MIAMI — Upon being recalled by the Miami Marlins from the minors earlier this season, outfielder JB Shuck didn’t look for housing in the suburbs nor did he go the golf course route as other teammates have.
No, Shuck went straight to the water.
“I got a place in Miami Beach,” the former Ohio State and Galion High standout said next to his locker at Marlins Park in the Little Havana neighborhood near downtown.
Then with a grin: “South Beach.”
If he's going to live and play in Miami, well, Shuck figured he should do it right.
Some would call that a “veteran move,” and Shuck is definitely a guy who has been around.
Shuck, who was born in Westerville and raised in Galena, turns 31 next month and played in his 396th big-league game Sunday in Atlanta. After spending last season toiling in the minors in Rochester, New York, for the Minnesota Twins, Shuck got a chance this offseason with the payroll-slashing Marlins.
With the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon departing the Marlins this winter in another fire sale, the signing of Shuck didn’t exactly beg for front-page placement in the morning newspapers.
Yet Shuck gives the young Marlins a little experience — and, affords manager Don Mattingly a different look coming off the bench.
“When I signed here, I was excited about it because it looked like there would be some opportunities here,” Shuck said. “I was fortunate enough to get one of the positions here. Hopefully I can make the best of it. Being a bench guy has kind of been my role throughout my career. I have gotten used to it and don’t mind it. I have had opportunities to really help out.”
For rookie outfielder Lewis Brinson, who came to the Marlins in the Yelich deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, Shuck has been a trusted source on how this whole thing works.
“He’s a veteran outfielder who has been around for a while,” said Brinson, who has struggled in his first year with his hometown team. “He has given me a lot of tips on the bases, positioning in the outfield. He is always there to give me some confidence. He continually tells me that I’m a good player and I belong here. There’s a reason why I am up here. That gives me confidence in myself. I listen to everything he has to say.”
In coming to the Marlins, Shuck gets to continue living the life he loves. After last season’s run with the Rochester Red Wings, Shuck came to spring training with the goal to make the Marlins on opening day.
That didn’t happen. Shuck was sent to triple-A New Orleans to start the season despite hitting .364 in spring training games.
He wouldn’t be there long as his contract was purchased by the big club.
“That was tough,” he said of being sent back to the minors. “I wanted to be up here from the start but I didn’t let it get me down. I kept working hard and I got fortunate soon afterward. It has worked out.”
The Marlins called Shuck up on April 13 making Miami his fifth major-league team.
Shuck made his big-league debut with the Houston Astros — who picked him in the sixth round of the 2008 draft — on Aug. 5, 2011, and has since played with the Angels, Indians, White Sox and Marlins. In his Miami debut, Shuck went 4 for 4 with a triple in leading the Marlins to a 7-2 victory over the Pirates on April 13. He became just the fourth Marlins player to get four hits in his debut with the team.
Things have come back to earth for Shuck since. Going into Monday, he was hitting .222 with 10 hits since his blistering debut.
“I’m here to help and we have a good mix of guys, some in their first and second years and others who are veterans who have played quite a bit,” Shuck said. “I try to help the younger guys when I can. They know they can come talk to me."
A few weeks back, Shuck saw extended playing time in Cincinnati when the Marlins visited Great American Ball Park allowing for him to see plenty of family and friends. And, when they come to visit Miami, he’ll have plenty of places to play the role of tour guide.
“I always love coming back to Ohio,” Shuck said. “I was fortunate enough to play in the (American League) Central for a couple years, get back to Cleveland. It’s always fun to go back. I still have a lot of friends from Ohio State who come around. It’s great seeing everyone.”