Tino brings hitting philosophy to young Marlins
Veteran of championship teams to institute mindset of grinding out at-bats
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Marlins will be counting on a group effort in hopes of manufacturing runs. Aside from Giancarlo Stanton, Miami's lineup is not filled with proven home run power.
Understanding the club's limitations, hitting coach Tino Martinez will be stressing the importance of situational hitting.
"We have to be a real good situational hitting team," Martinez said. "I want to see guys moving guys over, sacrificing themselves; drive guys in from third base with less than two outs. The fundamentals we work on in Spring Training, I want to see them transformed into the game, and not just go up there trying to hit a home run."
Run production was a major concern in 2012. The Marlins batted .234 with runners in scoring position, tied for 26th in the Majors. They scored 609 runs, second to last in the Majors, behind the Astros.
Stanton, who arrived in camp to take his physical on Monday, is the biggest threat in the lineup. The 23-year-old was second in the National League in homers a year ago, with 37. No other Marlins player hit more than 13.
Manager Mike Redmond is weighing whether to bat Stanton third or fourth, trying to figure out the best way to maximize the slugger's impact. Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco may wind up batting first and second, respectively. The offense clearly will need the parts to work together in the hopes of scratching out enough runs.
Martinez, who brings championship experience to the coaching staff, is welcoming the challenge of helping to mold a young roster. The former standout first baseman was aware that team owner Jeffrey Loria planned on rebuilding the roster after a disappointing 69-93 season in 2012.
"I like the opportunity that I'm in," Martinez said. "When Jeffrey Loria called me up and told me that he was going to clean house and go with a whole young team, would I want to help him out and be the hitting coach and go that route?
"I thought it was a great opportunity to come in and work with a bunch of young hitters. It is a chance to come in and teach them how to play the game the right way on a daily basis -- to work hard and just teach them how to become good professionals. I just thought it was a great opportunity, overall, to help rebuild this organization."
While with the Yankees in the 1990s, Martinez was a part of World Series title teams that collectively wore down opposing pitchers.
"I was on teams that won the World Series, and we grinded out at-bats," Martinez said. "We took our walks. We got deep into counts. Nobody tried to be a hero. If they are going to pitch around you, take your walks. You're hitting together as a team.
"That's how we're going to win ballgames. As a young team, that's the only way we can do it."
In recent months, Martinez has looked extensively at video of players like Stanton, Pierre and Logan Morrison.
"All the guys I was able to get on video, I was watching them," Martinez said. "To see when they made their outs, what kind of outs they made. Did they try to pull the ball too much? To find out what their weaknesses were. Now, in Spring Training, there are a lot of guys I don't know. I don't have any video out there."
Full-squad workouts get under way for the Marlins on Friday. But on Monday, Miami's new hitting coach was in the cage tossing flips to hitters.
Spring Training will be an important time for the young team to buy into the philosophies of the staff and the organization.
"We're going to have to work on that," Martinez said. "[We need to] grind out at-bats, cut down on the strikeouts and use the whole field. Take your walks. Of course, everybody wants to hit home runs. That's the ticket to their payday and big money. But your way to a payday is to become a complete hitter. That's what managers want. That's what our manager wants."