PITTSBURGH Jim Leyland paid an impromptu visit to the Marlins’ clubhouse on Thursday, shaking hands with manager Don Mattingly and other coaches, and seeking out Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, two of the players from Team USA he managed to the World Baseball Classic title in March.
The ring on his right index finger sparkled with every handshake.
It was the World Series ring he received for managing the Marlins to their first World Series title in 1997.
“I don’t wear it to show off or anything,” Leyland said. “But people like to see it. You’d be surprised. A lot of people have never seen a World Series ring, and they like to look at it.”
And try it on for themselves. Leyland said the number of people who have asked to slip the ring on their own fingers over the past 20 years is far too many to count.
“Oh yeah,” Leyland said.
Two decades after the fact, the Marlins’ 1997 World Series run still conjures fresh memories for Leyland.
His favorite: Edgar Renteria’s game-winning hit off Cleveland’s Charles Nagy in Game 7.
Leyland is convinced Renteria purposely “set up” Nagy by backing away from the first pitch — an inside curveball for a strike — to bait him into throwing another breaking ball.
“The first one he jumped way back to really fool him,” Leyland recalled.
“And he threw him another one that was even better than the first one, but Edgar knew it was coming and stayed right on it. He flicked it into center field. He knew it was coming, there’s no doubt in my mind. Edgar smiles whenever I ask him about it.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ It was seven years ago Thursday that Stanton made his major-league debut with a weak infield single off the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. On Thursday — clear on the other side of the Keystone State — Stanton smiled at the memory.
“Probably the hardest hit of my career,” Stanton joked. “It was a 105-hopper up the middle.”
Stanton collected three hits — all singles — in his first game.
He said he didn’t experience any butterflies.
“I wasn’t nervous,” said Stanton, who was 22 at the time. “I was just trying to handle everything, but not in a nervous way.”
Looking back on his career, Stanton said: “It seems like it’s been forever and flown by at the same time.”
▪ While starting pitcher Justin Nicolino (finger contusion) is eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday, Mattingly said he’ll likely make a minor-league rehab start before then, most likely on Tuesday.
It’s uncertain when Nicolino will rejoin the Marlins’ rotation.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Vance Worley (0-2, 6.59 ERA) at Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Tyler Glasnow (2-5, 6.97), 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (4-4, 3.59) at Pirates RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.57), 4:05 p.m., PNC Park.
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