The Miami Marlins have been through so much in recent days following the death of superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez. This weekend, they play their final series of the regular season on the road at Nationals Park.
The Arizona Diamondbacks just left town after their series finale against the Nats on Thursday, but before they departed they wrote a message on the white board in the weight room in the visitors clubhouse. It was a nice tribute to Fernandez, who passed away at the age of 24 last Sunday in a boating accident.
They referenced Dee Gordon's home run hit against the Mets on Monday night, a play that saw him first pay homage to Fernandez and then round the bases in tears.
It's a nice gesture by the Diamondbacks.
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The Ravens are dissecting every aspect of their struggling running game, but Terrance West, for one, thinks one issue might be the inconsistent workload.
West is the team's leading rusher through three games, with a pedestrian total of 119 yards on 33 carries (3.6 avg.). Justin Forsett has carried 31 times for 98 yards (3.2 avg.). Buck Allen, last year's starter after Forsett was injured, has yet to see the field, a healthy scratch in the first three games. Overall, the Ravens rank 26th in rushing overall, and 30th in yards per carry (3.25).
Forsett has been the starter in each game this season, with West subbing in for limited duty. Last week, West played 17 of 67 offensive snaps.
"To be honest, it’s hard. As a running back, you have to get into the groove," West said earlier this week. "You get stronger as the game goes. You have to feel the defense out, but you still have to take advantage of the opportunities no matter what when your number is called, so there’s no excuses.”
Coach John Harbaugh said early in training camp that the team would go with the hot hand at running back, and that could change each game.
Forsett has said that he, like every back, wants to be the workhorse. He joked that he didn't know what "running back by committee" meant. But through three games, neither Forsett nor West has made the compelling case that he deserves the majority of the workload. In the first two games, neither had a run longer than 11 yards. West's 15-yard run at Jacksonville is now the longest of the season.
The Ravens figure to continue to use the committee approach at running back, especially once injured rookie Kenneth Dixon returns. He has been out since the third preseason game with a knee injury but returned to practice this week.
Asked about the struggling run game -- and Forsett's role as the starter -- Harbaugh said, "You look at everything. The main thing we look at first is ourselves. What can we do scheme-wise? How can we block it better? How can the backs read it better? How can they run better? It would be every aspect of our run game that we’re looking at."
West said the competition from Forsett, from Allen, from Dixon, should make them all better.
“When another player goes in there and busts a big run, you’re telling yourself, ‘Now I have to go and bust a big run.’" he said. "It’s competition, but at the same time, we’re just trying to help this team win in any way. That’s why we’re 3-0 right now.”
"We just have to take it back to the practice field and take it one play at a time," West added. "The running game is going to bust open. We just have to be patient, and when it happens, we have to take advantage of it.”
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