstripes or played in the American League, Wednesday’s game at Yankee Stadium was a special, first-time experience for many Marlins.
The Marlins hadn’t played in the Bronx since June 25, 2006 — three years before the current stadium opened and three years after the Marlins won their second World Series in the old stadium.
“It’s cool to be here for the first time,” said slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who jokingly answered, “Who?” when asked whether it was cool to play across the street from the stadium where Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle once played. “For sure, Wrigley and Fenway are always cool to go to. Of course, this isn’t the old [Yankees] ballpark, but it’s as close as anyone’s going to get.”
Manager Dan Jennings said he and few others on the Marlins staff visited Monument Park behind the center-field fence Wednesday morning. Hall of Fame radio play-by-play man Dave Van Horne and Spanish broadcaster Felo Ramirez had never called a game at the new Yankee Stadium until Wednesday. For Van Horne, it’s the 54th stadium in which he has now called a major-league game, and for Ramirez it was his 63rd.
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Still, like Jennings, Van Horne said the new ballpark won’t ever be able to compare to the old one because of the memories the Marlins made there in 2003. Van Horne recalled how after his first and only broadcast of a World Series-clinching game, he and his daughter Madison, then 3, ran the bases.
The Marlins have four former Yankees on their active roster: pitchers Mike Dunn and David Phelps, third baseman Martin Prado and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
“For me it brings goosebumps because it’s where I got my first opportunity,” said Dunn, who was drafted by New York and appeared in three games in late September 2009 for the eventual World Series champion Yankees. “I remember pitching the ninth inning and closing out a blowout win we had. I literally had to step off the mound because it felt like the ground was shaking when I had two strikes and two outs in the ninth.”
For pitcher Tom Koehler, who beat the Yankees on Monday at Marlins Park, Wednesday’s game was extra special. He grew up in New Rochelle, about 10 miles north of the Bronx, and spent most of his childhood going to the old Yankee Stadium. He was at Derek Jeter’s first game and once got an autograph from Mariano Rivera in a unique way.
He ran into Rivera at a diner near his house and met him, but didn’t have anything for Rivera to autograph. “About four hours later, we’re at a gas station. Who pulls up? Mariano pulls up,” Koehler recalled. “I’m in my dad’s car, there’s a baseball in the back. I run out, ‘I just met you at the diner. Would you mind?’ He signed the ball for me right there.”
Koehler said his parents, who were on the field before Wednesday’s game, still have the autographed Rivera ball at home.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Jennings said the Marlins still haven’t decided whether Jarred Cosart will make another minor-league start or rejoin the big-league team in five days. Cosart pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits, four runs and two walks with six strikeouts in his latest rehab start for Triple A New Orleans.
▪ Prado (shoulder) did not make the trip to New York, but could rejoin the team Friday in Cincinnati.
▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Mat Latos (2-4, 5.44) at Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (3-7, 5.38), 7:05 p.m.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Dan Haren (6-3, 3.22) at Reds RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5-4, 3.36), 7:10 p.m.