When the Marlins officially open camp Tuesday, many players might have to rely more than ever on the name tags above their lockers at Roger Dean Stadium to identify each other.
That’s a stark contrast from last year when it was easy to recognize the faces of All-Stars Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and other veterans. Just about all of them are gone, replaced by young, talented players lacking experience but hungry for big-league jobs.
And that might not necessarily be a bad thing, especially since the Marlins are trying to create something they sorely lacked during parts of last year on their way to a 93-loss season: a positive clubhouse culture.
“I haven’t seen any of these guys. They all have a clean slate,” rookie manager Mike Redmond said Monday as pitchers and catchers filed in and out of the clubhouse.
“Everybody starts fresh. We are done talking about what happened last year. That’s over. We are moving forward and talking about day-to-day and how we can build this thing back up and get it headed in the right direction.”
Miami started moving in that direction last July, when Ramirez — who often rubbed his teammates and managers the wrong way in his six-plus seasons with the Marlins — was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Without saying names, I think the main issue there with clubhouse culture was addressed halfway through the season. Once that was taken care of, the clubhouse culture was much better,” said veteran infielder Greg Dobbs.
But the Marlins weren’t done. When the season ended, the front office’s next two moves were to trade embattled reliever Heath Bell to Arizona and to fire controversial manager Ozzie Guillen. Bell also had issues with teammates and Guillen disrupted the clubhouse the first week of the season with his controversial remarks about Fidel Castro.
The move that made the most headlines came in November when Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and two other players were traded to Toronto. But that was more about replacing expensive contracts with young talent, since the players Miami gave up were considered solid clubhouse presences.