MIAMI -- At Marlins Park, the grass literally is greener.
This year, the Marlins decided to use different brands of turf than they did last season.
Now, the field is a bright green, and the new surface is very slick compared a year ago, when it was more sandy and did not grow consistently.
"It's firm and fast," center fielder Justin Ruggiano said. "Compared to last year, it's great. They've done a great job with it. I think as the season goes on, it will get a little thicker, maybe. I'm guessing.
"I was an agricultural major, so I should know. I should know they have a combination of grasses out there, and how long it will take."
A year ago, the brand of turf used on the field was called Celebration. It had a tough time growing because of the unpredictable rain patterns at Marlins Park. The need to close the roof prevented the grass from getting steady stretches of sunlight.
The park now has two different styles of grass. In the field and foul territory is Platinum TE Paspalum, and in the outfield is Tifway 419, a type of Bermuda grass, which is similar to what is used at Turner Field in Atlanta.
"I found myself in BP, I had to take deeper routes, and make deeper angles to balls," Ruggiano said. "It skips like off a fairway, like on a golf course. But it's good. We'll get used to it. Play it to our advantage, hopefully."
In 2012, balls to the outfield would kick up divots on the softer, sandier turf.
"There were some balls, I'd be running to it to catch on one hop, and it would hop and go behind me," Ruggiano said. "I can think of numerous times that has happened."
Second baseman Donovan Solano echoed what Ruggiano said when it came to the infield.
"It's different than last year," Solano said. "The grass is quicker here, it's faster. I can see a difference."
Slugger Stanton learning to take walks
MIAMI -- Since the start of Spring Training, one of the most asked questions regarding the Marlins has been: Will teams pitch around Giancarlo Stanton?
Monday night was the first time in seven games that the indication was clearly yes.
Braves left-hander Paul Maholm was not willing to challenge the Miami All-Star right fielder. Even with two outs and no one on in the first inning, Stanton walked.
By the time the game ended in a 2-0 Atlanta victory, Stanton walked three times and struck out once.
"Stanton did a good job laying off some pitches," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "You could clearly see that they weren't going to give him anything to hit. Whereas, in the last few days, he has gotten some pitches to hit. They clearly weren't going to give him anything."
Atlanta's approach was certainly different than other teams during the six-game road trip to open the season. At Washington and New York, Stanton had pitches to hit.
One reason Maholm didn't go after Stanton was because left-handed-hitting Greg Dobbs was behind him.
"I wasn't technically trying to go right at him," Maholm said afterward. "Left-on-left was coming up next. If he wanted to swing at one of my pitches, that was great. But I'm not going to give him a cookie to hit and allow him to do damage. I was trying to get him to fish and not really be able to make solid contact."
That's why Stanton was seeing full-count off-speed pitches.
The three walks gave Stanton seven on the season, tied for third most in the Major Leagues entering Tuesday. Only Joey Votto (10) and Albert Pujols (8) had more free passes.
"Right now, he's just going to have to be patient," Redmond said. "It's one thing to sit here and talk about it and talk to him about it. But I'm not the one going out there. It's him. He's going to be fine. He's just got to prepare himself to be ready to hit."
Without another serious power threat in the lineup, Stanton is targeted as the player other teams will not let beat them.
Even sluggers on stacked lineups have to be willing to take their share of walks.
"Not ideal, but I'm not worried," Stanton said.
Teams will be looking to frustrate him, so it will be a matter of him having the patience not to chase pitches.
"It's a difference of [the count being] 2-2 or 3-1," he said. "It's a whole different ballgame when you bear down and know what they are going to do to you or not. You have to. Otherwise, you're going to self destruct."
Author Ruttman promotes book at Marlins Park
MIAMI -- A special guest at Marlins Park on Tuesday night was accomplished author Larry Ruttman, who was on hand to promote his book: American Jews and America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball.
The anecdotal book tells tales from a number of Jewish people who are involved in the game.
"It's important that these stories be retold," Ruttman said shortly before the Marlins faced the Braves. "That's really what I want for it. Finding out about what makes a lot of these folks tick, whether they are players or not."
Highlighted in the book are MLB commissioner Bud Selig, labor leaders Marvin Miller and Don Fehr, along with owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Stuart Sternberg. Marlins vice-chairman Joel Mael is among those interviewed.
"Hearing the stories and understanding how baseball and religion and Judaism mix and having someone this accomplished put it together for people is crucial," Marlins president David Samson said. "It's a legacy that will live on."