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45 posts from April 2009

April 14, 2009

Cantu Still Out; Marlins/Braves Lineups


             ATLANTA -- Jorge Cantu was on the field taking early batting practice but isn't in the lineup for tonight's series opener against the Braves. Cantu said his bruised left hand is still "pinching," but that he felt he could pinch hit tonight, if necessary, and expected to be ready to go Wednesday.

             Ross Gload gets the start at first base in place of Cantu, and there is no offensive dropoff -- on paper, at least. Gload is 10 for 23 in his career against Braves starter Javier Vazquez.

             Cantu isn't the only regular missing from the lineup. Cody Ross (2 for 22 so far) is out, replaced by Alfredo Amezaga in right. Fredi Gonzalez said he wanted another left-handed bat in the lineup against Vazquez.

             Marlins (5-1): 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. Cameron Maybin, cf; 8. Alfredo Amezaga, rf; 9. Chris Volstad, p.

             Braves (5-1): 1. Kelly Johnson, 2b; 2. Yunel Escobar, ss; 3. Chipper Jones, 3b; 4. Brian McCann, c; 5. Garrett Anderson, lf; 6. Jeff Francoeur, rf; 7. Casey Kotchman, 1b; 8. Jordan Schafer, cf; 9. Javier Vazquez, p.:

April 13, 2009

Marlins' Josh Johnson, NL Player of the Week


         Josh johnson                                                             After some speculating about Emilio Bonifacio's chances of receiving NL Player of the Week honors, the award instead went to one of his teammates, Josh Johnson.

            Can't imagine many will take exception to the choice. Johnson merely went 2-0 while allowing one run, that coming in the ninth inning on Sunday when he all but stymied the New York Mets. Johnson struck out 15 in 15 2/3 innings in wins over the Nationals and Mets.

            According to the league release, Bonifacio was, in fact, one of the candidates for the honor. But he wasn't the only Marlin mentioned. Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu were also considered.

            It was a clean sweep for the two Florida teams in Week 1 of the season. Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria snagged AL Player of the Week honors.

           

"He Had The Pipes"

          Kalas                                                          More sad news in the baseball world. Harry Kalas, long-time broadcaster for the Phillies, died today in Washington, D.C., while preparing to call Philadelphia's game against the Nationals. Kalas was 73.

           Marlins broadcaster Tommy Hutton had only nice things to say about Kalas, who also did voice work for the NFL. Hutton played for the Phillies from 1972 through 1977, soon after Kalas became the team's broadcaster.

           "He was just an icon there," Hutton said. "He was just so well received in Philadelphia. There were a couple of times when I've been broadcasting when the Marlins were in Philadelphia, and I had some friends come up to the booth to say hi. And they were more excited when they got to meet Harry Kalas than anything."

           Kalas had a rich, distinctive voice. His signature call on home runs: "Outta here!"

           "He had the pipes," Hutton said.  "I didn't hear him because I was on the field. But I'm sure, of the few home runs I hit, he said 'Outta here' a few times."

     

April 12, 2009

Ronny Paulino -- The New Mike Redmond?

      Ronny-Paulino                                                                        A twice-a-week catcher who murders left-handers? It should sound familiar to Marlins fans, who probably haven't forgotten Mike Redmond and the number he did on southpaws -- and, in particular, Tom Glavine.

           Now comes lefty mauler Ronny Paulino, who should be in the lineup this afternoon for the Marlins when they take on the Mets and ace southpaw Johan Santana. Paulino doesn't have much of a track record against Santana, and what little history the two have (Paulino is 1 for 4 against Santana) doesn't reveal very much.

           But there's no question that Paulino feasts on lefties as evidenced by his .359 career average against them (compared to .251 vs. right-handers). His OPS differential is even more lopsided: .931 agaisnt LH compared to .643 versus RH. I spoke to Paulino about it earlier in the week and he just thinks he sees them better. In other words, there's nothing scientific about it. He mentioned the success he's had against the Cubs' Ted Lilly (6 for 10). Other lefties Paulino has hit include Andy Pettitte (6 for 9), Wandy Rodriguez (5 for 8), Jamie Moyer (3 for 5) and Scott Olsen (5 for 14). Paulino doubled and tripled off Olsen on Tuesday. Redmond

          Manager Fredi Gonzalez won't use a strict left/right platoon system with Paulino and John Baker, but does intend to provide Paulino ample opportunity to bat to his strength.

          

April 10, 2009

Sheffield trying to win one more ring with Mets

Hello Fish Bytes bloggers. This is Manny Navarro and I'm making my Marlins debut.

Gary Sheffield Just wanted to share a Q&A I had with former Marlin Gary Sheffield before tonight's game against the Mets. Sheffield, 40, is trying to put together one good final season with New York after being released by the Tigers after hitting .178 in Grapefruit League play. Sheffield is the centerpiece for my Sunday baseball debut. But before the story comes out this weekend, I wanted to share what Sheffield shared with me and another local reporter before the game.

Q: Your back, close to home with a new team. It has to be an exciting weekend for you?
A: I got 41 family members coming up. It is exciting, especially being here where I won my World Series. It was a great, great situation for me here and just to be able to come back is special for me.

Q: Talk about the opportunity to play with the Mets after what happened with Detroit
A: I feel great. I'm going out early every day. I put in my work, got prepared to just DH with the Tigers. I put on a lot of weight just to stay strong. Now, circumstances changed. I have to be ready to play in the field if I want to play. So, I have to drop some pounds and get my wind up under me.

Q: You look like you were working really hard before the game. What are you doing?
A: I go in the cage and hit 50 straight curve balls. Then I go and catch flyballs. Then I do conditioning, running and core training.

Q: The fact this team wanted you, there is still people who believe you can hit the ball, bring a lot to the clubhouse. What do you feel you can bring?
A: Over the years I got a lot of knowledge from playing this game. I've been in the toughest situations. I've played in New York before. Anytime you play in New York, everything else is easy. I achieved that. I went into Detroit. Unfortunately, I got hurt. I was having a monster season and unfortunately I fell on my elbow and separated my shoulder, tore my labrum. I tried to get through it. But it wasn't a wise thing to come back early from.

Q: Did you go in the other clubhouse today?
A: I went over there to get a haircut. I went with one my familiar guys -- Hugo. He remembers how to cut my hair.

Gary Sheffield with the Marlins Q: Remember what it was like smoking that World Series cigar here in '97?
A: It was great to be a part of something like that, something you built and watched grow and that management talked about manifested into what we thought it would. Unfortunately, we had to break it up and not have an opportunity to repeat. Those are things you remember most.

Q: What do you remember about your experience here, when you first got here?
A: At that time I just came off winning a batting title and trying to have a bigger season than that. They unloaded the team for financial reasons and brought me over. It was just one of those things where everything was coming 100 miles per hour. I was young. I got called in right away and told we're going to win here in five years, be patient with the losing. I was warned at the beginning. I was prepared for what was at stake. When somebody tells you, you're going to lose for awhile, it's hard to take as a ballplayer. You don't want to lose at anything. Even though we didn't have the horses, in our minds we felt if we played with the right kind of desire, we could overcome anything.

Q: How wild was it to see what the Rays did in your hometown of Tampa last year?
 A: It was wild. My son had the mohawk going too. The city was -- I'd never seen it like that except for when the Buccaneers won a championship. It was kind of the same atmosphere. The management has done a great job over there. They brough in B.J. [Upton] and [Evan] Longoria. The nucleus they're working with is strong.

Q: Could you play in a pinch hitter type role?
A: I came here with the understanding of being prepared for that. I know I'm not the marquee guy anymore. I just have to play my role and do it the best that I can.

Q: What's it like spending the entire off season with 499 home runs? Does it drive you crazy?
A: No. It's nothing really to talk about unless somebody brings it up to me. I've achieved everything I've wanted to in this game. I never thought I would be able to achieve all my dreams -- to play for the Mets one day and that happened to come true. It just so happens I'm knocking on the door at 500. I never thought this would happen. I was always seeking Fred McGriff numbers. I always felt like if I could be where Fred McGriff was at numbers wise, I'd be a pretty good player and that was my biggest thing.

Q: How much more do you want to do?
A: It's about winning championships for me. Personal goals, I've achieved that. I have to find other things to motivate me. When it comes to my personal things, just living out this dream was my last one. I got the experience, I got to wear this unifrom and now it's just a matter of winning a World Series. It's always been about winning a World Series. This is what it's all about now.

Mets/Marlins -- LINEUPS


           The lineups are posted early for the first clash of the season between the Marlins and the Mets. Here's how they're looking:

           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. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.

            Mets: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Daniel Murphy, lf; 3. David Wright, 3b; 4. Carlos Delgado, 1b; 5. Carlos Beltran, cf; 6. Ryan Church, rf; 7. Brian Schneider, c; 8. Luis Castillo, 2b; 9. John Maine, p.

April 08, 2009

Day Watch -- Marlins/Nationals LIVE BLOG!

              9th INNING: And the Marlins sweep. Matt Lindstrom had to survive a hairy, 32-pitch ninth inning, but prevailed to record his first save. The Nationals loaded the bases on a walk, single and Dan Uggla error, and Lindstrom lost Adam Dunn to a walk to force in a run, cutting the Marlins lead to 6-4. But he struck out Josh Willingham and received nice catch from Brett Carroll in left for the final out. Don't forget: Off day Thursday before the Mets arrive Friday to open a 3-game series.

              Final walk tally: 10..

              INJURY UPDATE:   Jorge Cantu, who was struck in the left hand by a pitch in the fifth inning and later left the game, had X-rays taken of the hand that turned out negative. He is listed as day-to-day.

              8th INNING:So much for limiting walks. After issuing one walk TOTAL the first two games, Marlins pitchers have gone walk-wild this afternoon, issuing eight. Yes, EIGHT. Four belonged to Volstad. Miller and Logan Kensing were responsible for two each. One of Kensing's ended up scoring here in the 8th, and it is now 6-3 Marlins.

              7th INNING: Some job by Calero. Not only did he escape the bases-loaded jam in the sixth, but retired the side in the seventh. In his two appearances, Calero has faced eight batters and retired every one.

              Marlins go up 6-2. Bonifacio (who else) singles, takes second on a wild pitch, and scores on Hanley Ramirez's single.

              ATTENDANCE: 13,308 -- That's an improvement over the Tuesday night figure of 11,000.

               6th INNING: The bullpen receives its first stiff test of the season and passes. Kiko Calero inherits a one-out, bases-loaded mess created by Andrew Miller and gets out of the jam, striking out pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard and retiring another pinch-hitter, Josh Bard, on a routine fly ball to left. Miller gave up a double, walked a pair, and was yanked after facing only four batters. He is scheduled to move into the starting rotation on April 15 in Atlanta.

              5th INNING: Good things tend to happen for Dan Uggla when he steps up with the bases loaded. Uggla cleared the  bases with a double to right-center and the Marlins go up 5-2 (they scored their first run of the inning on another RBI single by John Baker.

             Uggla, for his career, has now gone 15 for 38 (.395) with the bags juiced. All four runs for the Marlins in the inning came with two outs.

            Ross Gload collects his first hit as a Marlin, a single to start the inning, and goes to second on Volstad's sac bunt. Baker singles up the middle for his second RBI hit of the game, and we're tied, 2-2. Marlins catchers are off to a good start at the plate. Between the two of them, Baker and Ronny Paulino are 5-for-10 with four RBI, and Baker threw out Elijah Dukes trying to steal in the top of the inning.

              4th INNING: Mr. Volstad has really settled into a rhythm since the first inning. He's retired 10 of the last 11 batters, including five on strikeouts. I'm curioius to see how Volstad will stand up over the course of a full season, after teams have had a chance to look at him. This is the first time he's faced the Nationals, a team he somehow missed after being called up in the middle of '08. He took on the Marlins' other three division rivals -- Mets, Phillies and Braves -- a total of seven times last season.

             Nothing happening for the Marlins in the fourth. They're in a dogfight today after going to town on Washington the first two games.

             3rd Inning: No. 1 did it again. Emilio Bonifacio singled, stole second, advanced to third on a wild throw by the catcher, and scored on John Baker's single. Bonifacio, who walked his first time up, has now reached base in eight of his 12 plate appearances so far. He has four stolen bases, has scored five runs, and has driven in four. No word yet on whether the Marlins intend to build a statue of him outside Gate G. Nationals 2, Marlins 1. 

             2nd Inning: Okay, I'm revising my earlier crowd estimate. Looks now like we might actually have five digits with late-arrivals continuing to fill seats.

            Nice inning by Volstad after sluggish first. He struck out two and finished off the side on 11 pitches.

            Our own Manny Navarro spoke this morning with Jorge Cantu for a freature he's preparing for Thursday's paper on the Marlins first baseman. Cantu talked to Navarro about growing up on a cattle farm in Mexico and how he got hooked on baseball during Fernando-mania. Cantu hit homers in each of the first two games but whiffed in his first at bat today.

            On another note, the bat Jeremy Hermida is using today is one he had me pick out for him during morning clubhouse hours. He offered me a choice of two bats from which to choose, and my toe pointed to a Marucci. He reached on an infield single first time up. Hermida got off Louisville Sluggers last season after a batch started blowing up on him. They don't keep an official count on broken bats, but I would venture to guess that Hermida was among the league-leaders in '08. He left splinters all over major league infields.

           1st Inning: The turnout is light as expected for a 12;10 start. Plenty of good sections are still available. Too bad Joe Nelson isn't still around. He could give us a crowd estimate and quote could appear in Newsweek like last season I'm saying 7,000 tops, but they'll announce it as 10,000. Exclude the scouts and Chris Volstad's family, and you're probably looking at maybe 5,000.

           Well, we saw something with Volstad that we didn't see with either Ricky Nolasco or Josh Johnson. Control issues. After giving up a leadoff single to Cristian Guzman, Volstad issued the first free pass of the season by a Marlins starter, walking Elijah Dukes. That was followed by a defensive gaffe by Cody Ross, who is grazing in center this afternoon. Ross caught Ryan Zimmerman's lazy fly ball and fired to first in a bid to double up Dukes. Problem was, nobody was covering, the ball continued on its way, and the two Nationals runners advanced. Ross puts his hands on his head in his own disbelief and kept them there for a good bit. With first base open, Volstad walked ex-mate Josh Willingham. Austin Kearns then laced a single to center that appeared to freeze Ross. He didn't make a move on the ball, which dropped in front of him for a 2-run hit. Volstad finally got the third out, but it took him 26 pitches to get there.

           

           Welcome back for Game No. 3. Good news for the Marlins. They're 2-0 -- best record in baseball. Bad news: the Nationals are leaving town right after this game. If Marlins sweep, they'll open the season with a 3-0 mark for only the second time in franchise history (1997 club).

           There's a day off tomorrow before the Mets arrive for a 3-game weekend set. Sunday's pitching matchup shapes up as a dandy: Josh Johnson takes on Johan Santana.

           Thanks for participating in my "Grand Openings" poll on best Marlins debuts in an Opening Day game. Emilio Bonifacio won in a landslide, receiving three out of every four votes (77.8 percent). Jeff Conine (1993) was a clear second, getting 17.2 percent of the nods. Hee Seop Choi, Carlos Delgado and Juan Pierre picked up a handful of votes, but were non-factors as Emilio-mania continues to grip South Florida, just like this cold snap we're having.

           Ross Gload is in the starting lineup today for the Marlins. Gload is 5 for 15 lifetime against Nats starter Daniel Cabrera. Gload will play right and bat eighth. Cody Ross moves to center. Cameron Maybin sits.

          Memo to myself: Abstain from coffee during a night game preceding a day game.      

Baseball for Brunch? -- Game 3 Lineups


             Spectacular morning weather-wise as the Marlins and Nationals prepare to close out their series in a noon (12:10) start.

             Ross Gload, one of the few Marlins with any kind of track record against Washington pitcher Daniel Cabrera (5 for 15), will receive his first start, play right, and bat eighth. Cody Ross moves to center while Cameron Maybin sits.

             The Nationals have an all-new lineup from the one they threw out the first two games. Former Marlin Josh Willingham gets his first taste of action.

             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, cf; 8. Ross Gload, rf; 9. Chris Volstad.

             Nationals: 1. Cristian Guzman, ss; 2. Elijah Dukes, cf; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b; 5. Josh Willingham, lf; 6. Austin Kearns, rf; 7. Willie Harris, 2b; 8. Wil Nieves, c; 9. Daniel Cabrera, p.

April 07, 2009

Game 2 Lineups -- Marlins/Nationals


              Lineups for tonight:

             Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Cameron Maybin, cf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Ronny Paulino; 9. Josh Johnson.

             Nationals: 1. Lastings Milledge, cf; 2. Cristian Guzman, ss; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, lf; 5. Nick Johnson, 1b; 6. Austin Kearns, rf; 7. Ronnie Belliard, 2b; 8. Jesus Flores, c; 9. Scott Olsen, p.

             Early Notes:

             -- Right-handed reliever Scott Proctor started throwing today (flat ground, catch) for the first time in three weeks. No change in his timetable. Proctor, out with loose scar tissue in his right elbow, is hoping for a May 1 return, but that might be optimistic thinking.

              -- Alfredo Amezaga (sprained left knee) is up in Jupiter working out with the minor-league club. He'll play games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at three different positions (second, center and short) with a possible Sunday return from the DL, according to manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Grand Openings -- Vote Now!

             Emilio Bonifacio isn't the first Marlin to make a splash on Opening Day when making his debut for the club. Remember Jeff Conine in 1993? Or Carlos Delgado in 2005? Who can forget Hee Seop Choi in 2004, or Juan Pierre and Pudge Rodriguez in '03?

             Vote below for the player you think had the best Marlins debut on Opening Day. We'll even help refresh your memory by providing a few key stats about each of the candidates:

            April 5, 1993 -- Jeff Conine goes 4 for 4 with a RBI and stolen base as Marlins win their inaugural game.

            April 1, 1997 -- Moises Alou goes 1 for 4 and drives in a pair of runs with a homer as Marlins kick off their first World Series season with a win over the Cubs.

              March 31, 2003 -- Juan Pierre goes 2 for 3 with a run scored and two stolen bases while Pudge Rodriguez goes 1 for 3 with a home run and two RBI as Marlins begin second title run with a loss to the Phillies.

            April 6, 2004 -- New first baseman Hee Seop Choi goes 1 for 4 with a home run and three RBI as the Marlins down the Montreal Expos.

            April 5, 2005 -- Carlos Delgado goes 4 for 5 with a double and three RBI as the Marlins' big off-season acquisition pays instant dividends in win over Atlanta.

            April 6, 2009 -- Emilio Bonifacio goes 4 for 5, scores four runs, steals three bases and drives in a pair of runs with an inside-the-park homer in Marlins victory over the Nationals.