Torborg says Marlins have what it takes to winPosted: Friday February 22, 2002 1:14 PM
Throughout spring training, CNNSI.com will feature regular dispatches from Sports Illustrated staffers assigned to scout camps in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues.
By Jeff Pearlman, Sports Illustrated
Team: Florida Marlins
Site: Melbourne, Fla.
Weather: Sunny, low 70s
Player I Saw Whom I Really Liked: Matt Treanor. Once upon a time this non-roster catcher was a hot prospect in Kansas City Royals' camp. Now he's just a 25-year-old minor leaguer trying to catch someone's eye. Treanor, who hit .157 at Class AA Portland last season, is a guy to root for 1) because he spent this offseason working in the Disneyland parking lot, checking cars for explosive devices; 2) because he doesn't own a set of wheels himself and came to camp with "absolutely zero money"; 3) because, as a scrub, he wears No. 66; 4) because he plans to one day follow his father's career path and become a fireman; 5) because he's one of the first to arrive at camp each day and the last to leave; 6) because, in his words, "I'm living my dream."
Around the Horn: Thursday morning, new Marlins manager Jeff Torborg and his coaching staff held a closed-door meeting with the team. It was supposed to go 5-10 minutes. It lasted almost an hour. According to players, Torborg stressed that the Fish have enough talent to win ASAP. It's just a matter of tightening up the fundamentals and playing as a team. "You know it was a good meeting," says outfielder Cliff Floyd, "because guys were nodding their heads with his words." ... The early sensation around here has been Matt Clement, the 27-year-old right-hander who stunk up Pro Player last summer. Clement is one of those Bruce Berenyi- type guys: great stuff, minimal results. On the first day of workouts, pitching coach Brad Arnsberg noticed that Clement's footing was off and that his release point was a bit awkward. Arnsberg pointed out what he'd observed and -- BAM! -- Clement's looked like Don Drysdale ever since. ... Rusty Kuntz, once the Marlins' first base coach, was one of 70 or so team employees laid off in the recent Montreal invasion. Last season Kuntz worked as a roving minor league instructor. On Thursday he was outside the stadium, mowing the grass for fun, as well as for a few extra bucks. ... Thursday morning Florida's hitters faced live pitching for the first time since October. Ryan Dempster, the team's No. 1 starter, has always been known as a brutal spring training opponent. Thursday was no exception. "I felt like a Little Leaguer facing Roger Clemens ," said Floyd. ... Last spring the team acquired Eric Owens from San Diego to start in left field. After a poor showing (.253, 28 RBIs) by Owens in 2001, the job is now Kevin Millar's to lose. ... According to Torborg, catcher Charles Johnson is in the same class as Pudge Rodriguez, considered by many to be the greatest defensive backstop ever. ... Bill Robinson, the team's new hitting coach, was once a mid-80's icon -- much like Alf, Webster and the Rubik's Cube -- for the low-two handshake he used while a coach with the Mets (instead of slapping hands, Robinson only uses two fingers). Just like Emmanuel Lewis returning for that wacky Denny's commercial, the low-two is back. "It's just to make guys feel special," says Robinson. "A treat."
Sports Illustrated senior writer Jeff Pearlman will check in periodically
with reports from his tour of spring camps. Click here to send a question to his
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