The Miami Marlins’ 2019 season has not been one to remember, but the team is hoping to end it on a good note.
Manager Don Mattingly said on Saturday that shortstop Miguel Rojas will serve as the team’s player-manager for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Philadelphia Phillies, as the Sun Sentinel’s Wells Dusenbury reported.
Rojas has been one of the Marlins’ most pleasant surprises of the season, working his way up from a platoon option in the infield to the team’s starting shortstop. They rewarded him earlier in September with a two-year, $10 million extension that could keep him on the team through 2022.
Mattingly, who also received a two-year extension this month, has spoken highly of Rojas’ character and what he’s meant to the Marlins’ rebuild.
“What he’s been able to accomplish as a a hitter — he’s always been a great defensive player and continues to be — but from the offensive side, it’s like a personal example of a guy that will continue to work, continue to get better, continue to stride,” Mattingly said. “It makes me emotional because I’m so proud of him in what he’s been able to accomplish on that side of the ball and what he’s become. There’s no better example of what kind of player that we want. How much better you can get.”
Rojas has already impressed with a .284/.331/.379 batting line and a career-high 1.9 WAR. Maybe he'll add a managerial win to his record as well on Sunday.
How rare are player-managers in baseball?
Rojas actually won’t even be the first player-manager — honorary or otherwise — in Marlins history, nor the first under Mattingly. For the last game of the 2016 season, Mattingly named Martín Prado a player-manager, The Marlins wound up dropping the game to the Washington Nationals, 10-7, and Prado lifted himself after starting the game 1-for-2.
However, Major League Baseball hasn’t seen a full-time player-manager since Pete Rose led the Cincinnati Reds from 1984-86. Rose was trying to extend his career to break Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record, doing so in 1985, and ultimately coached another three seasons before he was banned from baseball for gambling.
Some teams have reportedly considered elevating team captains to the hybrid role but shied away from it. Among those under consideration were White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko in 2011 and Reds shortstop Barry Larkin in 2000.
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