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45 posts from April 2009

April 27, 2009

Hanley Ramirez Leaves Game With Hand/Wrist Injury

             NEW YORK -- Hanley Ramirez has left the game in the first inning with an apparent hand or wrist injury after being hit by a pitch.thrown by Mets starter John Maine.

             Ramirez was batting when Maine struck him in his right wrist on a 3-2 pitch. Ramirez immediately hopped out of the batter's box in pain, threw his helmet, knelt to the ground, and kicked the grass when manager Fredi Gonzalez took him out.

             He'll likely receive X-rays here at Citi Field to help determine the full extent of the injury.

             It goes without saying that losing Ramirez for any extended length of time would represent a major blow to the Marlins.

            We'll provide more updates as they become available..

New Venue, Mostly Same Lineup (For Now)

            NEW YORK -- Emilio Bonifacio is back in the leadoff spot tonight as the Marlins get their first look at Citi Field, the Mets' swanky new digs. But how long the slumping Bonifacio remains at the top may hinge on how quickly he snaps out of his funk.

            And if Bonifacio doesn't get it going soon, who can the Marlins count on to bat leadoff for them? Cameron Maybin hasn't done any better.

            "I'm not going to lie to you and say I'm not worried about it," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "I've kicked a lot of stuff around. I think it's time to start tinkering."

            The Marlins' recent offensive woes go beyond the team's lack of productivity in the No. 1 hole. The Marlins averaged 6.4 runs through their first 12 games when they were 11-1, but have fallen off to a 2.5 rpg average during the current six-game skid.

            Bonifacio has been in a tailspin since his hot start. He is just 6 for his last 50 with 17 whiffs. Maybin is hitting just .189 overall and has struck out 22 times in 53 at bats. The Marlins' leadoff hitters rank 28th in the majors -- ahead of only the Nationals and Phillies -- with a paltry .292 on-base percentage.

           Whatever happens, one adjustment Gonzalez said he will not make is to return Hanley Ramirez to the leadoff role.

           "I think our lineup is so much better with him hitting third," Gonzalez said.

 .         Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. John Baker, c; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Alfredo Amezaga, cf; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.

           Mets: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Luis Castillo, 2b; 3. Carlos Beltran, cf; 4. Gary Sheffield, lf; 5. David Wright, 3b; 6. Ryan Church, rf; 7. Fernando Tatis, 1b; 8. Omir Santos, c; 9. John Maine, p.

                      This and That:

                      --  Cody Ross on Sunday became the fourth pitcher of last resort -- a position player -- to take the mound for the Marlins, joining Jason Wood (2007), John Mabry (2001) and John Cangelosi (1997). Ross, Wood and Cangelosi each delivered one scoreless inning in their cameos. Mabry was raked for five runs in 1/3 inning, thus owning the highest single-season ERA (135.00) in team history. Second on that list: Chad Bentz, a real pitcher (31.50 in 2005).

                      Five Highest Single-Season ERA's in Marlins History:

                      1. John Mabry (2001) -- 135.00

                      2. Chad Bentz (2005) -- 31.50

                      3. Nate Field (2007) -- 27.00

                      4. Yorman Bazardo (2005) -- 21.60 

                          Jim Crowell (2005) -- 21.60


April 26, 2009

Maybin moves up to leadoff spot Sunday

Manager Fredi Gonzalez unveiled a few changes to his Sunday afternoon lineup against the Phillies and Marlins killer Jamie Moyer.

Cameron Maybin will bat leadoff for only the second time this season on Sunday when the Marlins face nemesis Jamie Moyer. Emilio Bonifacio is going to get the day off (just the second time he hasn't been in the lineup) and in his place Cameron Maybin will get to enjoy batting leadoff for only the second time this season. Bonifacio, who has been struggling at the plate lately, could probably use the break. He’s 3 for his last 35. Then again, he’s had some pretty good success against lefties this year (batting .409). And the Marlins could use all the help they can get against Moyer, who is 11-1 against Florida in his career.

Maybin has batted in front of the pitcher 10 of the 16 times he’s been in the lineup for the Marlins this season, hitting .194. In his one leadoff appearance, he went 1 for 4 with a walk and two strike outs.

The Phillies by the way will be giving ice cold Jimmy Rollins the day off. The 2007 NL MVP is hitting .162 this season in 16 games. He’s 1-for-9 in this series against the Marlins.

> Phillies: 1. Shane Victorino, CF; 2. Eric Bruntlett, SS; 3. Chase Utley, 2B; 4. Ryan Howard, 1B; 5. Jaysen Werth, RF; 6. Raul Ibanez, LF; 7. Pedro Feliz, 3B; 8. Chris Coste, C; 9. Jamie Moyer, P.
> Marlins: 1. Cameron Maybin, CF; 2. Jeremy Hermida, LF; 3. Hanley Ramirez, SS; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1B; 5. Dan Uggla, 2B; 6. Wes Helms, 3B; 7. Ronnie Paulino, C; 8. Cody Ross, RF; 9. Graham Taylor, P.

MAKING MOVES: Marlins relief pitcher Logan Kensing got more than the loss Saturday. He got his walking papers, too.

The 26-year old right-handed reliever was designated for assignment after the game to make room for Sunday starter Graham Taylor, who was called up from Double A Jacksonville to pitch in place of the injured Andrew Miller.

Kensing was 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA in six games with Florida and has spent parts of the past six seasons with Florida. When asked after Saturday’s loss why it was Kensing being sent down, Gonzalez said, “I don’t know. We had to make a move.”

No matter how Taylor pitches Sunday against the Phillies, expect the 24-year old to stick around for at least one more start – at least until Miller gets healthy. Gonzalez said Miller began long tossing on Saturday. The left-hander suffered an oblique strain and went on the disabled list on April 20.

As for Taylor, Gonzalez said it was time to give the young junk-ball pitcher a shot.

“It’s been a couple years now and his numbers in the minor leagues are the numbers you want. He’s a guy who will give you a lot of innings, lot of strikeouts, not very many base on balls. Those are the type of guys you want. And we’re going to give him an opportunity to come up here and pitch in the big leagues.”

CANTU BANGS INJURED WRIST: During the Marlins failed 10th inning, 2-out rally Saturday night, first baseman Jorge Cantu needed a moment to deal with the pain of his deeply bruised left hand and wrist.

Cantu, who started the rally with a double, said he banged his injured hand on second base when he reached back for the bag to avoid sliding past it. Gonzalez and several trainers came out to check on Cantu, who remained in the game.

After the loss, Cantu told us in the locker room he was fine and was expecting to make his second straight start Sunday after missing three consecutive games.

“I felt it a little when I swung. It’s just a little stinger is all it is, nothing big,” Cantu said. “It’s going to be like this for another three, four weeks. It’s very tender. That’s why I’m putting a ton of ice on it after every game. It’s a deep bone bruise. All I can do is ice it, give it time.”

April 25, 2009

Lindstrom: "I have to mix my pitches better"

Matt Lindstrom didn't get a good night's sleep Friday and he didn't receive any supportive phone calls from friends around the league after his meltdown against the Phillies. The life of a closer can feel pretty lonely at times.

Matt Lindstrom The 6-4, 210-pound hard throwing right-hander is learning -- among other things in his new role -- that coming into a ninth inning situation can be hard. But the good news for Marlins fans, who unleashed their venom on Lindstrom on the airwaves and on message boards, is that the 29-year old felt like he learned something last night after spending a few extra hours watching himself on video replays. 

"Last night was embarrassing for myself. No excuses. I just didn’t get it done," Lindstrom said from his locker Saturday, making sure to answer every question from reporters (even if all of them pertained to his worst night in baseball). "But I know what I have to do now to have more success -- and that’s mix my pitches better and stop getting behind hitters, giving them a hitter’s count."

"The only real explanation I have [for the wildness] was that is it was tough to harness [the fastball]. I felt good. My release point seemed like it was there. My ball just had an unusual little late life and cut on it. I’d get behind and I’d have to come with strikes. I didn’t utilize my breaking ball enough. I think I started with the four hitter and the first time I threw [the breaking ball] was to the nine guy. I just got to mix my pitches a little better."

For what it's worth, Marlins fans might want to cut Lindstrom a little slack. Friday's outing was just his 13th opportunity in a save situation in his three seasons in the majors. The two home runs he gave up? Before Friday, he'd only surrendered three in 143 appearances. And, this was the Phillies he was pitching against.

The bottomline is his fastball wasn't working and when he tried to throw it for strikes, the Phillies were sitting on it. "There’s probably quite a few pitches I few I wish I could have had back, ones I didn’t throw with quite as much conviction as I would have liked to," Lindstrom said. "The problem was I think I had about six inches of cut on my four seemer. It started in off the middle third and then breaking and [catcher John] Baker would be going like this [extending his arms to catch it]. It was frustrating. Then, I had to kind of ease one in there just to throw a freaking strike. That’s not going to cut it – especially when these guys are timing it."

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he had a talk with Lindstrom before Saturday's game in the weight room. But the talk wasn't about baseball. “This guy has only had 13 opportunities to save games in three years,” Gonzalez said. “You aren’t going to create that ninth inning stuff that goes on in the seventh. The adrenaline, 30,000 people screaming, facing the middle of the lineup. He’s got to feel that and get that.”

Gonzalez said while the option was there Friday to stick with Leo Nunez, who retired the top of the Phillies order 1-2-3 in the eighth, the only thing he was thinking about heading into the ninth was giving Lindstrom (who had five days off between outings) a chance to experience the ninth.

"You can [go with Nunez]," Gonzalez said. "But don’t you want to try and develop your closer? Don't you want to develop a guy whose only had 13 opportunities to save games in three years? You got to develop other pieces. Yeah, you could run Nunez out there. But he’s our guy that we’re going to go to."

Gonzalez said he believes Lindstrom has all the ingredients the Marlins want in a closer. "Stuff wise he's got it. The big arm, 96 miles per hour. His breaking pitch is being developed to be an above average pitch. His two seamer is working," Gonzalez said. "Now, he needs to develop the other stuff that comes with winning games."

Cantu back in lineup; Lindstrom won't pitch tonight

A night after blowing a golden opportunity to take the first game of the series at Dolphin Stadium against the World Champion Phillies, the Marlins got some good news regarding their lineup. First baseman Jorge Cantu will be back in it.

Cantu, who flew back home early from Pittsburgh this week to get a cortisone injection on his deeply bruised left hand and wrist, apparently had a good session of batting practice early Saturday. It was enough to convince manager Fredi Gonzalez to put Cantu back in the cleanup spot.

"We’ll keep an eye on him," Gonzalez said. "I’m sure it’s going to be some days where it feels a little sore, but he said he’s made tremendous progress in the last three days."

Cantu's bat will definitely be welcomed. The Marlins have produced just nine runs in their last three games. Cantu is hitting .341 this season He and outfielder Jeremy Hermida (.308) are the only regulars hitting better than .300.

Here are the lineups for both teams...
> FLORIDA: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3B; 2. John Baker, C; 3. Hanley Ramirez SS; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1B; 5. Dan Uggla, 2B; 6. Jeremy Hermida, LF; 7. Cody Ross, RF; 8. Cameron Maybin, CF; 9. Chris Volstad, P
> PHILADELPHIA: 1. Jimmy Rollins, SS; 2. Shane Victorino, CF; 3. Chase Utley, 2B; 4. Ryan Howard, 1B; 5. Jayson Werth, RF: 6. Raul Ibanez, LF; 7. Pedro Feliz, 3B; 8. Lou Marson, C; 9. Chan Ho Park, P.

LINDSTROM WILL TAKE A DAY OFF: Closer Matt Lindstrom, meanwhile, will get the night off. But it's not because he's coming off the most embarrassing night of his career. According to Gonzalez, they're giving Lindstrom the night off because he threw 38 pitches last night.

"If it wasn’t 36, 37 pitches he threw [we’d use him tonight]," Gonzalez said. "We still got to be careful with his arm. If it was 16, 20 pitches. I think we’re going to stay away from him because it was 38 pitches."

In case the Marlins are in position tonight to close out the game again in the ninth, Gonzalez said he would play tonight's game by feel. "It will probably be a matchup thing. We'll see how it goes."

INJURED RELIEVER GETS MOUND WORK: Marlins right-handed reliever Rick VandenHurk pitched for the first time off a mound on Friday since he left a spring training game against the Mets on March 28th. VandenHurk, who said he likely tweaked his elbow while pitching for the Netherlands during the World Baseball Classic last month, is still likely a month or so away from coming back to the Marlins.

"It’s going to be another probably five or six times off the mound before he faces hitters," Gonzalez said. "And that’s not going to be every other day. It may be two days off, three days off, that kind of stuff."

Gonzalez Sticking with "Deflated" Lindstrom

            "Matty is our closer."

            Those were manager Fredi Gonzalez's words after Matt Lindstrom inherited a 3-0 in the ninth and coughed it up big-time in Friday's 7-3 loss to the Phillies.

             But Gonzalez made it clear he's sticking with Lindstrom in the closer's role despite the disaster, as numbing a ninth as you'll get to see.

             Here is some of what Gonzalez told reporters:

             -- "We've got to give Matty an opportunity to close out ballgames. It's a young season and it's a good learning experience for him."

            -- "We need him to get right and run him back out there."

            -- "I'm not worried about him. I think this is one of those situations where you got to keep giving him the ball."

            Lindstrom accepted all the blame afterward, calling it "the most deflating" perforfmance of his career.

           "Embarassing," he said. "This is going to be a test for me. I've got to find a way to get it done."

           Lindstrom faced nine batters in the inning, giving up four hits -- including back-to-back homers, one of which was a Shane Victorino grand slam -- and three walks. He was lifted after Chase Utley's solo shot, with only two outs recorded.

          There will surely be calls for Gonzalez to replace Lindstrom with Leo Nunez, who delivered a 1-2-3 eighth to preserve Josh Johnson's scoreless outing. But the manager made it clear he had no intention of making any such change at the moment.

April 24, 2009

Sunday's Starter: Graham Taylor


            And Sunday’s pitcher will be….Graham Taylor.

            The Marlins have settled on the 24-year-old southpaw to start on Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies in what will mark his major league debut. Taylor fills the rotation spot that belonged to Andrew Miller, who is on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain.

Taylor, who has gone 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA for Double A Jacksonville, is a slow thrower known for his precise control. He has averaged just 1.4 walks per nine innings over his minor-league career, which began in 2006 after the Marlins drafted him out of Miami (Ohio) University in the 10th round.

Taylor made one spring training start for the Marlins, retiring all nine batters that he faced.


No Can Tu: First Baseman Remains Out of Lineup

                      Ross Gload is back at first base tonight while Jorge Cantu remains out with a bruised hand and wrist. Cantu said he hopes to be back in the lineup on Saturday but won't know for sure until he tests the injury in batting practice. Cantu received a cortisone injection on Wednesday to speed the healing process.

                      Meanwhile, the Marlins enter their 3-game homestand with the Phillies mired in a pronounced offensive drought. Over their last six games, the Marlins have had the lead in just four of a total 57 innings, and at no time during the entire 3-game series in Pittsburgh in which they were swept by the Pirates.

                      Still no word on the identity of Sunday's starter, though speculation tends to favor Sean West, Graham Taylor or Burke Badenhop. Larry Beinfest said he expects an announcement to be made after Saturday's game.

                      Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. John Baker, c; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Ross Gload, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Josh Johnson, p.

                      Phillies: 1. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 2. Shane Victorino, cf; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Jayson Werth, rf; 6. Raul Ibanez, lf; 7. Pedro Feliz, 3b; 8. Lou Marson, c; 9. Brett Myers, p.

                      On Friday, the Marlins claimed left-handed reliever Dave Davidson off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and assigned him to Triple A New Orleans. Davidson appeared in two games for the Pirates in 2007 and was with their Triple A club this season before being designated for assignment.

                      "With (Taylor) Tankersley gone down for awhile, it's nice to have another left-hander to go to," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development and scouting. "We don't have a whole lot of left-handers, so it adds depth to the left-handers. He's still young."


April 21, 2009

Starting lineups

The Marlins could muster only two singles Monday night in an  8-0 loss to the Pirates, which snapped Florida’s seven-game winning streak.
Jorge Cantu is out with a sore left wrist.
GLOAD 1B -- replaces Jorge Cantu, out with a sore left wrist.


It's the Hopper.

The Marlins recalled Burke Badenhop from Triple A New Orleans son Tuesday to replace Andrew Miller, who went on the 15-day disabled list after Monday’s start with a strained right oblique.
Badenhop will pitch out of the bullpen and may or may not be the guy who replaces Miller in the rotation when Miller’s turn comes up on Sunday.
“We have someone in mind (for the Sunday start),’’ said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins president of baseball operations. “But we probably won’t make that move (until later in the week).’’
Beinfest said he wasn’t working the phones to find a starter, and that the pitcher would come from within the organization.
The Marlins have few options for a spot starter, but Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Tuesday whoever the pitcher is will probably make two or three starts until Miller returns. Gonzalez all but ruled out Hayden Penn, because Penn “hasn’t gone more then four innings since spring training,’’ Gonzalez said.
Miller was examined by a doctor Tuesday, and Gonzalez said it was “minor,’’ and he expected Miller to return after 15 days.
Badenhop broke camp last season as the No. 5 starter, and also pitched in relief last season for the Marlins. He went 2-3 with a 6.08 ERA in 13 games, including eight as a starter. He was much better in relief last season, going 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in five relief stints.
Badenhop had a 4.09 ERA this spring and was a starter at New Orleans, where he made went 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts covering 9 2/3 innings.
“I’m going to be in the bullpen (Tuesday night) and from there who knows,’’ said Badenhop, who was scheduled to start for New Orleans Tuesday.
“I was all packed for the trip to Round Rock (Texas),’’ he said. “Hopefully, I’ll never have to go to Round Rock.’’
He knows what is expected.
“To throw strikes, and being on top of the ball,’’ Badenhop said. “Just being simple.’’
Badenhop lives on his sinker, which induces groundballs.
“My sinker has been all right,’’ he said. “I like the big league balls better than the minor league balls. They are different. The have a different feel and the seams are smaller. And they tend to be in better condition. You don’t know where those minor league balls have been.’’