MIAMI — Three months into the job, Kim Ng will finally get to see her team.
Miami Marlins pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Thursday at the team's spring training complex in Jupiter, Florida. The first full-squad drills will be Tuesday.
And Ng, hired in November as the first female general manager in Major League Baseball, will be watching.
“I feel like a kid on Christmas,” Ng said Wednesday. “We've talked about these guys quite a bit every day for the last three months, and finally I get to see them live — how they react to situations, how they compete, their demeanour . You get to see them in their element. I'm incredibly excited to meet them all in person and see what they bring to the table live.”
Ng joined a long-suffering franchise on the upswing under CEO Derek Jeter after the Marlins made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2003. The achievement came with an asterisk because the season was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Jeter has since stressed there's much work yet to do to transform the Marlins into a consistent winner for the first time in franchise history.
Ng was hired to help after nine years as an executive with MLB. She made off-season moves to improve the team as she was still learning about it.
“I'm sure it has been a whirlwind for her, getting to know the organization and the personnel,” Jeter said. “It's almost like an orientation for her.”
The Marlins, still hamstrung by a small budget, made no big off-season splashes — aside from hiring Ng after president of baseball operations Michael Hill wasn't retained.
Ng did address the bullpen, which Jeter had identified as the No. 1 off-season priority. She acquired Anthony Bass, Dylan Floro, Ross Detwiler, Adam Cimber and — in a trade Wednesday with the Rays — John Curtiss.
“This pen — we quietly just keep putting quality guys into it, kind of sneakily almost,” manager Don Mattingly said.
Ng also signed outfielder Adam Duvall to a $5 million, one-year deal. Last year for the Braves he hit 16 homers, five more than anyone with Miami.
“We went about the off-season in a very systematic way,” Ng said. “You have a plan going in, and it didn’t seem that hard to stick to. In terms of targets, we were able to acquire a decent number of them. I thought it was a great off-season for us.”
Jeter's group bought the team in late 2017, and he has since built a moribund farm system into one of the best in baseball. Ng said it's even deeper than she thought when she took the job.
Young pitching is the Marlins' strength, both at the major league level and in the minors. They also have a long list of outfield prospects.
Now, Ng can start to assess it all in the flesh.
“What you see on paper, a lot of times it’s just not what it looks like in real life,” Ng said. “I definitely need to see these guys and lay eyes on them. All these guys I've been hearing about all off-season , I just can't wait to get out there."
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Steven Wine, The Associated Press