Fish Bytes

Marlins’ trio taking aim at Sheffield’s home run mark

Marlins outfielder Gary Sheffield watches his fourth-inning solo home run leave. The Marlins hosted the Atlanta Braves at Hard Rock Stadium (then Pro Player Stadium) on August 1, 1997.
Marlins outfielder Gary Sheffield watches his fourth-inning solo home run leave. The Marlins hosted the Atlanta Braves at Hard Rock Stadium (then Pro Player Stadium) on August 1, 1997. Herald File Photo, 1997

Jeff Conine said he isn’t surprised that Gary Sheffield’s single-season, team-record 42 home runs has stood for 21 years. But Conine also said he wouldn’t be surprised if it’s broken this season.

Three Marlins — Justin Bour, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna — are on pace to eclipse Sheffield’s team mark, which he set in 1996. Bour leads the way with 15 homers. Stanton and Ozuna have hit 14 each.

At the current pace, Bour would finish with 47 homers while Stanton and Ozuna would end up with 44. The Marlins are the only team in the majors to have three players with as many as 14 home runs.

Conine considers Stanton the favorite among the three to break the Marlins’ team record.

“The obvious answer is Stanton because he can get them in bunches like nobody else can,” Conine said. “He can go on a tear and get 10 in a week, almost by accident.”

Still, Conine said, “42’s a pretty big number.”

Conine had a birds-eye view of Sheffield’s historic season. He usually hit behind Sheffield and was standing in the on-deck circle for most of his home runs.

“It might have been the single greatest year that I’ve ever seen from a teammate,” Conine said. “He was unbelievable.”

In addition to his 42 home runs, Sheffield hit .314 and led the National League in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) with a figure of 1.090. He walked 142 times while striking out just 66 times.

“We’re having fun,” Ozuna said of the home runs being hit by the three players. “It’s kind of a motivation to have those guys [Stanton and Bour] doing what they’re doing now. Hopefully, it will go all season.”

Bour is coming off a month in which he smacked 11 homers, one shy of the team record for a month. Stanton is the reigning Home Run Derby winner, a title he’ll likely try to defend on July 10 when the All-Star Game comes to Marlins Park.

Manager Don Mattingly said he is not surprised with all the power being generated from the lineup.

“We talked in spring about it,” Mattingly said. “I said I felt we had four guys who could hit 30. We knew Giancarlo was capable of it. Marcell had close to 20 at the [All-Star] break last year. [Bour] hit 15 before the break last year and then he was basically hurt the whole second half. Those guys have shown they’re capable of that.”

Only Christian Yelich on Mattingly’s prediction list hasn’t hit with as much power. He’s hit just six homers so far. But Mattingly is convinced Yelich’s home run totals will increase with time.

SAMSON: SALES TALKS ARE ‘PROGRESSING’

If the Marlins reach an agreement with a buyer for the franchise, Major League Baseball owners could vote to approve the new owner before their quarterly meetings in August.

“I’m not sure it will go until the owners’ meeting,” Marlins president David Samson said. “I think we try to get something in front of them before. I think the commissioner would show a willingness to have a special meeting if that were appropriate. Could it bleed until the middle of August? It could. But I don’t think it will.”

Samson said sales talks are “progressing” with “multiple groups,” with the focus on two in particular.

A group led by Tagg Romney is one while another involves Derek Jeter. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was aligned with Jeter, has bowed out of the bidding.

“This is not the type of process that drags on for an indefinite period of time,” Samson said. “I think there is still a strong feeling that we are progressing towards a transaction. But by no means does Jeffrey [Loria] have to sell the team at all. And if it doesn’t make sense, he’s not going to.”

COMING UP

▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (3-2, 3.14 ERA) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (4-5, 5.14), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (1-7, 4.44) vs. Diamondbacks RHP Randall Delgado (1-0, 3.47), 4:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

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