Steve Cishek Hopeful That He’ll Be On Florida Marlins’ Roster From Day One
By: Rich Maclone
Miami Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro said on his blog this week that Falmouth resident Steve Cishek was a “lock” to be on the squad’s roster when it opens its brand new stadium on Wednesday for Opening Day of the 2012 season. The relief pitcher, who spent most of last year with the big league club, was not quite as confident as the reporter.
“We’ll see what happens. I feel good, but you never know,” he said a day before pitching another scoreless inning out of the Marlin bullpen on Tuesday afternoon.
After his one hit, one strike-out inning against the Washington Nationals, Cishek had lowered his earned run average to just 1.59 during the Grapefruit League season. Over 5.2 innings he’s surrendered five hits and just a single earned run while striking out four and walking just two. That does not include a couple of scoreless minor league outings he’s had during the spring on days when the team wanted to get him some extra preseason work.
“I’m thinking it’s looking alright, but I don’t want to jinx anything,” Cishek said as Saturday’s final cut-down day approaches. “I had one rough outing, but I don’t think it was that bad.”
Cishek was touched up for a run over 1.1 innings on March 20 against Tampa Bay. That day he walked a pair and gave up three hits. Other than that game, though, he’s been his usual solid self. “It takes me a little while to get my timing down. I feel pretty good. I know what to expect (in Major League camp) now. It’s easier this year,” he said.
The hard-throwing right-hander made his major league debut back in September of 2010, appearing in three games. Last year he started the season with the New Orleans Zephyrs of the Pacific Coast League but found a full-time spot with the Marlins in June and never looked back.
Over the course of the year, Cishek appeared in 45 games, posting a 2.63 earned run average with a 2-1 record and three saves. He allowed just 45 hits in 54.2 innings with 19 walks and 55 strike-outs.
During the off-season, the Marlins made some big moves as they push to be a big-time contender in the National League East. Shortstop Jose Reyes signed as a free agent, along with closer Heath Bell and starting pitcher Mark Buerhle.
With fiery manager Ozzie Guillen taking over the reins and loads of talent in the clubhouse, the Marlins are pushing all-in this year in an attempt to get back to the World Series. Cishek said that he thinks that this team will be a joy to be a part of and that the lofty expectations come with the territory.
“We don’t play to be mediocre,” he said. “We have a lot of veteran guys, and there’s a lot more expected of us and it’s a lot of fun to be around…everywhere you look around here there’s All-Stars; it’s pretty humbling.
“The team is going to be exciting. We’re fast, we’ve got power, our rotation is great. I just can’t wait; it’s going to be awesome,” he continued.
Cishek, a born again Christian who regularly posts Bible verses on his Twitter account, said playing for the bombastic Guillen is something that he believes will be good for him and his teammates. Guillen is known for his say-it-like-it-is style and colorful language, but the reliever said that he finds his new manager to be a great guy to have steering the ship.
“He’s awesome. He’s just a character. He really has his players’ backs,” Cishek said. “He’s a no BS kind of a coach. He just likes people that play the game the right way, guys who give 100 percent and if you’re not doing that, he’ll call you out on it.”
More than anything Cishek hopes that the manager will be handing him the ball at some point in the near future in a regular season game for the Marlins. And beyond that, he would love to get it in June when the Marlins make a trip north to play at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.
“I’m telling everyone, tickets for immediate family only. My parents, (my fiancé’s) parents and that’s about it, my aunts and uncles,” he said with a laugh.
Even if he’s not the one providing all of the tickets, if Cishek is playing in Fenway you can bet that there will probably be a very large Falmouth contingent finding their way into the ballpark that weekend.
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