The Miami Marlins have tweaked their controversial facial hair policy ahead of the 2017 regular season.
Players will now be allowed to grow facial hair, as long as they keep it maintained and trimmed. During 2016, Miami had a policy against all facial hair. The policy is rare in baseball, and was met with some criticism along the way. One of the more outspoken opponents of the policy was pitcher Andrew Cashner.
Even though Cashner departed the team in the off-season, his vocal outrage over the policy may have played a role in the change. Cashner let it be known, that he would look elsewhere for a contract due to the policy. When pitching with San Diego prior to his trade to Miami, Cashner had a beard. Upon arriving in Miami, the veteran shaved off the look and was clean-shaven the rest of the season.
Miami has had different variations of the facial hair policy over the years, and at times has not had a policy at all. In 2015, players such as Marcell Ozuna featured a bushy beard. Ozuna was one of many Marlins that was clean-shaven all season long in 2016.
When the zero facial hair policy was announced last year, manager Don Mattingly acknowledged it could be met with skepticism. Mattingly was a player that experienced another facial hair policy during his career. While with the New York Yankees, Mattingly was once benched for his refusal to cut his hair. "The Simpsons" even mocked this moment during one of the show's classic episodes. In that particular episode, an animated version of Mattingly was reprimanded for not trimming his sideburns.
"Guys will whine," Mattingly said in 2016. "Some guys like it; some guys won't. As long as we're consistent, I think it's not that big of a deal."
Not all of the players who had to shave, made a big deal about it last year. The late Jose Fernandez had gone with a bearded look during 2015. In his final big-league season, Fernandez shaved off the whiskers on his face.
"I'm afraid I'm going to look 16," the late Fernandez said at the time. "But it's not a big deal. Whatever the rules are, we're going to follow them."
The policy change could be a welcome sign for one of Miami's newest players. Dan Straily who came along in a trade with Cincinnati during the off-season, will be able to keep his same look now. While with the Reds, Straily had a beard. The veteran pitcher can now bring that same look to the Marlins, without any fear of discipline.
The Marlins and their new facial hair will begin spring training next week at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.