September 16, 2014

Giancarlo Stanton shows facial damage in photos

NEW YORK -- At least he's smiling. Or at least trying to form a smile. That's the good news in a couple of photos Giancarlo Stanton posted on his Instagram account that reveal the damage he sustained in Thursday's beaning in Milwaukee.

I'm old enough to remember Sports Illustrated's cover photo of Tony Conigliaro after he was drilled.

Stanton's photos are right there with it. Stanton is scheduled to see doctors this afternoon in Miami, at which point he and the Marlins should get a clearer picture of whether there's any chance he returns this season. It doesn't look promising, though:

Screenshot_2014-09-16-13-45-00

September 15, 2014

New Commenting Policy

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September 13, 2014

Giancarlo Stanton beaning caused flashbacks for Ben Revere

PHILADELPHIA -- To this day, Ben Revere still flinches anytime a pitch comes near his head. Revere said Giancarlo Stanton can probably anticipate the same when he returns from his beaning.

“I know later on when the ball kind of comes around his head area, he’s going to freak out and just get out of the way like I do sometimes,” said the Phillies outfielder, who was hit by a pitch in 2010. “It’s one of those deals where it’s just mental toughness. I believe he has that.”

Revere was among the first players to tweet out his his prayers to Stanton when the slugger was decked by a pitch Thursday in Milwaukee.

“Coming from someone who’s been hit in the face before I know how you feel now,” Revere tweeted.
Revere said the Stanton beating caused flashbacks.

“I saw the video and I had the same feelings, just picturing it back in my head,” Revere said. “It’s kind of a helpless feeling, nothing you can really do. It’s a scary type of deal. He’s a tough son of a gun. I know he’s going to overcome this.”

Revere said his orbital bone was broken when he was struck by a pitch while playing in the minors. But his injury didn’t result in any vision problems.

Stanton’s vision isn’t expected to be effected, either.

“I know people in the Marlins’ organization and fans are probably worried he won’t be the same player, but I think he’ll be fine,” Revere said. “He’s a tough guy. By the time he comes back and gets ready to play again, he’ll be fine.”

Revere said even though Stanton might want to play again before the end of the season, he’s probably better off waiting until next year.

“If I saw him when we go back to Miami the last six days of the season, I’d be amazed,” Revere said. “I know he wants to be back on the field. He’s a competitor. I was like that, too. I would tell him just to rest it, but we’ll see. They call him Superman for a reason.”

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The Marlins on Saturday called up catcher J.T. Realmuto from Double A Jacksonville, one day after the Suns won the Southern League Championship.

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September 12, 2014

Brewers compassionate, umpires insistent in aftermath of Stanton beaning

PHILADELPHIA -- Reporters who questioned Mike Fiers said the Brewers pitcher -- a South Florida native -- was emotional and fighting  back tears when he spoke about his pitch that struck Giancarlo Stanton in the face. That sentiment was shared by other Brewers in the somber aftermath of the horrific beaning.

"I've never in my life experienced something like that," Fiers said. "It was very hard for me to take in everything at the moment and come back and throw another pitch. I just want to send my thoughts and prayers and everything to Giancarlo Stanton."

Fiers appeared visibly shaken after his 88 mile-per-hour fastball struck Stanton in the face. He put his hands behind his head almost as soon as Stanton fell to the ground and squatted near the mound while watching the scene unfold at the plate as trainers rushed to the slugger's aid.

But it was Fiers next pitch to pinch-hitter Reed Johnson that fired up the Marlins. It, too, was high and inside and struck Johnson in the hand. That upset Marlins players, who began voicing their displeasure with Fiers from the dugout. Fiers, angry that he was being questioned about his intent, waved his arms, which caused both dugouts to empty.

Fiers, who had not hit a batter all season, was adament that he did not try to hit either Stanton or Johnson.

"The ball got away again," said Fiers, who went to Deerfield Beach High and Nova Southeastern. "It was just really tough to settle down. A lot of tempers were flaring. For them to think it was intentional, it is beyond me, and something I would never do."

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said that, knowing Fiers was shaken by the Stanton pitch, probably should have called for a curveball when Johnson stepped in.

"Fiers was pretty rattled," Lucroy said. "He was pretty upset. We were going fastball down and away. I probably should have thrown a curveball (in hindsight). It just got away from him. Then he was pretty upset they were yelling at him because he didn't want people to think they were doing it on purpose. It was a tough situation all around, I think. Tough for the umpires, tough for everybody. I was there and I didn't know what to do."

The Marlins were further angered by the fact strikes were called on both the pitch to Stanton and the one to Johnson. Umpires said both players were in the process of swinging when the pitches struck them. Casey McGehee was so angry that he began screaming at the umpires and had to be restrained while being ejected.

"They were both ruled swings," umpiring crew chief Jeff Kellogg told a pool reporter afterward. "I went to the first-base umpire (D.J. Reyburn) and he definitely did swing at the pitch. We've both looked at it, and, yes, he did swing -- they both did -- at those pitches."

Kellogg was empathetic with the Marlins' -- and McGehee's -- feelings.

"He was disappointed in the ruling but, obviously, they had just lost Stanton and then the next guy gets hit on the very next pitch," Kellogg said. "There was obvious frustration there."

Marlins manager Mike Redmond was also ejected and expressed his bitterness afterward.

"I've never seen a guy get hit in the mouth and get called for a swing," Redmond said. "He's out there bleeding at home plate and for the first base ump to say he swung at that pitch -- he's coughing up blood -- what a joke."

Kellogg said the umpires were just doing their job.

"He was frustrated," Kellogg said. "He felt both of them didn't swing but, again, it was more a matter of being (angry) because two guys got hit. I understand that and I told him and we get it but, ultimately, we still have to umpire. We deal with this occasionally and it happens. Not very often, but it does. When you see somebody get hit like Stanton did, that's upsetting to everybody on the field."

Stanton receives outpouring of support on Twitter from baseball and beyond

Marlins All-Star slugger and MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton sustained facial lacerations which required stitches, multiple fractures in his face and dental damage when he was struck by a pitch and bloodied in Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Brewers. 

After being carted off the field and taken to a local hospital in Milwaukee fans and many people in and around the game began an outpouring of support for Stanton on social media. One of the first to do so was the guy who hit him with the 88 mile per hour fastball -- Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers. Stanton, by the way, is heading back to Miami on Friday to be examined further.

Here are some of the Tweets.

"We just lost the MVP" -- Stanton likely done for season after being struck in face by pitch

Here's my story on the Stanton injury.....I'll try to include Redmond's post-game video below.

MILWAUKEE -- In a scene so chilling it caused fans at Miller Park to squirm and turn their heads, blood gushed from the mouth of Giancarlo Stanton as he lay by home plate after being struck in the face by a pitch in Thursday’s fifth inning.

Stanton's season ended Thursday when a Mike Fiers pitch struck him in the face, causing "multiple facial fractures," "dental damage" and a "facial laceration requiring stitches," according to the Marlins.

"It's devastating for us," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "For his season to end like that, that's not good. We just lost the MVP."

The 88 mile-per-hour fastball thrown by Fiers was anything but a glancing blow, as it appeared to strike Stanton flush on the left side of his face. There was so much blood that the grounds crew brought out scrapers to remove it from the batter’s box before play resumed.

Stanton was lifted onto a stretcher and carted off the field in an ambulance.

Obviously, the loss of Stanton for any length of time would be a major blow to the Marlins.

Stanton is not only the National League’s home run and RBI leader, but is also a leading candidate for league Most Valuable Player honors. He has played in every game this season, helping to keep the Marlins on the bottom fringe of wild-card playoff contention.

But that season now looks to be over.

"We probably lost the MVP of the National League for the rest of the year," said Marlins outfielder Reed Johnson. "It's probably going to take some time to get him back, and there's just seems like there's probably not going to be enough time to get him back."

With runners at second and third and two outs in the fifth, Stanton stepped in to face Fiers. But the right-hander’s 0-1 pitch came straight in on Stanton’s face and he was unable to duck away in time.

Stanton fell immediately, and trainers for both teams rushed out to check on him.

Stanton’s father, who was seated in the front row next to the Marlins’ dugout, was brought onto the field to see his son, saying a few words to him before he was carted away.

Fiers appeared to be visibly shaken, squatting and looking on from near the mound as medical personnel tended to Stanton. Marlins players looked on from the dugout, speechless.

"It's tough to finish out a ballgame when one of your big boys goes down like that," Johnson said.

But after play resumed, tensions escalated when Fiers very next pitch also came in high and struck the hand of Johnson, who had been sent in to finish Stanton’s at bat.

Angry Marlins players and coaches stormed onto the field, some pointing fingers, and the Brewers dugout emptied as well. Umpires ejected Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee, who had to be physically restrained, and manager Mike Redmond was also thrown out.

No punches were thrown, however, and order was restored.

"It was up around my face as well," Johnson said. "I think that's why you started getting some chirping from our dugout. He was up around everybody's hands and face the whole night. I think that's why kind of the frustration set in at that point. It's one of those things where we're not saying you can't pitch in. There were a lot of balls up around guys' faces tonight, and one of them gets our big boy, so that's tough for us."

What Johnson said most upset the Marlins was Fiers' reaction.

"I think guys were chirping and he looked over like, throws his arms up in the air," Johnson said. "That's what guys got upset with. You just hit one of our guys in the face and he's probably done for the year. I don't know what you expect the reaction to be from our dugout."

Redmond was also angry with Fiers.

"He hit a guy in the mouth, number one," Redmond said. "After he hit Reed in the hand, he looks in our dugout, throws his hands up in the air like, 'Hey, why are you guys mad?' You just knocked out our best player, hit him in the mouth, and then you just hit another guy in the hand. What are we supposed to do? What type of reaction do you think we're trying to give you?"

Fiers said he didn't try to hit anyone intentionally and expressed remorse afterward.

“It's very tough,” a distraught Fiers said after the game. “I've never in my life experienced anything like that. It was very hard for me to take in everything at the moment and come back and throw another pitch.
“I just want to send my thoughts and prayers to Giancarlo Stanton. I would never think of throwing at somebody like that. Never in my life has something like that happened. I'm very sad that it hit them. I'm very sorry to their teammates, their fans, his family. It's just tough.”

Fiers was unhappy that Marlins players screamed at him, though.

“A lot of tempers were flaring,” said Fiers. “For them to think that it was intentional is beyond me, and something I would never do. It was heat-of-the-moment stuff. I just want to make sure that Stanton's OK. I understand their feelings and everything they were thinking. They've got to respect their teammate and back him up.”

Umpires ruled that Johnson struck out on the pitch, though, which further infuriated the Marlins. Warnings were issued to both benches, but that didn’t stop Marlins rookie Anthony DeSclafani from drilling Carlos Gomez in the left elbow with a sixth-inning pitch in what was likely retaliation for the Stanton beaning. Marlins bench coach Rob Leary, who took over for Redmond, was ejected automatically, as was DeSclafani. Third base coach Brett Butler took over as manager.

Gomez did not react and took his base.

With 37 homers and 105 RBI , Stanton is having one of the best individual seasons in Marlins history.

The Marlins intend to offer their slugger a contract extension after the season, hoping he’ll accept and remain in Miami beyond 2016, the first year he is eligible for free agency. But Stanton has deflected most discussion about his future with the Marlins, saying he prefers to focus on the season and helping the team get to the playoffs.

Those chances likely took a major hit, both literally and figuratively, when Stanton went down Thursday in what turned into a 4-2 loss that left the Marlins 5 1/2 games out in the wild card race.

September 10, 2014

McGehee, Morris lead Marlins to dramatic victory

Given how long tonight's game took and how late it ended, and the fact the Marlins probably had no business winning but did, nonetheless, here's my gamer, which didn't make any papers, but, oh well.....

MILWAUKEE -- Pushed to the brink of defeat, the Marlins pulled off a Houdini escape on Tuesday before recovering in dramatic fashion to pull out a 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

After Bryan Morris wiggled out of a no-out, bases loaded jam in the eighth inning, Casey McGehee and Marcell Ozuna belted back-to-back home runs in the ninth as the Marlins kept their wild-card playoff hopes alive.

“Huge win,” said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. “It looked like we were in trouble, no doubt.”

The Marlins appeared to be in a hopeless predicament in the eighth when, with the score tied 3-3, the Brewers loaded the bases off Morris with no outs. But he somehow managed to get out of it unscathed.

Morris got two force outs at home on weak infield grounders before completing the escape act by retiring Scooter Gennett on a fly ball. Invigorated, the Marlins came up with three runs in the ninth to win it and send Milwaukee to its 13th loss in its past 14 games.

“You talk about an emotional turn,” Redmond said.

Said starting pitcher Tom Koehler, who didn’t factor in the final decision: “That was an example of an amazing team win.”

The Brewers, along with the Pirates and Braves, are all teams that sit ahead of the Marlins in the wild-card standings. All three teams lost Tuesday.

It was one of the most stirring wins of the season for the Marlins.

When McGehee homered off Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth, a two-run shot that landed in the Brewers bullpen, the Marlins’ dugout erupted so loudly the players could be heard celebrating throughout Miller Park.

Rodriguez slammed his glove on the field in anger.

“If ever there was a time for him to hit a big home run, today was it,” Redmond said. “That probably was as good a feeling in the dugout as we’ve had all year. Our guys were fired up.”

The home run for McGehee was only his fourth of the season. But it was special for several reasons, beyond the fact it propelled the Marlins to a big win. It came against the same team with which he began his big-league career.

“It’s a good feeling, and a good feeling for the team,” McGehee said.

McGehee would have never played the role of hero had Morris not gotten out of the eighth. After Khris Davis singled to start the inning and Lyle Overbay reached on a four-pitch walk, Morris bobbled Jean Segura’s bunt for an error, and the bases were loaded.

But Morris got Rickie Weeks to hit a soft grounder to third, which McGehee fielded and fired home for the force. Then Morris got Carlos Gomez to bounce another ball to McGehee, and the result was the same: another force out at home.

That left it up to Gennett, who swung at the first pitch he saw and lofted it into Giancarlo Stanton’s mitt in right for the third out of the inning.

“You don’t ever want to be in that situation,” McGehee said of the bases-loaded predicament. “But if you’re going to be in it, I’ll take my chances with (Morris). He made pitch after pitch that he needed to with his back against the wall. You’re not going to get out of that spot too often, but that was huge.”

In the ninth, Rodriguez quickly retired Christian Yelich and Donovan Solano, but then lost Stanton on a 3-2 pitch. After Stanton walked, he stole second. McGehee followed with a two-run homer, after which Ozuna followed suit with a solo shot.

Both starters struggled.

Matt Garza only managed to give the Brewers four innings while Koehler made it through five for the Marlins before coming out. It wasn’t a pretty outing for Koehler, who gave up a pair of runs on six hits and three walks.

But Koehler is a bulldog, and even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’s still able to eat innings and preserve the bullpen. He has gone at least five innings in all but two of his 29 starts this season.

For the amount of toiling by both pitchers, either lineup was able to deliver the knockout blow.

The Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the third on RBI singles by Solano and Ozuna before the Brewers tied it in the bottom of the inning behind a string of three consecutive hits.

It remained tied until the sixth when Ozuna reached on a one-out walk from Jeremy Jeffress and scored on a Garrett Jones double into the gap in left-center.

September 09, 2014

From Aaron to Stanton: A HR breakdown by franchise

MILWAUKEE -- Giancarlo Stanton tied Dan Uggla atop Miami's all-time home run list on Monday with his 154th as a Marlin. But that's the fewest home runs for any franchise leader, and Stanton is nowhere close to the top gun. Hank Aaron hit 733 with the Braves.

If Stanton has a chance of catching anyone on the franchise leaderboard, it's going to be Nate Colbert, who hit 163 homers with the Padres, and se 163 homers with the Padres, and Evan Longoria, who has connected on 181 for Tampa Bay. They're the only other franchise leaders with fewer than 200 homers.

Here's the complete list:

Braves (Aaron, 733); Yankees (Babe Ruth, 659); Giants (Willie Mays, 646); Twins (Harmon Killebrew, 559); Phillies (Mike Schmidt, 548); Cubs (Sammy Sosa, 545); Red Sox (Ted Williams, 521); Cardinals (Stan Musial, 475); Pirates (Willie Stargell, 475); Astros (Jeff Bagwell, 449); White Sox (Frank Thomas, 448); Orioles (Cal Ripkin, 431); Mariners (Ken Griffey Jr., 417); Tigers (Al Kaline, 399); Dodgers (Duke Snider, 389); Reds (Johnny Bench, 389); Rangers (Juan Gonzalez, 372); Rockies (Todd Helton, 369); Athletics (Mark McGwire, 363); Indians (Jim Thome, 337); Blue Jays (Carlos Delgado, 336); Royals (George Brett, 317); Angels (Tim Salmon, 299); Mets (Darryl Strawberry, 252); Brewers (Robin Yount, 251); Nationals/Expos (Vladimir Guerrero, 234); Diamondbacks (Luis Gonzalez, 224); Rays (Longoria, 181); Padres (Colbert, 163); Marlins (Stanton & Uggla, 154).

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Brad Penny's 50th career win as a Marlin was nothing like the 49 before it. In his victory on Monday against the Brewers, Penny relied almost exclusively on a two-seam fastball, a major departure from the norm.

The outcome: of the 18 outs recorded by Penny, 13 were the result of ground balls hit to the left side of the infield. Penny credited Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez for convincing him to largely abandon his four-seam fastball in favor of the two-seamer in the aftermath of a poor last outing against the Mets.

"I"m a four-seam guy," Penny said. "But Chuck talked to me about it. I'm a different guy now. I can't go out there and overpower hitters, and I don't need to try to."

Penny struck out only one batter on Monday, and that was Brewers reliever Marco Estrada.

According to Brooks Baseball, 53 of the 72 total pitches thrown by Penny were sinking two-seamers. He threw only five four-seam fastballs. That contrasts to his previous start against New York in which he threw more four-seamers (20) than two-seamers (13) in what was an abbreviated outing.

"Today I was just kind of a different pitcher," Pennys said Monday. "I kind of just threw all two-seamers, which was probably the first time I've done that in my career. Especially in this park -- this and Cincinnati -- you've got to keep the ball down. The ball flies here, especially with the roof open (which was the case for the first few innings Monday). I got here and saw the roof open and I was, like, I better be different than last time."

Penny said the goal for him now is to get batters to go after his sinker and induce early contact. Though Penny walked three leadoff hitters Monday, double play grounders erased two of them.

"I was wearing Casey (McGehee) out over there, ground ball after ground ball," Penny said. "I need to keep my pitch count down and get quick outs. Even with the three walks, I didn't throw a whole lot of pitches because I got the ground ball double plays."

September 08, 2014

Henderson Alvarez likely to start Friday in Philadelphia

MILWAUKEE -- Henderson Alvarez looked like he might be finished for the season when he left the mound on Sept. 1 with an oblique injury. Now it appears likely he'll be back as early as Friday in Philadelphia.

"I'm optimistic he'll be fine to pitch on Friday," said manager Mike Redmond.

Redmond said Alvarez will throw a "light" bullpen session on Tuesday just to make sure all everything checks out.

"If everything goes well and he rejoins us on Friday, that would be a big lift for us, definitely," Redmond said.

Redmond said Brad Hand, who would have been scheduled to pitch next on Friday, would be pushed back a day in the rotation.
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According to ESPN, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are nearing an agreement that would clarify the controversial home plate collision rule that cost the Marlins in a July 31 loss to Cincinnati.

"I think it would be really good and prevent a lot of controversy," said Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis, who was directly involved in the play against the Reds. Even though Giancarlo Stanton's throw to the plate was in plenty of time, the runner was called safe because Mathis was blocking the lane to the plate.

September 07, 2014

Yankees, Red Sox highlight Miami Marlins home slate in '15

The Marlins' 2015 schedule, which will be announced next week, will include visits by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, according to the Herald's Barry Jackson. Not only will the Marlins host the two A.L. East powers in Miami, they'll also face them at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park in a home-and-home arrangement.

Teams from the N.L. East will face those from the A.L. East in interleague play next season.

The Yankees played two exhibition games at Marlins Park just before the start of the 2012 season while the Red Sox visited for three games during the ballpark's inaugural season. The last time the Yankees played in South Florida during the regular season was 2009.

The Marlins have never played at the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009.

Specific details, such as dates and times, will be announced later.

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Former Marlins executive Larry Beinfest is a candidate for the Arizona Diamondbacks' G.M. vacancy, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Beinfest also interviewed for the San Diego Padres' G.M. opening but didn't get the job.

Beinfest was fired as Marlins president of baseball operations near the end of last season.