Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins came into the season confident the roster that had been constructed in the offseason could not only pitch well, but also smack the ball around pretty well in the new Marlins Park.
The best word to describe that confidence now may be, oops.
Miami’s batters are hitting .228 overall and have a .291 on-base percentage which is near the bottom in the National League. The lineup fields two recent NL batting champions, good speed, and a big hitter in Giancarlo Stanton. But so far, no one has showed up.
It’s prompted some to ask is the new ballpark part of the problem.
Marlins Park has outfield walls that are tough for almost any hitter to overcome. The distance from home plate to left-center is 386 feet, 418 feet to dead centerfield, and 392 feet to right center field.
“It’s too big, in my opinion. It’s huge,” said Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, whose team just concluded a four-game series against the Marlins in the new ballpark.
“They’ll have to figure out how to hit in it,” he said. “You tend to want to pull the ball more in a big park, because that’s where the ball goes out. That’s the way they built it, and they’ll have to deal with it.”
But don’t come to Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen with that as an excuse for the poor hitting. Guillen said the players are not making adjustments are taking the same approach each day. Guillen threatened the team with “a very drastic change” if players won’t make the necessary adjustments.
When it comes to Marlins Park, Guillen said if the players were having too much trouble, then leave.
“If they don’t want to hit here, call your agent and get traded,” Guillen said. “I don’t see any problem with the other team. They’re kicking our butts pretty good. If that’s in your head, please tell me, and we’ll find somebody who isn’t worried about the ballpark.”
But while the Marlins have struggled at home this season, they’ve been flat out abysmal on the road. In 2012, the Marlins are just 2-9 on the road and have a team batting average of .202, or just slightly above the Mendoza line.
Hanley Ramirez is hitting .207 after going through a recent 0-26 slump and Stanton has just one home run on the season. Jose Reyes is batting .220 from the leadoff position and the number two batter in the order, Emilio Bonifacio, is hitting just .244 on the season.
There has been talk already about moving the fences in Marlins Park, but hitting struggle often happen in a new stadium. Reyes dealt with the same problem when Citi Field opened in 2009. Citi Field’s fences were lowered and brought in this season.
Still, Marlins catcher John Buck said it’s just something the team will have to overcome.
“We’re going to have to deal with it,” said catcher John Buck, who was batting .200. “The only thing we can control is our approach — just put the ball in play a little more consistently, and not worry about the field or the dimensions, because they’re obviously not going to change this year.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)