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A-Rod bursts with pride as nephew Dunand gets introduced by Marlins

Marlins third-round pick Joe Dunand, left, gets a hug from his uncle, Alex Rodriguez, before being introduced with two other high picks. ‘It’s the American dream,’ Rodrguez said.
Marlins third-round pick Joe Dunand, left, gets a hug from his uncle, Alex Rodriguez, before being introduced with two other high picks. ‘It’s the American dream,’ Rodrguez said. AP

Alex Rodriguez called it his proudest moment.

Looking sharp in a tailored suit, Rodriguez watched from the front row when his nephew, Joe Dunand, was introduced with two other high draft picks as the newest members of the Marlins organization.

“I don’t remember being more proud in my career as I am right now, because as an uncle and as a family member, it’s really a dream come true for all of us,” Rodriguez said.

Dunand, who was the Marlins’ third-round pick (No. 51 overall) earlier this month, was formally introduced on Friday with first-round pick Trevor Rogers and competitive-balance pick Brian Miller.

“It’s a dream to play for your hometown team,” said Dunand, an infielder with Miami Gulliver Prep and North Carolina State. “As a little kid, you grow up watching the local team. I remember when I was a kid, during the [Marlins in the] 2003 World Series, being in the living room with my family and watching it against the Yankees.”

While growing up, Dunand also spent quite a bit of time hanging around his famous uncle.

“I’m thankful to him,” Dunand said of Rodriguez. “Being able to grow up in the [major-league] clubhouses, I tried to be a sponge, to take in as much as I can. He really benefitted me in every single way.”

Rodriguez posted a photograph on his Instagram account on Friday, one taken about 10 years ago in which he’s shown tossing batting practice balls to his nephew while Yankees legend Reggie Jackson looked on.

“We’re so proud of him,” Rodriguez said. “It’s the American dream. When you think about a kid growing up in Miami, going to college and then getting drafted by your hometown team, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Rodriguez said the moment brought back memories from when he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners with the No. 1 overall pick in 1993.

“I’m sitting here watching him, and I remember when my family was there in 1993, when I got drafted by the Mariners out of Miami,” Rodriguez said. “I took this long flight with my mother — and it seems like the plane’s never going to land — trying to get to Seattle. And I was just replaying that in my mind, and it’s, like, holy smoke.”

Rodriguez was especially pleased that Dunand, a power-hitting third baseman, was selected by the Marlins.

“We still call him ‘Little Joe’ and he’s almost my height,” Rodriguez said. “He’s just a tremendous young man. He went to Gulliver and he went to college. It’s hard to believe I’m watching him in a major-league uniform, in a Marlins uniform.”

▪ Marlins scouting director Stan Meek said Dunand and Miller will likely start out at Low A Greensboro (North Carolina) while Rogers, a high school pitcher, will begin in the Gulf Coast League.

▪ The Marlins announced the signings of nine of their top 11 picks and 28 in all.

PRADO BACK — AGAIN

Friday felt like Opening Day all over again for Martin Prado. He doesn’t want to experience another one, at least not this season. Prado returned from the disabled list for a second time because of a hamstring injury that’s cost him most of the season.

“I’m pretty excited,” Prado said. “I’m hoping that everything goes well and I don’t have another setback, and I finish the season healthy.”

Prado first injured his hamstring during the World Baseball Classic before re-injuring it 17 games after returning from the DL.

“Getting him back in there is obviously a good thing for us, to get his leadership back in the lineup and our locker room,” manager Don Mattingly said. “I know it’s been a frustrating year for Martin.”

Prado started at third base on Friday and batted sixth. Giancarlo Stanton has taken over in the No. 2 spot in the lineup during Prado’s absence and remained there Friday.

“It will probably take a while, but I will get my spot back,” Prado joked.

To make room for Prado on the roster, infielder Christian Colon was designated for assignment.

COMING UP

▪ Saturday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (0-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. Chicago Cubs LHP Jon Lester (4-4, 3.83), 4:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (3-8, 4.19) vs. Cubs LHP Mike Montgomery (1-3, 2.26), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

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