Lewis Brinson might not be the second coming of Giancarlo Stanton. But he blasted a towering home run on Tuesday that brought back a few memories of the Marlins’ former slugger.
Brinson’s deep, two-run shot in the fourth inning landed in a grass courtyard on the other side of the Marlins’ spring training complex, an area where Stanton once deposited baseballs.
“I knew it was gone, obviously,” Brinson said of his first homer in a Marlins uniform.
Former Marlin Marcell Ozuna, who was playing left field for the Cardinals when Brinson tagged Jack Flaherty’s 0-1 pitch, barely gave the ball a second look as it left the park.
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Brinson, who was part of the package the Marlins from Milwaukee in the Christian Yelich trade, has never hit more than 21 home runs in any minor-league season.
But he said he think there’s more in the tank.
“Home runs kind of happen by accident,” Brinson said. “I’m not trying to search for power. I know my power’s there. Homers will come.”
Brinson is off to a good start at the plate. He went 1 for 2 on Monday, raising his Grapefruit League average to .350.
Manager Don Mattingly said what most impresses him with Brinson is how he adjusts from one at-bat to the next, as he did Tuesday. Brinson struck out in his first at-bat facing Flaherty before crushing a homer in the second.
“At times he looks really bad, but then the next at bat you see a better one, and that’s what I’ve liked about him all camp,” Mattingly said. “He stays within himself and stays calm up there.”
Could Brinson entertain the thought of bashing 59 homers, the total Stanton put up last season for Miami?
“Maybe one day, if I run into enough,” he said with a smile.
The Marlins might have a new fan favorite in 300-pound reliever Jumbo Diaz.
When the oversized right-hander returned to the dugout after completing a scoreless second inning Tuesday, some in the crowd began chanting his name:
“Jumbo! Jumbo! Jumbo!”
“The people love Jumbo,” Diaz said afterward. “I feel good about that.”
Diaz has been a fan favorite wherever he has played, according to Marlins bullpen coach Dean Treanor, who has managed the pitcher in the Dominican winter league and also the Pirates farm system.
Diaz, a nonroster invite with with 173 big-league relief appearances, stands a good chance of cracking the Opening Day roster.
▪ In a perfect world, the Marlins would prefer that rookie right-hander Sandy Alcantara perfect his craft in the minors, at least initially.
But the Marlins aren’t exactly overflowing with starting pitchers beyond Jose Ureña and Dan Straily, and Alcantara is making his case for an Opening Day rotation spot.
Alcantara on Tuesday overcame some wildness — walking two and hitting a pair of batters — to turn in three scoreless frames.
In three spring outings, Alcantara has given up a run over eight innings.
“Sandy has been pretty composed for a young guy in his situation coming over in a trade,” Mattingly said of the deal that sent Ozuna to the Cardinals. “We want to make sure this guy is ready developmental-wise. But if we think his last bit of development is going to come at the big-league level, then you go that way. If he goes out and keeps pitching well, he’s going to make it tough.”
▪ Right-hander Brett Graves — one of the Marlins’ two Rule 5 draft picks — left Tuesday’s outing with a left oblique strain and is listed as day-to-day.