Miami Marlins' Owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly told Manager Mike Redmond to pitch rookie José Fernández first in the team's double header against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday. That left veteran Ricky Nolasco to start the second game.
Traditionally, the veteran starter is allowed to choose which game of a double header he would like to pitch, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. Nolasco was originally slated to start the first game. The change left many players in the Marlins' clubhouse "furious", according to the report.
However, Loria denies any involvement in making lineup or pitching decisions. Loria stated that he left those moves to his managers. "That's not my role," said Loria, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
The original Yahoo! Sports report states that three different sources reported Loria did indeed meddle with lineup decisions. Loria allegedly wanted Fernández to pitch while it was expected to be warmer. However, the temperature for the first pitch of the second game was actually a few degrees warmer than that of the first game.
Fernández was the Marlins' top prospect going into the 2013 season and surprised many by making the team out of Spring Training in part due to injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez. The 20-year-old right hander was hot out of the gates, but has struggled in his last two starts. Nolasco, on the other hand, is the highest-paid Marlin player and has already asked for a trade in the past.
Loria has left many in Florida upset with his ownership tactics. The Marlins spent big in 2012, signing players such as José Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle to big contracts in the hopes of fielding a competitive team as they broke in a new stadium. Those players spent just one year in Miami before being sent packing as part of a fire sale that cut team payroll in half.
Loria bought the Marlins following the 2002 season after selling the Montreal Expos, whom he had owned previously. Loria's ownership partners with Montreal filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act lawsuit against him, though Loria won the case in arbitration. He took his entire front office staff with him to Florida and, in his first year with the team, won the 2003 World Series.
Since that championship season, the Marlins have not been back to the playoffs. The franchise has not had a winning season since 2009 when they finished 87-75, good for second in the NL East. This season, Miami is 27th in average attendance, drawing 19,167 fans per home game.
This season, the Marlins stand at a league-worst 5-17 record.