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57 posts from July 2008

July 25, 2008

Sanchez close to returning

            CHICAGO – Anibal Sanchez could be pitching for the Marlins as early as Tuesday, adding yet another arm to a staff that has changed dramatically in the past two weeks.

Sanchez, coming back from shoulder surgery, pitched seven innings Thursday night in what could be his final rehab assignment for the Double A Carolina Mudcats, and his next start might be in Miami against the Mets either Tuesday or Wednesday.

“He could have another (rehab), or he could be up here. He is that close,’’ said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.

The key to Thursday’s start for Sanchez was his pitch count: He threw 101 pitches over seven innings, striking out seven while walking four. He gave up three runs on six hits. His fastball has been clocked consistently in the 90s during his rehab starts, and Sanchez has said his main goal is not to worry about strikeouts and walks, but velocity and arm strength.

He could be a vital addition for a stretch run that includes the addition of Josh Johnson, who came back from Tommy John surgery and rejoined the rotation July 10, and rookie Chris Volstad, who made his first big league start July 11.

Now comes Sanchez, who was as good as any pitcher in baseball in the stretch run in 2006 when he went 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in a September that was highlighted by his no-hitter against Arizona. Sanchez was 9-3 with a 2.27 ERA in the second half of 2006, but never felt 100 percent last season when he made only six starts. Sanchez hasn’t started a game in the majors since his May 2, 2007 start against the Mets – the team he could face this week in his return.

The addition of Johnson and Sanchez is the equivalent of adding two front line starters to the rotation.

“Getting (Johnson) back an getting Sanchez back is about as good as good as anybody out there we could have traded for,’’ Gonzalez said.

The Marlins will be even more guarded with Sanchez than they are with Johnson, because pitchers coming back from shoulder surgery are at a greater risk of re-injury than those coming back from Tommy John surgery.

“We will be careful with both of them,’’ Gonzalez said.

July 24, 2008

Lineup Shuffle at Wrigley

              Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida are out. Alfredo Amezaga is in. Josh Willingham is down, as in lower in the order. Cody Ross is up.

             Fredi Gonzalez shuffled the deck for tonight's series opener against the Cubbies at Clark and Shuffle Addison. Uggla is big-time slumping and gets the day off (he joked he was going to burn his bats after Wednesday's 0-fer).

             Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, 2B Alfredo Amezaga, 3B Jorge Cantu, 1B Mike Jacobs, CF Cody Ross, RF Luis Gonzalez, LF Josh Willingham, C John Baker, P Scott Olsen.

Cubs: LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, 1B Derrek Lee, 3B Aramis Ramirez, CF Reed Johnson, RF Mark DeRosa, C Henry Blanco, 2B Ronny Cedeno, P Carlos Zambrano.

July 23, 2008

After Further Review....

              The Marlins changed their mind on Justin Miller and plan to activate him from the DL in time for Thursday's game in Chicago. To make room for Miller, the Marlins optioned Ryan Tucker back to Double A Carolina.

              Earlier in the day, Fredi Gonzalez said they would wait to activate Miller at Friday at the earliest because they didn't want him available to pitch two days in a row. Miller pitched one inning of relief for Single A Jupiter on Wednesday.

            

Lineups -- Marlins/Braves (Wednesday); J. Miller Pitches

             Justin Miller tossed one relief inning for Single A Jupiter earlier today, giving up a pair of hits but nothing else. Fredi Gonzalez said Miller would be evaluated by Marlins trainers once he returns from Palm Beach County before a decision would be made about when to activate the right-hander from the Justin_miller DL. But Gonzalez said Miller (on the DL with right elbow inflammation) would be activated no earlier than Friday in Chicago because they don't want him pitching back-to-back days.

           Braves: CF Gregor Blanco, SS Yunel Escobar, 3B Chipper Jones, 1B Mark Teixeira, C Brian McCann, RF Jeff Francouer, 2B Kelly Johnson, LF Omar Infante, P Tim Hudson.

           Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, RF Jeremy Hermida, 3B Jorge Cantu, 1B Mike Jacobs, 2B Dan Uggla, LF Luis Gonzalez, CF Cody Ross, C John Baker, P Ricky Nolasco.

July 22, 2008

One-Hit Odds and Ends

                    Rick Vandenhurk earned a demotion to the minors in April with two bad outings. He gave up a dozen hits in only 5 1/3 innings, and it was hello Zebulon.

                   On Tuesday, he didn't allow any hits to the Atlanta Braves -- and the bullpen gave up one total (thanks to Joe Nelson) over the final four innings as the Marlins produced their ninth one-hitter in club history.

                   Of course, they have those four no-hitters to brag about, too.

                   The last one-hitter was thrown by Dontrelle Willis, all by his lonesome, over the New York Mets on June 16, 2003.

                   Four of the one-hitters were combined efforts and all but two were thrown at Dolphin Stadium, or whatever it happened to be called at the time.

Lineups -- Marlins/Braves (Tuesday)

Lineups:

Braves: LF Gregor Blanco; SS Yunel Escobar; 3B Chipper Jones; 1B Mark Teixeira, C Brian McCann; RF Jeff Francoeur; 2B Kelly Johnson; CF Mark Kotsay; P Charlie Morton.

Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, RF Jeremy Hermida; 3B Jorge Cantu; LF Josh Willingham; 2B Dan Uggla; 1B Mike Jacobs; CF Cody Ross; C John Baker; P Rick VandenHurk.

July 21, 2008

Walking off

The Marlins got their ninth walkoff victory of the season Sunday, which is the third most in the club’s history. It’s important to note the only Marlins’ teams with more walkoffs went on to win the World Series. The 2003 team had 10 walkoff victories and the 1997 team had 16 walkoff victories – and of course that team added a walkoff  victory in Game 7 of the World Series.

Justin Miller could be back by Wednesday

Justin Miller could be back in the Marlins bullpen as early as Wednesday. Miller went on the disabled list July  5 with inflammation in his right elbow, has been pitching at Single A Jupiter, where he pitched an inning on Sunday and was scheduled to pitch an inning Monday night.

“If all goes well, he would get a days rest and then join us,’’ said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez. “We want to make sure he can go back-to-back days.’’

Justin Miller could be back by Wednesday

Justin Miller could be back in the Marlins bullpen as early as Wednesday. Miller went on the disabled list July  5 with inflammation in his right elbow, has been pitching at Single A Jupiter, where he pitched an inning on Sunday and was scheduled to pitch an inning Monday night.

“If all goes well, he would get a days rest and then join us,’’ said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez. “We want to make sure he can go back-to-back days.’’

It looks like it could be VandenHurk

The Marlins are still being mysterious about who will start Tuesday against the Braves, and avoided questions before Monday’s game, saying nothing. But everything points to Rick VandenHurk, who started the season in the rotation. VandenHurk was demoted after two abysmal starts (0-1, 11.81 ERA) and has been pitching at Double A Carolina, where he is 3-3 with a 4.22 ERA. But VandenHurk has pitched well of late and gave up only two earned runs over his last two starts while striking out 10 and walking three over 11 innings.

VandenHurk has had success against the Braves. He won his first big league game in Atlanta when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and left after giving up a leadoff single. He also pitched well in his last start against the Braves in 2007 when he gave up one run on five hits over five innings.