MIAMI (AP) — J.T. Realmuto sat in the visiting dugout before Friday night’s game at Marlins Park, surveyed the surroundings and noted he wasn’t the only one to depart last offseason.
His former team’s garish home run sculpture is gone, too, as part of an outfield makeover to give the ballpark a more traditional look.
“It’s great — a lot better than the sculpture,” Realmuto said. “I wasn’t a huge fan of it.”
Much with the Marlins remains the same, however, while Realmuto has moved to the other end of baseball’s food chain with the high-profile Philadelphia Phillies. Back in Miami for the weekend, he’s glad to be in Philly.
Realmuto spent his first five major league seasons with the lowly Marlins, and the trade gave the All-Star catcher a chance to play before big crowds with a contending team. The Phillies began the weekend 7-4 riding a wave of excitement thanks to the signing of slugger Bryce Harper.
“It’s definitely different for me,” Realmuto said. “It’s fun — the adrenalin rush you get from a crowd like that. Philly fans are very passionate people. It’s fun for me to experience that.
“It’s a little different from here in Miami. There are good fans, but they are not as intense about the baseball part of it, which in Philly can be a good and bad thing. If you’re not doing well, they let you know it. That has also been different for me. But overall it has been a good experience so far.”
Realmuto began the weekend batting .237 with one homer but has won raves for his defense. He’s so happy in the new setting he said he would consider signing an extension with the Phillies beyond 2020, his final year of arbitration.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I love the city. So far I love the team. The organization has been great to me. It’s definitely something I could see in the future.”
Realmuto said he has had no conversations with the organization regarding an extension.