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32 posts from July 2009

July 10, 2009

The Lucky Bat

                  There's nothing remarkable about the bat Brett Carroll uses. It's a relatively common, Louisville Slugger, model S318. But if the Hall of Fame is paying attention, it might consider asking for the particular bat Carroll used Thursday in the Marlins' come-from-behind victory.

                  Carroll not only used it to hit his 3-run homer off Scott Schoeneweis, the blast that put the Marlins on top for good, but was also used by Hanley Ramirez when he singled two batters earlier. That's right, the same bat was good for not just two hits in the Marlins' 10-run eighth, but two pinch-hits, which is perhaps a major league first.

     Carroll                                              Manager Fredi Gonzalez went to the bench in the decisive eighth, sending up three consecutive pinch-hitters in Ramirez, Ross Gload and Carroll -- in that order. Ramirez fouled off a pitch during his at bat, causing it to break. As he and Carroll use the same bat model, he called into the dugout for a replacement, yelling "B.C., throw me one of yours."

                  After Ramirez singled to right and Gload drove in the first run of the breakout inning with a fielder's choice, Carroll hit a Schoeneweis pitch into the left field seats to give the Marlins, who had trailed 7-0 in the sixth, an 8-7 lead. The Marlins went on to win 14-7.

                  Alas, Carroll's bat handle broke on the home run. Barring an unforseen call from the Hall of Fame, Carroll said he'll likely give the bat to a relative.

                  Said Carroll: "It died a hero, I guess."


Hanley Ramirez Returns to Lineup

                    Hanley Ramirez is in Friday's starting lineup for the Marlins. Ramirez came off the bench on Thursday to deliver a pinch-hit single in the club's 10-run eighth inning and remained in the game to play shortstop. Ramirez, who hasn't started since Saturday due to a tight hip flexor, said following Thursday's dramatic comeback victory over the Diamondbacks that he is at about 75 percent strength..

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


Desert Storm: Marlins Rally for Incredible Comeback, Stun Diamondbacks 14-7




            PHOENIX – They were down 7-0 and looking very much dead.

            Then the Marlins rose like the Phoenix, matching the largest comeback in franchise history with a football-like14-7 victory on Thursday over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. It equaled the 2003 Marlins’ similarly stunning comeback victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, when they rallied for a 10-9 win after trailing 9-2.

            A stunned crowd of 21,558 watched the Diamondbacks disintegrate in a collapse of enormous proportions.

            The Diamondbacks owned a seemingly comfortable lead, 7-0, entering the sixth.

            Then it all crumbled in an avalanche of runs.

The Marlins erupted for a franchise-record 10 runs in the eighth inning to cap off their incredible comeback.

Even Hanley Ramirez, who missed the four previous games with a tight hip flexor, got into the act, coming off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit single in the record-breaking eighth inning. He also walked in what was a painfully long inning for the Diamondbacks..

But it all started in the sixth when Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida each hit home runs off Arizona starter Yusmeiro Petit, with Hermida’s solo shot sending Petit to the showers.

The Marlins added another run in the seventh to make it 7-4.

            But the inning that will be long remembered was the eighth.

            The Marlins sent 14 batters to the plate in the inning.

            After pinch-hitter Ross Gload made it 7-5 with his RBI fielder’s choice, another pinch-hitter – Brett Carroll – slammed a 3-run home run to put the Marlins on top. Carroll hit the home run off Arizona left-hander Scott Schoeneweis. Arizona’s rookie manager, A.J. Hinch, did not have a right-hander warming up in the bullpen at the time.

            The onslaught didn’t end there, though, as the Diamondbacks came unglued.

            With the crowd booing their every mistake, Arizona committed two errors and one passed ball in the disastrous eighth.

             The 10 runs scored by the Marlins broke the old franchise mark of eight.

            All but forgotten in the shocking comeback was a poor start by the Marlins’ Andrew Miller and an injury to reliever Burke Badenhop, who was drilled in the knee by a line drive and limped off the field.

            X-rays were negative, and Badenhop is listed as day to day.

            Miller was ineffective, allowing six runs (only two of which were earned as the result of an error by Emilio Bonifacio) and failed to make it through the third inning.



July 09, 2009

Hanley Ramirez On Idle -- Day 5

                    PHOENIX -- Hanley Ramirez is back on the bench as the Marlins open a four-game series against the D-Backs. However, manager Fredi Gonzalez sounded a bit more optimistic that Ramirez would show up in the lineup soon, if not Friday. Gonzalez said Ramirez would be a bit more involved in the pre-game ritual tonight -- batting, fielding, running -- and might be available to pinch-hit.

                    At any rate, this marks the fifth straight game that Ramirez has not started.

                    In the meantime......

                    -- Kiko Calero was activated off the disabled list. But Calero, who made 36 relief appearances before a sore shoulder landed him on the DL on June 17, said that, from now on, he'll be more honest when asked if he's ready to pitch. Calero said he always said 'yes' in the past. Now, if he's tired, he'll say so. And Gonzalez said he would be more careful in his use of Calero.


July 08, 2009

All-Star Game for Hanley Ramirez? Maybe. Maybe Not.

          SAN FRANCISCO -- The All-Star Game is suddenly up in the air for ailing Marlins shorstop Hanley Ramirez, who said he still wants to play in the Midsummer Classic while also emphasizing that his main loyalty lies with the team.

           "It's not more important than playing the regular season," Ramirez said of the All-Star Game. "I don't worry that much about the All-Star Game. It's a lot of fun, but we're two games out (of first place). That's what it's about right now. I just worry about that."

            Ramirez, who was chosen by fans to be the National League's starting shortstop in Tuesday's All-Star Game in St. Louis, was not in the lineup on Wednesday for a fourth straight game due to a right hip flexor injury. He took batting practice on Wednesday for the first time in days, but said he still felt stiff and was not sure when he would be ready to play.

             He said that if the injury hasn't improved by the weekend when the Marlins are in Arizona for a four-game series against the Diamondbacks, "then I won't play in it (the All-Star Game). I just want to play (with the Marlins) first before I go to the All-Star Game, at least one game or two games."

             Ramirez, who has not played since Saturday, said he sustained the injury while fielding a ground ball on Friday against the Pirates. He said that after playing Saturday, he woke up Sunday feeling "really stiff."

            He said the injury impacts every aspect of play: hitting, running and fielding.

          While Ramirez said he is hopeful he'll be able to play in Arizona on Thursday when the Marlins open a four-game series against the Diamondback, he said he'll do so only if he's feeling 25- to 35-percent better than he is now. At the moment, Ramirez said he is at about half strength.

          The Marlins have missed Ramirez's bat in the lineup. They lost 5-4 to the Giants on Monday and 3-0 on Tuesday.

          "It's not good when you set in the bench and you get beat by one or two runs," he said.

          -- With Ramirez hobbling and utilty player Alfredo Amezaga still out with a knee injury, the Marlins optioned outfielder Alejandro De Aza before Wednesday's game against the Giants and called up infielder Andy Gonzalez from Triple A New Orleans.

          Gonzalez, who was hitting .260 with four home runs with the Zephyrs, was on the Marlins' Opening Day roster but did not play before being sent down.

           To make room for Gonzalez on the 40-man roster, the Marlins transferred Amezaga to the 60-day disabled list.



July 07, 2009

Still No Hanley

               SAN FRANCISCO -- The lineup card is up inside the Marlins clubhouse and, for the third straight day, Hanley Ramirez's name isn't on it. Ramirez remains sidelined with a right hip flexor injury.

                "It hurts," Ramirez said before heading off for whirlpool treatment

                Ramirez said he might try to take batting practice before tonight's game at AT&T, but there is still no definitive word on his availability, even as a pinch-hitter. On Monday, manager Fredi Gonzalez told the media he thought Ramirez would be able to pinch-hit, but didn't send him out to hit in the ninth inning of an eventual 5-4 loss to the Giants.

                Gonzalez said afterward that Ramirez had been unable to take batting practice Monday and was too sore to hit in a game situation. That could change tonight when the Marlins try to even the series with the Giants.

                "It's a little better," Gonzalez said of the injury, "but not enough to put him in the lineup."

                Emilio Bonifacio will be making his sixth start at shortstop.

                Here are the lineups:

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

                Giants: 1. Aaron Rowand, cf; 2. Randy Winn, lf; 3. Pablo Sandoval, 3b; 4. Bengie Molina, c; 5. Nate Schierholtz, rf; 6. Edgar Renteria, ss; 7. Travis Ishikawa, 1b; 8. Juan Uribe, 2b; 9. Barry Zito, lhp.


                Chris Volstad heads to the hill on Wednesday hoping he can keep the Giants in the park. Volstad has given up 17 dingers this season in 98 1/3 innings compared to three jacks in 84 innings last season.

                What makes the home run surge a bit more perplexing is that Volstad is still getting ground ball outs. He ranks 11th among NL starters in ground ball/fly ball ratio after finishing 9th last season.

                Volstad said he is getting burned more often on pitches he's left up in the zone. But Volstad also said last year's low home run figure was as much an aberration as this season's high total. Volstad gave up 12 homers in 152 innings at Single A Greensboro in 2006 and 12 total between Single A Jupiter and Double A Carolina (over 168 2/3 combined innings) in '07.

               Still, Volstad admitted the home run ball "has been my problem all year."

               -- The Marlins have signed veteran reliever Scott Williamson to a minor-league contract. Williamson, who has not pitched in the majors since 2007, is working out in Jupiter and will likely be sent to Triple A New Orleans when his arm is ready.

July 05, 2009

Hanley & JJ NL All-Stars

Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson were named to the National League All-Star team this afternoon.

Hanley will start at shortstop for the NL. It is Hanley's second All-Star selection after making the NL team for last year's game at Yankee Stadium.

This is Johnson's first All-Star selection.

Hanley Not In Starting Lineup

Hanley Ramirez is not in Sunday's starting lineup for the Marlins as he sits out with a tight right hip flexor.

The injury is day to day for Ramirez, who is expected to be selected to the National League All-Star team later this afternoon.

Emilio Bonifacio will play shortstop today and Wes Helms will start at 3rd base.

Marlins Sign Journeyman Brendan Donnelly

              Leave it to the Marlins to sniff out an aging veteran pitcher and add him to their roster. They've done it again with just turned (July 4)  37-year-old right-hander Brendan Donnelly, who has been with practically every organization in the majors at one time or another. Actually, the Marlins will be his 10th organization. But who's counting?Donnelly

             The Marlins announced this morning that they had signed Donnelly, a free agent, and added him to their 25-man roster. At the same time, the Marlins placed RHP Chris Leroux on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

            Donnelly brings plenty of baggage, as one would expect from a player who has bounced around as much as he has. Here's his Wiki He was a replacement player in 1995, named in the Mitchell Report in '07, appeared in the '02 World Series with Anaheim, etc. He hasn't pitched in the majors since he was with Cleveland in 2008.

           Most recently, he had appeared in 24 games (2-0, 1.75) with Round Rock, Houston's Triple A affiliate.


July 04, 2009

Trade or no trade, Fish have decisions to make

Whether the Marlins make a move or not before the July 31st trade deadline, manager Fredi Gonzalez and Larry Beinfest are still going to have a few important decisions to make regarding the outfield and bullpen in the coming weeks.

At the top of the list: How to accommodate outfielder Cameron Maybin, who is thriving in Triple A (.320, .409 OBP) since being demoted May 10, and reliever Luis Ayala, who signed with the Marlins Thursday and will pitch a handful of times in Triple A before being called up.

Unless rookie Chris Coghlan (third in the NL in on base percentage among leadoff hitters) moves somewhere in the infield, the outfield will become a crowded place when Maybin returns to his spot in center and veteran Cody Ross moves back to right.

For the past two weeks, Jeremy Hermida and Brett Carroll have alternated starts in right field while Alejandro De Aza (called up from Triple A June 3) has played in spot duty.

Clearly the best defensive outfielder, Carroll has played well over the past few weeks and started for the 11th time in the last 23 games Saturday. He's hitting .324 against lefties and .444 with runners in scoring position and has seen more playing time because Hermida is hitting .195 against lefties.

"This year, the first time he came up, he didn't really get an opportunity," Gonzalez said. "But when he came up again, we threw him in there against left-handed pitching every once in a while and he's gotten some knocks."

While Carroll has been the pleasant surprise in the outfield, right-hander Tim Wood, called up June 20, has impressed Gonzalez.

With Kiko Calero expected to return next week in Arizona, its only natural to think Chris Leroux (11.12 ERA) will be asked to head back down to Double A Jacksonville. But what happens when former closer Matt Lindstrom is ready to return or Ayala is ready to move up?

Wood has tossed 6-2/3 scoreless innings -- including a career high three innings Friday -- since being called up. Brian Sanchez is 1-1 with a 1.62 ERA and has pitched 14-2/3 scoreless innings at home in 18 appearances.

"He has made every point to be on this staff and made a very good case [to stay] even when those guys come back," Gonzalez said of Wood.

LINDSTROM FEELS ‘GREAT': Lindstrom said his first two throwing sessions since going on the disabled list with a right elbow sprain June 24 have gone "great."

Initially expected to have to wait at least four weeks before throwing, Lindstrom made about 60 throws on flat ground Friday from about 65 to 75 feet and then threw from longer distances Saturday.

When the Marlins head out to San Francisco and Arizona next week, Lindstrom will continue rehabbing in Single A Jupiter. He will take Sunday off before throwing again Monday. He hopes to start bullpen work soon.

"I couldn't be more happy with what I saw and felt," Lindstrom said. "It was coming out of my hand really good. When it was first kind of diagnosed it was kind of wait and see. It's recovered faster than we initially thought. I'm just going to continue the plan of what the doctor has for me and do whatever I can off the field to prepare to get back on the mound."