Ramirez homers, Marlins beat Miami Hurricanes 7-6

By Steven Wine
AP Sports Writer / March 6, 2012
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MIAMI—For Hanley Ramirez, at least, the Miami Marlins' new home seems to be a hitter's park.

Ramirez hit the first home run for the Marlins in their new ballpark Tuesday night, and their split squad beat the Miami Hurricanes 7-6.

Ramirez homered into the first row of the right-field seats in the fourth inning off Alexander Fernandez, the son of former Marlins pitcher Alex Fernandez.

"It's a good feeling," Ramirez said. "I can go home now with a good feeling."

The spring training game was the first of four in the ballpark for the Marlins. They were curious about how the ball would carry, especially after a 15-year-old hit a homer in a high school game at the ballpark Monday.

Several Marlins hit long homers during a windy batting practice with the retractable roof open. When light rain began to fall half an hour before the game, the roof was closed -- a process that takes 13 minutes.

"The ball was carrying during batting practice," Ramirez said. "The wind was blowing out -- a lot of wind -- but after they closed the roof it was totally different."

Ramirez had the game's only homer. He also got a workout at third base, totaling one putout and three assists, and said he's comfortable with the position after moving from shortstop to make room for newcomer Jose Reyes.

"I don't see anything difficult," Ramirez said. "I like it."

Four-time All-Star Mark Buehrle, making his first start for the Marlins, gave up three runs in three innings. He retired the first seven batters but allowed hits to the next four.

"Against minor-league guys I don't fare too well," Buehrle said with a smile, "so I was kind of nervous facing college guys, thinking it was going to be even worse. Three runs is pretty good. I'll take that any day."

Buehrle said he liked the mound and the sight lines. Other early reviews of the ballpark from players were also favorable.

"It's just as nice as -- if not nicer than -- any park in the league," said outfielder Aaron Rowand, a 12th-year veteran. "It's a state-of-the-art park."

The sound of hitters making contact echoed off the roof, whether they swung wood or aluminum.

"It's loud," Rowand said. "It makes you feel good as a hitter."

Players were pleased with their spacious, oval-shaped clubhouse, which included plush recliners and dark wood lockers.

"Does it smell like rich mahogany in here to you?" left fielder Logan Morrison said. "It does to me."

Morrison was so excited about his first game in the ballpark that he arrived at noon, seven hours before the first pitch. Construction workers putting finishing touches on the project didn't realize he was a player.

"They wanted me to get a hard hat," Morrison said. "The fire marshal was giving me grief. I said, `So am I going to have to wear a hard hat in left field tonight?'"

Tweaks of the ballpark continue. Workers painted the wall beyond center field black Tuesday to improve the background for hitters. The two 450-gallon aquarium tanks behind home plate are only partially stocked. Fire alarms went off repeatedly as the Marlins took the field for batting practice.

Large windows beyond left field were shut, but they'll be opened later so the Marlins can experiment with the impact on the temperature and the air-conditioning system.

"We're trying different things," team president David Samson said. "We're measuring the temperature inside the bowl and how many degrees it goes up or down with certain things open or closed."

Notes: The Marlins play another split-squad game at the ballpark Wednesday against Florida International University. ... Ozzie Guillen managed both games Tuesday for the Marlins. He said he napped in a van on I-95 as he was driven the 100 miles from Jupiter, Fla. to Miami for the second game. ... Marlins RHP Ryan Webb drew hoots from Hurricanes fans when he hit consecutive batters with pitches in the sixth.

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