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37 posts from August 2010

August 21, 2010

Don't Count Out Paulino Just Yet

   The Marlins are clearly not happy with Ronny Paulino, who was hit with a 50-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy. But I'm not convinced that the incident dooms Paulino as far as the Marlins are concerned.

   There are several factors that could lead to his return in 2011. One, he'll likely come cheaper than he did this season when he was on the books for $1.1 million -- $272,000 of which he relinquishes due to the suspension. Two, the Marlins aren't exactly flush with catchers within the system. Question marks surround John Baker, who has missed most of the season....and could miss the rest of it depending on how he fares during this coming, make-or-break week when he tests his injured arm throwing to the bases. Next on the ladder are Brett Hayes and Brad Davis, who are extremely light on big-league experience. Kyle Skipworth, the sixth overall pick in 2008, is at least two years away. Three, if the Marlins do decide to keep Paulino, he'll still be allowed to take part in spring training and be set to go after sitting out the first eight games of the 2011 season. The 42 remaining games he'll be missing this season are, for all practical purposes, insignificant. Four, he's extremely well-liked and respected inside the clubhouse. Five, whether or not you accept his dietary pill explanation, he accepted full blame and apologized, which wins him points.

  We'll see what happens. Remember, though, that former first-round draft pick Jeff Allison committed drug sins far more damaging than Paulino's, and yet the Marlins refused to give up on him, even to the point that owner Jeffrey Loria took a personal interest in the situation. Behind the scenes, they're privately pulling for Allison to give them enough reason to justify a September call-up and reward his perseverance in overcoming a drug addiction. (He's 6-7 with a 4.83 ERA at Double A Jacksonville). I can see the Marlins allowing Paulino a shot at personal redemption, too.

   -- A lot going on today, what with the Paulino situation and Cody Ross waiver claim by the Giants (my prediction: he stays), but I caught up with Sean West for a few seconds after tonight's game. West had a MRI on his knee on Friday that he said showed no structural damage. So 15 days may be it for West as far as DL time is concerned. Then again, considering how well Alex Sanabia pitched Thursday in his absence...At the very least, the Marlins would have no trouble finding room for West on the staff once rosters are allowed to expand on Sept. 1.

    -- Marlins president David Samson said Loria has ordered a top-to-bottom review of the organization's drug-educatioin policy, as well as he should. While Paulino is the first player on a Marlins 25-man roster to get hit with a suspension, he's far from the only member of the organization to be stung with one. Former reliever Henry Owens was on the team's 40-man roster when he was slapped with a 50-game suspension after the '08 season, and pitcher Sergio Mitre was nailed early in '09, soon after the Marlins let go of him and he hooked on with the Yankees. Only 20 "major" league players have been suspended since Major League Baseball adopted its stricter drug policy in 2006. Ten of those, including Paulino, were on big-league rosters at the time. Six, including Owens, were on 40-man rosters. Four, such as outfielder Mike Cameron and reliever Guillermo Mota, were free agents when the suspensions were handed down. Of the 316 total players -- major and minor -- who have been penalized since the drug policy took effect in '06, 11 have been members of the Marlins organization -- or about the number one would expect, all things being equal with 30 major league organizations.

-- In addition to Dan Uggla, the Marlins have had preliminary talks with Ricky Nolasco about a contract extension.

August 20, 2010

Sources: Giants Make Claim On Cody Ross

   The San Francisco Giants have won a claim for Cody Ross, according to two major league sources, but it remains to be seen whether the popular outfielder for the Marlins leaves or stays. It is believed that the Giants put in the claim purely to block the San Diego Padres, their NL West rivals, from doing so.

    The Marlins have until Monday to either work out a deal, award Ross and his remaining (about $1 million) to the Giants, or pull him back off waivers. Assuming the Giants have no interest in working out a trade for Ross, it's uncertain whether the Marlins would hold on to Ross, or cut ties with the outfielder in order to dump the rest of his salary and create playing time for Cameron Maybin.

 Ross was in the lineup on Friday and said he would love to play for a playoff contender.

"Anytime a team that is in contention to to go the playoffs wants you, there's something to be said about that," Ross said. "It's awesome. I've heard rumors, from the Giants to the Padres, to whoever. Obviously, that would be awesome because it's out west. It's where I live. I made it clear to these guys (the Marlins) I want to stay here."


August 19, 2010

Can Sanabia fill void in Marlins' rotation?

PITTSBURGH -- One thing the Marlins have been searching for over the last two seasons is a consistent fourth and fifth option in the rotation. With Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez strongly entrenched at the top, several young arms have auditioned for the other roles but have failed to remain consistent.

Thursday night, 21-year old Alex Sanabia showed what he could do when he's at his best, throwing two-hit ball for seven plus innings before the Pirates finally knocked him out. 

Sanabia, a former 32nd round pick, has never had overpowering stuff. His season-high for strike outs this season in Double A Jacksonville was eight. But what makes him good is that he doesn't walk many guys. His strikeout to walk ratio after Thursday's start, the fifth in the big leagues, is now 25 to 7.

Walks have been the biggest hurdles for guys like Chris Volstad, Sean West and Andrew Miller to overcome at this level.

E-Rod sees Helms as future successful manager

PITTSBURGH -- The Marlins haven't exactly thrown in the towel on the 2010 season. But by signing veteran Wes Helms to a one-year, $1 million extension Wednesday, it's fair to say they're already at least thinking about 2011.

Wes Helms Helms, 35, hasn't necessarily done anything on the field to deserve it. He's hitting .225 -- nearly 50 points less than he did last year (.271) and his 22 RBI and pinch-hitting numbers (4 for 31, .129) isn't anything to brag about. But this move wasn't made for Helms the player as much as it was for Helms the clubhouse leader.

"I want to be here and be a leader for these young guys," Helms said. "With [Mike] Stanton, Logan Morrison and [Chris] Coghlan coming back, Gaby [Sanchez], I want to keep helping them mature for another year. I think it could benefit them. They're on their way to being superstars and I want to be a part of that, helping them grow."

Helms has made it no secret he would like to become a manager down the road. Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said he thinks the way Helms relates to young players would naturally make him very good at it.

"He could be an outstanding coach or manager, not only because of the way he manages people but the way he relates to people and his knowledge for the game. He has a lot of knowledge regarding the game as a whole," Rodriguez said. "I picture Wes Helms as a future successful manager."

> Left-hander Andrew Miller, once seen as the big return prize in the Miguel Cabrera trade with the Tigers, arrived in Pittsburgh Thursday sporting a curly mustache that would have made Doc Holliday proud. 

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said as long Miller pitches well he can keep it. Miller hasn't pitched well all season in the minors (he was 2-9 with a 5.35 ERA over 21 starts between Single A and Double A) and admitted Thursday even he was a little surprised the Marlins called him up to replace Taylor Tankersley in the bullpen.

"To be honest with you my results the last couple outings weren't great," Miller said. "But I was throwing the ball well. It's a pleasant surprise to say the least."

The Marlins have always loved Miller's talent. As Rodriguez pointed out Thursday, it's rare to find a left-hander who hits regularly hits between 95 and 97 miles per hour on the radar gun. But since making 14 starts for the Marlins last year (3-5, 4.84 ERA), Miller has been a complete disaster. The Marlins kept him in the minors hoping pitching coaches Wayne Rosenthal and John Duffy could straighten him out. But so far, he has yet to really blossom.

"It’s been a long year. It’s been a hard year," Miller said. "I think from where I was when the year started to how far I came was pretty significant. It’s not always going to be easy and straightforward. Between Rosey and John Duffy, I’ve made a lot of progress and really liked the way I’ve thrown the ball lately. I know there’s obviously room to grow." 

Miller said he got so out of whack at the beginning of the year he "didn’t know which way was up and which way was down." Rodriguez said the Marlins just want to Miller throw his secondary pitches -- changeup and slider -- for strikes. 

"It’s kind of the same things we’ve always talked about, straightening out the line, repeating the delivery, throwing more strikes and things like that," Miller said. "Somewhere along the line I developed a lot of bad habits that were pretty difficult to tear down and rebuild. By no means is it perfect now or will it ever be perfect, but it’s come a long ways and felt pretty good lately.

"You always want to have succcess and ultimately success is graded on wins and losses or for pitchers ERA and strikeouts to walks, all that stuff... the last three or four outings I felt as good as I have all year and I feel like I made progress in every one."

> Left-hander Sean West, scratched from his scheduled start Thursday and placed on the disabled list retroactive to August 15, said he'll have an MRI on his right knee Friday. 

West said he felt "a sharp little pain" in his right knee while running poles on Tuesday. "I'm doubtful there is anything structurally wrong," West said. "There's probably just some fluid in there causing the inflammation."

West said he'll try to play catch on Friday when the Marlins return home to face the Astros and added "I'm already starting to feel better."

> Rodriguez said he gave shortstop Hanley Ramirez the day off Thursday because he can tell he's tired.

August 18, 2010

Andrew Miller on his way back up to the bigs

PITTSBURGH -- The Marlins announced more than a few eye-opening moves after their 3-2 win over the Pirates Wednesday night.

Andrew Miller The biggest shocker though is that they're recalling struggling left-hander Andrew Miller from Double A Jacksonville to pitch in the bullpen. Miller, who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since Sept. 22, 2009, has struggled all season in the minors. He's 2-9 with a 5.35 ERA over 21 starts between Single A Jupiter and Jacksonville.

To make room in the bullpen, the Marlins optioned left-handed specialist Taylor Tankersley to Triple A New Orleans. Tankersley was pounded in Monday's loss has a 7.50 ERA in 27 appearances this season. 

We had heard earlier in the night that left-hander Sean West might not start Thursday. It turned out to be true. The Marlins placed West (0-2, 7.71 ERA) on the disabled list with right knee inflammation and recalled right-hander Alex Sanabia (1-1, 4.63 ERA) from Triple A New Orleans to start in his place. Sanabia was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings for the Zephyrs in two starts since being sent down July 31.

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said West hurt his knee running poles on Monday at PNC Park. 

The last bit of news: Veteran third baseman Wes Helms was signed to a one-year, $1 million extension through the 2011 season. The Marlins don't usually sign guys to extensions in the middle of the season. But Helms said it was something the club had been working on for weeks.

"I love it here, have a great relationship with the front office. I didn't want to test the market and have to start over somewhere else," Helms said. "Now, I'm going to go into spring training knowing where I'll be."

Helms, 35, has always had aspirations of coaching in the system once his career is over. It looks like this move was made to prepare him for that down the road. Listen to Helms talk about his plans for next year.

Here is what manager Edwin Rodriguez had to say about Josh Johnson's night.

CSI Pittsburgh: Chad Tracy case

PITTSBURGH -- Will Ohman promised he would bring some levity to the Marlins clubhouse during these dog-days of August. It looks like he's delivered.

Chad Tracy Wednesday, the Marlins reliever called his friends over at the Crime Scene Investigation unit to look into the tragic fall of newly acquired infielder Chad Tracy, who hit the deck Tuesday night in the Marlins dugout to avoid a hard ground ball off the bat of the Pirates' Neil Walker.

Ohman's CSI unit (we believe that is Marlins trainer Mike Kozak) left behind a tape outline of where Tracy took a dive, much to the delight of teammates and manager Edwin Rodriguez. 

"That's funny stuff right there," Rodriguez told reporters upon entering the crime scene before Wednesday night's game.

Tracy, signed off waivers from the Cubs on August 5th and in the Marlins starting lineup for only the second time, didn't appreciate the joke. 

"You guys think that's funny?," he said to a collection of dorky reporters following him upon arrival in the dugout. "That's not funny."

Tracy claimed the only reason he fell on his back was because he had his legs crossed and didn't have enough time to react to the hard hit ball that caromed around in the Marlins dugout.

"I was on the bench looking the other way when I heard Sean West yelp," catcher Brett Hayes said. "It smoked him right on the butt. I look up and I see Tracy on the ground on his face. I'm like what the heck happened?"

West said the ball left a bruise on his rear end and also hit Donnie Murphy in the ribs. 

August 17, 2010

Special day for E-Rod at Clemente museum

PITTSBURGH -- Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez was only eight years old when he first met Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. Rodriguez said he still remembers how thrilled he was when he got a chance to shake Clemente's hand at a baseball camp for Little Leaguers in his native Puerto RIco.

Roberto Clemente Tuesday afternoon, the first Puerto Rican manager in MLB history enjoyed another thrill when he and two Marlins assistants enjoyed a two hour private tour of Clemente's Museum in downtown Pittsburgh. 

Inside, Rodriguez, third base coach Joe Espada and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius got a peek at several priceless Clemente artifacts -- from the contract he signed with the Pirates in 1967 to personal letters he wrote and the last jersey he wore when he played for the baseball team in San Juan.

"There were so many wonderful things in there, I couldn't pick just one," Rodriguez said. "I saw a lot of pictures with old players, players I know. In fact, there was one with Clemente and a bunch of little kids at a camp in Puerto Rico. I was looking to see if I was in there. I didn't see myself. But It was amazing. It was a great experience."

The museum, located about a 10 minute drive from PNC Park, often draws famous MLB visitors. Rodriguez said he museum curator Duane Reider told him Jorge Posada and several Yankees players including Alex Rodriguez visited it recently. 

For more info on the museum, check out clementemuseum.com

> There was a 13-game stretch this season when Josh Johnson almost seemed super human. From May 13 to July 22, the two-time All-Star gave up one run or less in 12 starts of his 13 starts. His ERA was a miniscule 0.79 during the stretch.

After four up and down starts (0-2, 5.92 ERA) -- including his ugliest of the season when he lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up season-highs of 10 hits and six earned runs in a loss to the Reds last Friday --Johnson said Tuesday he's ready to get back on track. Wednesday, he'll try to pick up his first win in more than a month (July 17) when he starts opposite Pirates right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (1-9, 3.95 ERA).

Is Johnson frustrated? Not in the least. "You just have to know it's bound to happen," Johnson (10-5, 2.27 ERA) said of his recent struggles. "I think you look back at history -- and except maybe Bob Gibson and his 1.12 ERA -- guys have had bad starts. You're going to give up runs, it's going to happen. You just have to know that next time out, you want to get better."

> Chris Volstad has never confused himself with somebody who has a quick move to first. Picking off base runners has just never been his thing. 

But in Monday night's 7-1 loss to the Pirates, Volstad finally caught somebody when he nailed Pirates rookie shortstop Argenis Diaz leading off first base in the fifth inning.

"With one out and the pitcher up, I knew it was a sacrifice situation," Volstad said. "As I came set, [pitcher James] McDonald was getting in the box. I looked over and saw [Diaz] getting his lead. I didn't even get a sign. I just picked him off right then."

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said he thought Gaby Sachez deserved a little credit too. 

Volstad said he thought it was the first pickoff of his career. Marlins pitchers aren't known for their quick deliver to the plate or quick moves to first. "Gaby saw that Diaz was taking a very aggressive lead," Rodriguez said. "He kind of made eye contact with Volstad. It was nice to see a heads up play from both of them."

According to Stats.com, Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco each have two pickoffs this season to lead the team. Baseball's leader is White Sox lefty Mark Buerhle with 10. The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, Padres' Wade LeBlanc and Royals' Bruce Chen are next with the seven each.

Yelich one of 32 draft picks signed by Marlins

The Marlins signed first baseman/outfielder Christian Yelich, the 23rd overall pick in Major League Baseball's 2010 First-Year Player Draft, shortly before the midnight signing deadline Monday night.

Baseball America reported Yelich secured a $1.7 million signing bonus -- a little higher than the estimated slot bonus for the 23rd overall pick which was $1.26 million.

The Marlins signed all but four of their first 30 draft picks. The exceptions were fourth rounder Alvin Toles, an outfielder out of Sandy Creek HS in Fayetteville, Ga.; right-hander Randy LeBlanc (16th rounder) out of Covington High School in Abita Springs, La.; right-hander Blake Treinen (23rd rounder) out of South Dakota State University and catcher Charles Keefer (28th rounder) out of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Yelich, 18, played for Westlake High School, CA and had committed to the University of Miami. A left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Yelich is currently listed at 6-4, 190-pounds.

The Marlins agreed to terms with 32 players draft picks and six free agents. They are listed below in the round they were taken.

1. Christian Yelich, OF, L/L, 6-4, 190, Westlake High, Westlake Village, CA
2. Robert Rasmussen, LHP, L/L, 5-10, 170, UCLA
3. Jacob Realmuto, INF, R/R, 6-1, 190, Carl Albert High, Midwest City, OK
5. Robert Morey, RHP, R/R, 6-1, 185, University of Virginia
6. Joseph Varner, RHP, R/R, 6-4, 200, University of Texas-Arlington
7. Mark Canha, OF, R/R, 6-2, 200, University of Cal-Berkley
8. Alan Oaks, RHP, R/R, 6-3, 200, University of Michigan
9. Austin Brice, RHP, R/R, 6-3, 185, Northwood High, Pittboro, N.C.
10. Aaron Senne, IF, L/L, 6-3, 200, University of Missouri
11. Grant Dayton, LHP, L/L, 6-2, 200, Auburn University
12. James Wooster, OF, L/L, 6-1, 200, Alvin CC, League City, TX
13. Kentrell Dewitt, OF, L/R, 5-11, 185, Southeastern CC, Green Sea, SC
14. Daniel Black, INF, L/R, 6-2, 170, University of Oklahoma
15. Ryan Fisher, OF, L/R, 6-3, 195, UC Irvine
17. Zachary Neal, RHP, R/R, 6-2, 210, University of Oklahoma
18. Corey Goudeau, RHP, R/R, 6-2, 190, Frank Phillips College, Amarillo, TX
19. Dallas Poulk, INF, L/R, 6-0, 175, N.C. State University
20. Alfredo Lopez, INF, R/R, 5-10, 160, Compton CC, Long Beach, CA
21. Kenneth Toves, LHP, L/L, 6-3, 210, University of New Mexico
22. Jeremy Heatley, RHP, R/R, 6-2, 215, University of Arkansas
24. Greggory Glime, C, S/R, 5-11, 210, Baylor University
25. Michael Ojala, RHP, 6-3, 195, Rice University
26. Todd Muecklisch, INF, R/R, 5-10, 175, Lewis-Clark State College, Auburn, WA
27. Brandon Cunniff, RHP, R/R, Cal. St.-San Bernardino
29. Viosergy Ross, INF, L/L, 6-3, 190, Odessa College, Bronx, NY
30 Zack Robertson, LHP, L/L 6-1, 215, University of Iowa
32. Edward Rodriguez, C, R/R, 6-1, 215, University of Oregon
36. Jared Rogers, RHP, R/R, 6-6, 190, Rice University
37. Christopher Squires, RHP, R/R, 6-2, 195, Indiana University
38. Forrest Moore, LHP, L/L, 6-2, 195, Mississippi State
45. Jeremy Weber, RHP, R/R, 6-5, 185, Chaffey College, Montclair, CA
48. James Wright, LHP, L/L, 6-2, 220, Orange Coast College, West Jordan, UT

Undrafted free agents signed
Kevin Cravey, RHP, R/R, 6-1, 180, Texas A&M
Aaron Dudley, C, L/R, 6-2, 205, University of Toledo
John Lambert, LHP, L/L, 6-6, 230, North Carolina State
Brian McConkey, 1B, L/R, 6-2, 210, UC Riverside
Scott Rembisz, RHP, R/R, 6-1, 215, FIU
Steven Stein, RHP, R/R, 6-0, 170, Western Oklahoma State

August 16, 2010

Stanton named NL Player of the Week

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Stanton was named National League Player of the Week Monday, an award that didn't surprise anybody in the Marlins clubhouse except maybe the humble 20-year old outfielder.

Mike Stanton "It's definitely a very cool award. It's a surprise for sure," said Stanton, who went 14 for 24 (.583) with four homers, five doubles, five runs and eight RBI in six games against the Nationals and Reds last week to raise his season average from .233 to .275. "It's an honor to be given it. Hopefully I can keep it rolling."

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said he was happy for Stanton. He just wondered if Stanton would even smile about it. In the two months Rodriguez has been with the team, he said Stanton has showed a level headed attitude more common for a veteran.

"I saw him once, three or four weeks ago when he came into the dugout after an at-bat and you could tell he was kind of frustrated with the way he was swinging," Rodriguez said. "... That the closest I've seen him change his attitude about anything. He won't show any emotion. A two home run game for him is the same as 0-for-4. You can't tell. I guess he expects that from [himself]. It's that kind of attitude."

Stanton said he just tries to mimic what he sees other longtime pros do. "You just got to look at the successful people," Stanton said. "They fail just as much as they succeed. You have to watch from them, learn from them and see how they do it. This game is tough, you're going to fail. That's the hardest thing to do -- not get mad. It takes some time to realize that's how it's going to go. Getting mad isn't going to change what happens. If anything, it's going to make things worse. That's just the way I look at it."

Veteran Wes Helms said he thinks Stanton's torrid week could get him in the National League Rookie of the Year race. As it stands, Helms believes Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin (.252, 18 HRs, 42 RBI) and Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez (.289, 12 HRs, 53 RBI) should be the front runners. 

"He doesn't have the at-bats with some of the guys like [Atlanta's Jason] Heyward, Gaby, the guy in Chicago, but I think he's going to be there in the end," Helms said. " With six, seven weeks left in the season, if he just continues doing what he's doing, once you get into September, you'll start to hear his name a little more."

The NL Rookie of the Year award might be one of the toughest to hand out this season. Although Heyward (.259, 12 HRs, 51 RBI) and Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 2.97 ERA, 86 Ks, 17 BBs) have received the most hype, Giants catcher Buster Posey (.337, 9 HRs, 43 RBI) has clearly had the biggest impact. Since his call up May 29, San Francisco has gone 41-30 to take the lead in the NL Wild Card race.

Stanton has the fifth-highest batting average in the majors since July 26. THe only guys hitting better? Minnesota's Joe Mauer (.516), Houstons' Chris Johnson (.433), Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez (.405) and Texas' Josh Hamilton (.397).

> Edwin Rodriguez on the Marlins 0-for-29 weekend in Cincinnati with runners in scoring position: " I'm sure our guys are giving 100 percent on the field. You have to give credit to the Reds pitching staff. It's not lack of effort. They're going out there, doing their best."

The club record for consecutive ABs without a hit with runners in scoring position is 31 from June 16-20, 2009. 

> Rodriguez said he told catcher Ronny Paulino after Sunday's game that he will split more time behind the plate with Brett Hayes.

"It seems to me he's slowing down," Rodriguez said. "His body is slowing down. His swing is slowing down. He understands. He's very aware. When I got here, his reaction behind the plate, side to side, right to left, was quicker. Right now, the last two weeks, he's been slowing down with dirt balls. Even throwing to the bases, he's not throwing it the way he was before."

Paulino was hitting .305 on July 2. He's gone 14 for 95 (.147) in his last 29 games and has average has dipped to .257. Paulino has caught 88 games this season. Last year, he caught 80. In 2008, he caught 40 for the Pirates. He played in 133 games in 2007 for Pittsburgh.

"Whatever is best for the team, that's what you got to do," said Paulino, who hasn't caught a full season in the majors since 2007 and who has split time with John Baker behind the plate for the better part of the last two years. "If he thinks its best for the team and we're going to win, I support every decision. Physically, I feel fine."

> Rodriguez said he plans to visit Roberto Clemente's museum on Tuesday. Rodriguez met the late Pirates Hall of Fame outfielder in his native Puerto Rico when he was a little boy and called this trip "very important" for himself.

"When I was with San Diego [as a player] I had a chance to come here," Rodriguez said. "But it's been 25 years. I've been amazed with the field, the stadium. Every angle you look its beautiful. I'm excited about tomorrow. I already took pictures of the Roberto Clemente Bridge and the statue out there."

> With 46 games left on the schedule and the Marlins 10.5 games back in the division and 8.5 games out of the wild card, Helms said the team hasn't lost its hunger.

"It's still there," Helms said. "It's one of those things. We have two goals. Make the playoffs -- until we're eliminated. Once we're eliminated, we want to finish over .500 and have a good season. Once you are eliminated, you want to finish strong and build for next year. You don't just want to give up. We want to show ourselves and our fans and the rest of the league what type of character we have even though we haven't had the type of year we want to have. We're not going to cave in. Even though it's the last six, seven weeks of the season we're going to go out and play hard."

August 15, 2010

Lineup Maneuverings: Stanton Takes the 5th

   The inevitable ascension of rookie Mike Stanton in the Marlins lineup takes another step upward today with manager Edwin Rodriguez's decision to install the slugger in the fifth spot. The move hardly comes as a surprise. Rodriguez discussed the possibility on Saturday and last night's game cemented the decision. Cody Ross, batting fifth, went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and made the final out of the inning four times.

    "Mike's a four hitter, let's be honest," Ross said. "He's just slowly moving his way up and he's going to be a four hitter for a long time. We have a pretty good four hitter as it is right now (Dan Uggla). I'm just saying in the future. It was just a matter of time. Everybody knew he was going to be in that spot. So I'm fine with it. It's no knock because he's a great player and he deserves to be up in the middle of the order."

   Stanton hit seventh after he was promoted from the minors in early June, dropped down to eighth briefly, returned to the seven hole, and moved into the six spot at the end of July and first of August.

   "I'm more concerned about how Mike is going to handle this because they're going to pitch him differently," Rodriguez said. "I think that more frequently he's going ot have runners in scoring position and pitchers don't pitch the same with nobody on or a runner on first as they do when runners are in scoring position."

   Stanton is hitting .302 with runners in scoring position. Among Marlins regulars, only fellow rookie Gaby Sanchez has had greater RISP success (.327).

   Though Ross isn't in the lineup today (Emilio Bonifacio is batting seventh and starting in center), he will return to the lineup and bat sixth on Monday when the Marlins open a four-game series in Pittsburgh. One additional note on the lineup: with Chris Coghlan on the mend following knee surgery, Rodriguez said Hanley Ramirez will remain in the leadoff spot the rest of the season.

   Here's the lineup as we brace for the potential of afternoon rain showers in the Cincinnati area:

   Marlins: 1. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Mike Stanton, rf; 6. Wes Helms, 3b; 7. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.

   Redlegs: 1. Brandon Phillips, 2b; 2. Jay Bruce, rf; 3. Joey Votto, 1b; 4. Jonny Gomes, lf; 5. Jim Edmonds, cf; 6. Miguel Cairo, 3b; 7. Ryan Hanigan, c; 8. Paul Janish, ss; 9. Homer Bailey, p.

   Umpires: HP -- D.J. Reyburn; 1B -- Mike Winters; 2B -- Chris Guccione; 3B -- Phil Cuzzi

   WEST ON SUICIDE ALERT.....One of the key plays Saturday was Paul Janish's suicide squeeze bunt in the fourth inning. It was a remarkable piece of bunting under do-or-die circumstances considering that he was pulling back and nearly knocked off his feet by Sean West's inside pitch. "I heard 'squeeze' at the very last second and tried to throw the ball in," West said. "But he did a good job laying it down."

    CINCINNATI BLUES.....If the Marlins lose again today, it will mark the third time over their past four visits to Cincinnati that they suffer a series sweep. The Marlins have gone 3-13 at Great American Ball Park since 2006.