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52 posts from June 2010

June 20, 2010

Fredi Gonzalez Blames Ump for Lineup-Card Snafu, Air Horns Add To Controversy

    Frankly, I don't know how anyone understood a word that was spoken on the field during tonight's wild game, what with the high-decibel air horns blaring constantly throughout. No wonder a few of the players and a couple of the umps wore earplugs. And, after the events of the evening, I wonder if the Marlins will think twice about repeating the promotion in the future.

   Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez was adament following the 9-8 loss to the Rays that home plate umpire Lance Barksdale was at fault in the lineup-card mess in the ninth inning. The 15,000 air horns given to fans might have played a role, too.

   "He screwed up," Gonzalez said of Barksdale. "And I'll go anywhere you want me to go with it. I told him where the guys were hitting, and he gave (Rays manager Joe Maddon) the wrong place they're hitting. It's one of those things that is he said/she said, my word against him, and he's the official lineup card, so that's the one that counts. It's embarrassing. But I'm here to tell you he got it wrong."

  The confusion stemmed from the insertion of Brian Barden into the game at shortstop after Hanley Ramirez came out with a tight right hamstring after the 8th (Ramirez is 50-50 to play Sunday, by the way). With the score tied 5-5, Barden -- batting in the ninth position in the order -- stepped in to lead off the 9th. After he drew a walk, Maddon immediately went to Barksdale, showed him his lineup card, and complained that Barden batted out of order, that he should have been batting in Ramirez's third spot.

   Barksdale agreed, signaled the out, and removed Barden from first. That brought Gonzalez out of the dugout to argue.

   "I told him three times who I wanted to hit," Gonzalez said. "I thought we had it straightened out. He said that he had it the other way, and that's it. That didn't win the game or lose the game." 

   Here's how crew chief Tom Hallion described it afterward:

   "What we had was three changes in the lineup. Fredi had come out and given Lance the position of the players and Lance confirmed it with Fredi and wrote it down on his lineup card. That’s what we went by when Maddon came out and said ‘we’ve got batting out of order here.’ Lance confirmed it with Fredi before he left to go back into the dugout and that’s all we had to go by then.”

    Asked if the vuvuzela-like air horns might have created some of the confusion, Hallion replied:

   “It could have. It was the most uncomfortable baseball game I’ve been a part of in a long time because of that. Whether that had anything to do with it, I don’t know but it could have. When’s the last time you heard something like that at a baseball game? Never. You don’t see this kind of stuff at baseball games.”

   Nobody knows what might have happened, but instead of having the potential winning run on first with no outs in the ninth, the Marlins were left with none on and one out. They failed to score and ended up losing 9-8 in 11 innings, no thanks to a bullpen which coughed up 11 walks -- yes, 11 walks -- over the final five innings.

   One thing is for certain: the air horn idea was widely panned.

   "I really believe the horns should be banned from Major League Baseball," Maddon told reporters.

    Said Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, one of those who wore earplugs: "That was the worst handout or giveaway I've ever been a part of in baseball. This isn't soccer. I know the World Cup is going on, but this is baseball."

   "It was awful, awful. I can't tell you how awful it was," chimed in outfielder Cody Ross.

June 18, 2010

Scott Strickland: "It's Kind of a Resurrection of My Career"

  Scott Strickland almost called it quits in spring training, and again three weeks ago.

  "Maybe my time's come and gone," was Strickland's thought.

  The 34-year-old reliever had toiled long enough. He had last pitched in the majors on Sept. 28, 2005, as a member of the Houston Astros. He gave up a home run to Reggie Sanders and pitched a third of an inning, and that was it. He spent the past five years in the minors, wondering.

  Strickland      And then, on Thursday, he was in Oklahoma City with Triple A New Orleans when he got word to pack his bags, head to South Florida, and hook up with the Marlins. After five years that seemed like 15, Strickland cried. He had worked odd jobs over the winter to help pay the bills and raise a family, at one time working as a car repo man for his brother-in-law's company.

   "I was like a little girl," Strickland said. "I called my wife first. She freaked. It's big for us financially, and with two kids. Two kids insurance wise. It goes beyond baseball. I was repoing cars. I'll probably continue to do that, but times were getting tough"

    Strickland next called his father.

    "We were both acting like girls," Strickland said. "Pops, he's proud."

    Five years is a long time.

   But, compared to Paul Schreiber, Strickland's five-year absence from the majors is nothing. Schreiber went 22 years between big-league appearances with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1923 and New York Yankees in 1945.

   There were times Strickland thought he was pitching well enough to receive a major league call-up, only that call never came.

    "Over the past four years, I've put up decent numbers, good numbers at Triple A, enough to warrant a call-up," he said. "But never."

    Things were going good for Strickland at New Orleans until he injured an oblique muscle. That set him back. Strickland thought then that maybe it was time to retire.

"I was seeing guys get released," he recalled. "I feel like I'm standing in the way of these guys -- for what? -- and maybe time my time's come and gone."

 But he didn't quit. What kept him going?

"Ego, maybe," Strickland said.

 Strickland will join a bullpen that's taken its share of lumps. He knows most of the relievers. After all, most of them spent time with him at Triple A this season. In an odd twist, he was called up at the same time as Mike Lamb, who was in that same Astros lineup the last day Strickland pitched in the bigs.

    Lamb said when Strickland asked if he remembered him, he had to admit that he didn't.

    "I already apologized to him  -- profusely -- for forgetting," Lamb said. "I can't tell you how many thousands of teammates I've had throughout my career." 

    Strickland is not content just to be back in the majors.

 After he finished crying, he regained his senses and thought, "You better hold onto this. The ride ain't over yet just because you got called up."


-- Clay Hensley was placed on the disabled list, retractive to last Saturday, but manager Fredi Gonzalez believes his go-to set-up reliever will be ready to pitch the moment he becomes eligible again on June 27. Gonzalez said Hensley, who is out with a strained neck, played catch on Friday.

  -- To make room on their 40-man roster, the Marlins transferred catcher John Baker to the 60-day DL on Friday.


Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Mike Stanton, rf; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Nate Robertson, p.

June 17, 2010

OF Cameron Maybin Optioned to Minors, Reliever Clay Hensley Placed on the DL

    The good times keep on coming for the stumbling Marlins.......

   Following a closed-door clubhouse meeting Thursday that was led by Marlins first base coach and resident motivational speaker Dave Collins, the Marlins announced several roster moves. Outfielder Cameron Maybin was optioned to Triple A New Orleans and reliever Clay Hensley was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left neck strain. Maybin wasn't playing, but the DL move with Hensley represents a blow considering he was one of the few dependable options out of the pen.

    The Marlins are calling up right-handed reliever Scott Strickland and infielder Mike Lamb from New Orleans to fill the two roster spots. Strickland, who has gone 3-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 14 appearances for the Zephyrs, has not pitched in the majors since 2005.

    Maybin had not played since June 6, just before Mike Stanton was called up from the minors and inserted into the outfield.

   "I think it's been seven or eight days he hasn't even had an at bat," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "We knew this could happen when we brought Mike up. We've got to do with what's best for Maybin, and I commend him for the way he's gone about his business. He's a 23-year-old kid that needs to play."

   The Marlins have already used 15 pitchers out of the bullpen this season. Strickland will make it 16. Hensley was DLd, retroactive to June 12.

   -- It was another subpar start by Ricky Nolasco, whose throwing error in the fifth inning was monumental in terms of the outcome. Marlins pitchers have now committed 13 errors this season. Next on the list are the Chicago Cubs, whose pitchers have made nine errors. The club record for errors by Marlins pitchers in a season is 20, which belongs to the 2007 staff.

Cody Ross: "We're Waiting For That Spark"

   If the Marlins are around .500 at the All-Star break and approaching the July 31 trading deadline, outfielder Cody Ross figures the front office will be motivated to trade for outside help for the second half. If not......

    "The goal is to be at the top," Ross said. "If you're not, then you want to be around .500 going into the All-Star break and trade deadline, and I think that's when they would consider are we going to add or are we going to subtract. If we're around .500, I think they would potentially make a move to help us out. Obviously, everyone in here wants to add. We want to let somebody help us rather than see some of us gone."

    Ross said the Marlins need to get on a winning streak, something they've failed to do so far. Their longest win streak this season is four games, and they haven't put together a run of five consecutive wins or longer since April of 2009. Contrast that to a couple of the two teams at the top of the NL East, the Braves and Mets. The Braves have had a 9-game winning streak this season. The Mets have had separate winning streaks of six and seven games.

   "We're waitning for that spark to get us going and get on that roll and try to ride that wave, but we haven't been able to do it so far," Ross said. "We definitely don't want to fall any farther behind than what we are right now. We had a chance the other night to gain ground on all teams in our division and we gave it up. If we fall any farther behind, it's going to be tough to get back up there. But we're never going to give up."

   Hensley Remains Idle.....The Marlins will be without their top set-up reliever once again tonight as Clay Hensley continues to heal from a strained muscle on the left side of his neck. Hensley said he first injured his neck during the previous homestand and tried to pitch through the injury until it became too painful to continue. As a result, the Marlins have shut him down, hoping the injury will heal quickly without having to place him on the DL.

"We just kind of backed off and shut it down," Hensley said. "I didn't want it to turn into a month-long rehab process. It's better than it was yesterday. It's 100 times better than it was two days ago. I'll start throwing in the next day or so. I'm just letting it calm down."


   Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Mike Stanton, rf; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Ricky Nolasco, rhp.

   Rangers: 1. Elvis Andrus, ss; 2. Michael Young, 3b; 3. Ian Kinsler, 2b; 4. Vladimir Guerrero, rf; 5. Josh Hamilton, lf; 6. Justin Smoak, 1b; 7. Matt Treanor, c; 8. Julio Borbon, cf; 9. Dustin Nippert, rhp.

    Umpires: HP -- Jerry Meals; 1B -- Mark Wegner; 2B -- Dan Iassogna, 3B -- Dale Scott.


June 16, 2010

Marlins designate Pinto; Ramirez talks struggles

Get out your vuvuzelas Renyel Pinto haters. The left-handed relief pitcher who makes your blood pressure rise in the late innings of Marlins games is on his way out of South Florida. 

Renyel Pinto The Marlins designated Pinto for assignment after Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Rangers. Pinto gave up a solo home run to Josh Hamilton in the ninth in his first appearance since coming off the disabled list. 

I'm not trying to defend Pinto here. But was this move really necessary? Or was Pinto just the fall guy after another tough loss, which sent the Marlins to three games under .500 and 6 1/2 games back of the Atlanta Braves (the deepest ditch they've been in all year)?

The home run, after all, was the first Pinto had given up all season and dropped his ERA to 2.70. Pinto, who was supposed to be the Marlins new long relief pitcher, has never been great against lefties (they were hitting .255 lifetime against him coming in). But he didn't appear to be the biggest problem in a struggling pen.

Tim Wood, who is collecting plenty of frequent flier miles between here and New Orleans, will replace Pinto. Wood wasn't exactly Dennis Eckersley when he was here before. When he was sent back down to Triple A on June 6th, he was 0-1 with a 5.60 ERA.

HANLEY SAID HE FEELS GREAT: It wasn't too long ago Hanley Ramirez told us he felt like his timing was off. In fact, it was only a little more than a week ago when the Marlins were swept in New York. 

Despite going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position Wednesday, Ramirez maintained he's feeling better at the plate. "Just because I didn't get a hit tonight doesn't mean I don't feel good," Ramirez said. "I feel great."

Hitting coach Jim Presley and manager Fredi Gonzalez both said Ramirez appeared a little too anxious at times this season. Wednesday, he saw just five pitches in his last three at-bats. He grounded out on a fielder's choice on a 1-0 pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the third. He flew out to left on a 1-0 pitch with a runner on third in the fifth. And he grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw with runners on the corners and nobody out in the eighth. 

If that doesn't smell of an anxious hitter I don't know what does. Ramirez by the way is hitting .200 (13 for 65) with runners in scoring position this season. He hit .373 in those situations last year.

FIU's Wittels talks hit streak, hair with Marlins

If Garrett Wittels decides to take Dan Uggla's advice, the long locks of dirty blond hair dangling from underneath his baseball cap will still be around when the 20-year old FIU sophomore goes after Robin Ventura's NCAA-record 58-game hitting streak next season. 

Garrett Wittels Wittels, who captured the nation's attention last month and finished two games shy of matching Ventura's record when his season came to an end last week, visited Sun Life Stadium as a special guest Wednesday. Before he went on the Marlins pregame show and sat in with TV announcers Tommy Hutton and Rich Waltz for an inning, Wittels talked shop with several Marlins and Rangers players during batting practice.

"The whole experience was really cool," Wittels said (CLICK ON THE LINK TO LISTEN TO HIS INTERVIEW WITH REPORTERS). "Cody Ross was a really good guy. I talked a little bit with Michael Young from the Rangers. It meant a lot to talk to them and all the coaches and everything like that. It was just a great atmosphere. They all congratulated me and told me no matter what level its at, its a great accomplishment and they wish me well in the draft next year and hopefully I could be playing on the same field with them."

Wittels also got plenty of tips on what to do about his hair. Wittels hasn't cut it since January, one of a few good-luck superstitions he maintained during the hitting streak. But with the season over Wittels said he's considered trimming it.

"Honestly I've thought about it a lot, about cutting the hair and all the superstitions," Wittels said. "Right now, I'm just focused on going up to Alaska on Friday. If I don't get a hit there, I might cut it or I might leave it to go for next year. I haven't made a decision yet. I've got to talk to a few people close to me and my coaches so they can tell me what they think about it."

Wittels said he will play his first game for the Peninsula Oilers, one of six teams in the Alaska College Summer Baseball League, on Saturday. The season ends in July. After finishing the 2010 season hitting .413 with 60 RBI, he hopes to have an even bigger junior season for the Panthers, who won the Sun Belt Conference Title before losing twice at the NCAA Regional Tournament in Coral Gables. One thing is for sure, MLB scouts definitely know about him now. 

"Since I first put on a jersey when I was six years old, this has been the one goal," Wittels said referring to making into the big leagues. "Being here today, being able to spend one day here just fuels the fire and makes me want to work harder and be here on an everyday basis in a couple years."

NUNEZ PUTS BLOWN SAVE OUT OF MIND: Marlins closer Leo Nunez blew past reporters Tuesday night, not long after blowing his third save of the season in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Rangers. But Wednesday, the 26-year old Dominican right-hander was more than happy to share the news that he'd already forgotten about his bad night.

"Those are things that are just part of the game," Nunez said. "It bothered me at the moment. But once I left I was fine. Last night was the 15th. Today is the 16th."

Nunez gave up the decisive two-run triple Tuesday on his first pitch to former Marlins catcher Matt Treanor with two outs and runners on the corners in the ninth.

Giving up big hits on the first pitch was a big problem for Nunez a year ago as opponents hit .370 with three homers off him in those situations. This season, Nunez has been a lot less predictable thanks to the addition of a slider and a much more effective changeup. Opponents are hitting just .214 against him in those situations (3 for 14).

BAKER UPBEAT AND OPTIMISTIC: Catcher John Baker was back in the Marlins clubhouse Wednesday and optimistic he could be back from the disabled list earlier than mid-August. Baker, who was told by an orthopedic surgeon to take four weeks off to rest the strained right flexor muscle in his right arm, said he thinks he could be back in uniform for the Marlins "by August 1st at the latest."

Baker said he plans to work out and do as much catching as possible and hitting from his left side to maintain a sense of timing.

HENSLEY BATTLING NECK PAIN: Right-hander Clay Hensley said he's battling neck pains from an injury he suffered a few weeks ago and is likely going to take a few days off to rest it. Hensley, the Marlins usual set-up man, didn't pitch with the Marlins clinging to a 2-1 lead Tuesday night and was replaced by Brian Sanches.

"It happened during the first game of the last home stand here," Hensley said. "I just had to get up quick and the fifth or sixth throw I felt something yank in my neck. It's progressively gotten worse to the point where it's starting to hurt when I'm pitching and doing normal day stuff. It's time to take a break and get it back to normal."

June 15, 2010

Beinfest says Maybin still "big time" part of future

Cameron Maybin became the odd man out when the Marlins called up top prospect Mike Stanton last week. And while his immediate future remains uncertain, Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest said Tuesday Maybin was still a "big time" part of the team's future moving forward.

Larry Beinfest - Courtesy of Palm Beach Post "He's a talented kid," Beinfest said (CLICK ON THE LINK FOR THE COMPLETE AUDIO INTERVIEW). "I think he did a good job fighting through some stuff this year. He was fighting for awhile and then he had that run where he started to come back and show what he could do. I think we need to get Cameron playing and playing everyday. I'm not sure that's going to happen right now. But definitely in the future."

Maybin, acquired along with pitcher Andrew Miller in the Miguel Cabrera-Dontrelle Willis trade with the Tigers before the 2008 season, hasn't played since Stanton was called up. He went 1 for 3 with a double in his last game June 6th against the Mets to raise his season batting average to .225. Beinfest said the Marlins didn't feel a demotion to Triple A was "warranted." 

"We're just going to take it day-by-day and series by series and figure out what's best for the team and what's best for him," Beinfest said. "I'm not sure I have a good answer. But again, we didn't want to send him down... we want to be as fair to him as we can and do what's right for the team on the other hand. But he's handled it well. I commend him for that."

> ON THE RACE: With the Marlins (31-32) 5 1/2 games back of Atlanta in the division, Beinfest said he saw glimpses of the team breaking out more offensively last weekend in Tampa, a sign he thinks will lead to a turnaround in the standings. 

"I think the spark really when you look at it is what Chris Coghlan has been doing in the leadoff spot," Beinfest said of Coghlan, who is hitting .425 since May 25th. "Maybe that's something we didn't have the first two months. Hanley [Ramirez] is going to knock in a bunch of runs and we're going to score a bunch of runs. I think we're relatively confident we're going to get going and really score some runs."

As for the bullpen, which ranks 21st in baseball with a 4.48 ERA, Beinfest he believes its only a matter of time before things "settle down." "As long as the starting pitching continues to perform, it will take some pressure off the bullpen," Beinfest said. "We understand some of the challenges in the bullpen. But those guys can hopefully fit into roles and things will settle down. When you talk about the puzzle and playing winning baseball a lot has to fit together. I'm not sure we've totally fit together so far. I know its cliche and B.S. But that's the best I can come up with so far."

Beinfest mentioned several minor league players as potential bullpen call-ups later on this season. The first name out of his mouth -- 21-year old hard-throwing right-hander Jhan Marinez, who was recently promoted to Double A Jacksonville after posting a 1.48 ERA in 24.1 IP for Single A Jupiter. "97-99 mph, all power, big arm, very big arm," Beinfest said of Marinez. "He's a young guy and wetill need to polish him up a little bit. But his slider has come a long way, which he'll need up here. But he's got big-time power stuff."

Other pitchers Beinfest mentioned: "Jose Ceda has been on rehab in Greensboro and threw today. He was 95 [miles per hour]. I think we'll see him back up in Double A soon. Sean West is pitching and pitching well in Triple A. [Dan] Jennings (3-1, 2.16 ERA in Double A) has really settled down. Steven Cisheck (1-1, 8.31 ERA in Double A) threw the ball well. I saw [Tom] Koehler [7-1, 3.34 ERA] pitch and Andrew Miller pitch. Andrew still has some issues, which he's working on. But again, the stuff is there. It's always been there. He just needs to throw strikes. So, we're hopeful the light will come back on and it will click."

> IMPRESSED BY STANTON: As for Stanton, Beinfest said he's been impressed by the 20-year olds first five games in the big leagues. "You want him to relax. You want him to kind of get it going and I think he's done a nice job of that," Beinfest said. "He's an intense player by nature. I think there are expectations for him to hit home runs. He hasn't done that yet. But the two base hits up the middle [Sunday], that shows a lot of maturity. He got those RBI on Sunday in Tampa and those are the positive things we're looking for, for him to settle in and I think he's done a nice job so far with that. So, all in all, we're pleased with what we've seen and how he's handled himself, which can be just as important as the performance."

> NO TRADES FOR CATCHING: With John Baker out until mid-August, Beinfest said the Marlins plan to rely on Ronny Paulino and Brett Hayes to handle the catching and won't be looking to acquire anyone. "Ronny has played everyday before," Beinfest said. "I think Brett could do a good job. He's shown he can handle the pitchers up here fine. He does a nice job defensively."

Baker won't return until mid-August at earliest

Marlins catcher John Baker doesn't need to have surgery on his strained right arm flexor muscle, but will still be out until "mid-August at the earliest" according to manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Baker, who went to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. last week, was told he needs four weeks of rest before being reevaluated. "It's better than getting snipped, cut on you know," Gonzalez said before Tuesday night's game against the Rangers.

That means Ronny Paulino will continue to see the bulk of the heavy lifting behind the plate for Florida. Paulino is fourth among major league catchers with .303 batting average. His 25 RBI rank 12th among backstops.

Baker has been on the disabled list since May 12th. He hit .218 with six RBI in his first 23 games.

NEW ROLE FOR PINTO: Reliever Renyel Pinto, used primarily as a situational left-hander for the Marlins late in games for most of his career, will be now be used primarily as a long reliever according to Gonzalez.

Pinto, who came off the disabled list Monday, was 0-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 15 2/3 innings with eight walks and 16 strikeouts before he strained his hip and groin in a 7-3 loss to the Braves on May 26th. 

ONCE A SOCCER STAR: Nobody has been hotter for the Marlins in June than Chris Coghlan, who received a congratulatory hug from special assistant Jeff Conine in the clubhouse before Tuesday's game.

Conine didn't let the hug last long, pretending for a second Coghlan was so hot he was burning him. So far this month, Coghlan is hitting .489 (22 for 45) with four RBI, six walks and 12 Ks.

Of course, had things been different, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year could be in South Africa right now. According to Coghlan, he was quite the soccer star growing up and played the sport until he gave it up at age 13 for baseball and football. He led his AAU team, the Countryside Lightning, to a third place finish in the state at age 13.

"It was my favorite sport growing up," Coghlan said. "I was a forward when I was younger, but I moved to midfielder when I got older because I could kick with both feet. I played center-mid a lot. I was also a place kicker in football. But I don't like thinking of myself as a kicker. I was more of a receiver and safety."

Coghlan claims his longest field goal in a game came from 43 yards. "I could kick it farther. But we didn't kick many field goals," Coghlan said. "We usually went for it on fourth down."

June 13, 2010

100 Games To Go

  A few odds and ends before we get the ball rolling on perhaps the tallest pitching matchup of the season: 6-foot-8-inch Chris Volstad against 6-foot-9-inch Jeff Niemann.

   -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez said that lefty reliever Renyel Pinto would be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and rejoin the bullpen.

   -- Nate Robertson, who was outstanding in relief of Ricky Nolasco last night, will be inserted back into the rotation and make his next start on Friday against the Rays. Nolasco will go Thursday against the Texas Rangers. Robertson's outing of 5 2/3 innings was the second-longest relief stint in franchise history. The longest: 6 1/3 innings by Jason Vargas on July 8, 2006. The starter in that game against the Mets? Nolasco, who lasted just 1 2/3 innings.

   -- Did anyone catch Andrew Miller's line from last night's game with Double A Jax? Miller started and went just 2/3-inning, giving up nine earned on six hits and three walks. In six starts for the Suns, Miller has a 9.78 ERA and walked 27 batters in 23 innings.

   -- Left-hander Hunter Jones has been placed on the disabled list at Triple A New Orleans and the word there is he might require Tommy John surgery. The Marlins obtained Jones from Boston over the winter for Jeremy Hermida.


   Marlins -- 1. Coghlan, lf; 2. Sanchez, 1b, 3. Ramirez, ss; 4. Cantu, DH; 5. Uggla, 2b; 6. Ross, cf; 7. Stanton, rf; 8. Helms, 3b; 9. Paulino, c. Pitching -- Volstad.

   Rays -- 1. Jaso, DH; 2. Crawford, lf; 3. Longoria, 3b; 4. Pena, 1b; 5. Zobrist, rf; 6. Upton, cf; 7. Shoppach, c; 8. Rodriguez, 2b; 9. Brignac, ss. Pitcher -- Niemann.


June 12, 2010

Chris Coghlan "Thankful" for Failure

    The lowest point for Chris Coghlan came on May 23 when, on a day when his teammates were pouring it on the Chicago White Sox in a 13-0 rout, he was going 0 for 6 with three strikeouts. He was 0 for 14 for the series. His average was at .210. There was growing speculation he would be the odd outfielder out once the Marlins made the move to call up Mike Stanton.

    "I just was pressing," Coghlan said. "I was trying to make things happen instead of just taking what they gave me. I started chasing out of the zone and swinging at balls that I don't normally swing at. I don't think there was any certain pitch. I just think I was extending the zone instead of staying disciplined in my approach."Coghlan

   From that day forward, Coghlan has been a changed hitter. He's gone 29 for 66, lifting his average to .278 and resembling last season's NL Rookie of the Year when he hit .321, the sixth-highest average in the league. On Friday, he went 4x4 and walked twice against the Rays. It was his eighth multi-hit game over his past 10 games.

    The difference?

   "I'm swinging at strikes and taking the balls," he said.

    Coghlan has played barely more than a season's worth of games (175)  at the major-league level. But, to hear him describe it, the lessons he learned from his early-season hitting slump might prove to be more valuable to his career than any of the success he's enjoyed.

   "I can look back knowing that I grew from that situation," Coghlan said. "I'm thankful for that situation. The only thing I would like to change is to help the team more. But, from the lessons I learned through the failures, I wouldn't want to change any of that. Anytime you go through trials in life -- in baseball or anything else -- that's when you really grow. You have trials and those are the best times. When you're in that moment, it doesn't seem that way. In that moment, it's tough. There's a lot of weight on your shoulder. But when you get out and see that light and get through it, you look back and gain a bunch of wisdom."

    WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT.....Jim Joyce, the umpire whose blown call cost Detroit's Armando Galarraga a perfect game, was behind the plate Friday at Tropicana Field and made the most critical call of the game -- a ball on a 3-2 pitch to Dan Uggla with two outs and the bases loaded in the third. Rays starter James Shields, who subsequently imploded, said it was a "borderline" pitch. Said Uggla: "Not even close." The Marlins ended up scoring five runs in the inning.


   MARLINS -- 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, DH; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Mike Stanton, rf; 8. Wes Helms, 3b; 9. Ronny Paulino, c; (pitching: Ricky Nolasco)

    RAYS -- 1. John Jaso, c; 2. Carl Crawford, lf; 3. Evan Longoria, 3b; 4. Carlos Pena, 1b; 5. Ben Zobrist, rf; 6. B.J. Upton, cf; 7. Hank Blalock, dh; 8. Sean Rodriguez, 2b; 9. Reid Brignac, ss; (pitching: Matt Garza).