BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
I have to admit that going into the 2023 Miami Marlins season, I didn’t know what to expect.
Instead of going to what many people call a retread, an experienced manager, Marlins GM Kim Ng decided to hire a young skipper with no experience.
Prior to landing the managerial gig, Skip Schumaker played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2005-2012.
His next stop was with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2013 campaign.
His final stop landed him in Cincinnati with the Reds from 2014-2015.
Schumaker was an outfielder and a second baseman.
During his playing career, he hit .278 with 28 home runs and 284 RBIs as a left-handed hitter.
The 43-year old native, who hails from Torrance, CA., fits the modern day profile of a baseball guy that has a huge tattoo on his arm.
He made millions of dollars in his playing career and also collected a championship ring by playing 28 regular season games during the 2006 season for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Despite not playing in the post-season, the Cardinals defeated the Detroit Tigers 4-1 in the World Series, led by Albert Pujols.
Schumaker eventually retired on March 9, 2016 and it was time for him to take the next step in his career as a coach.
That opportunity came on December 4, 2017 when he agreed to become the first base coach of the San Diego Padres. He was promoted to associate manager prior to the 2020 season.
On November 6, 2021, Schumaker was hired as the bench coach of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Little did he know that he’d ever become the new manager of the Miami Marlins, but Ng hired Schumaker on October 25, 2022 to replace Don Mattingly.
The one thing that was easy to adjust to was the fact that during Spring Training at Roger Dean Stadium, all he had to do is go to work on the Marlins side of the joint facility in Jupiter, shared by the Cardinals.
On Saturday, June 3, 2023, I finally had the opportunity to speak to the rookie pilot and I was totally impressed with his demeanor.
He is 17-years younger than I am. At the end of my third question, he was cordial and said to me that I hope I was able to answer all of your questions. I told him he was great.
I could tell that Ng wanted to bring on a guy that was close enough in age to relate to these younger players.
Ng had plenty of roster turnover during the off-season and one of the players she sent to Los Angeles Dodgers possessed a strong clubhouse presence in shortstop Miguel Rojas. I wondered whether the loss of Rojas would be a detriment to the club.
To this point with the Marlins are playing solid baseball and are 37-31, four games back behind division leading, Atlanta.
During the Media Availability, I decided to talk to the manager about his opponent, the Oakland A’s.
This is a franchise which is in a lame duck situation as it appears to be relocating to Las Vegas when the team’s lease is up at the Oakland Coliseum at the end of the 2024 Season.
The A’s are currently 19-50.
When they came to Miami from June 2-4, their record was 12-46 and in last place in the AL West Division. This is an opponent that the Marlins were expected to have no problem and sweep them.
I asked three questions but the most important one was whether I felt this is the series the Marlins should sweep because they were facing a much inferior opponent.
The title of this story gives you a pretty good idea of his answer.
I encourage you to listen to the video in the story about not only what I said, but my colleagues as well.
During the game, the Marlins sent rookie Eury Perez, their top pitching prospect and the youngster showed the crowd of 10, 649 fans that South Florida fans should be excited about the right-handed hurlers potential.
The Marlins thrashed the A’s 12-1 and Perez pitched five strong innings, yielded four hits and struck out five and only walked one batter to improve his record to 3-1 while his ERA dropped from 2.84 to 2.25.
But the big story of this game was the record setting night of second baseman Luis Arraez, who become the first player in franchise history to have five hits and five RBI in one game. He had two singles and three doubles and the Marlins cruised on this night.
Miami did sweep the A’s by scores of 4-0, 12-1 and 7-5. The final game reinforced what Schumaker said as the Fish won by two runs.
The Marlins took care of business by sweeping their next opponent the Kansas City Royals at Loan Depot Park, then won their series on the South Side of Chicago 2-1 over the White Sox.
They defeated the opponents they had to in order to keep contending for a playoff spot.
After Oakland left Miami, the A’s would go on a seven-game winning streak defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates twice, swept a three game series with the Milwaukee Brewers and defeated to Tampa Bay Rays twice, proving that Schumaker’s hindsight that you can’t take your opponent for granted.
The A’s record is 19-50.
As of my post, the Marlins traveled to Seattle and thus far, have lost two games to the Seattle Mariners on Monday 8-1 and Tuesday 9-3. Miami enters tonight’s game with a 37-31 record.
They’ll wrap up the series tonight in Seattle then travel to Washington, DC to conclude their road trip against the Washington Nationals.
On Monday, June 20, Miami hosts the Toronto Blue Jays in the return of Don Mattingly, who is the team’s bench coach in a series that concludes on Wednesday, June 23.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com.
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