One thing Dan Uggla has done throughout his career with the Marlins aside from hit a lot of home runs (150) and drive in nearly 100 runs a season is stay healthy.
Of the 774 games he's been available to play in since 2006, he's only missed a total of 32 games. Tuesday, though, that number will increase to 33 as he sits out for only the second time this season as he continues to rest a tight right groin. And with a day off Thursday, manager Edwin Rodriguez said it's likely he'll tell Uggla to also sit and rest Wednesday.
"I don't like icing. I don't like missing games. And I don't like being out of the lineup," said Uggla, who is hitting .286 and leads the Marlins with 29 homers and 83 RBI this season. "But I don't want to make it any worse. You have to be careful with tweaks."
> There is still no official word from the Marlins on catcher John Baker's status for the remainder of the season. Rodriguez said Baker was meeting with a doctor Monday to determine if he'd need season-ending surgery on strained right flexor muscle on his throwing arm or if he's going to return to rehab in the coming days. Word now is Baker could be meeting with Dr. James Andrews Thursday for a final opinion.
As for now, Rodriguez said he's planning as if Baker won't be back. "I have to think that way," Rodriguez said. "If he shows up tomorrow and says I'll be out there in the weekend, that would be great news. But I have to plan for the worst and hope for the best."
> Left-hander Sean West, on the disabled list with right knee inflammation since August 15, threw his first bullpen session Monday and participated in his first pitcher fielding practice on Tuesday. "I feel a lot better, do not feel any discomfort at all," West said. "But I've also been real cautious, riding the bike instead of running. We'll have to see how I feel tomorrow I do some fielding."
CALLUPS MIGHT NOT ARRIVE RIGHT AWAY: Wednesday is the first day major league teams can begin expanding their rosters. But as it stands, it may be a little while before the Marlins bring anybody up.
With the Jacksonville Suns set to participate in the Southern League Double A playoffs Sept. 9 and 10, those players will likely be the last to come up according to Rodriguez. The Triple A New Orleans Zephyrs, who just clinched their consecutive losing season, don't finish their season until Monday.
"We've been shuffling names, but we haven't made any decisions yet," said Rodriguez, who said he's heard between eight and nine players being discussed as potential callups. "Initially, I would say three or four could be up by Friday. But Jacksonville is going into the playoffs. Whoever is coming up from Jacksonville would usually be later."
> Marlins lineup Wednesday vs. Nationals: Emilio Bonifacio 2B, Logan Morrison LF, Hanley Ramirez SS, Gaby Sanchez 1B, Chad Tracy 3B, Mike Stanton RF, Cameron Maybin CF, Brett Hayes C, Anibal Sanchez P
Two weeks ago, Mike Stanton was the National League's Player of the Week. Now, he's trying to put an end to the worst batting slump of professional career -- an 0-for-29 stretch -- that's only four at-bats shy of tying the Marlins record set by Mike Jacobs on Aug. 10, 2007.
Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said he's "more concerned how [Stanton] is going to handle the whole slump instead of when he's going to start hitting."
"In Atlanta, I talked to him a little bit in the dugout and just told him this is what's going to make you a big league ballplayer, going stretches like this," veteran Wes Helms said Monday. "Everybody does it. Albert Pujols does it. Everybody goes through it in their career at some point and it's good he's going through it while he's young, while he's 20.
"The obvious thing to do is not get frustrated and still believe in yourself. I just keep telling him you know your skills, you know your talents. It's all about making an adjustment for you. These pitchers have made adjustments on you and now you need to make adjustments on them. The biggest thing is just don't get down on yourself and always believe what you can do. If you do that, you'll be fine. Just don't let your last five, six, seven games dictate what you do the rest of the season or the rest of your career."
> Closer Leo Nunez was not the sole reason the Marlins' bullpen blew its major-league leading 23rd game of the season Sunday in Atlanta. But the only reason Nunez is keeping his job, Rodriguez said Monday, is because the Marlins simply don't have better options.
In fact, Rodriguez said he's been pondering a change at the back of his rotation, "for a long time."
"If I had a little bit more options, he would be the setup guy right now," Rodriguez said. "I think he's having the same problem as he had last year: his location. He has the stuff to be the closer. But we don't only need the stuff. He needs to know how to pitch, how to use the location of your pitches and execute."
Before the month began, Nunez was actually pitching pretty well. In his first 46 appearances, he was 4-2 with 26 saves, five blown saves, 49 strikeouts, 11 BBs, one home run allowed and a 2.64 ERA. But in his 10 appearances this month, he's gone 0-1 with three saves, three blown saves, four homers allowed, 10 Ks, six walks and a 9.31 ERA.
During a long private meeting in the manager's office last week, Rodriguez said he told Nunez he's relying on his changeup too much.
"If he feels he needs to throw a changeup, that's fine," Rodriguez said. "But he doesn't have to throw it for strikes. That's one thing he has to learn. Not only think about that, but execute his pitches. He needs to work on the location of his pitches.
"As soon as he walked the leadoff guy [Sunday] on four pitches, you could tell the confidence wasn't there. That's for any pitcher in the bullpen. Any pitcher has to come out of the bullpen throwing strikes. He needs to set the tempo so the hitters don't sit back on their heels. It's not only Nunez, it's the whole group. They need to step up. At some point, I have to take the starter out of the game. I can't make those guys go nine innings and 120 pitches every night."
> Shortstop Hanley Ramirez returned to the lineup Monday after leaving Sunday's game early with "light-headedness."
"He said he's fine," Rodriguez said. "Even after the game he said he had a little bit of chest pains. It was very hot yesterday. In the first three innings, he was running all over the place. It was one of those things I guess."
> Second baseman Dan Uggla was a late scratch from the Marlins lineup. I saw him in the clubhouse with a wrap around his leg before the game. Lineup: Bonifacio 2B, Morrison LF, Ramirez SS, Sanchez 1B, Tracy 3B, Stanton RF, Maybin CF, Hayes C, Sanabia P
ATLANTA --If you saw Sunday's disaster, you saw a classic.
Marlins allow a 6-1 lead in the 8th implode into a 7-6 loss in the ninth, with lousy defense and even lousier relief work contributing to the collapse.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez was troubled most by the leadoff walks -- there were three of them -- issued by three different relievers: Jose Veras, Will Ohman and Leo Nunez, who ended up blowing the save after giving up a pair of home runs in the 9th.
I'm assuming there must be plenty of opinions out there. Let's hear 'em.
ATLANTA -- If you saw Ricky Nolasco's clunker tonight at Turner Field, your instincts probably told you his injured knee probably had a lot -- if not everything -- to do with it. I certainly felt that way. Nolasco has a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, for gosh sakes.
But after being lit up for six runs on seven hits and three walks, knocked out after only two innings and 62 pitches, Nolasco and manager Edwin Rodriguez said there's not a thing wrong with the knee, or at least anything that could be blamed for Saturday's dismal outing.
In fact, they said, he'll be ready to go on schedule in five days.
"The good news is that the knee is alright," Rodriguez said. "He was throwing in the low 90s, so the arm was fine. It was the location of his pitches."
Said Nolasco: "Just stunk."
No question about that. Nolasco's ineffectiveness was attributed primarily to the length of time since he pitched last -- 11 days ago -- that it was to any physical issues he has with his right knee. We'll see.
ATLANTA -- All is apparently well with Cameron Maybin, who left Friday's game with cramps in his groin area that was caused by dehydration. Maybin is back in the lineup for tonight's game. Meanwhile, Mike Stanton will sit the bench one more game. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Stanton should return to the lineup on Sunday when the Marlins close out their series with the Braves.
The Marlins have a rooting interest in the Little League team from Pearland, Texas, which has reached Saturday's U.S. final. Marlins reliever Clay Hensley was a member of the Pearland Little League and has made a donation to the program to help defray travel costs for Williamsport, Pa.
Interesting note: Hensley did not pitch in Little League. He played short and center and did not start pitching until he was 21.
JOHN BAKER UPDATE....Catcher John Baker's first rehab game Friday with Single A Jupiter did not go as hoped. Rodriguez said Baker right arm did not feel good after his scheduled 5-inning stint behind the plate for the Hammerheads. Original plans called for Baker to DH today for Jupiter before returning to the plate for a 9-inning haul on Sunday. Now, Rodriguez said, those plans have been put on hold. "We're going to go slowly with him," Rodriguez said. Asked if it could mean that Baker's chances of making it back this season have dimmed, the manager hesitated to provide a specific answer. But he did not sound optimistic.
SEPTEMBER CALL-UPS.....With rosters allowed to expand on Wednesday, look for the Marlins to call up two or three players from Triple A New Orleans and, later on, two or three more from Double A Jacksonville, which will be involved in the postseason. Possible call-up candidates include reliever Chris Leroux from New Orleans and reliever Jose Ceda and infielder Osvaldo Martinez from Jacksonville.
1. Cameron Maybin, cf; 2. Logan Morrison, cf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Chad Tracy, 3b; 7. Emilio Bonifacio, rf; 8. Brett Hayes, c; 9. Ricky Nolasco.
ATLANTA -- Mike Stanton, in the throes of a 1-for-32 slump (or 0-for-24, depending on your preference) will observe tonight's series opener from the Marlins' bench. Manager Edwin Rodriguez gives the rookie the night off after watching him suffer through another hitless night on Thursday, a night in which just about everyone else in the lineup made a contribution of some sort.
"It's amazing," Rodriguez said. "Two weeks ago, he was the National League player of the week. And then, all of a sudden, he got in a slump. But we expect that from a young player. He's fine. He knows what he's doing. I'm more concerned about his head."
Rodriguez said he and hitting coach John Mallee met privately with Stanton on Friday to talk about his slump.
"I don't want him to lose any confidence," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said Stanton probably won't be out of the lineup for more than one day. Emilio Bonifacio will be starting in right. Chad Tracy gets the start at third and Brad Davis will be behind the plate for Chris Volstad.
The lineup: 1. Cameron Maybin, cf; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 3b; 6. Chad Tracy, 3b; 7. Emilio Bonifacio, rf; 8. Brad Davis, c; 9. Chris Volstad, p.
NOLASCO UPDATE....It's official. Ricky Nolasco is a sure thing for Saturday's start. There was no swelling on Friday from Thursday's battery of drills, ones in which he practiced pickoff throws, fielding bunts, etc. However, Rodriguez said Nolasco will be closely monitored when he takes the mound at Turner Field.
Rodriguez also said he wouldn't be surprised to see the Braves try to test Nolasco's injured (torn meniscus) right knee, perhaps by dropping down a bunt or two.
"Not only the Braves, but I think every team will monitor that and I think they will try to take advantage of that," Rodriguez said. "That's why we did what we did yesterday. We wre trying to make sure that he was able to field his position. He did that, and he did everything normally."
NEW YORK -- All systems are go for Ricky Nolasco, who passed another round of drills to test his injured right knee this afternoon and said he plans to start Saturday in Atlanta.
But Nolasco said he'll tread carefully, and if he starts to detect any problems with the knee, he'll shut it down the rest of the season. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said the only way that Nolasco would not start is if swelling develops from Thursday's workout at Citi Field.
"Obviously I'm happy with the way I passed all the tests," Nolasco said. "I didn't expect it to get better so quickly. But if anything comes up, I've got to be smart about it and not risk anything."
Nolasco jogged forwards and backwards and performed fielding drills on Thursday. He said everything went well, except for jogging backwards, "which I'll try to stay away from."
"I was a little surprised, honestly," Nolasco said. "I thought this was going to be the toughest part, getting off the mound. As soon as I got through with the first one (fielding a bunt), I realized I was fine."
Nolasco said he's sure his knee injury will be in the back of his mind when he takes the mound in Atlanta.
NEW YORK -- Lots going on, so let's get to it.
Ricky Nolasco tested his injured right knee (torn meniscus) in a 15-minute bullpen session this afternoon, said he experienced no discomfort, and will wait to see if there's any swelling on Thursday. If there is none and he also proves to the coaching staff that he can field his position, he'll start Saturday in Atlanta.
"Good enough to go forward," Nolasco said of Wednesday's throwing session. "There wasn't any pain pushing off. I can't help but feel good about it. At the same time, we have to wait to see how I feel tomorrow, see how I do just covering the mound. I'm pretty happy with what's going on. It's nothing that I can't deal with. There's no sharp pain. That's all I can ask for. If I get sore, I can deal with that stuff. Saturday's the target."
Asked if he's entertained the thought of, at this late stage in the season, shutting down, Nolasco replied: "Absolutely. If I feel any little thing, I'm just going to shut it down. But, if it's something I feel like I can deal with, then I don't know why I shouldn't finish the season. I'm going to be smart about it. If I take one back step in the process, then I'm going to shut down."
On the fashion front, shortshop Hanley Ramirez showed up Wednesday with his hair dyed a rust color. He said he colored the hair himself but intended for it to be blond.
"I got it too dark," he said. "I think I've got to do it again."
Ramirez said he is trying to convince Dan Uggla to dye his hair as well, but the second baseman said he would have to think about it first.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez rolled his eyes.
"We have a clone of Chad Tracy (a natural redhead) at shortstop," Rodriguez said. "I don't know if he paid for that. But, whatever he paid, they stole his money. He's in New York. He's having fun."
Just as he predicted, Rodriguez moved Cameron Maybin into the leadoff spot and dropped Hanley Ramirez back into the three hole. Gaby Sanchez goes to the five spot while Mike Stanton drops a notch to sixth.
Here's how it looks for tonight's game:
Marlins: 1. Cameron Maybin, cf; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Wes Helms, 3b; 8. Brett Hayes, c; 9. Alex Sanabia, p.
Mets: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Angel Pagan, lf; 3. Carlos Beltran, cf; 4. David Wright, 3b; 5. Ike Davis, 1b; 6. Jeff Francoeur, rf; 7. Josh Thole, c; 8. Ruben Tejada, 2b; 9. Pat Misch, p.
With Cody Ross out of the picture, and Ronny Paulino floating in Limbo Land, one can all but fill out the 2011 Opening Day lineup card for the Marlins. I'm going under the assumption the Marlins hang on to Dan Uggla whether or nor they work out a contract extension over the winter, and that John Baker returns to full health, though Paulino can't be counted out of the equation just yet.
The extremely young outfield will consist of Mike Stanton, Cameron Maybin and Logan Morrison. Average Opening Day age of that trio: 22. The infield: Gaby Sanchez at first, Uggla at second, Hanley Ramirez at short and Chris Coghlan at third. Catching: some combination of Baker/Paulino. The rotation should resemble the current cast of Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad and (pick one) Sean West, Andrew Miller or Alex Sanabia. The bullpen could undergo significanct change.
Maybin will make his Marlins return tonight, starting in center and batting seventh. But manager Edwin Rodriguez said he envisioned Maybin moving into the leadoff spot, perhaps by the end of this week, with Hanley Ramirez dropping back down to the third spot. We asked Rodriguez how he thought the 2011 order might look.
Said Rodriguez: "I see Chris Coghlan maybe leading off, Maybin hitting second, Hanley Ramirez hitting third, Danny Uggla, hopefully, he's hitting fourth. Michael Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, John Baker and Morrison. It could be Maybin, it could be Morrison, hitting second. I think it's going to be a very good lineup."
That's the prospective lineup for next year. By the end of this week, Rodriguez said it could go like this: Maybin, Morrison, Ramirez, Uggla, Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, Third baseman, Hayes, Pitcher.
ROSS ECSTATIC TO JOIN GIANTS....Ross was all bubbly on his first day with the Giants, telling reporters there that he "couldn't get here fast enough" once it sunk in he was joining a playoff contender. To read what else he had to say, click here for the San Jose Mercury News' report on the arrival of Ross.
MAKE-UP WITH CARDINALS....Players on the Marlins and Cardinals voted to make up their Aug. 8 rainout "only if it's necessary," said Wes Helms. But there's another catch. The only available date would be the day after the regular season, Monday, Oct. 4. And the Dolphins host a Monday Night Football that night at Sun Life Stadium. And the Cincinnati Reds would certainly frown on any attempt to have the game played in St. Louis. So.....the two teams are exploring neutral sites. One possibility: Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Marlins: 1. Ramirez, ss; 2. Morrison, lf; 3. Sanchez, 1b; 4. Uggla, 2b; 5. Stanton, rf; 6. Helms, 3b; 7. Maybin, cf; 8. Hayes, c; 9. Johnson, p.
Mets: 1. Reyes, ss; 2. Pagan, lf; 3. Beltran, cf; 4. Wright, 3b; 5. Davis, 1b; 6. Francoeur, rf; 7. Thole, c; 8. Tejada, 2b; 9. Dickey, p.
Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco will be scratched from his scheduled start Sunday afternoon against the Houston Astros.
Nolasco suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee during conditioning Thursday in Pittsburgh. Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said that Nolasco will not be put on the disabled list and will be monitored over the next few days.
The Marlins already lost outfielder Chris Coghlan for the season due to a torn meniscus.
Nolasco, who was scheduled to face right-hander Nelson Figueroa in Sunday's series finale, was seen wearing a soft brace on his right knee while walking around the clubhouse before Saturday's game.
LHP Andrew Miller, who was recalled Wednesday from New Orleans, will start Sunday in his place.
Nolasco is 14-8 this season with a 4.22 ERA and just pitched six shutout innings in each of his last two starts against the Pirates (Aug. 17) and Nationals (Aug. 12). He is 9-2 in his past 11 starts, and has pitched 155 2/3 innings this season.