By ALANIS THAMES
AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Jazz Chisholm Jr., the Miami Marlins’ Euro-stepping, home-run blasting all-star, has goals beyond his impressive stats. With every stolen base and acrobatic catch, Chisholm hopes to have an impact on the next generation of players.
“I had Ken Griffey Jr., who was a real idol to a lot of guys all over,” Chisholm said in a video interview with The Associated Press. “Not just to baseball fans. He was an idol to basketball players, football players, guys in every sport, and that’s how I want to be too. Not just known as a baseball player but just known as an athlete that everybody can look up to.”
Chisholm, 24, is well on his way to having that kind of influence after he was revealed Monday as the cover athlete for Sony’s MLB The Show 2023 video game.
“As a kid, I always wanted to be on the cover of MLB the Show,” Chisholm said. “So it means almost just like winning the MVP in a sense. You get to live out your childhood dream.”
Chisholm, an avid video game player, has played The Show since David Ortiz’s 2006 cover on the first edition. Chisholm is the first Marlins player to appear on a cover of the American version of the game, but he joins a host of athletes across Miami sports on major video game covers.
Shaquille O’Neal has appeared on two main NBA 2K covers for the Heat, joining LeBron James who appeared on one for Miami. O’Neal and Dwayne Wade each appeared on one legend edition cover as well. Wei-Yin Chen, who pitched for the Marlins from 2016-2019, was The Show’s cover athlete for the Taiwanese version in 2016 and 2017 with the Marlins. The NHL 97 video game cover featured goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, who played for the Panthers from 1993-1998.
Chisholm is known as much for his style — from his colorful hair to his chains and sunglasses — as his electric speed and powerful arm on the field. That combination has made him a fan favorite.
“I’m sure the kids are gonna love it,” Chisholm said. “Every time I look around seeing kids with blue hair, wearing the jersey. I feel like this is gonna be good for the culture.”
Chisholm, entering his fourth MLB season, has a career .243 batting average and .449 slugging percentage.
He was sidelined last June with lower back problems, and tests later revealed that he had a stress fracture, which caused him to miss the rest of the 2022 season.
Chisholm, who was voted to his first All-Star game, was leading the team in home runs and RBIs before the injury, hitting .254 with 14 home runs, 45 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 60 games. Only Jesus Aguilar finished the 2022 season with more homers for the Marlins, hitting 15 in 113 games.
Born in Nassau, Bahamas, Chisholm became the seventh Bahamian players to reach the majors when he debuted in 2020.
“The power I bring to the game. The size that I am, the speed, the defense,” he said. “I’ll watch my highlights and I just love and enjoy everything I do. And I’m gonna do it with a smile because I’m having so much fun.”
Chisholm said he’s excited to play a season fully healthy, adding that he thinks Miami could make a playoff push if everyone stays healthy.
Amid a series of offseason moves, Marlins general manager Kim Ng said the team plans to move Chisholm from middle infield, where he’s played his entire MLB career, to center field after Miami acquired reigning American League batting champion Luis Arraez from Minnesota to play second base.
“Jazz is a very unique athlete. He’s very dynamic,” Ng said earlier this month. “He’s got great range, great speed. He’s got a lot of the things that you look for when you’re thinking about center field.”
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