Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sent a letter to the team ahead of the start of spring training.
Most of the letter was actually written by former Marlins skipper Jim Leyland many years ago. Mattingly noted this and added a few of his own words as well. The letter was shared in its entirety on Wednesday by GammonsDaily.com.
In the letter, Mattingly uses Leyland's words to remind the players that often times it is the little things that can make all the difference. Moving a runner over can be the difference between a win and a loss at times for instance. Baseball has been known as a game of inches for many years, and an inch could be the difference maker in terms of a playoff appearance.
"Think for a moment on the things that will make the Miami Marlins a contender in 2017. It's really simple men -- It's The Little Things," Mattingly noted towards the end of the letter.
Miami had a difficult season in 2016, with some highs and some lows. The team contended for part of the year, but dealt with the tragic passing of Jose Fernandez as well. Making up for a loss like that, is an impossible task. Playing smart baseball though could keep the Marlins in contention. The National League East has arguably more talented rosters outside of Miami, but sometimes playing smart can make up for that.
Without an ace in the rotation, the Marlins may have to get creative with their pitching staff this season. Relievers could be asked to step into new roles, and there could be a number of different starting pitchers throughout the season. There will be opportunities for prospects to take part in the big leagues, and possibly even get a taste of postseason baseball.
The Marlins have contended in the past, even when many experts had written the team off. Mattingly is a meticulous manager, who will think back to Leyland's words in this letter. If his team also reflects on the letter, there could be some more positive moments at Marlins Park in 2017.
Miami will head to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter to begin spring training on February 14th.