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37 posts from February 2009

February 13, 2009

Pinto Says "No" To WBC


             Marlins reliever Renyel Pinto says he will not play for Venezuela in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, opting instead to concentrate on his bullpen job with the Marlins.

             "I want to be here," Pinto said Friday outside the Marlins' spring training complex in Jupiter.

              Pinto, a left-hander who is on Venezuela's provisional roster for the WBC, was among a handful of pitchers and catchers that reported Friday.

             The Marlins will be represented in the WBC by shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic), third baseman Jorge Cantu (Mexico), utility infielder Alfredo Amezaga (Mexico), pitcher Rick Vandenhurk (the Netherlands) and closer Matt Lindstrom (U.S.).

             Pinto went 2-5 with a 4.45 ERA in 67 relief appearances for the Marlins last season.



February 12, 2009

Uggla Beats Marlins

         Uggla    Dan Uggla has won his salary arbitration case against the Marlins. Independent arbitrators sided with the All-Star secondbaseman, awarding him the $5.35 million contract he requested. The Marlins had offered to pay Uggla $4.4 million this coming season.

            That should make Uggla one happy camper as spring training starts Friday when pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter. He becomes the second-highest paid player on the Marlins behind shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who will be making $5.5 million in 2009.

            One major difference: Ramirez has a six-year contract in his back pocket. Uggla was in his first year of arbitration and will be eligible for arbitration again after the '09 season.

            Arbitrators were obviously swayed by Uggla's gaudy power numbers (90 home runs over his first three seasons) and back-to-back selections to the NL All-Star team.

           "His power numbers as a secondbaseman were off the charts," said Uggla's agent, Jeff Borris. "The key was probably that Dan's had a lot of accomplishments in the last three years. He gave us a lot to work with."

          Borris does not anticipate the Marlins will ever try to work out a long-term deal with Uggla, 28, the way they did with Ramirez.

          "I think that if the Marlins wanted to sign him to a long-term deal, they probably would have already come to us by now," Borris said. "I wouldn't rule it out as a possiblity. But I'm not optimistic, either."


February 11, 2009

Arbitration Hearing Day for Uggla

               Dan Uggla is accustomed to playing on behalf of the Marlins. Today, he'll be facing off against team management when his salary arbitration case is heard before an independent arbitrator in Arizona. Uggla said last week he intended to sit in on the hearing, which might not be such a pleasant experience. He'll surely hear the Marlins argue why he doesn't deserve the $5.35 million he is requesting and why their offer of $4.4 million the Marlins is the appropriate amount.

              The arbitrator will hear both sides before rendering a decision and then announcing it, probably either Thursday or Friday -- just in time for the start of spring training. Historically, teams have fared better than players in the process. Such was the case earlier this week when the Tampa Bay Rays won their arbitration case with catcher Dioner Navarro. Navarro was asking for $2.5 million, but the arbitrator ruled in favor of the team's offer of $2.1 million.



February 07, 2009

Report from Idaho -- The Matt Lindstrom Story


              Coming your way in the morning Miami Herald, a behind-the-scenes look at Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom as reported from his hometown in Rexburg, Idaho. I caught up with Lindstrom and his family during a visit to Rexburg in December and unearthed a few revelations about the Marlins' new closer and World Baseball Classic invitee.

             Did you know, for instance, that Lindstrom left such a bad impression as a pitcher his freshman year at Ricks College that the pitching coach was beside himself when he found out the head coach awarded Lindstrom a precious scholarship two years later? Or that Lindstrom (pictured above standing outside his college diamond) was so wild in his younger days, that he prompted two players to quit baseball on the spot when he accidentally hit them in the head with errant throws? I also found out from family members that he was also quite the prankster. I won't give away the whole story now, but let's just say one teacher lost her hair over his antics.

            Here's one tidbit that didn't make the story: Lindstrom's nickname, Stormy, hardly fits his quiet demeanor. The reason for the nickname? He says he asked his glove manufacturer to stich the letters S-T-R-O-M-Y, fitting with the end of his last name, onto the side of the mitt. But a couple of letters changed places in the manufacturing process, and it's been Stormy ever since.

           And another discovery. Potatoes aren't the only things produced in Idaho. Lindstrom is the 25th player born in Idaho to play in the majors, according to Baseball Almanac. The most famous one of them all is Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. Jason Schmidt and the Law boys -- Vance and Vern -- also hail from the Gem State.

          Anyway, hope you enjoy it.




February 05, 2009

Southridge High to Retire Fredi Gonzalez's Number -- One Problem

         Fredi                                                                                                                                                         Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez will have his number retired on Saturday by his alma mater, Southridge High in Miami. But the number they'll be retiring will be the #33 he wears for the Marlins, not the #24 he wore as a Southridge player.

                The reason: the school already retired #24, which was worn by Shannon Stewart during his playing days at the school. Long-time Southridge coach Fred Burnside is the only other member of the school's baseball program to have his uniform number retired.

                Gonzalaz will be honored at the school's annual Alumni Game at 7 p.m  Saturday.


February 03, 2009

Fish Caught -- Another Marlin violates MLB drug policy

                Pascual Arias, a 20-year-old rookie-league pitcher in the Marlins' farm system, became the second member of the organization this offseason to receive a 50-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy. According to MLB offices, Arias tested positive for the banned substance, Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.

                Arias, who spent the past two seasons playing in the Dominican Summer League, becomes the second member of the Marlins organization since October to receive a 50-day suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, joining Marlins reliever Henry Owens. In addition to Arias and Owens, former Marlins pitcher Sergio Mitre, now with the New York Yankees, also received a 50-day suspension for a positive test. Mitre was still with the Marlins when that test was performed.


February 02, 2009

Marlins say "no" to World Baseball Classic for Anibal Sanchez

                Because the Marlins are counting on Anibal Sanchez to be a healthy member of their starting rotation for the duration of the regular season, they don't want the right-hander risking possible injury by taking part in the World Baseball Classic. As such, the Marlins invoked their right to prevent Sanchez from participating in the WBC with his home country of Venezuela.

               "Our plan is not allow him to do so," said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations. "We've talked too him and submitted the denial based on the criteria for DL days and injury status. We're fully supportive of the WBC and having our guys play, but this was one thing where we...thought it was best for him to stay in camp with us."

             The Marlins have several players participating in the WBC, including closer Matt Lindstrom (United States), Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic) and Jorge Cantu and Alfredo Amezaga (Mexico). But the Marlins said no to Sanchez, who went 2-5 last season while coming off shoulder surgery that caused him to miss all but six starts in 2007.

             Sanchez said he is not upset with the Marlins' decision.

             "That's the team's decision and I'm going to respect that," Sanchez said. "If they don't want me to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, that's fine. I want  to be healthy for the whole season."

CARAVAN NEWS:   Coming up on the Marlins caravan: a 7 p.m. stop Tuesday at Smith & Wollensky at 1 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.  Expected to attend: Fredi Gonzalez, Tony Perez, Jeff Conine, Jack McKeon, Andre Dawson, Mike Hill, Larry Beinfest, David Samson, Gaby Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, John Baker and Cody Ross.

Tickets are $55 (plus gratuity and tax) and can be obtained by calling 305-673-2800. The cost includes food, drinks and baseball talk.