Thursday, February 16, 2012

Marlins Caravan stops for a little golf

BY David Villavicencio

The Marlins took time to help a great cause today by hosting the Marlins Celebrity Golf Classic at Miccosukee Golf and Country Club in Miami. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Miracle League of Miami-Dade County.

It was the tenth consecutive year that Marlins players, front office executives and local sports personalities will tee it up in support of the Miracle League of Miami-Dade County.

The Miracle League of Miami-Dade provides the opportunity for children with mental and/or physical challenges to play baseball on special custom designed rubber turf fields for their protection and accommodations for wheelchairs and walkers.

Beyond helping out a worthy cause, the tournament provided opportunities to see the players up close. It also gave newcomers like Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Carlos Zambrano a chance to get to know some of their new teammates.

Speaking of Zambrano, I spoke with Big Z about what it felt like to be a Marlin and he could not be happier. The 6-foot-5 right-hander is thrilled for his new opportunity and cannot wait to get the season started. Read more on Zambrano here.

Anibal Sanchez is another player I had the chance to talk to. Fresh off his win in arbitration, Sanchez is excited for what he expects to be a big 2012 season. He will play on a one-year deal in his final season under team control and the Marlins have said they are not interested in offering him an extension at this time.

Always a pro, Sanchez is not letting his contract status get in the way of his preparation. Read more on Sanchez here.

Like most of the Marlins, Sanchez appears to be in excellent shape heading into camp. Edward Mujica is another player who is in good form. Mujica appears to have lost some weight in the off-season as he prepares for his second year as a Marlin.

Hanley Ramirez also is looking as strong as ever. The former batting champ appears to have bulked up a bit before he makes the transition to third base. Ramirez declined to talk to the media but new shortstop Jose Reyes said he is excited about the potential the left side of the Marlins' infield possesses.

You can see some pictures from today's event on my colleague, Joe Capozzi's blog.  New Closer Heath Bell's outfit was a hit. Mujica said that two years ago, Bell wore a similar outfit to a Padres golf tournament only it was black and yellow and made Bell looks like a bumble bee. This year's bright green ensemble brought back memories of the late Payne Stewart.

Stay tuned for more Marlins coverage from me as Spring Training gets going. The Fish will report on February 22 and start playing games on March 5.


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