July 12-- MIAMI-Cameron Maybin was once a figure of organizational hope for the Marlins.
A former first-round pick of the Detroit Tigers, Maybin, along with Andrew Miller, was the main return in the infamous Miguel Cabrera trade that sent the 24-year-old Cabrera to Detroit, where he won two AL MVPs.
The Marlins traded Miller to the Red Sox in 2010, and Miller has since won a World Series and become one of the most dominant relievers in the game. Maybin was traded away in 2010 too, and though his resume isn't as jaw-dropping as Cabrera's or Miller's, he won a World Series of his own with the Houston Astros last season.
In that sense, Maybin's presence on this year's Miami roster can invoke a feeling of what could have been.
But things are much different for Maybin this time around. The 2018 Marlins are in a rebuilding phase, and the veteran outfielder's role on the team isn't to be a centerpiece of the future. It's to show the younger Marlins what a winning baseball player looks like.
To Maybin, that means finding a way to take pressure off yourself.
"I think last year, one thing I took from the atmosphere I was in in Houston was they enjoy coming to the ballpark," Maybin said. "They don't show up and put pressure on themselves to win ball games. It's like, 'Hey, let's go out there and play hard, have fun and do what we do.'
"... And those, I think, are how you build a winning environment, a winning culture and a very strong character and team-oriented environment."
That's a lesson that's hard to learn, especially for young players with high expectations, like outfielders Lewis Brinson and Brian Anderson.
Maybin says Anderson is a perfectionist, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but Maybin is there to make sure Anderson doesn't get too hard on himself.
And Brinson's first few years of baseball are similar to what Maybin's were. He too was drafted in the first round at 18 years old. Eventually, like Maybin, Brinson was traded to the Marlins in a big, offseason deal and has become a focal point for the coming years of the franchise.
A key difference is Maybin had to learn how to deal with the pressure that comes with high expectations on his own. He says he didn't have anybody to tell him to take it easy on himself, to remember to stay positive.
So as Brinson faces what Maybin once faced, the veteran is trying to be there for the rookie.
"You can always get advice on what you've been through from the older guys," Maybin said. "So from that standpoint, yeah, you know, especially being young and the struggles that you'll go through, and I'm trying to let these guys know that the struggles will pass. And you've gotta be confident even when you have the rough times ahead."
"You just kind of got to go through it," Brinson added. "... If I have any questions about pressure and coming up to the big leagues for the first time, I know can go to somebody like him for some advice definitely."
The two have become close. As Brinson was being interviewed by his locker Wednesday, Maybin walked by and told him jokingly to stop lying. Brinson returned the favor when it was Maybin's turn to talk to a reporter. Brinson likes to remind Maybin that he used to watch him on television growing up in South Florida.
Brinson sees similarities in his and Maybin's styles of play. Maybin sees similarities beyond that. He sees the pressures Brinson is facing, because he faced them himself. In his years away from the Marlins, Maybin learned how to deal with those pressures and become a winning player.
"He's just a good influence in our clubhouse, so I think it's really what we thought when we brought Cam in," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. "We wanted some leadership, you know, among our young guys, and I think he's given us that-the guy that prepares, that works, that's into the game, that's always kind of upbeat and always pushing to, you know, keep going."
If all had gone right 10 years ago, Maybin might never have left Miami, becoming the franchise player many thought he could be. But in the end, it was Maybin's success away from the Marlins and the lessons he learned along the way that brought him back this season.
In Maybin's first go-round, he struggled to live up to his expectations, and after three seasons, he was dealt to the Padres.
Now, a season after becoming a World Series champion, Maybin is back in Miami, playing without pressure and doing exactly what the Marlins expected of him.
(c)2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.