How did Jerar Encarnacion celebrate one of the greatest Major League debuts in history? Not by shopping with ace Sandy Alcantara for promised new clothes, but by spending time at his cousin Randy's place in Brooklyn.
Encarnacion, who became the first NL/AL player since at least 1901 to hit a grand slam, record an outfield assist and steal a base in his first MLB game, found out he was going to start just hours earlier on Sunday morning. So, around 10 of his friends and family members went to Citi Field to watch the Marlins beat the Mets, 6-2. Afterwards, they eagerly waited outside the visiting clubhouse for Encarnacion.
"They told me that they had a lot of plans for yesterday and they had to cancel every single one of them just to come and watch the game," Encarnacion said via an interpreter. "They told me it was fully worth it, that it was something very special being here for me."
It became an even more emotional scene when Encarnacion's mother, Carmela, and father, Manuel, back home in the Dominican Republic, were put on a video call.
"My mom almost fainted," Encarnacion said. "She had to drink some water with sugar. She was very, very excited."
Miami's No. 20 prospect had been part of the taxi squad for the first two games of last week's Phillies series before rejoining Triple-A Jacksonville. He then received his first callup on Friday, when Jesús Sánchez and Jesús Aguilar landed on the injured list. Randy, whom Encarnacion considers a brother because their birthdays are one day apart and they grew up together, took him for a haircut. But Encarnacion had to wait until Sunday for his chance at a Major League debut.
"I was ready since I got here, prepared for anything to help the team," Encarnacion said.
How many wins did Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond collect as Marlins manager?
This season marks the 25th anniversary of the 1997 World Series championship ballclub. In this latest installment, we catch up with Charles Johnson, who was part of the May 13-15 celebration at loanDepot park.
Johnson played seven seasons with the Marlins, from 1994-98 and 2001-02. During his first stint with the franchise, CJ won four consecutive Gold Glove Awards. In his All-Star '97 campaign, Johnson posted an .802 OPS with 19 homers and no errors behind the plate.
MLB.com: What did it mean to you to go from the franchise's first pick to the pinnacle of the sport?
Charles Johnson: Being drafted by the Marlins in '92 was a heck of an experience by itself. You get a chance to play for the University of Miami, and then all of a sudden with the Florida Marlins, it was a dream come true regardless of whatever happened. To be able to get into the system and start playing -- I came up in '94 for a little bit, '95 was my first full year after the strike year -- and to be able to win a World Series in '97, I could never dream that. After you play for a long time, you realize that those things don't happen very often, to win a World Series that fast, let alone being a new franchise to win a World Series.
What's the moment that sticks out for you most about that season?
After winning the World Series, people don't realize that when it was all over, the entire team and the staff, we went into the training room and closed the door. Everybody had a chance to say something about that season, late at night, after we won the ballgame. I remember that very vividly. Being able to be with everybody, and for everybody to say something about their year and how they enjoyed it, that was very exciting.
I don't know word for word [what I said], but I was just excited. I remember telling them I was just excited about being with you guys. I enjoyed the season and I appreciated all the guys, because at that point, it was, like, my third year. I was just in the league, so I was fairly young. Playing with a lot of veteran guys, it was really a learning process for me.
On a personal level, it was one of the years where I ended up not making an error, so it was kind of a wild year. I didn't really know it until August when the reporter said it, and then my nerves got me a little bit.
What was it like catching those pitchers on the team?
It was a lot of fun. At the time, me and Edgar [Renteria] were the younger guys. For me to be able to catch that pitching staff was incredible. I learned a lot from those guys -- from Kevin Brown to Al Leiter to Alex Fernandez. We had Robb Nen in the bullpen and had Dennis Cook coming out middle relief, a lefty specialist here and there. We had "Pulpo," Antonio Alfonseca. We had guys that were some good arms in that bullpen. Guys like Jay Powell coming out there throwing, doing his thing. I learned a lot from those guys. They trusted in me as far as calling a game, which is really good.
Where were you on the final play?
I was in the dugout. In the ninth inning, I had a base hit and came out of the game. Gregg Zaun came in to pinch-run for me. I was more nervous out of the game than in the game. When I came out of the game, it was nerve-wracking for those two innings. I couldn't be still. I'm back and forth from the locker room to the dugout, pacing. I couldn't sit down, because I'm usually out there on the field catching and doing things. Those were the longest two innings of my life, just sitting there waiting to see what's going to happen.
Dylan Floro, Richard Bleier, Luke Williams, Tommy Nance, Nick Fortes, Steven Okert, Trevor Rogers, Louis Head and Braxton Garrett attended a matinee performance of "The Phantom of the Opera" (with a little persuasion from yours truly) during last Thursday's off-day in New York.
Phase 1 of balloting for the 2022 All-Star Game, which will be played on July 19 at Dodger Stadium, is open. Jazz Chisholm Jr. leads all National League second basemen following the first update with 634,762 votes, ahead of the Braves’ Ozzie Albies (589,804) and the Mets’ Jeff McNeil (580,257). You can read more about this year’s two-phase process here.
June 20: Raking vs. Hall of Famer
After striking out in his first matchup against future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, Johnson knocked a leadoff homer in the fifth and an RBI triple in the seventh. That was the only time in his career he tripled and homered in the same game. The Marlins would hold on for a 2-1 victory over the Expos at Stade Olympique.
Redmond, who was the backup catcher for the Marlins from 1998-2004, managed the club from 2013-15. Prior to his dismissal in May '15, he accumulated a 155-207 record.
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