Switch to Red Sox like night and day for former Marlin Hermida

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JUPITER, Fla. — Jeremy Hermida has discovered in no time flat what a different world it is being with the Boston Red Sox. There are the adoring fans wherever he goes, Red Sox Nation, and all that — nothing at all like it was during his time with the Marlins. There is Fenway Park, which he only has experienced as a visiting player but longs to experience in a Boston uniform.

There are little unexpected surprises, too, like traveling all the way across Florida for a makeup with the Cardinals, as the Sox did Monday, after their game was rained out a couple of weeks ago. Usually, spring training rainouts never are made up, but the Red Sox didn’t want to disappoint the 8,000 fans who had bought tickets.

Hermida shook his head in amazement at the mere thought of it.

Heck, 8,000 fans is larger than some home regular-season crowds that Hermida experienced while with the Marlins.

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“The best part of professional baseball is being part of something like this,” Hermida said. “How cool is that, to show up every day and have fans care about your team — and care about what you’re doing?”

Hermida will find out just how much they care in Boston depending on how he performs. As a Marlin, he fell short of the expectations that came with being a first-round draft pick, and he was traded to Boston for reliever Hunter Jones.

“The expectations were there, and I don’t know if I could have lived up to some of those even if I had put up the numbers Hanley Ramirez has,” Hermida said.

In nearly 2,000 at-bats with the Marlins spread over four-plus seasons, Hermida hit just .265 overall and never hit as many as 20 home runs. Neither did he distinguish himself with his glove or on the base paths.

He will not be counted on as much in Boston, where he will come off the bench.

“They’ve talked to me and said ‘you’ll play left and right and we’ll get you as many at-bats as we can,'” he said.

The Red Sox also are hoping the new scenery will do Hermida some good. Hermida, who is only 26, hit his first spring training home run for the Red Sox the other day and is batting over .400 overall. There’s no question the scenery is significantly different with Boston than it was as a Marlin.

Hermida said friends and family members already are inquiring about tickets for his first game at Fenway as a member of the Red Sox.

“It’s amazing how many more people want to come see me in Boston than they did when I was in Florida,” he said, laughing.

Hermida said he hopes the Marlins’ new ballpark will help stir local interest, even though he won’t be around for the 2012 opening.

“I hope so,” Hermida said. “It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, why there aren’t more fans down there.”

Note: Andrew Miller and Clay Hensley pitched simulation games Monday after their scheduled intrasquad game was rained out. The two pitchers are contending for spots Florida’s five-man starting rotation. Miller threw 43 pitches, 23 of them for strikes. Hensley faced 11 batters, inducing nine ground balls and striking out two. Hensley has been the Marlins’ biggest surprise this spring — he has not allowed a run or issued a walk in 10 1/3 innings.

“He’s got command of all his pitches,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Hensley. “He’s around the plate and he’s not afraid of contact.”

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