Opening Day 1998

The World Champion Florida Marlins open the 1998 season in front of a sold out crowd at Pro Player Stadium today at 4:35. The Marlins’ Livan Hernandez will start for Florida, while Kevin Tapani start for the visiting Cubs. Bobby Bonilla will throw the first pitch to Alex Fernandez. Broadcast on SportsChannel Florida and WGN.

The Marlins 1998 Opening Day Lineup:

LF – Cliff Floyd
SS – Edgar Renteria
1B – Ryan Jackson
RF – Gary Sheffield
CF – Mark Kotsay
C – Charles Johnson
2B – Craig Counsell
3B – Josh Booty
P – Livan Hernandez

Lee Benched for Jackson; Kotsay to Start at CF

Following the Marlins loss to Baltimore, Jim Leyland announced that Ryan Jackson, not Derrick Lee will be the Marlins’ opening day first baseman, and Mark Kotsay, not Todd Dunwoody will start in center field. Jackson and Kotsay have played very well in the spring. Both players are hitting over .300 in the spring and have outplayed almost all the other Marlins. Josh Booty has secured the starting third base job until at least May 1, when Bobby Bonilla is expected to return from the DL. Todd Dunwoody and Kevin Millar were sent to the minors. Eric Owens was sold to Milwuakee for $20,000 only 4 days after being aquired. Should the Marlins trade Cangelosi and Eisenriech, Dunwoody and Millar would be recalled.

Eric Owens Added to the Mix

The Marlins have acquired Eric Owens from the Cincinnati Reds for Jesus Martinez. The Marlins were out of options on Martinez and therefore had to keep him on the major league roster or waive him. Owens is 27 years old. He is 6-1, 185 lbs. righty. He plays the outfield and the infield. With Leyland carrying an extra pitcher, the acquisition of Owens would allow the few bench players to be more diverse. He will fight with Josh Booty for the third base spot.

Injured Stratton Sent Back to Mets

Robert Stratton, acquired from the Mets in the Dennis Cook trade, was returned to New York after a back injury was discovered. The Marlins received Brandon Villafuerte, a 22-year-old right-hander, and a player to be named later in return. Villafuerte was 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA and seven saves last season at Class A Capital City of the South Atlantic League.

MLB Approves Smiley’s Potential Purchase of Team

Major League Baseball’s Executive Council approved Marlins’ President Don Smiley as the new Managing Partner of the Florida Marlins. This gave Smiley advance approval of his bid to purchase the team. He will “own” the team even though his purchase is not completed. The acquisition should be completed in June. The team will have 15 investors at $150 million. Wayne Huizenga and Whit Hudson will remain minority owners with no influence on the teams’ operation.

Strong Pitching Leads Marlins Over Phillies

Brian Meadows did not allow any earned runs in 7 strong innings, and reliever-turned-starter-turned-closer Felix Heredia struck out the sides in the 9th to lead the Marlins to a 3-2 victory over Curt Schilling and the Philadelphia Phillies. Derrek Lee hit his 5th home run (he has 6 hits this season) and Jim Eisenreich his a pinch-hit 2-run home run to account for the runs. After losing 11 consecutive games, the Marlins have now won the last two.

Dempster, Redmond and Gonzalez Sent to Minors

Marlins assigned the following players to the minor-league camp: Pitchers Aaron Akin, Joe Fontenot, Brent Billingsley, Rey Mendoza and Ryan Dempster, catchers Scott Makareqicz, Mike Redmond and Ryan Robertson, first baseman Brian Daubach and outfielder Chris Sheff. Pitcher Blaine Mull, second baseman Amaury Garcia and outfielder Julio Ramirez were optioned to Double A Portland, and shortstop Alex González was optioned to Triple A Charlotte.

Marlins Young Lineup to Face UM in Spring Opener

Jim Leyland will present a young lineup for tomorrow’s opening game against the Univeristy of Miami: left fielder Fletcher Bates (23 years old), center fielder Julio Ramirez (20), right fielder Ryan Jackson (26), first baseman Brian Daubach (26), second baseman Amaury Garcia, shortstop Alex González (21), third baseman Josh Booty (22), catcher Scott Makarewicz (30), and designated hitter John Roskos (23). Right-hander Joe Fontenot (20) will start, followed by Brent Billingsley (22), Ryan Dempster (20), Blaine Mull (21), Aaron Akin (20), Rey Mendoza (27) and Nelson Lara (19).

Leiter Traded to Mets for Burnett, Sanchez and Stratton

The Marlins trade Al Leiter and Ralph Milliard to the New York Mets. In return, the Marlins receive minor-league pitchers Jesus Sanchez and A.J. Burnett and outfielder Robert Stratton. Marlins removed $3 million in salary by trading Leiter.

Milliard became the odd man out in the infield with the emergence of Renteria, Counsell, and Castillo.

Sanchez, 23, LHP, 13-10 with a 4.30 ERA and 176 K in 165.1 inning at Class AA.

Stratton, 20, OF, hit .249 with 15 HR in 245 AB but struck out 94 times and walked 19 BB in Rookie League.

Burnett, 22, RHP, allowed only 28 hits in 44 innings at Class A, but walked 35.