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Marlins offer nothing but high praise for Derek Jeter

Marlins players have nothing but praise for Derek Jeter, who is involved in a group that has reached agreement to buy the Marlins.
Marlins players have nothing but praise for Derek Jeter, who is involved in a group that has reached agreement to buy the Marlins. Getty Images

Derek Jeter came out on the losing end when the Marlins knocked off the shortstop’s New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series. Jeter’s next goal could be helping the Marlins return to the postseason for the first time in 14 years.

Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are among a group of investors who have reached agreement to buy the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria for $1.3 billion.

That Jeter wants to become involved in team ownership comes as no surprise to Marlins players who were once his teammates in New York and Miami manager Don Mattingly, his former coach with the Yankees.

“It’s one thing he kind of always talked about,” said Marlins reliever David Phelps, who Jeter’s teammate on the Yankees from 2012-14. “We actually had that conversation.”

It’s uncertain what role Jeter would have with the Marlins if the sale goes through.

Mattingly declined to discuss Jeter or the sale on Tuesday. But Mattingly told reporters earlier in the season that Jeter “always talked about” owning a team.

“I’m sure he’ll be good (as a team owner),” Mattingly said then. “Jeets pretty much seems to be good at everything he tries to do.”

That sentiment was echoed by other Marlins who know Jeter, who spent his entire 20-year major league career with the Yankees before retiring after the 2014 season.

“(He’s) just a guy who cares about winning,” Phelps said. “That’s number one in his mind, regardless of what he’s doing. I think it’s going to carry over into whatever his next endeavor is.”

The Marlins haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2009 and have experienced just five in Loria’s 16 seasons as owner. Whether the Jeter-Bush group is able to put the Marlins back on a winning track is anyone’s guess.

But Jeter’s former teammates say it won’t be for lack of trying if they don’t.

“He is somebody that is obviously a superstar beyond superstars,” said Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who was Jeter’s teammate on the Yankees from 2012-14. “But he’s very aware and somebody that is graceful, somebody that has common sense. I think it’s a miracle that we have somebody like that in baseball.”

Marlins third baseman Martin Prado had nothing but praise for Jeter even though the two were teammates for only part of the 2014 season.

“He’s a baseball icon,” Prado said. “He’s a role model for all of us. Playing with him was actually a privilege.”

Asked if he could envision Jeter being successful in an ownership capacity, Prado replied: “Why not?”

Said Phelps: “What was Jeter like? My answer has always been the best teammate I ever had. The guy just went about it the right way, day in and day out. It didn’t matter if he was 20 for 20 or 0 for 20.”

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Tuesday’s game between the Marlins and Phillies was postponed due to rain. No makeup date was announced.

It was the first rainout of the season for the Marlins, who are closing out their nine-game cross-country road trip in Philadelphia.

The Marlins will push everyone in the rotation back a day, with Tuesday’s scheduled starter, Wei-Yin Chen, now going on Wednesday.

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COMING UP:

Wednesday -- Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-0, 3.94) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (0-2, 7.20), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.

Thursday -- Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (0-2, 4.82) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 1.88), 1:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.

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