Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria once again finds himself in the spotlight for the worst of reasons. This time, he has reportedly alienated his players and undermined manager Mike Redmond's authority in the process.
Yahoo Sports reported Friday that Loria ordered Redmond to switch starting pitchers for the team's doubleheader at the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday. Staff ace and veteran Ricky Nolasco had been slated to pitch the first half of the doubleheader, but Loria wanted 20-year-old rookie Jose Fernandez to pitch the opening game instead.
According to Yahoo, Loria made the move because he thought the weather would be warmer for the first game, and wanted to limit the risk of having the rookie pitch in cold weather (the Marlins and Twins were snowed out on Monday, forcing the doubleheader).
But Loria has denied the story, telling Fox Sports, "I had nothing to do with the decision. I was informed of the decision by the baseball department. I told them it was their call."
"I don’t make decisions on who to pitch and when, how to go about it," he added. "That’s not my role. Sometimes they call me and tell me what they're doing. But I don’t call them up and say, 'This is what is going to happen.' That’s not true."
Typically, the veteran would get to choose which game he pitches in a doubleheader, and Nolasco was told of the move two and a half hours before game time Tuesday.
Perhaps the worst part of the story is the fact that it was actually four degrees colder at the start of the first game, so Loria's reasoning was all for naught.
According to Yahoo, Redmond opposed the decision, but relented to his boss even though he clearly knew his players would not like the move. A Yahoo source said Redmond was "embarrassed" about the situation, adding, "He tried to fight it. He had nothing to do with it."
Nolasco is already disgruntled with management. He requested a trade after last November's fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. Nolasco will become a free agent after the season, but this latest reported tiff could lead to his being dealt before the midseason trade deadline.
The Marlins are becoming one of the few teams in baseball that free agents do not want to play for, and this controversy will only cement that reputation.
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