If the remaining weeks of the ’ season are a bit of an experiment, trying different pieces in different places to see what might make sense in the year and years to come, consider their 4-1 win Sunday over the a success.
, perhaps the most athletic catcher in baseball, made his first start at first base and looked quite capable. He handled himself in the field, including an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right, and was his typically productive self at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a homer.
“It’s different not having to go throw your [catching] gear on after making the third out. It’s kind of nice not having to do that,” Realmuto said. “I haven’t even taken a ground ball since . I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go, but I was just going to have fun with it and it ended up working out.”
The Marlins paired Realmuto and Marcell Ozuna’s back-to-back homers in the first with another strong outing from right-hander Jose Urena (six innings, one run) to salvage the weekend series. They beat the Braves for the fourth time in 11 games this season.
The long balls came against Atlanta righty , who in his second major league start settled in to allow no additional runs in six innings.
Realmuto impressed, particularly early. After homering in the first, he recorded the second out of the seconding inning on Tyler Flowers’ chip shot to right. Realmuto put his head down, sprinted to where he thought it would land and looked up just in time to catch it — an outfield youth-baseball drill, he said.
“That play he makes over his shoulder early, nobody makes that [catch] on our club,” manager said. “And I think that’s one of the advantages. You feel like he’s as good as anybody we have over there. You’re comfortable with out there. So I think we will see a little bit more of it to get him some at bats.”
that didn’t materialize into much once the games started counting. It was meant merely to offer an extra degree of flexibility for the Marlins’ short bench, not serve as an indication of Realmuto’s defensive fate.
But before Sunday, he had played there just once previously, two innings in a blowout loss in May. After an impressive complete-game showing, it wouldn’t surprise to see Realmuto get more time there.
Starter Justin Bour is expected to be out at least into September with a strained right oblique. Backup had a slash line of .132/.209/.184 in the second half entering Sunday. Tomas Telis, another catcher who sometimes plays first, dropped a pickoff attempt Saturday and hasn’t made much of an argument with his bat.
If nothing else, the Marlins at least were able to keep Realmuto’s bat in the lineup on a day he usually has off (a Sunday day game after a Saturday night game) while not making him crouch behind the plate all afternoon. After a heavy workload in the season’s first four months, limiting Realmuto’s day-to-day physical strain would be a move made with an eye toward 2018.
“He’s still our catcher,” Mattingly said. He’s not going to be a guy over there three days a week, or anything like that. He’s pretty much our catcher. But I think it is a way to get him off his legs. A day game like today.”
Realmuto expressed the same expectation.
“I hope it doesn’t affect any catching. It won’t affect catching,” Realmuto said. “I want to catch every day I can and then just periodically on one of my off days, instead of getting an off day, play first.”
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