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73 posts from May 2009

May 26, 2009

Hanley Ramirez (groin) leaves in 3rd

PHILADELPHIA -- Marlins star shorstop Hanley Ramirez left Tuesday night's game against the Phillies in the bottom of the third inning with tightness in his right groin.

Ramirez was taken out with two outs in the bottom half of the third after Marlins trainer Mike Kozak and manager Fredi Gonzalez came out to check on him. Ramirez reached on an infield single in the top half of the third, but came out to play defense the following inning and didn't show any signs of injury until he asked for a time out.

He was replaced in the lineup by Monday's hero Wes Helms, who moved into third base while Emilio Bonifacio moved over to shortstop. Bonifacio played shortstop for an inning earlier this season.

The Marlins trail the Phillies 3-0.

Ramirez is hitting .317 this season eight home runs, 22 RBI and eight stolen bases. He's second in All-Star voting at shortstop behind Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy.

Ramirez missed three games at the end of April with a wrist injury after being plunked on the hand by John Maine. Ramirez missed a total of only 22 games in his first full three seasons with the Marlins.

Pinto's (elbow) MRI negative

PHILADELPHIA -- Renyel Pinto's stint on the disabled list isn't going to be very long. According to Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, the MRI on the left-handed reliever's elbow didn't reveal anything more than inflammation.

"We’re going to give him a couple days of not throwing and then get him cranked up again," Gonzalez said.

Pinto began his stint on the DL retroactive to May 23. In the meantime, the Marlins will continue to rely most on Dan Meyer and Leo Nunez (whom Gonzalez said negates lefties with his changeup) to handle left-handed hitters late in games.

Meyer, who has pitched in three straight games, will likely face one or two hitters tops Tuesday -- and Nunez will likely rest along with closer Matt Lindstrom. Both have pitched in three straight games. That leaves the Marlins bullpen pretty thin for tonight's game -- especially with Burke Badenhop making the start Wednesday. Look for Kiko Calero and Brian Sanches to see the bulk of the late inning work.

> Gonzalez said the reason he decided to put Emilio Bonifacio back at the top of the lineup Tuesday instead of keeping rookie Chris Coghlan (who went 2 for 5 Monday) there is because he doesn't want to lose Bonifacio's speed. "Boni's speed is his tool," Gonzalez said. "You put him eighth and you kind of negate it." Gonzalez said Coghlan is a good enough hitter to bat anywhere in the lineup.

> The Marlins could potentially tie a club record tonight -- one they set last year -- by hitting another home run. Wes Helms extended Florida's streak to 13 games last night with his fourth-inning blast off Jamie Moyer. The Fish have hit the fourth-most home runs in the majors since 2007.

> Wednesday starter Burke Badenhop will be on a 65-70 pitch limit. "He's hit 45 a couple times," Gonzalez said of Badenhop, who has worked in long relief stints all season. "We don't want to push it more than 65 or 70." Gonzalez said the Marlins will likely need Badenhop or another pitcher to fill in the fifth starter's role for another start until Anibal Sanchez, Rick VandenHurk or Ricky Nolasco are ready to fill the void by June 7th.

4 RBI Gets Helms Benched; Tuesday's Marlins Lineup


                So much for playing the hot hand. Wes Helms is back on the bench one day after driving in 80 percent of the team's runs in a 5-3 victory over the Phillies. Emilio Bonifacio returns to third base and the top of the order as the Marlins go for -- hold your breath -- their THIRD STRAIGHT WIN:

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

              -- Anybody happen to catch the story on Brad Penny's outing for the Red Sox last night?Penny was tossing chunks, apparently -- nearly six years to the day (May 23, 2003) that he blew chow as a Marlin. 2003 historians might recall that Penny, unable to retain his stomach contents, was scratched from his start in Cincy and replaced by Tommy Phelps. At the time, the Marlins were 10 games under .500, marking their lowest low point of the season. But Phelps got the W and the rest, as they say ad (ahem) nauseum, is history. Penny recovered and won the next night, and the Marlins never looked back.

             -- The first NL All-Star voting update was released a moment ago and Hanley Ramirez is the only Marlin receiving any love. Ramirez is second in the voting among NL shortstops -- behind Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy (It's early).  No other Marlin is in the top five at any other position.

             -- The Marlins have signed a couple of veteran right-handed pitchers -- Gary Glover and Clay Hensley -- to help bolster their minor-league system. Hensley, who was with the Padres from 2005-08 (15-18, 4.09) started Monday for Triple A New Orleans in Las Vegas (5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER). Glover is in extended spring training in Jupiter and will be promoted to New Orleans once his arm is strengthened. Glover has eight seasons in the majors, most recently with Detroit in 2008. Overall, Glover is 29-26 with a  5.03 ERA in 263 appearances (47 starts).

              "We needed a couple more veteran guys to help because of the injuries," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development. "We needed something other than kids."

          

Meyer was once a boo bird too

PHILADELPHIA -- Marlins reliever Dan Meyer was once a member of the boo gallery here in Philadelphia. Meyer, who grew up in nearby Woodbury, NJ (about a 15 minute drive from Philly), shared a few stories with us yesterday about his childhood and what it was like coming to Veterans Stadium when he was a kid.

Meyer knows well you need to have thick skin to play in the city of brotherly love. So, when he came in to pitch in the seventh inning in Monday's 5-3 win against the Phillies, he felt right at home when the boo birds began chirping.

"I watched them boo Santa Claus when I was eight," said Meyer, referring to the infamous Eagles game in which a man dressed as Santa Claus was booed during the game. "You can be the hero one night and the next night they’ll bury you. Philly fans are known for being the hardest fans in sports. I’m a diehard Eagles fan. So, I fit right in."

Meyer, who said he attended about 5 to 10 baseball games a year growing up, admitted he used to be one of the kids who would harrass opposing pitchers during warmups. There's one story that stays with him to this day.

"When I was like 10, I was trying to harass Randy Johnson," Meyer said. "It’s kind of an embarrassing story. I was a nine year old kid. I had a baseball and I wanted him to sign it for me. He was doing his work. Now, I understand. But at the time, I wanted him to sign my ball. So, I went from being the nice kid to yelling at him. Some of the stuff I said wasn't very nice... I can only wish and hope and play as long as he has.

Would he like to ask Johnson about it when the Giants visit the Marlins June 5-8? "There’s no way he remembers it," Meyer said laughing. "It would be funny if he did. But I know I’m just a piece of dust in his life."

May 25, 2009

Better curveball helping Volstad

PHILADELPHIA -- Chris Volstad could have lost his cool when Ryan Howard tattoed his second home run of the game off him to start the sixth inning Monday night. The 22-year old right-hander could have put the Marlins tired bullpen in another predicament.

But he didn't. He kept working. And he picked up five more huge outs for the Marlins, who instead of blowing another lead, added to it and protected it one of the few times this month. Wes Helms will get most of the credit for the Marlins win, but nothing means more to this team right now than getting efforts like they got from Volly.

"We had a good outing yesterday by JJ and another good one by Volly in a tough ballpark and that’s a good sign," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Now, we got to get that rolling a little bit, hope our starters keep it going."

The Marlins won back-to-back games for only the third time since their 11-1 start and for the first time since they won the first two at Colorado.

Volstad was able to make that happen because his curveball was working. After the game, he admitted he's been using it more and keeping hitters off more. It was the first thing Gonzalez talked about.

"I think it all started with that curveball," Gonzalez said. "It didn’t look like they were taking very good swings off him. They were pounding the strike zone. You are going to give up home runs to a hitter like Howard, who is a hell of a hitter. But I’m very encouraged by the way he pitched, the way he kept his cool."

Catching up with rookie Chris Coghlan

PHILADELPHIA -- Rookie left fielder Chris Coghlan is learning quickly you got to be ready for anything with the Marlins. An infielder in college and the minors, he's just begun getting used to playing in the outfield again (and for the first time since he was in Little League).

Chris Coghlan Monday against the Phillies, he experienced another first with the Fish -- batting leadoff. "It's probably the first time I'm going to do that since high school," said Coghlan, who took the top spot in place of Emilio Bonifacio, who got the night off. "I'm not looking at it any different. [Bench coach] Carlos [Tosca] told me you have a great approach, just be yourself. The way I see it, leading off is just for the first inning. You just want to be a tablesetter."

Don't count on Coghlan be the tablesetter for long. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Bonifacio will be back in the spot Tuesday. But down the road, you never know.

“I definitely feel he can give you good at-bats,” Gonzalez said of Coughlan, who was 5-for-32 in the Marlins homestand. “It’s funny because if you didn’t know the batting average and were just watching the games, you are thinking he’s hitting higher than he’s hitting. You think .280 with the at-bats and the walks. I think the batting average will come. I think he can handle it.”

Although his numbers aren't great right now (.191 batting average, 7 walks, 12 strikeouts), Coghlan has more patience than Bonifacio and has better than average speed, too. In two seasons in the minors, Coghlan stole 63 bases and was caught just 17 times.

"I'm not a guy who is a burner. I'm definitely not Bonifacio and there are guys who are faster than me on this team. But I consider myself a fast baserunner," said Coghlan, who has just one steal in 15 games. "I go off my instincts, what I feel. Obviously in the minor leagues you are able to run more. Up here, you have Hanley [Ramirez] behind you and you don't want to chance the out. And in the eight hole, it's the same thing with the pitcher behind you."

As for his fielding, Coghlan (who has two errors) feels like that is coming around too. “I feel a lot better. Cody [Ross] and [Jeremy Hermida] Herm help me a lot, give me advice,” Coghlan said. “I’m just learning on the fly. I try to make it as simple as possible, make the routine plays and hit the cutoff guys. That’s what Bo [Porter] preaches. Read the ball and make no false steps. That’s what I try to do.”

A couple more quick notes from before the game...

> Manager Fredi Gonzalez said former Marlins starters Anibal Sanchez and Rick VandenHurk have been making good strides in their comebacks from injury. Sanchez pitched three innings in a simulated game Sunday and will pitch a side session Tuesday before getting a start Thursday in Jupiter. VandenHurk threw three innings for the Hammerheads, tossing 54 pitches and giving up three hits, one run, two walks and striking out three. VandenHurk will pitch on the side Wednesday and start Saturday in Triple A New Orleans. Both pitchers will throw between 70 to 75 pitches in their starts.

> The loss of workhorse left-hander Renyel Pinto (elbow inflammation) hurts. The Marlins are down to just one lefty in their bullpen -- Dan Meyer. The good news, though, is their right-handed relievers have been doing a pretty good job against lefties. Entering Monday, left-handed opponents were hitting .200 off Kiko Calero (5-25, 8 BBs, 8 Ks), .186 off Leo Nuñez (8-43, 11 Ks, 7 BBs), .091 off Brian Sanches (1-11, 1 BB, 1 K) and .250 off Matt Lindstrom (10-40, 9 Ks, 9 BBs).

> Burke Badenhop will start Wednesday against the Phillies -- his first start since May 18 of last year.The right-hander has gone 2-2 with a 5.75 ERA in 20-1/3 innings pitching in long relief. With a day off between series Thursday, Gonzalez said it would give his bullpen time to rest.

Badenhop told me he feels like he's done well in spots, but has to avoid the big inning. "There have been a couple outings that have hurt me statistically wise," Badenhop said. "I think my last three I’ve left guys on base. I really strive to finish innings and those have kind of killed me. I threw two shutout innings against the Dodgers and then I give up four. The D-Backs game I leave two on. Those runs -- I have to completely shut those off. But otherwise, I think I’m doing alright.

Marlins' Pinto to the 15-Day DL; Bonifacio Not In Lineup


     Pinto       The Marlins' lefty workhorse reliever, Renyel Pinto, has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 23, with left elbow inflammation. The Marlins have recalled Cristhian Martinez from Double A Jacksonville to fill his spot.

            Pinto's last three appearances have not gone well (3 2/3 innings, 8 hits, 4 ER, 2 HR). He had delivered 10 consecutive scoreless outings prior to the rut.

            Even though Martinez gave up a game-deciding home run to Arizona's Mark Reynolds during his 1-game cameo on Thursday, the Marlins liked the fact that he attacked the strike zone and looked composed on the mound.

            Emilio Bonifacio watches from the bench tonight. Wes Helms starts at third:

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

May 24, 2009

No Rays of Sunshine for Marlins


                 Looking a little gloomy at the Shark Tank in more ways than one. Dark clouds are hovering, befitting the mood surrounding the Marlins. The Rays aren't just going for a series sweep this afternoon. They're going for their eighth consecutive win in South Florida. The seven previous games have been decided by a cumulative score of 68-19! Ouch.

                 Here are the lineups:

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

                 Rays: 1. B.J. Upton, cf; 2. Carl Crawford, lf; 3. Evan Longoria, 3b; 4. Carlos Pena, 1b; 5. Ben Zobrist, rf; 6. Jason Bartlett, ss; 7. Akinori Iwamura, 2b; 8. Dioner Navarro, c; 9. James Shields, p.

May 23, 2009

Marlins -- The Day After Hangover

             Fish fried                              Can it get any worse for the Marlins than last night's 15-2 fish fry? Of course it can. Ricky Nolasco is on his way down to New Orleans to become a Zephyr. Have been unable to confirm reports that David Davidson, who was also shown the door, forgot his left arm when he packed up and left last night. A 52-pitch inning will do that sort of thing.

                  -- From the How Bad Is It Dept.: The Marlins are 8-23 over their last 31 games, which isn't the worst 31-game stretch in club history. But it's darn close. Those huggable '98 Marlins went 5-26 during one bleak stretch. But 8-23 matches the second-worst 31-game slide by any Marlins club. The record for smelliest 32-game period (for those holding a candlelight vigil tonight): the '98 club again, which went 6-26 during one awful run.

                -- Two more minor-league pitchers join the club today: Sean West and Chris Leroux. West is starting tonight against the Rays. It hasn't been a pretty sight so far for the pitching call-ups. Other than Brian Sanches, and with the occasional exception of Burke Badenhop, the reinforcements haven't plugged very many leaks. The call-up conglomerate of Sanches, Badenhop, Davidson, Graham TaylorCarlos Martinez and Cristhian Martinez is a collective 2-5 with a 6.75 ERA. Next.

               -- Think the Marlins qualify for federal emergency disaster relief funds or any of that bailout money?
                                                                                                                                                                        -    - Mark your Marlins calendars for June 8. That's when Randy Johnson could be bidding for Randy johnson career win No. 300. The Big Unit and the Giants will be in South Florida for a 4-game series, and June 8 is the day Johnson would be in line to pitch. Johnson, who is sitting on 298 'W's,' failed in his bid for 299 when he took on the Mariners last night. He should have two more starts between now and June 8 -- one against the Braves and the other in D.C. Johnson's all-time record against the Marlins: 8-1.

               -- Rick VandenHurk is making a rehab start Sunday at Single A Jupiter while Anibal Sanchez will be there to pitch a sim game. Their returns are about two weeks away.

              -- Talk about your heated rivalries. Move over Yankees-Red Sox. Step aside Cubs-Cardinals. When it comes to pure blood-boiling hatred (or more likely it's just bad pitching), nothing tops the Citrus Series showdown of Marlins-Rays, at least in interleague play. Thanks to the folks at www.plunkeveryone.com for coming up with the fact that no interleague series has had more plunkings than the 74 produced over the years between the Marlins and Rays. That's 23 more plunkings than the next closest interleague rivalry.And the Rays pitchers, those meanies, are responsible for 52 of those 74 hit batsmen. Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena was plunked last night by Brian Sanches as the Marlins pitchers try to close the gap.

May 22, 2009

Nolasco Demoted to Triple A


                After yet another rough outing, Ricky Nolasco was optioned to Triple A New Orleans.

                "We've got to get him fixed," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "That's not the Ricky Nolasco we saw last season. Before it gets any worse, let's try to get him better. Obviously he's not the same guy."

                Nolasco packed his stuff and left before speaking with reporters.

                "I think he just needs to try less hard," said catcher John Baker, who was behind the plate on Friday when Nolasco gave up eight runs in two innings against the Rays.

                Baker said he felt that Nolasco was trying to "pitch away from contact."

                But Baker said Nolasco has worked hard in his bullpen sessions and in the video room to correct his flaws.

                "It's not for lack of effort," Baker said.

                Gonzalez said he spoke with Nolasco in the dugout when he was lifted after the second inning.

                "He said he feels great," Gonzalez said. "I asked him, 'Is the ball going where you want it to go?' He said 'Sometimes.' It's not what you want to hear."

                David Davidson, who entered in relief of Nolasco and gave up five runs in the third, was also sent down to New Orleans. But that move was expected, as the Marlins needed to clear room anyway to promote Sean West from Double A Jacksonville in time for Saturday's start against Tampa Bay.

                The Marlins also called up right-handed reliever Chris Leroux from Double A.