Marlins continue troop visits with trip to Cuba
After trip to Asia, Germany, new contingent heads to Guantanamo
MIAMI -- Back from visiting troops overseas, the Marlins once again are reaching out to those serving in the armed forces.
Beginning on Sunday, team representatives are embarking on a two-day trip to interact with United States soldiers at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.
The short trip to Cuba comes two days after a team contingent concluded an eight-day trek to entertain the troops in southwest Asia and Germany.
The stop in Guantanamo kicks off the Marlins' "Caravan for the Troops."
Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez and pitcher Chris Volstad are headed to Guantanamo, as well as Juan Martinez, the team's director of multicultural marketing, and three members of the Marlins Mermaids dance team.
In Cuba, the contingent will be hosting autograph sessions, as well as youth baseball and dance clinics.
The stop in Guantanamo keeps with the theme of the Marlins doing their part to support the troops.
As part of the week-long caravan, Marlins officials will visit the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Miami Beach, Homestead Air Force Base and the U.S. Southern Command for a Soldiers Appreciation Day.
The caravan leads into the annual Jiffy Lube Marlins FanFest on Saturday, the day after pitchers and catchers begin workouts at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.
The fact that Spring Training will actually be under way before FanFest is a change from recent years, when it was the Saturday before pitchers and catchers reported.
The final FanFest for the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, and it will be the first day individual game tickets go on sale. Tickets for all Marlins home games can be purchased on marlins.com beginning Saturday.
In 2012, the Marlins will be moving into their new ballpark, and FanFest will be held there.
"FanFest will be when tickets go on sale, and it will be a lot of fun," Marlins president David Samson said. "Because of reporting date, we will have all of the players there. We had to make it a little earlier and end a little earlier because of Spring Training being in full swing."