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Miami’s Brantly making impression on his pitchers

February 18, 2013

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Rob Brantly caught his pitchers’ attention even before the Miami Marlins reported to spring training.

Brantly drove about 165 miles round trip several times in the week before reporting to camp to catch Marlins pitchers both in Jupiter, Fla., and Miami — where players were making community relations appearances.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, that’s just pure dedication and that’s what it takes to get where’s he’s at,” Marlins closer Steve Cishek said. “He’s got so much energy. He’s like the Energizer Bunny.”

The long drive to perform double bullpen duty was no big deal to Brantly.

“The pitchers are here for me, I have to be there for them,” he said.

Brantly, 23, is expected to be the starting catcher for a Marlins team rebuilding mainly with youth. He was acquired from Detroit before last season’s trade deadline in the deal that sent pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Tigers.

“We’re going to grow together as a team,” Brantly said. “Every day brings us new challenges. You can go in optimistically and develop a process in which you think’s going to put you in position to succeed, or not.”

Brantly made his major league debut with Miami on Aug. 14. The left-handed batter hit .290 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI in 31 games.

Besides working on his swing and defense, Brantly is spending time getting familiar with Miami’s pitching staff.

Cishek was among the Marlins pitchers who threw to Brantly last season.

“He was great. From my standpoint, we were on the same page right from the start and it seemed we clicked pretty early,” Cishek said. “I liked how he set up, and that’s an important thing.”

Brantly and the other Marlins catchers in camp are trying to impress rookie manager Mike Redmond, who caught in the majors for 13 years.

“He told me he was a catcher and he holds catchers to a certain standard,” Brantly said. “I’m excited to pick his brain as much as I can.”

That should please Redmond, who said Brantly will call pitches on his own as opposed to having them signaled in from the dugout.

“Those guys are the captains back there. They have to have the answers, they have to have a plan,” Redmond said. “When things go wrong, I don’t blame the pitcher, I blame the catcher.”

Jeff Mathis, acquired in the November blockbuster trade with Toronto, figures to back up Brantly. Redmond said the team planned to open the season with two catchers on the roster.

“I don’t know what they have in mind, but I think Rob’s the guy,” Mathis said. “Still, I prepare myself for every day.”

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