Nothing like a little home cooking to heat up the batting average.
That's what Yonder Alonso will hope for beginning Friday when the Padres visit the Marlins for the first of three games, all of which will be played in Alonso's hometown of Miami in front of a large gathering of friends and family.
"Going back home is always nice, and it's always nice to see family, hang out and see your dogs," said Alonso, the Padres' first baseman.
Even now, on his third big league trip to Miami, Alonso still gets a kick out of playing in front of friends and family.
"One-hundred percent I do, every time," he said. "That never gets old. It's the big leagues and you've worked so hard to get there and sacrificed so much to get there. It's nine innings [each game], but you wish it were 20. The more they can see me, the better."
Alonso is a career .471 hitter in games in Miami with three doubles and two home runs. He was injured last season and didn't play at Marlins Park, but he did in 2012, collecting five hits, with a home run, in a three-game series.
It will also be a homecoming for catcher Yasmani Grandal, who, like Alonso, starred at the University of Miami.
Grandal is a .357 hitter in 14 at-bats in 2012-13 at Marlins Park. He's trying to get the high school baseball team from his old school, Miami Springs High, to attend one of the games. He's expected in upwards of 180 friends and family for games this weekend.
After winning the first game of the season, the Padres dropped the last two to the Dodgers at Petco Park. The three games in Miami are the start of a six-game road swing that continues to Cleveland before the team returns home on April 11 to face the Tigers.
For the Marlins, taking three of four from the Rockies was a relief, especially after they didn't win their first series in 2013 until April 29-May 1 against the Mets.
Tom Koehler will look to set the tone for the series this weekend against the Padres. Last year, the clubs met seven times with San Diego winning four of them.
"Regardless of how rough the season is going, you still want to go out there and win the series," Koehler said. "You want to win a series and start things off on a good note. The key is to go out there and keep the team in position to where they can win the ballgame."
The battle for the fifth starter spot was one of the most watched in Spring Training for the Marlins.
Basically, from the first day of camp, Koehler took command and flat out earned the job. In fact, Koehler arguably had the best Spring Training of any pitcher in the rotation, including ace Jose Fernandez.
The 27-year-old posted a 1.50 ERA, giving up three earned runs in 18 innings, and he had a WHIP of 0.89. His fastball reached 97 mph and his offspeed pitchers were much more under control.
Throughout Spring Training, Koehler also was quick to remind that only the regular season matters.
"I'm looking forward to the start, but I'm also not thinking about spring anymore," Koehler said. "It's a long year ahead of us. As fast as you can forget the good outings, and as fast as you can forget the bad outings, is as good as you're going to be. It only matters what you do that night. I'm just excited about getting out there again."
Padres: Organization adds lefty depth
The Padres added two left-hander relievers, Tony Sipp and Patrick Schuster, in the offseason with hopes one or the other would win a job as the left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.
But when it became apparent the team would carry two long relievers -- righties Tim Stauffer and Donn Roach -- Schuster, a Rule 5 Draft pick, was claimed off waivers by the Royals. Sipp accepted an assignment to Triple-A El Paso.
Now he'll have company there, as the Padres on Wednesday claimed lefty reliever Bobby LaFromboise off waivers from the Mariners. He appeared in 10 games in the big leagues last season, posting a 5.91 ERA
"He adds to our depth as a Minor League reliever," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He comes highly recommended from our scouts."
Marlins: Stanton showing superstar signs
It's only one series, but Giancarlo Stanton appears to be on a mission. The 24-year-old slugger was a force in Miami taking three of four against the Rockies. In the series, Stanton was 6-for-16 (.375) with a homer, two doubles and seven RBIs.
Stanton describes himself as "more focused" after a rough 2013.
"More focused we'll say on things you're supposed to be focused on, and don't worry about the irrelevant stuff," Stanton said.
From what manager Mike Redmond sees, Stanton is showing he can be one of the best in the game.
"He's got a chance, in my opinion, to be the best player in the game," Redmond said. "It's been fun to see him go out there. I know he's worked hard. He had a great spring. I told him during Spring Training this was going to be a monster year for him. I hope that is truly the case because we're going to benefit from that."
• Steve Cishek is two-for-two in save chances, extending his franchise record to 31 straight converted chances. That's the longest active streak in the Majors.
• Stanton now has two game-winning hits after his run-scoring single in the eighth inning on Thursday afternoon put Miami in front.
• In 2013, the Marlins had 26 comebacks wins. They already have one entering the weekend series with the Padres.