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Excitement Swirls Around Delgado at FanFest


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Excitement runs deep at FanFest

Delgado, other Marlins ready to get season started

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

 

How many home runs will Carlos Delgado hit in 2005? Come on out and see, he told a fan who asked just that Saturday. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

 

MIAMI -- Where Carlos Delgado went, large crowds followed.

For the most part, pretty much all of the Marlins and team executives received star treatment as they milled about the six-hour BankUnited 2005 FanFest Saturday at Dolphins Stadium.

 

Their every step was shadowed by the throngs of fans who flocked to the stadium on the first day individual game tickets went on sale.

 

As expected, the arrival of Delgado was a highlight. The prize free agent first baseman recently signed the richest contract in franchise history, $52 million over four years.

 

A cheerful group of fans in the audience screamed to Delgado: "Welcome to Miami!"

 

"I can't wait until next Sunday (Feb. 20) to report to Jupiter, meet all the guys and get down to business," Delgado said.

 

Pitchers and catchers report to Marlins Spring Training in Jupiter on Feb. 17, with position players arriving Feb. 20 and the first full-squad workouts slated for Feb. 22.

 

Asked by a fan how many home runs he would hit in his debut season with the Marlins, Delgado remained non-committal. He actually used the question to challenge fans to see for themselves.

 

"I guess you're going to have to come out and watch," said the power-hitting first baseman, who spent the first 12 seasons of his big league career with the Blue Jays.

 

Delgado and his new teammates engaged in some entertaining interaction with fans in an afternoon town hall session. In front of about 150 packed into the Dolphins' locker room, Delgado sat with some of his new teammates.

 

In one lively discussion, the powerful Delgado was seated next to the speedy Juan Pierre. The most obvious similarity Pierre and Delgado share is both are left-handed hitters. Aside from that, they are as contrasting as a fastball and breaking ball.

 

Yet, before an energized gathering, they shared some fun moments playing off each other. When a fan asked Delgado about being the lefty "cleanup" hitter in the lineup, Pierre interjected: "OK, as long as you said cleanup hitter."

 

With seven career home runs, Pierre will never be confused with Delgado, who has smacked 336 as a Major Leaguer. But in a playful moment, Pierre joked about wanting to bulk up in the offseason to fill the lack of home run power from the left side.

 

"I was changing my whole workout routine," Pierre quipped about lifting more weights. "I figured if they wanted a lefty home run hitter, then maybe they could have had one under their nose."

 

But after Delgado signed, Pierre added: "Instead of going for 35 home runs, I'll hit my three to five."

 

Aside from the light-hearted exchanges, Delgado made it clear that players like Pierre played a significant role in his signing with the Marlins.

 

With Pierre leading off, followed by fleet-footed Luis Castillo, the Marlins offer the balance of great speed at the top of the order followed by power in Miguel Cabrera, Delgado and Mike Lowell.

 

"This is a really balanced lineup," Delgado said.

 

Lowell, a three-time All-Star, who spoke to fans earlier in the day, praised the arrival of Delgado.

 

"He is a bona fide home run hitter," Lowell said. "He's our Jim Thome or Manny Ramirez. I think we've got another one of those type of guys in Miguel Cabrera. But I'm not sure he can drive yet."

 

Cabrera, who turns 22 in April, comes off a 33 home run and 112 RBI season.

 

In another interesting exchange, pitcher A.J. Burnett was asked if he would consider a "hometown discount" to sign a long-term contract with the Marlins.

 

Eligible for free agency after the season, Burnett said: "I don't want to go nowhere, bro. Don't be surprised if a couple of months into the season we work something out. Everything is cool."

 

Over the past few seasons, FanFest has ballooned in terms of attendance, activities and attention.

 

The estimated crowd, which topped last year's total of 30,000, took advantage of Select-A-Seat, autograph sessions and town hall meetings with players and team officials.

 

The team announced 25,000 individual-game tickets were sold, an increase of more than 50 percent over the number of tickets sold on the first day of individual-game sales last year. Of that total, an estimated 50 percent of the tickets were purchased online. Tickets are available for all Marlins games at floridamarlins.com.

 

"We are pleased to have surpassed last year's first-day sales by 50 percent," Marlins president David Samson said. A World Series championship is always important for the following year's sales, but our numbers today prove that fielding a highly competitive team, while continuing to secure the franchise's future, is even more critical for our fans."

 

Along with the interaction with players, fans made their voices heard to Marlins management.

 

As expected, a hot topic for Samson was the team's quest for a new stadium.

 

Samson is spearheading the Marlins' negotiations for a retractable-roof stadium with city of Miami and Miami-Dade County officials. The team is optimistic that a local deal for the $420 million project will be finalized when county commissioners vote March 1.

 

To finalize the project, the team is seeking $60 million from the state Legislature in the form of a tax rebate. If everything is approved, the Marlins would move into a new stadium next to the Orange Bowl in Miami on Opening Day of 2008.

 

Samson said owner Jeffrey Loria has given two directives to the front office. To general manager Admin Beinfest, Loria asks for a winning team for years to come. And to Samson, Loria has stated he the new stadium to get done in order to ensure the long-term stability of the Marlins in South Florida.

 

FanFest officially opened at 10 a.m., when individual game tickets were sold at the stadium and online at floridamarlins.com. By 10:30 a.m. ET, more than 4,000 tickets were sold. The totals kept increasing rapidly throughout the day.

 

Samson noted that there were no barricades to sort the lines in 2002, after Loria took over. In 2003, there were two barricades. On Saturday, the number of barricades again doubled.

 

"This is bigger than after the [2003] World Series," Samson said. "The people are surprised that we don't have some of the seats available that were available in the past. We're a different club than we were a few years ago. People are wearing more Marlins stuff."

 

The signing of high-profile players like Delgado and Al Leiter helped generate interest.

 

"There was a ton of excitement before we signed Carlos," Samson said. "What that signing did was it just made people more excited and added more credibility to what we are doing."

 

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

 

 

 

 

This is a pretty good summary of some of the events from the press conferences.

 

You can see Delgado is going to fit in very well. :thumbup

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"I was changing my whole workout routine," Pierre quipped about lifting more weights. "I figured if they wanted a lefty home run hitter, then maybe they could have had one under their nose."

 

But after Delgado signed, Pierre added: "Instead of going for 35 home runs, I'll hit my three to five."

 

 

 

Pierre was a riot. That was the funniest exchange of the whole press conference. Pierre went on to say that once Carlos was signed, he went back about his regular routine to improve his speed. :D

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Not sure if anyone noticed this quote from Burnett in that article:

 

Eligible for free agency after the season, Burnett said: "I don't want to go nowhere, bro. Don't be surprised if a couple of months into the season we work something out. Everything is cool."

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Not sure if anyone noticed this quote from Burnett in that article:

 

Eligible for free agency after the season, Burnett said: "I don't want to go nowhere, bro. Don't be surprised if a couple of months into the season we work something out. Everything is cool."

684292[/snapback]

 

I hope he's not blowing smoke up our asses because it's one of those happy Marlins days. Bastard better stay with us.

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Not sure if anyone noticed this quote from Burnett in that article:

 

Eligible for free agency after the season, Burnett said: "I don't want to go nowhere, bro. Don't be surprised if a couple of months into the season we work something out. Everything is cool."

684292[/snapback]

 

I hope he's not blowing smoke up our asses because it's one of those happy Marlins days. Bastard better stay with us.

684318[/snapback]

 

He probably is to a certain extent. I'm sure he would like to stay....but would expect the Marlins to give him what he is worth....no hometown discounts.

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