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Stanton aims to end slump versus Nats

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

Comments

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NWFL fan

E-Rod is learning what Fredi had to deal with. No support from the FO to build a decent bullpen.

Villa26

Today was a bad day!!!!

oneatatime

why isn't Clay Hensley an option at closer? He's mature and throws strikes consistently.

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