Count the Miami Marlins among those whose return home is delayed by Hurricane Irma.
While Marlins Park itself suffered only minor damage to the roof during the storm, the greater concern was for the community overall, particularly the availability of the police and fire departments to staff the game while also helping the city put itself back together.
The Marlins will come back to Marlins Park for their three-game series against the New York Mets starting Monday.
“Marlins Park stood ready to host the game, but we all agreed that burdening public service resources was not the proper course of action,” team president David Samson said in a statement. “Following Hurricane Irma, the Miami Marlins realize that all of our employees, as well as our entire community, have other needs that must take a priority at this time.”
Although Major League Baseball considered several contingency options, they settled on the home of the playoff-contending Brewers — instead of a neutral site — because it was the only option considering the availability of a ballpark, stadium staff and hotels, said a source familiar with the process.
The games will be at 8:10 p.m. Friday, 7:10 p.m. Saturday and 2:10 p.m. Sunday (all times eastern).
Miami will be the home team. The Brewers, due to staffing limitations, are limiting ticket sales to approximately 10,000 for Friday’s game and approximately 23,000 for Saturday and Sunday. Normal capacity is 41,900.
The Marlins have not said what will happen for fans who had tickets to the weekend’s Marlins Park games, including Sunday’s scheduled Christian Yelich bobblehead doll giveaway.
The site change turns the club’s weeklong road trip — conveniently timed in that they left Wednesday night as the rest of South Florida prepared for what then looked like would be a direct hit — into an 11-day, three-city haul. Instead of flying back to Miami late Thursday night after their series finale with the Phillies, they’ll head to Wisconsin.
In the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, the Marlins were understanding of the unusual situation.
“I play baseball for a living anyway. Whether I do that in Miami or Milwaukee or wherever, it doesn’t really make any difference to me,” said left-hander Adam Conley, who will start Friday. “We’re used to living out of a suitcase. We’re used to packing up and going someplace for three days. That’s normal for us.”
Said manager Don Mattingly: “It sounds like a good decision.”
Adding another logistical kink is the presence during this road trip of many families of players and staff, invited to accompany the team to Atlanta and Philadelphia to avoid Irma. Families are invited to continue on to Milwaukee, though some players are arranging for them to go home prior to that or mid-weekend.
It’ll be an impromptu homecoming, however, for catcher A.J. Ellis, who lives in Milwaukee in the offseason and whose wife and children went there to dodge the hurricane.
“It’s an unfortunate side effect of the storm that hit, but it’ll be good to see my family,” Ellis said. “We get to play a team that’s in a pennant race, go compete against them in front of their fans and maybe spoil some of their September plans.”
This is the third major league series in recent weeks to be moved due to extreme weather. Following Hurricane Harvey and the widespread flooding in Houston, the Astros’ three-game set Aug. 29-31 with the Rangers was moved to the Rays’ Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. This week, with Irma also hitting the Tampa Bay area, the Rays and Yankees played at Citi Field, home of the Mets.
Getting added to that list is fine by the Marlins.
“Hopefully the Marlins fans down there know we’re still thinking about them,” Ellis said. “Right now, the priority is the South Florida and Miami community and helping our fans down there — helping all people down there — put things back together. If us not being there allows that process to be expedited, we’ll go back when the time is right.”
Odds & ends
Right-hander Brad Ziegler (lower back tightness) will start a throwing program Thursday, Mattingly said. …
Christian Yelich was named the Marlins’ nominee for the 2017 Marvin Miller Man of the Year award. The honor goes to “the player whose on-field performance and contributions to his community most inspire others to higher levels of achievement,” the MLB Players Association said in a release. Online voting at MLBPlayers.com, which runs through Sunday, will determine a finalist from each division. A player ballot next week will pick the overall winner.
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