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Fredi Gonzalez Delivers "State of the Union" Address


   Manager Fredi Gonzalez held a closed-door clubhouse meeting -- what he termed a "state of the union" address -- before the Marlins took the field for batting practice Friday. Gonzalez said the purpose of his talk was to remind players that, despite just being swept by the Giants, it's early and they're still in the thick of it.

   "We're two games under .500, right?" Gonzalez told reporters afterward. "There's no denying that. We haven't played as good as we're capable of playing. We got swept by San Francisco. And maybe it' just me looking at the glass half full, we could have won two of those games. I have not seen three starting pitchers against us in one series that we saw last series. We got Lincecum, Zito and Cain -- that's pretty good -- and we could have won two games. And we're not firing on all cylinders and we're two games under .500. So, for me, it's not too bad. Watch out when we get hot."

   There is growing speculation that Gonzalez could be on the hot seat, what with the high expectations of owner Jeffrey Loria and other front office executives that were laid out before the season started. Loria is expected to be in attendance in Washington for the Marlins series with the Nationals.

    But veteran bench player Wes Helms said there is no sense within the clubhouse that the team must start winning immediately to save their manager's job.

    "As far as talk around the clubhouse, there really has  been no talk," Helms said. "The thing is, we know we've got to play better and win for us as a team. And what I mean as a team is the 25 players and coaches -- not only Fredi -- but the bench coach, the hitting coach, the pitching coach, everybody. The thing about this job here is, if you don't win, everybody's job is in jeopardy, not just the manager. It could be anybody's job in jeopardy, not just one person. Winning cures everything and everyone knows that. That's what sports is all about. If you don't win, things are going to change."

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  Outfielder Bryan Petersen joined the Marlins on Friday and Gonzalez said he won't be afraid to use him, both as a left-hander off the bench and as a spot starter. In fact, Gonzalez said he is leaning toward having Petersen start Sunday when the Nationals send out Livan Hernandez.

   "I'm going to start him, absolutely," Gonzalez said. "We'll pick our spots with him. They announced that Chico is starting tomorrow, so Maybin will start then. And maybe I'll start Petey on Sunday against Livan. But he'll play. Use him off the bench, maybe pinch run. You can use him at all three (outfield) positions."

   The Marlins got a long look at Petersen in spring training. Petersen remained with the club until the bitter end before being assigned to Triple A New Orleans.

    "He got the "Cal Ripken Award" in spring training. I think he played every day," Gonzalez said. "The little things he does, the way he plays defense, the way he runs the bases, the way he handles the bat, the way he handles himself. He does the little things that you like to see. He's a solid baseball player."

   Gonzalez said Petersen can play all three outfield positions, but is better in left. And he could hit in a number of spots -- first, second, seventh or eighth. For the time being, Gonzalez indicated he would mix and match his outfielders, with Cody Ross being the only sure fixture and the others rotating in and out -- unless someone gets hot.

   Petersen said he was notified late Thursday night that he would be headed to D.C.

   And what exactly did coaches say to him when they delivered the news?

   "Obama wants to see you," is how Petersen said it was put to him.

   Petersen was hitting .290 for the Zephyrs with a .377 on-base percentage.

   When Jorge Cantu spotted him standing at his locker on Friday, he ordered Petersen to do 10 push-ups. Petersen immedately dropped to the ground and did them.

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    Chris Leroux can be forgiven for not being up to snuff on Americana. After all, he's a native of Canada. That didn't stop several of the reliever's Marlins teammates from giving him a hard time when he said he did not know who Mark Twain was.

    Leroux's response: "Is that Shania Twain's brother?"

    He was serious.

    On Friday, a photograph of Twain -- the author, not the performer -- was taped to Leroux's locker.

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   . LINEUPS:

Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. John Baker, c; 7. Cody Ross, cf; 8. Brett Carroll, rf; 9. Chris Volstad, p.

Nationals: 1. Nyjer Morgan, cf; 2. Cristian Guzman, 2b; ;3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b; 5. Josh Willingham, lf; 6. Ivan Rodriguez, c; 7. Willie Harris, rf; 8. Ian Desmond, ss; 9. Craig Stammen, p.

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