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32 posts from July 2009

July 25, 2009

Andrew Miller's Wild Night

                 Nine walks. Repeat. NINE WALKS.    

                 Andrew Miller didn't exactly hasten his return to the Marlins with Friday's 9-walk outing in New Orleans. In fact, the Marlins are already drawing up contingency plans for the fifth spot in the rotation when it becomes necessary -- either on July 31 or Aug. 1.

                 Manager Fredi Gonzalez said that if Miller isn't ready to assume the role -- and nine walks suggests that it is going to take more than a couple of starts in the minors for Miller to get his act together -- then the top options become Sean West or a "bullpen start" headed by Burke Badenhop.

                 Gonzalez said the word on Miller was that he was rushing his delivery. Miller, who lasted 4 2/3 innings,walked the first four batters and threw fewer than 50 percent of his pitches for strikes. He also struck out seven, but nine walks overshadows the K's.

                Here are tonight's lineups:

                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. John Baker, c; 9. Rick VandenHurk, p.

                Dodgers: 1. Rafael Furcal, ss; 2. Orlando Hudson, 2b; 3. Manny Ramirez, lf; 4. Andre Ethier, rf; 5. Casey Blake, 3b; 6. James Loney, 1b; 7. Russell Martin, c; 8. Matt Kemp, cf; 9. Hiroki Kuroda, p. 

July 24, 2009

Matt Lindstrom, Anibal Sanchez Updates

                 LOS ANGELES -- Once Matt Lindstrom returns from the disabled list, which could be early as the end of next week, manager Fredi Gonzalez said he probably won't use him in the ninth inning -- at least for his first couple of appearances.

                 Lindstrom threw a simulation game on Wednesday and is scheduled to make a rehab appearance on Saturday with Single A Jupiter. Gonzalez said Lindstrom would probably throw "a few more times" before the Marlins add him to their roster, most likely at the end of the upcoming homestand or the start of the next road trip.

                 Meanwhile, the Marlins are taking it slower with Anibal Sanchez.

                 Sanchez threw 45 pitches in a simulation game on Thursday and is scheduled to throw again on Tuesday in a rehab appearance with the Marlins' Gulf Coast League team. The Marlins have not set a timetable for Sanchez's return.

                 Gonzalez has done some lineup tweaking for tonight's game against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who held the Marlins to one hit over seven innings when he faced them in  May. The most noticeable change is starting Emilio Bonifacio in left field. Asked if he might consider playing Bonifacio there more often in the future against left-handers, Gonzalez replied: "We'll see how it plays out."

                 Here's tonight's Marlins lineup:

                 1. Emilio Bonifacio, lf; 2. Wes Helms, 3b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Ronny Paulino, c; 8. Brett Carroll, rf; 9. Josh Johnson, rhp.


July 22, 2009

The Killer V's -- Marlins Defeat Padres Behind Volstad


            SAN DIEGO – For the Marlins, “V” means victory.

It was Rick VandenHurk who beat the Padres on Monday. On Tuesday, it was Chris Volstad’s turn, as the Marlins bobbed above the .500 mark with their 3-2 win over the anemic Padres at Petco Park.

The Marlins leaned on Volstad, who held the majors’ worst hitting team to a run, in part because he kept the ball from leaving the park.

Volstad had given up 20 home runs, including three in a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in his previous start on Wednesday.

“I didn’t leave three (pitches) up tonight,” Volstad said.

The Padres, who are lacking with the lumber, mustered only seven hits, the first five of them singles until Kyle Blanks greeted closer Leo Nunez with a home run in the ninth.

Volstad gave up a first-inning run an Adrian Gonzalez RBI single.

After that, Volstad took control to earn a win that put the Marlins in a position to sweep the series. They’ll play the finale in an afternoon matinee on Wednesday. Volstad is now 3-0 with a ridiculously low 0.73 ERA in three career starts in California.

“Maybe they should start our games back home at 10 o’clock,” Volstad joked.

The 22-year-old right-hander improved to 7-9 and might now be rounding into form following a stretch in which he lost eight of 11 decisions. Volstad has now won two of his past three outings, including a 5-hit shutout over the Giants in San Francisco before the All-Star break.

It was another good sign for the Marlins, who have been searching for consistency out of their starters.

“That’s the key,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez. “When we’ve been successful, its when our starters go deep in ballgames.”

Not that the Padres are much of a guide, being as they rank dead last in the majors in batting average and scoring. Their lineup is missing Brian Giles and David Eckstein.

But the Marlins will take anything they can, and what better team to face when your own lineup isn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball. The Marlins have been Padre-like of late.

They have been shut out three times over their past eight games and have scored only 11 runs in their five games since returning from the break.

Their only runs Tuesday came on a pair of two-out hits by John Baker and Jorge Cantu, and a sacrifice fly by Jeremy Hermida.

It wasn’t like the Marlins starved for hits. They had 12, at least one in every inning except the eighth.

Hanley Ramirez had three hits, including two infield singles, to increase his lead over Albert Pujols in the National League batting race: .348 to .332. Baker reached base three times.

But the Marlins left 10 men on base, going 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Nunez notched his sixth save, but not before Blanks bashed his first major league home run off the Marlins closer and the Padres put the tying run at second with two outs.

But Nunez got Everth Cabrera to end the game on a bouncer back to the mound.


July 21, 2009

Sanchez on Bench, Bonifacio in Lineup

                  Based on his comments to reporters in the dugout a moment ago, it doesn't sound like Fredi Gonzalez is planning to have Gaby Sanchez supplant Emilio Bonifacio at third base.

                  "We'll use him as a pinch-hitter, maybe give him a start here or there," Gonzalez said of Sanchez, who was called up Tuesday from Triple A New Orleans. "He can play both corners -- first base seems like the better one."

                 Sanchez also considers himself to be a better first baseman. But the Marlins have had him playing third most of the time at New Orleans, leading to conjecture that the organization was positioning him to replace Bonifacio.

                 Maybe it'll happen in the future, but Gonzalez indicated that Sanchez would be used primarily off the bench -- at least for now.

                 "I'd like to give him a start here or there, but I don't know where it would be," Gonzalez said, adding that Sanchez can also serve as the emergency third catcher, if necessary. "We'll use him."


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

                 Padres: 1. Everth Cabrera, ss; 2. Tony Gwynn, cf; 3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1b; 4. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3b; 5. Chase Headley, lf; 6. Kyle Blanks, rf; 7. Eliezer Alfonzo, c; 8. Luis Rodriguez, 2b; 9. Chad Gaudin, rhp.

                 -- Reliever Luis Ayala was expected to arrive in time for tonight's game. Ayala traveled to Phoenix on Monday to be with his wife, who delivered a baby boy.




Marlins Calling Up Gaby Sanchez. Now What?

         The Marlins are calling up corner infieler Gaby Sanchez from Triple A New Orleans to take the roster spot of LHP Andrew Miller, who was optioned late Monday.

          Sandhez entered spring training as a contender to win an Opening Day roster spot. But an injury and sluggish spring landed him in New Orleans. The 25-year-old University of Miami product is hitting .289 with nine home runs with the Zephyrs. Sanchez spent the early part of the season at first base before switching to third, fueling speculation that the Marlins might be grooming him as a possible replacement for Emilio Bonifacio.

          The addition of Sanchez, who was a September call-up for the Marlins last season, gives manager Fredi Gonzalez more maneuvering room with his bench. Before Miller was sent down, the Marlins were working with only 12 position players. Now they will be back to 13.

           It'll be interesting to see how the Marlins use Sanchez to start out. Will they put him on the bench? Or will they go ahead, plop him at third, and turn Bonifacio into the new Alfredo Amezaga? Bonifacio had a rough night Monday, spared of a game-tying error in the eighth when Jorge Cantu gloved his short-hopper,and committing a high-throw error in the ninth, allowing the potential tying run to reach. He also went 0 for 4 and struck out three times.

           You make the call. Should Sanchez replace Bonifacio immediately? Or should he be used off the bench, at least for now?


Marlins Option LHP Andrew Miller to Triple A New Orleans

            Some late-night news out of San Diego, where the Marlins have just announced that they've optioned Andrew Miller to Triple A New Orleans, It did not come as a surprise to the big left-hander, who has been struggling.

            And with the Marlins not needed a fifth starter until July 31 and Rick VandenHurk turning in an impressive performance in his win over the Padres, Miller became the odd man out

            "It gives me a chance to go down there, get some work in and hopefully work out some kinks," Miller said.

            A demotion did a world of good for Ricky Nolasco earlier in the season. Now the Marlins will find out if it has the same effect on Miller (3-5, 4.81).

            "He's a big part of our future," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Miller. "We need to get him straightened out, let him go down there and make a couple of starts, and bring him back up. We've been kicking this around now for a couple of days. We could have made a hasty decision last night. We kind of kicked it around to wait another day, and try to do what is best for the kid, and for us."

           The Marlins will call up a player, most likely a position player, on Tuesday to take Miller's spot on the roster.


July 17, 2009

Lindstrom/Sanchez Throw; Uggla's Day Off

   Closer Matt Lindstrom and starting right-hander Anibal Sanchez threw bullpen sessions on Friday afternoon at Land Shark Stadium.

   Both pitchers are on the disabled list. Lindstrom has been sidelined since June 24 with a right elbow sprain. Sanchez went on the DL on May 8 with a right shoulder sprain.

   On Friday, Lindstrom threw 35 pitches that included breaking balls and will throw again on Sunday.

   Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Sanchez threw “a little longer than Lindstrom, about 12 to 13 minutes”.

   Sanchez threw all his pitches and is expected to throw again Monday.

   Gonzalez, who was encouraged by both pitchers side sessions, said there is no target date for either pitcher’s return.

   “Right from the very beginning, we want to make sure we take our time with them,” said Gonzalez, who thinks Lindstrom would return sooner than Sanchez.

   Gonzalez added he would have a better idea of both pitchers return when they start throwing batting practice and a simulated game.



   Second baseman Dan Uggla got the night off against his personal nemesis, Phillies lefty ace Cole Hamels.

   Uggla is 3 for 23 (.130 avg.) with six strikeouts against Hamels.  

   Emilio Bonifacio, who has started the majority of games at third base, got the start at second base – his natural position. It was Bonifacio’s third start at second base this season.

   With Bonifacio at second base, Wes Helms was going to start at third base, but Helms could not go, because of the flu.

   Helms, who is 6 for 18 against Hamels, was available to pinch-hit.

   Utility infielder Andy Gonzalez started at third base. Gonzalez was 1 for 5 this season with the Marlins entering Friday’s game. All the at-bats were as a pinch hitter.

   In his third season in the major leagues, Gonzalez has played every position on the diamond except pitcher. Gonzalez broke into the big leagues with the White Sox in 2007 and last season played for the Indians.



   Although right-hander Rick VandenHurk is the favorite to start against the Padres on Monday when the Marlins need a fifth starter, Fredi Gonzalez said selecting who starts in San Diego might depend on how much the Marlins bullpen is used this weekend against the Phillies.

   Reliever Burke Badenhop could start against the Padres if the Marlins don’t bring up VandenHurk from Triple A New Orleans.

   Badenhop has one start in 22 appearances this season. In his lone start, the right-hander went five innings and allowed one run in a 6-2 win over Philadelphia on May 27.

   After Monday, the Marlins would not need a fifth starter again until a July 31 home game against the Cubs.

July 12, 2009

Luis Ayala Joins Marlins Bullpen

               PHOENIX -- Luis Ayala is the newest member of the Marlins bullpen after being called up Sunday from Triple A New Orleans. The veteran right-hander received the call after the Marlins sent Sean West back to Double A Jacksonville after his poor start on Saturday.

               It'll be interesting to see how the Marlins use Ayala, who was released by the Minnesota Twins. Ayala has closed in the past -- he had nine saves as a fill-in closer for the New York Mets last season -- but has been used primarily in mid- to late-inning situations.

           Ayala                                                                       "He's done it all in his career, so I'm not opposed to using him in any situation, really," said manager Fredi Gonzalez.

              Said president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest: "We don't need a fifth starter until a week from Monday in San Diego. Really, we want to take a look at him and Brendan (Donnelly) to see if they can not only bring us experience, but also help us."

              On the closer situation, Beinfest said: "I think that Leo (Nunez) has shown that he can do it, and Dan (Meyer) has shown he can do it, and I think Fredi has a good feel for mixing and matching. We'll put him in the mix and see how he does."

              Ayala, 31, is familiar with many of his new Marlins teammates, having either played with or against a number of them. Ayala has been teammates with Jorge Cantu and Alfredo Amezaga on Mexican national teams. And, having spent nearly his entire major league career in the National League East with either the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals and New York Mets, he's also familiar with the Marlins from the opposite side.

              "He's just a lay-loose kind of guy," Cantu said. "He's got experience and he knows what he's doing. He's aggressive and comes right at you."

             Ayala made three appearances for New Orleans, throwing three shutout innings while allowing just one hit. The Twins released him, reportedly because Ayala expressed his unhappiness over not being used in the set-up role.

             "I don't want to say anything about the Twins, but sometimes the system you don't feel good," Ayala said. "But I feel good about coming here. I can do everything (any role)."

              Signing Ayala is costing the Marlins just $180,246 as the Twins are picking up the remainder of his contract.

              As for the now vacated fifth starter spot, it appears that Rick VandenHurk (4-1, 2.96 ERA in eight starts at New Orleans) is the heavy favorite to take over the role, though the Marlins don't need a fifth starter until July 20.

              "At that point, seeing how we feel, we could either go with 13 pitchers and move a position player, or just go pitcher for a pitcher," Gonzalez said of future roster scenarios.

             Here is today's lineup:

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


Sean West Returned to Minors

                    Sean West is headed back to Double A Jacksonville after another rough outing Saturday in Arizona. The Marlins opened the young lefty following the 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.

                    Since the Marlins don't need a fifth starter until July 20, they are expected to call up a reliever in time for Sunday's series finale in Arizona. Newly acquired reliever Luis Ayala would seem to be a logical candidate for that spot. Ayala has made three relief appearances at Triple A New Orleans since signing a minor-league contract and has given up just one hit.

                    Look for Rick VandenHurk to take over the fifth rotation spot once it becomes necessary. VandenHurk is 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA in eight starts for New Orleans.

                    As for West, manager Fredi Gonzalez said the young hurler needed more seasoning in the minors and, specifically, in developing his secondary pitches. Gonzalez and West agreed that relying on a fastball wasn't cutting it at the big-league level.


July 10, 2009

Hanley Ramirez: "I was like a little kid"

                    Hanley Ramiez hadn't played in so long -- five consecutive games -- that he said he "was like a little kid" when he was inserted Thursday as a pinch-hitter and remained in the game at shortstop.

                    "Finally I was back on the diamond," he said.

                    Ramirez on Friday was in the starting lineup for the first time since July 4 when a tight hip flexor landed him on the bench.

                    But Ramirez said he is not even close to 100 percent. He could be seen whincing during his pinch-hit at bat, one that resulted in single, in Thursday's game.

                    "It's not something that's going to go away right away," Ramirez said. "It's a thing that's going to hurt pretty much for a couple of more days, or a week. I've got to keep getting treatment. The waythe pain has been going away, it looks like it's going to be a week, week and a half."

                   At least Ramirez is now confident he'll be able to play in Tuesday's All-Star Game, removing the remote chance that he might have to miss the game because of the injury. Hanging in Ramirez's locker were replica All-Star jerseys he intends to his father and two sons.