Justin Bour is getting the Cliff’s Notes version of playing against lefties. The Miami Marlins are committed to making their first baseman as much of an everyday player as possible. So far, the experiment is moving right along.
“The front office is so committed to the concept that they didn't seriously pursue signing an established right-handed hitting first baseman in the offseason,” writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “Instead, they are counting on Bour to make a majority of the starts, with catcher J.T. Realmuto occasionally filling in at first.”
While Realmuto seems like a natural fit at first, but it is not in the cards for him to stay there. His work behind the plate is solid and gives the Marlins a quality backstop while Bour adjusts to the changes in his day-to-day routine.
Bour was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 25th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. He was selected by the Miami Marlins in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft in December 2013.
Bour was called up to the majors for the first time on June 1, 2014.
On May 17, 2015, Bour broke up Shelby Miller's no-hit bid at Marlins Park with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. On July 3rd, 2015 he homered in his 4th straight game, tying eight other Marlins to do that. On October 5th, 2015, he was named NL Rookie of the Month for September.
Last season, a high ankle sprain all but wiped out most of the second half of the season, so while he is learning to play every day, he also will give the team another bat that could provide power in the middle of the lineup.
In 2016, Bour had just 30 plate appearances against southpaws, batting .233 with two RBIs. And in his career, he has 110 plate appearances against left-handers, and 13 RBIs.
"We just have to see how it plays out," Bour said. "You can say stuff, but it's on the player to do stuff, and prepare, and make sure they get their work done, and be ready for those opportunities that are given to you because they don't come very often in this game. You just have to make the most of it."
Because the team has shown confidence in Bour’s progression, they did not re-sign Chris Johnson or Jeff Francoeur, who could have also played first base besides in the outfield.
To speed up the learning curve, In Spring Training, the Marlins immediately gave Bour some looks off a lefty in the first few days of batting practice. Scott Budner, the pitching coach at Triple-A New Orleans, is a left-hander who threw batting practice to Bour's group.