Dee Gordon should find Marlins Park to his liking. So should Mat Latos.
The two key trade pickups by the Marlins at the winter meetings already have found the spacious ballpark to their liking in previous visits, and Miami is hoping that continues.
“Me and that old ballpark [Sun Life Stadium] didn’t get along,’’ Latos said. “But I’ve pitched pretty good in the new ballpark.’’
Latos won his only outing at Marlins Park last season while with the Reds, and in three career starts there is 1-0 with a 2.74 ERA.
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As for Gordon, the second baseman put on a show in Miami when the Dodgers visited last season, going 9for15 with four stolen bases in the series. In the May3 game between the two teams, he turned in a sensational performance, going 5for6 with two RBI and three steals.
“We couldn’t get him out at all,” manager Mike Redmond recalled of Gordon’s display. “It was impressive.”
Said Gordon: “I love the ballpark. I’m not going to hit many home runs there, but there are big gaps, so I can run a little bit.”
The Marlins acquired Gordon for the speed he gives them at the top of the lineup. Gordon led the league in steals last season with 64. He also led the National League in triples, and Marlins Park is suited for gap hitters.
But the addition of Gordon also allows Redmond to extend his lineup.
With Gordon hitting in the leadoff spot, Christian Yelich will move in to the No.2 spot, just in front of Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins would like to acquire a cleanup hitter and first baseman to protect Stanton. That would allow Redmond to put Marcell Ozuna in the No.5 spot, with Casey McGehee — who was the Marlins’ cleanup man most of last season — at No.6, in front of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Adeiny Hechavarria.
Redmond is looking forward to having Gordon creating havoc at the top of the lineup, the way Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo did in years past for the Marlins.
“This is an impact player,” Redmond said.
“... We were hoping we could acquire a leadoff type of hitter, and he gives us the speed factor we were missing.”
Gordon and Latos welcomed the trades for another reason: They will be closer to home. Latos is from Fort Lauderdale and played at Coconut Creek High School, and Gordon hails from Central Florida.
Both players say they are looking forward to joining a team they view as up-and-coming and ready to contend.
“I think they’re serious,” Latos said. “You look at what they’ve done with what they have. You’ve got the right mixture of young talent and those veteran guys for leadership. You’ve got a chance to go a long way.”
Gordon and Latos are excited to play with Stanton, in particular. The two players marveled at Stanton’s strength.
“That guy is an animal,” Latos said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a guy like Stanton that’s going to come along in quite some time.’’
Said Gordon, who was on the NL All-Star team last season with Stanton: “I know him well to the extent of when we were in DoubleA, he hit the farthest home run I think I’ve ever seen in my life.”