Secret weapon? Bigger bat!
During early batting practice, Justin Ruggiano created a moment of levity for a team in need of something to smile about.
So as a handful of players were taking their rounds hitting, Ruggiano lugged out an oversized bat with the Marlins’ logo on it.
When you’re last in the league in runs scored, and hadn’t generated much of anything at the plate, you try just about anything. Mostly, the players got a good laugh. Giancarlo Stanton, the club’s towering right fielder, had some fun with the prop.
No one actually took a swing with the bat, but its presence made an impact, even if it only lightened the mood.
“I’m afraid someone might get hurt swinging that thing,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We can’t afford any more injurires.”
As fate would have it, the Marlins went out and defeated the Nationals, 8-2, scoring a season-high run total.
After the game, Redmond noted that bat would be traveling with the team on its road trip, which begins on Thursday at Cincinnati.
Asked about getting the bat through security, Redmond noted, “It could be on the seat next to me on the plane.”
Before the game, Redmond quipped: “That thing is heavy. It’s like my bat felt like at the end of my career.”
Where did the bat come from?
“I have no idea,” Redmond said. “Those things just appear. Maybe it’s someone telling us something, we need bigger bats.”
Actually, there is a story about how the bat mysteriously arrived. It turns out it was more a coincidence. And the bat belongs to Cullen McRae, the Marlins’ video coordinator.
McRae’s friend, Robin Jennings, owns a company called Big Ash Bats. Jennings was a college teammate of McRae, and he spent some time in the big leagues with the Cubs and the Reds.
The 5-foot bat was sent as a birthday gift for McRae.
“It just so happened, when I opened it up, Ruggiano was in my office,” McRae said. “When I opened it up, he grabbed it and ran out on the field with it. It’s real wood.
“It’s a complete coincidence. The box came and Ruggiano was looking at video when I opened the box. And that day we scored a bunch of runs.”
— Joe Frisaro