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39 posts from March 2010

March 07, 2010

Maybin leaves game with left groin strain

JUPITER -- Marlins center fielder Cameron Maybin has left Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals with a left groin strain according to Marlins officials. 

Maybin, expected to be the Marlins opening day starter in center, was rounding third base on a two-run double by Donnie Murphy in the eighth inning when he pulled up before gingerly crossing the plate. 

Maybin was replaced by Scott Cousins in the outfield. The Marlins trail 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth. Stay tuned for updates after the game.

Stanton showing signs of growth

Dolphins boss Bill Parcells might think Mike Stanton is a little "too wormy" to play tight end in the NFL, but Marlins hitting coach Jim Presley likes Stanton just the way he is. And it's the stuff Pressley has begun seeing lately from the 20-year old outfielder that he says he really likes.

Mike Stanton Stanton's two-run, opposite field home run that helped beat the Mets in 10 innings Friday is more of what Pressley said Stanton needs to do as he tries to work himself up to the big leagues. 

"He's going to hit his home runs, but I want him to become a better hitter with two strikes, man at second base and two outs and to drive that run in," Pressley said. "We saw that in Port St. Lucie. He's trying to move a guy over, but do it with authority and drive him in that way. That's what he did. He moved him over and in. That's a special player, special talent, unbelievable player."

Presley has seen a similar, special young talent before. When he was playing with the Mariners from 1984 to 1989, he watched Ken Griffey Jr. make his major league debut at 19. He said Junior is the only player he can think of when he compares Stanton's power to others he's seen in the game. Most figure Stanton will begin the year in Double A Jacksonville, where he'll continue to try and cut down on his strikeouts. But it may not be long before the Marlins feel comfortable about bringing Stanton up.

"He's going to have to learn how to hit in the big leagues," Presley said. "It's not like in Double A where they're going to throw him a hanging slider. They're going to throw him a 2-0 fastball, middle away. They're going to find ways to get him out and he's going to have to adapt to them the way they adapt to him. They're not just going to let him take 2-0, 1-0 swings and let him drive the ball. They're not going to do that. They already know he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. So, he's going to see a 2-0 slider, a 3-1 changeup. He's going to have to learn."

But can he do that? Can he cut down on the strikeouts and continue to drive the ball the opposite way? "Oh yeah. I think this kid is good enough where he can make that adjustment mentally," Presley said. "He's intelligent, he works at it and knows what he wants to do. He works constantly. He's so far ahead of the curb than a lot of guys... we know he can do it because of what he did the other day."

> For the record, Stanton still thinks he could make at least a pretty good college receiver. At Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High (Calif.), Stanton said he caught 14 touchdown passes his senior year and was timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. Former USC coach Pete Carroll, now with the Seahawks, was willing to let Stanton play baseball and football because he was such a talent. 

"I don't know if I could run a 4.5 now," Stanton said Saturday after meeting Parcells inside the Marlins clubhouse. "But I told him if he let me put some pads on I could impress him."

> I didn't get a chance to talk to Presley before I wrote my Sunday feature on Scott Cousins. But Presley seemed just as enthusiastic about him as he did the Marlins other young outfield prospects. 

"I see power, but I see a .300 hitter who is going to have 40 doubles, 20 home runs and play the heck out of whatever outfield position he's playing," Presley said. "He can run now and he does have juice. He can hit the ball the other way. He can defend and he can run. He's another guy that's going to have to learn how to play in the big leagues. But he has all the tools."  

- CODY UPDATE: Outfielder Cody Ross, who has been resting a swollen right thumb he injured during batting practice, told reporters his batting practice session went well and he expects to play Monday against the Mets. Ross played Thursday against the Nationals and is 0-for-2 in his only spring at-bats.

- HENSLEY IMPRESSES: Clay Hensley hasn't pitched in the major leagues in two seasons. But if he keeps pitching the way he did Saturday it might not be long before he does again. The 30-year old right hander, who spent 2009 in Triple A New Orleans after being acquired by the Padres, tossed three scoreless innings against the Cardinals, striking out four. 

He also impressed manager Fredi Gonzalez. "He's got three or four pitches and he commands all of them," Gonzalez said Saturday after the Marlins 6-5 10-inning win. "He knows how to pitch. He's an interesting guy. He really is. He can do whatever. He can be a long guy, or he can be a sixth starter, if he doesn't make the club out of spring. He can be a guy in Triple-A, and you don't worry about him coming up.

- SECOND TIME AROUND: Marlins starters will begin making their second appearances of the spring Monday with a pair of split squad games. 

Ricky Nolasco, who tossed two scoreless innings against the University of Miami in an exhibition last Wednesday, will pitch in Viera against the Nationals. Ryan Tucker, who gave up two runs on five hits to UM in 1 2/3 innings, will try to regroup against the visiting Mets.

Gonzalez said the pitch count for starters will increase to about 50 pitches and three innings this week. Gonzalez said he plans to stay in Jupiter to watch Tucker pitch. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire will travel to Viera to see Nolasco. 

Anibal Sanchez and Rick VandenHurk are scheduled to pitch Tuesday against Boston. Chris Volstad and Hayden Penn are lined up to pitch in Kissimmee Wednesday against the Astros.

The tentative lineups for Monday...

vs. Nationals (in Viera): 1. Coghlan LF, 2. Maybin CF; 3. Morrison 1B; 4. Cantu 3B; 5. Paulino C; 6. Peterson RF; 7. Luna 2B; 8. Bonifacio SS; 9. Nolasco P.
vs. Mets (in Jupiter): 1. Cousin LF; 2. Jimenez 3B; 3. Ramirez SS; 4. Uggla 2B; 5. Sanchez 1B; 6. Miller CF; 7. Carroll RF; 8. Davis C; 9. Tucker P.

March 06, 2010

Tuna in the house for Marlins-Cards

JUPITER -- You would think Dolphins Executive Vice President Bill Parcells would be busy at work with the NFL free agent period now in full swing -- or at least celebrating Friday's signing of new inside linebacker Karlos Dansby.

Bill Parcells and Fredi Gonzalez chatted during morning stretches at Roger Dean Stadium.Not the case. The Tuna is spending Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium where two of his favorite baseball teams -- the Marlins and Cardinals -- share the spring training facility and face each other twice this weekend. Saturday morning, as the Marlins left the clubhouse to begin stretching Parcells emerged with manager Fredi Gonzalez. Parcells has long shared a friendship with Cardinals manager Tony Larussa. But according to Gonzalez, he's becoming a bigger fan of the Marlins.

"He's close with Tony, but we're trying to convert him," Gonzalez said. "He loves baseball. I brought [Marlins top prospect] Mike Stanton in this morning. [Parcells] wanted to meet Mike. Stanton was a pretty good football player in high school. But Bill said he's a little too 'wormy' for him. Hanley [Ramirez] knows him. The guys just like to pop in and say hi to him. He knows our roster up and down."

Gonzalez, who is close friends with former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy, said he's not shy about picking up the phone and calling Parcells, mentor Bobby Cox, Larussa to pick their brain on how to be a better manager.

"It's all about managing people," Gonzalez said. "We're not hearding cows here. We're managing people. It doesn't matter what sport we're in."

BAKER OUT UNTIL MIDWEEK: Gonzalez updated catcher John Baker's status, saying he has a tight forearm. Gonzalez said Baker won't return to game action until the middle of next week.

> Saturday's Marlins lineup against the Cardinals: 1. Chris Coghlan LF; 2. Jai Miller CF; 3. Hanley Ramirez SS; 4. Jorge Cantu 3B; 5. Dan Uggla 2B; 6. Logan Morrison 1B; 7. Ronny Paulino C; 8. Scott Cousins RF; 9. Josh Johnson P.

March 05, 2010

Marlins/Mets in Port St. Lucie; 2012 Opening Day Outfield Preview?, John Baker Hurt, New 3B Coach for Fish, Etc.


    PORT ST. LUCIE -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez's lineup for this afternoon's game against the Metropolitans has a distinctly futuristic look to it, with Chris Coghlan leading off and playing left, Cameron Maybin in the two hole and playing center, and Mike Stanton batting third and playing right.

    Might that be the Marlins' Opening Day outfield when they move into their new ballpark in 2012?

    "Hopefully," said Stanton, one of baseball's top prospects. "Maybe sooner. Maybe later."

    Said Coghlan of a possible 2012 outfield that includes himself Maybin and Stanton: "We all hope we're still here. We hope Cody is still here. But I wouldn't be able to say I envision because it's tough to say."

    Gonzalez said Stanton will be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter in the majors, but likely not at first.

   "I think he's a middle of the lineup type hitter from what his numbers are," Gonzalez said. "(But) it's tough to come from the minor leagues and stick him right in the third and fourth hole. But, eventually, I think that's where he'll end up."

    So Friday's Coghlan-Maybin-Stanton 1-2-3 combo might not be the same as the 2012 Opening Day top three. After all, the Marlins do have a pretty good No. 3 hitter at the moment: Hanley Ramirez.

    Here's the entire Marlins lineup for today's game at Tradition Field:

    1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Cameron Maybin, cf; 3. Mike Stanton, rf; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Brett Hayes, c; 7. Danny Richar, 2b; 8. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 9. Chris Volstad, p.

    JOHN BAKER SCRATCHED, REMAINS BACK IN JUPITER

    John Baker didn't make the trip up to Port St. Lucie because of what Gonzalez described as "tenderness in his throwing arm."

    Gonzalez said it's nothing serious, but that "I didn't want to take a risk. It's only the second day of spring training."

    Gonzalez said he would give Baker a couple of days off to help alleviate the pain. Brett Hayes will start in Baker's place against the Mets.

    GONZALEZ OFFERS ADVICE TO NEW 3B COACH JOE ESPADA

Gonzalez, who served as a third base coach for the Marlins and Braves, offered Joe Espada, the Marlins' new third base coach, a few words of wisdom about the job.

"I told him that he's going to be disappointed at third base, because my first experience I thought everybody in the major leagues had '80' arms, everybody could throw like (Vladimir) Guerrero, and that wasn't the case," Gonzalez said. "Not every outfielder can throw."

In other words, Gonzalez was telling Espada not to be too timid about sending runners.

"You're going to find on every team, one guy that scares the living (daylights) out of you," Gonzalez said. "For me, it was (Bobby) Abreu."

    Gonzalez said Rich Donnelly had the best line about being the third base coach.

"What did Rich Donnelly call it, like you're an air traffic controller? You can have 400,000 good landings and one screws up and your name's in the headlines the next day."

March 04, 2010

Day 1 of Grapefruit League: Marlins vs. Nationals


   While Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez will remain the focus in the first base battle, manager Fredi Gonzalez didn't rule out the possibility that cornerman Jorge Cantu could wind up there if Rule 5 pick Jorge Jimenez impresses this spring.

   "Who knows? Jimenez could win the job (at third base)," Gonzalez said. "We've got that kind of flexibility. Let's not put it out of the realm of possibilities that, if he plays good, he could play third and put Jorge (Cantu) at first. It fits."

   Gonzalez said it's even possible Jimenez could play first, though that would seem less likely based on lingering concerns about Cantu's throwing arm. The Marlins would probably prefer to put him at first if, in fact, Jimenez wins a starting job. Jimenez has spent the bulk of his time in the minors playing at third base (301 games at 3B, 48 at 1B).

    For now, though, Morrison and Sanchez will receive the bulk of the duty at first base. (As a side note, the Marlins have enlisted Jeff Conine to work with Morrison and Sanchez on their defensive skills this spring). Gonzalez said he also intends to provide plenty of at bats to Jimenez and Mike Lamb to see if one stands out as the lefty off the bench.

   "You've got to give those two guys some at bats," Gonzalez said of Jimenez and Lamb, each of whom had two hits in Wednesday's exhibition game against UM. "You've got to give Morrison and Sanchez at bats. When you're competing for jobs, you've got to give those guys at bats. I think, maybe later on in the spring, when you narrow it down that they're going to be bench type guys, then you maybe put them in situations, pinch-hit them. But that's later on."

   Today's Marlins Lineup: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 2. Bryan Petersen, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Logan Morrison, 1b; 6. Cody Ross, rf; 7. Wes Helms, 3b; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Anibal Sanchez, rhp.

   Nationals: 1. Willie Harris, 2b; 2. Ian Desmond, ss; 3. Ivan Rodriguez, c; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b; 5. Mike Morse, lf; 6. Justin Maxwell, cf; 7. Eric Bruntlett, 3b; 8. Jerry Owens, rf; 9. J.D. Martin, p.

   

March 03, 2010

One Game Down, Many More to Go for Marlins


   A few observations from the Marlins' 19-3 spanking of UM at RDS:

   1) Ricky Nolasco didn't mess around, going after UM hitters as if they were the real deal. Not saying he was in mid-season form. But...he put in two solid innings of work, totaling 23 pitches, and was his typical, serious, straight-faced self in the post-game Q&A.

   2) New first base coach Dave Collins (see photo) has been working extensively on bunting with Cameron Maybin, Emilio Bonifacio and a few others at 8 a.m. sessions, and the work showed. Maybin dropped down a dandy bunt along the third-base line in the first inning, preceding a three-run home run blast by Hanley Ramirez.Collins

   3) Couldn't help but notice that, when the Marlins have a runner on first, Collins is so close to the bag giving orders that he's practically in the field of play. Not sure whether or not this is normal for him.

   4) It's not too early to start paying attention to Jorge Jimenez and Mike Lamb, who are battling for the vacant bench spot set aside for a lefty bat. Jimenez, a Rule 5 pick who either makes the club or goes back to the Boston Red Sox along with a stack of hard, cold cash, had a pair of hits. Ditto the veteran Lamb.

   5) Nice to see Jai Miller come off the bench and put one out. Whenever I see Miller, I think of his one and only big league at bat, when the Marlins called him up two years ago for one day. He struck out in Oakland, which has the dumpiest ballpark in the majors now that Shea Stadium has been turned into a parking lot. Note to Miller: Walter Alston struck out in his only major league at bat, and he landed in the Hall of Fame.

    6) Not a pretty outing for Ryan Tucker, who entered in relief of Nolasco. Tucker pitched a 1-2-3 third. But he was anything but perfect in the fourth, giving up a pair of runs on five hits and a walk to college hitters, and had to be lifted before he could complete the inning.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN -- HURRICANES IN THE HOUSE


  Not exactly ideal weather for the Marlins' kickoff game with UM. Chilly and very windy it is here this morning at Roger Dean Stadium. But the sun's out and all systems are go for the 3 p.m. first pitch.

  Ricky Nolasco is on the hill for the Marlins and will be followed to the mound by Ryan Tucker, Jay Voss, Kris Harvey, Jay Buente, Hunter Jones and Matt Peterson. Here's some upcoming pitching info as we look ahead to the Grapefruit League slate:

  Thursday (vs. Nationals): Anibal Sanchez gets the start. Rick VandenHurk, Taylor Tankersley, Seth McClung, Scott Strickland, Dan Meyer and Tim Wood are also scheduled.

  Other upcoming starters: Friday vs. Mets (Chris Volstad), Saturday vs. Cardinals (Josh Johnson), Sunday vs. Cardinals (Sean West).

  WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

  The Marlins won the Grapefruit League "title":in 2006 and, as a reward, rookie manager Joe Girardi received a bag of grapefruit from club owner Jeffrey Loria. After which, the Marlins got off to a 11-31 start and Loria gave Girardi the heave-ho at season's end.

  So don't put a lot of stock into wins and losses and spring training standings. Right? Or is there a correlation between spring and regular season performance? After all, the New York Yankees DID win last year's Grapefruit League AND World Series titles. (The Marlins did as well in 1997).

  Did a little quick research this morning and here's what I found: More often than not, how the Marlins perform in the spring matches up with how they do during the real season. The Marlins have had losing records in 12 spring trainings and nine of those years the losing continued into the regular season. Of the five Marlins teams that posted winning records in spring training, three continued their winning ways into the season.

  MIGUEL CABRERA'S ISSUES BEGAN WITH MARLINS

 Former Big Fish Miguel Cabrera, fresh out of alcohol rehab, is telling reporters (read here) up in Lakeland that he started feeling pressure to perform when the Marlins brought him up during the 2003 season.

   CORRECTION

Turns out Chris Coghlan made out better on his contract than was first reported. Instead of the $450,000 figure that was reported Tuesday, the Marlins will pay their National League Rookie of the Year winner $475,000 this season.

March 02, 2010

More Marlins Signings -- Coghlan, Baker, Maybin, Etc.


  It pays to win Rookie of the Year. Just ask Chris Coghlan, who received a nice salary bump for becoming the third Marlin to capture the honor.

  The Marlins have rewarded Coghlan by signing him to a $450,000 deal -- $50,000 over the minimum. By comparison, Hanley Ramirez's salary increased the season following his Rookie of the Year campaign with the Marlins in 2006 -- from $327,000 to $402,000. However, the league minimum also increased in 2007, to $380,000. So Ramirez was making just $22,000 more than the minimum in '07. On a percentage basis, however, Coghlan's raise is not quite as great as the one given to Dontrelle Willis following his Rookie of the Year season in 2003, when he was paid $353,500 -- or $53,500 over the 2004 minimum.

  In addition to Coghlan, the Marlins have also signed Chris Volstad ($420,000), John Baker ($415,000), Cameron Maybin ($405,000), Brett Carroll ($403,000) and Andrew Miller (undetermined).

March 01, 2010

ERA vs. GPA -- The Smartest Marlins


   Marlins reliever Brian Sanches is fascinated by weather, admits he spends hours upon hours sitting in front of his television watching The Weather Channel, and thinks Jim Cantore -- standing out in the middle of hurricanes in his rain slicker -- is simply the greatest. Sanches is also taking an online college course in meteorology -- not because he has any intention of becoming a weatherman when his baseball days are done, but because it takes him one step closer to his college degree. If all goes according to schedule, Sanches will get his diploma from Lamar University in December. And that will make him part of a select fraternity: Major League players with college degrees.

    I'm not sure what the latest statistics show. But a couple of years ago, I recall hearing that only about a dozen big leaguers had college degrees. It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to understand why. A large number of players are either scooped out of Latin American countries at a young age (they can sign as early as age 16), or drafted out of U.S. high schools. Major League clubhouses, in other words, are not exactly beehives for intellectual discourse.

    Sanches is working toward his degree for a number of reasons. He wants to have something to fall back on once his playing days are finished. It's his mother's wish. And he wants to serve as an example to his children once they're older and contemplating their futures. So Sanches, diligent student that he is, takes his textbooks with him on Marlins road trips.

    I polled a few of the Marlins, asking them to identify their brainiest teammates. Three were consensus no-brainers:

    Burke Badenhop -- The reliever holds a degree in economics from Bowling Green State University and had a job on Wall Street lined up before being taken in the draft. When he's not working in long relief, Badenhop could probably hold his own with John Keynes in a discussion on macroeconomic theory. If you're looking for someone to do your taxes, there would be far worse choices.

    John Baker -- The catcher attended academically challenging Cal-Berkeley (then again, so did Joe Rose) and is just shy of a degree, which he intends to complete in due course. Probably the most articulate of all Marlins, which is why he is is in constant demand by the media for interviews. An avid reader who digs the classics, now kicking himself -- seriously -- that he didn't major in English literature. But, hey, we all make mistakes.

    Andrew Miller -- Supposedly kicked some serious butt on the SAT and breezed into the University of North Carolina, married a Duke girl, and was chosen to be the Marlins' union player rep because of his brains. One of the knocks on Miller as a pitcher is that he thinks too much -- overanalyzes. Chances are that, one day, he'll figure it out.

    After those three, it gets murkier. Some of the younger players in camp gave a nod to Jay Buente, a pitcher on the Marlins' 40-man roster. ("Smartest ballplayer I've ever met in my life," said Rick VandenHurk). Buente is your basic computer geek. He has a degree in computer technology from Purdue, and if you've got laptop problems, he's your guy. Sanches said he enlisted Buente to read over one of his college papers last season, just to make sure it was good to go. And Sanches ain't no dummy.

    VandenHurk received a few votes, primarily for one reason. He speaks four languages: English, Dutch, German and Spanish. "Anybody that speaks that many languages has to be smart," said pitcher Sean West. West also said he thought Sanches belonged in the group, but only because he always seemed to be working on crossword puzzles -- that is, when he wasn't looking up at the clouds.