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32 posts from July 2009

July 03, 2009

Marlins enjoying "late" first-place feel

Fourth of July weekend has a different feel for the Marlins this year -- a first-place feel.

Prior to this weekend, the latest the Marlins held at least a share of first was in 2004 -- when they were 41-37 and tied with the Phillies on June 30th.

Don't think the Marlins haven't noticed either. Catcher John Baker said that although there are still three months left in the season, scoreboard watching is happening more often in the dugout.

"Guys are noticing when the Phillies are down two and we're up one," Baker said. ‘‘I think guys are saying ‘Let's get this thing going.' I know its only July. But this is why we play baseball. I think it makes it that much more fun to know everyday there is something on the line."

The Marlins began the season 11-1 then to as far as eight games back in the standings on June 11 before regrouping behind improved starting pitching, the reemergence of former 15-game winner Ricky Nolasco and a red-hot streak by shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who has thrived driving in runs after some early adjustments in the No. 3 hole.

"I think we're a little bit lucky to be where we are with how we played in May," third baseman Wes Helms said. "But I think it just shows how hard this team has worked to get back on track. I still don't think this team has reached its peak. We can get better and do better things."

THE INJURY REPORT

Manager Fredi Gonzalez usually brings a cheat sheet with him to remind himself of all the injury news he has to share with the media.

Friday's cheat sheet had more scribbled on it than usual. Most of it, however, should be considered good news:

> Utility man Alfredo Amezaga, examined Thursday by a knee specialist in Vail, Colo., for a bone bruise in his left knee, was told he does not need to have surgery according to Gonzalez and just needs "more rest." Gonzalez said there is still no timetable for Amezaga's return. "Guys heal differently," Gonzalez said.

>Right-hander reliever Kiko Calero will pitch an inning in Single A Jupiter Saturday and again Monday. "If everything goes well," Gonzalez said. "we'll reevaluate him and he'll probably join us in Arizona."

>Former closer Matt Lindstrom played catch Friday on flat ground for the first time since he went on the disabled list with a right elbow strain June 23. Lindstrom wasn't expected to throw for four weeks.

Anibal Sanchez, on the disabled list since June 3, threw a "light bullpen session'' his first since leaving again with a right shoulder sprain.

July 02, 2009

Right-Handed Reliever Luis Ayala, Marlins Agree to Terms


              The Marlins have agreed to terms with veteran right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, who cleared waivers on Thursday after being designated for assignment last week by the Minnesota Twins. Ayala's agent, Joe Longo, said the pitcher would report to New Orleans and join the Triple A club in Omaha.

             "He hasn't pitched in over two weeks, so he'll go down there for maybe three or four outings to make sure everything is working right," Longo said.Ayala

             Ayala, 31, has pitched for the Expos, Nationals, Mets and Twins during his six major-league seasons. He had appeared in 28 games for the Twins this season, going 1-2 with a 4.18 ERA.

             "He knows (Marlins general manager) Michael Hill and he's played for years with (Jorge) Cantu and (Alfredo) Amezaga for Mexico," Longo said. "I think he's got some familiarity with the (NL East) division, so I think it's a place where he's comfortable. We had interest from a handful of teams, but he wanted to go back to the NL East as much as possible. Once the Marlins called, we just started focusing on much."

            Ayala was earning $1.3 million this season. But the Marlins will only be required to pay him the pro-rated amount of the major league minimum, or less than $200,000.