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MIAMI (AP) — Even with the retractable roof open, the thud of Alex Rodriguez’s drive off the center-field wall reverberated throughout Miami’s ballpark.
Baseball’s active home run leader put a dent in the Marlins’ new home Monday night with an RBI double, and he also had a sacrifice fly to help the New York Yankees complete a two-game exhibition sweep with a 5-2 victory.
Players and fans are wondering how the ball will travel at Marlins Park, and Rodriguez’s deep drive landed at the base of the wall near the 418-foot sign.
“It’s going to definitely be a pitchers’ park, no doubt about it,” said Rodriguez, who grew up in Miami. “It’s spacious.”
Derek Jeter agreed.
“It’s a big one,” he said. “You’ve got to hit it, I know that much. But if you want to win, you need a pitchers’ park.”
The game was the last of spring training for the Marlins, who have high expectations as they open the season at home Wednesday night against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
“The fun is over for the players,” new manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Now it’s all about business.”
Marlins newcomer Carlos Zambrano, who has battled wildness this spring, walked seven and allowed five runs in four-plus innings. He finished with an ERA of 6.23 in six games and walked 17 in 21 2-3 innings, but said his arm feels good and he’s ready for the season.
“In spring training I didn’t give up a home run, so that’s good,” Zambrano said. “The runs I gave up were on cheap hits.”
Guillen rolled his eyes, however, when asked about Zambrano’s outing.
“Not too good,” the manager said.
Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda allowed one run in three innings and finished spring training with a 2.92 ERA in six games.
“Any spring training without an injury is a good spring training,” said Kuroda, slated to start the second game of the season.
Phil Hughes, scheduled to start New York’s third game, pitched four scoreless innings of relief. He finished spring training with an ERA of 1.56 in five games.
Manager Joe Girardi was pleased with both Kuroda and Hughes.
“That’s how you want guys to throw before their first start,” Girardi said.
The Yankees, who open the season Friday at Tampa Bay, have lost only two of their past 14 games.
On a clear, 80-degree evening, the retractable roof and windows beyond left field were opened shortly before the first pitch.
The roof was closed Sunday, when the teams combined for 18 runs. It was also closed for two games the Marlins played against college teams early last month.
“I’m glad the roof was open so we could see what it was like,” Guillen said. “I think it played fair.”
Like Rodriguez, teammate Raul Ibanez didn’t have quite enough oomph to clear the wall. Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison made a running catch a step from the fence to prevent an extra-base hit.
“It feels great to have the greatest catch in the history of the ballpark,” Morrison said jokingly.
The exhibition games gave the Marlins a chance to find and fix any problems. A small section of the roof track leaked and was repaired. Air conditioning vents were adjusted in several locations that were too cold — a new complaint at Marlins games. Spotty cell reception is being addressed, traffic flow has been tweaked and parking options have been expanded.
Among the features at the ballpark is a nightclub beyond left field that remained open for several hours after Sunday’s game. New Marlins closer Heath Bell stopped by to serve drinks.
(© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)