« April 2009 | Main | June 2009 »

73 posts from May 2009

May 31, 2009

Sunday Marlins

              NEW YORK -- The lineup card is up in the Marlins clubhouse. No major changes as the Chris Coghlan-Emilio Bonifacio 1-2 combo at the top of the order remains in place and Hanley Ramirez is back for a second straight start after missing time with a sore groin:

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

             A couple of side notes left over from Saturday's game.

             -- Leo Nunez didn't get the game ball from his first major league save. Catcher Ronny Paulino, who caught the third strike for the final out, said he was unaware of the ball's significance to Nunez and gave it to a young fan wearing an arm cast. If Nunez is deadset on retrieving the ball, perhaps he can contact Happy Youngster, the Milwaukee ballhawk who drove a hard bargain for Coghlan's first home run ball, to act as middleman and track down the memento.

             -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he was mildly surprised at how well Ramirez moved on the basepaths -- "better than I thought he was going to run" -- considering how gimpy he looked in pre-game warmups and batting practice. Ramirez beat out an infield hit and ran from first to third on Jorge Cantu's double in the fifth. Ramirez looked like the Iceman afterward. His right hand, elbow and problematic shoulder were sheathed in ice wraps, as was his right thigh.

            -- Though Matt Lindstrom is frustrated with his recent outings, the run he permitted Saturday was the first allowed by him on the road this season in 11 road innings. Kiko Calero has yet to allow an earned run on the road. The Marlins bullpen has a 2.04 ERA on the road but a 6.27 ERA at home.




May 30, 2009

Marlins Cycle Alert

Hermida bat           UPDATE: Hermida lined out to second in the seventh inning and bounced into a double play in the ninth.

            With a single, double and home run in his first three at bats this afternoon, Jeremy Hermida needs a triple to become the first Marlin to hit for the cycle. Hermida has six career triples, including one earlier this season in Atlanta.

             Hermida, who is hitting fifth today, has made the most of his hits. He drove in a first-inning run with his single and hit his home run off the Subway sign in deep right with two men aboard.

             The Marlins, Padres and Rays are the only three existing major league clubs that have never had a player hit for the cycle.

Marlins This and That -- The Lineup Change, Helms Sick, Etc.

                 NEW YORK -- Until the Marlins made him a left fielder overnight, Chris Coghlan hadn't played the outfield on a regular basis since he was 12. Coghlan doesn't have to go back quite that far to remember the last time he batted in the leadoff spot on a daily basis.

                 "It was probably when I was a (high school) sophomore," Coghlan said.

                 Coghlan was in the leadoff hole on Saturday, with Emilio Bonifacio dropped to the second spot. Manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated he will stick with that 1-2 arrangement long enough to see how it works, that the adjustment is not a one-game experiment.

                 Coghlan led off in Philadelphia on Monday, but Bonifacio wasn't in the lineup that game. Gonzalez said he wants to keep Bonifacio near the top of the lineup to utilize his speed. But the numbers clearly show that Bonifacio has not reached base sufficiently enough to justify his position atop the order.

                  The Marlins are demanding that Bonifacio bunt more often. The only time he reached Friday was on a hard slap bunt over the shortstop's head.

                  "We preach to him that he has got to do it (bunt) at least once a game," Gonzalez said.

                -- Hanley Ramirez (sore right groin) returns to the starting lineup this afternoon but is not at full strength and will be monitored carefully. Gonzalez said Ramirez is at about 80 percent strength and has been instructed not to push it over fear he could aggravate the injury.

                -- Wes Helms has flu-like symptoms, did not take batting practice, and will probably watch today's game on television from inside the clubhouse. Helms might be able to pitch-hit.

                 -- If Sean West continues pitching well, it might be difficult to dislodge the rookie from the rotation -- even with Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco nearing comebacks. "I've been really impressed," Gonzalez said of West, who turned in seven strong innings (a run on four hits) against the Mets on Friday. Gonzalez said he likes the way West repeats his delivery, especially for a tall (6-foot-8-inch) pitcher.

                -- Gonzalez said he considered having the Mets' Omir Santos intentionally walked to load the bases with one out in the 11th inning on Friday to set up a potential force at every base, but chose not to because it would not have changed his infield positioning with speedy Wilson Valdez due up next. He felt Valdez would have been hard to double up. He was also concerned with the possiblity of a bases-loaded walk or wild pitch. Santos drove in the winning run with a single to left that splintered his bat.

                But Santos has been trouble for the Marlins. He hit a grand slam home on April 27 in a 6-run first inning of a Mets victory. On April 29 he stalled for time in an unsuccessful strategy to freeze Marlins closer Matt LIndstrom after Mets manager Jerry Manuel ordered him to go in as a pinch-hitter. Manuel was later fined by the league after confessing to the ploy. 

Ramirez Starting, Coghlan Leading Off, Lineup Shuffle

             Hanley Ramirez is starting this afternoon against the Mets. But the most significant development might be the decision to bat Chris Coghlan first, ahead of Emilio Bonifacio. Coghlan reached base three times on Friday with a triple and pair of walks, raising his on-base percentage to .342. That compares to Bonifacio's OBP of .284.

            Only two leadoff hitters with a minimum of 100 at bats have lower on-base percentages than Bonifacio: Atlanta's Kelly Johnson (.277) and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins (.263).

            While Coghlan is only hitting .217. he has walked the same number of times (12) as Bonifacio in one-third of the at bats.

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

Hanley Ramirez: Morning Update

            Setting up in the press box at Citi Field and looked down to see Marlins trainer Sean Cunningham putting Hanley Ramirez through light jogging drills to test the sore groin. Based on my untrained medical eye, I would say Ramirez's return to the starting lineup remains iffy for this afternoon's game He was not exactly covering ground with fluid strides as he jogged from the foul line to shallow center, clearly favoring the injury.

           On Friday, after watching Ramirez take pre-game batting and fielding practice, manager Fredi Gonzalez said Ramirez looked okay swinging the bat but not so great taking ground balls. Ramirez was sent in as a pinch-hitter Friday night, grounding to short, but did not stay in the game.

           If Ramirez does play Saturday, he will not be at full strength. Don't look for any stolen bases or triples, in other words. We'll see shortly what the lineup card reveals.


May 29, 2009

Hanley Ramirez (Still) Out of LIneup, Could Pinch-Hit

            NEW YORK -- Hanley Ramirez will test his sore groin during batting practice today at Citi Field, but he remains a day or two away from returning to the starting lineup. Fredi Gonzalez said Ramirez might be able to pinch-hit tonight, and could remain in the game at that point.

            Alfredo Amezaga is another story. It'll be at least 7 to 10 days before the utility player will be ready to come off the disabled list (left knee bruise). He has not been hitting or running, and would need to play in at least three or four minor-league games before the Marlins would consider adding him to their roster.

           Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 2. Chris Coghlan, lf; 3. Dan Uggla, 2b; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. John Baker, c; 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Jeremy Hermida, rf; 8. Wes Helms, 3b; 9. Sean West, p.

May 27, 2009

Are the Marlins turning it around?

PHILADELPHIA -- Ever since their 11-1 start the Florida Marlins have been going in the opposite direction. For every step forward, it's been two, three, four steps back.

This week, though, they might have finally figured out the way to snap out of their funk. It's called starting pitching. Remember that three week period when Marlins starters couldn't buy a win? Remember when the Marlins bullpen, the most overworked in the bigs, was eating innings like cops at a donut shop?

Marlins starters have stepped it up. Burke Badenhop's five innings Wednesday were huge and followed the current trend Fish starters began last weekend against the Rays.

Since Josh Johnson's start Sunday (their last four outings) the rotation has combined to go 2-0 in 24-2/3 innings, giving up just eight earned runs (2.91 ERA) while striking out 14 and walking 10. If not for Joe Blanton's best start of the season Tuesday, the Marlins might be on a four-game winning streak.

"You usually play as good as your starting pitching," Marlins manager Gonzalez said. "You hate to cover five, six innings every night. It can't work. It doesn't work. We had JJ, Volly, Miller and now even today. Hopefully we keep rolling and have guys go deep in ball games."

> It's a bit of a strange stat. But the Marlins improved 4-0 in the last four games Hanley Ramirez hasn't played. The Marlins won their last two against the Mets April 28-29 and then the opener against the Cubs on April 30 when Ramirez was nursing a bruised wrist. Wednesday was win No. 4.

> Dan Uggla hit another home run against Brett Myers -- that's five, more than any other pitcher he's faced. Uggla has also homered in five of his last nine games. Of his last nine hits, five have been homers.

> Cody Ross got three hits for the second consecutive game. He went 7 for 12 against the Phillies with a homer and two RBI.

> Be sure to check out the postgame audio I uploaded after the game. Listen to manager Fredi Gonzalez, pitcher Burke Badenhop and second baseman Dan Uggla field questions from me and the rest of the Marlins beat writers.

Ramirez likely out until at least Friday

PHILADELPHIA -- While manager Fredi Gonzalez said they could use Hanley Ramirez in a pinch-hitter role Wednesday, don't look for it to happen. The Marlins are more likely to give Ramirez the day off with the idea of having him return for the Mets series on Friday.

Gonzalez said one of the Marlins trainers felt a knot in Ramirez's groin Wednesday.

"It's still tight, pretty sore, which we expected today," Gonzalez said. "Maybe we could use him as a pinch hitter. But if we pinch hit for him, we have to pinch run for him. Hopefully today with the day off tomorrow he gets better with treatment and gets ready for this weekend. That's the best case scenario."

Ramirez was treated Wednesday, but did not swing a bat before the game. "Today, it feels better than last night," Ramirez said. "We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. When I come to the stadium on Friday, we’ll decide whether I play or not."

Bonifacio, who replaced Ramirez at shortstop in the third inning Tuesday, will start there Wednesday for the first time this season. Gonzalez has no worries about either. “That’s his natural position,” Gonzalez said. “That’s what he played coming up in the minor leagues. We’ve seen him take some ground balls. And he even played a couple innings there. It’s going to be an OK transition for him.”

> The Marlins recalled outfielder Brett Carroll from Triple A New Orleans before the game to replace reliever Chris Leroux, who was optioned back down to Double A Jacksonville after last night's game. It was a move made to strengthen the Marlins' bench, which will obviously be without Ramirez tonight.

As for Leroux, who gave up three hits and one earned over two innings, Gonzalez said he was encouraged by the outing.

“I told him I was impressed with what I saw,” Gonzalez said. “Mark Wiley told him there is no reason for you to have a 5.89 ERA in Double A. That was 95 miles per hour with a hell of a changeup. We challenged him to throw strikes and challenge people in Double A. There’s no reason he can’t dominate from what we saw here. He threw a couple of changeups to [Ryan] Howard and [Raul] Ibanez and it was like woah. The fastball has some life to it.”

> Marlins starter Josh Johnson said the blister on his right middle finger which cropped up over the last two three weeks isn't bothering him. “It’s good,” Johnson said. “I just trim it, try to make sure there are no sharp edges, things like that.”

Johnson has been dealing with the blister for the past few starts, but said he didn't think it had anything to do with his recent control problems. After walking six batters total in his first seven starts, he has now issued 10 over the past three. He'll pitch for the Marlins Saturday against the Mets.

Hanley not in lineup

PHILADELPHIA - Hanley Ramirez is not in the Marlins lineup Wednesday. He left Tuesday's game with tightness in his right groin.

He has been replaced at short by Emilio Bonifacio.

The lineup: Bonifacio SS, Coghlan LF, Uggla 2B, Cantu 1B, Hermida RF, Ross CF, Baker C, Helms 3B and Badenhop P.

May 26, 2009

Hanley: "I'll let them make the decision"

PHILADELPHIA -- Hanley Ramirez didn't feel right after stretching to reach first base on his infield single in the third inning Tuesday night. And he didn't feel right after he went back on the field to play defense moments later.

So when the time was right, he decided to get out of the game. “I think I hit [the base] too hard,” Ramirez said. “I kept feeling it when I came out to play defense. I just told myself I don’t want to get it aggravated. I want to take care of it right now. So, I left the game.”

Now, we'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to see if and when Ramirez will be back. “I’m going to go day-by-day, see how it feels,” Ramirez said. “If I’m 85, 90, 95 percent, I’ll let them know and they’ll make the decision whether I play or not.”

Asked whether he might be able to pinch hit Wednesday, Ramirez said: "I can do whatever they want me to do. That's what I'm here for. I'm just going to let them know how I feel. They can make the decision so it's not on me."

> The Marlins whiffed 13 times Tuesday night -- 11 times against starter Joe Blanton, who had a 7.11 ERA coming in. It shouldn't be much of a surprise. The Marlins lead all of baseball in whiffs with 402.

"He was just locating all his pitches, locating his fastball, getting his slider working," said Marlins outfielder Cody Ross, who had three of the Marlins six hits. "He was just really good tonight. He didn't make too many mistakes. We just never got anything going until the ninth."

> After the game, the Marlins optioned reliver Chris Leroux back to Double A Jacksonville. Laroux pitched the final two innings after Andrew Miller, giving up three hits and one earned run on 25 pitches.