Brantly relishes return to Southern California

Brantly relishes return to Southern California

Brantly relishes return to Southern California
LOS ANGELES -- From a different vantage point, Rob Brantly is enjoying his Dodger Stadium experience.

Before the Marlins faced the Dodgers on Friday night, Brantly previously visited the historic stadium when he was in high school.

"The last time I was here, I was a sophomore or junior in high school," said Brantly, the Marlins' 23-year-old catcher. "I was actually sitting up the left-field line, right behind the little bleacher section. It was fun getting out and hitting. I was like, 'I have a different seat, right behind home plate.'"

A Temecula, Calif. native, Brantly played his college ball at California-Riverside.

The left-handed-hitting catcher now is splitting playing time with John Buck. In Friday's 11-4 loss, Brantly had a solid night at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double.

Miami acquired Brantly from the Tigers on July 23 as part of the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade. Returning to California has been a thrill. The catcher's purchased tickets for a number of friends.

"It's pretty nice to be back. I've been smiling ever since I landed," he said.

Brantly joked that he purchased so many tickets for the series that he is "playing for free" these games.

Growing up in the San Diego area, Brantly actually attended more Angels games, but he made it to Dodger Stadium about once per season.

The Marlins envision Brantly as someday becoming an everyday catcher. Adjusting to the big leagues is a process, manager Ozzie Guillen said. And ideally, Brantly could be better served with more Minor League seasoning.

"This kid is very, very not ready to be here," Guillen said. "I see a lot of stuff. He's better. He's trying. He's got a chance to be a good player. He brings a lot of enthusiasm. ... But we have to be careful with him.

"Is this kid going to be good? Yes. He's going to be better, a lot better. Right now he's very, very raw."

Guillen said there were occasions on Friday where Brantly and starter Nathan Eovaldi were not together on pitch selection and sequences.

"This kid has got a chance to be a special kid," the manager said. "On the field and off the field. He's hungry. He has a passion for the game, a feel for the game. But like you see yesterday, the two kids were not on the same page. He had to walk to the mound. There were a lot of things that people don't realize.

"Hopefully, with the month we have left, it's a process for him. It's a process for us, but we have to be patient with him."