MIAMI GARDENS -- Despite putting up some award-worthy numbers by most first-year standards, Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez probably won't be voted this year's National League Rookie of the Year. But that's not stopping the Marlins from showing their first baseman some support as the season winds down.
During batting practice Thursday, manager Edwin Rodriguez and Marlins players wore t-shirts in support of Sanchez. The specially printed shirts, which had the number 14 on the back as well as Sanchez's last name, had a special design on the front: GS 14 4 ROY (Gaby Sanchez, No. 14, for Rookie of the Year).
Similar shirts were worn by players a year ago to help drum up support for Chris Coghlan, who became the third Marlins player -- Dontrelle Willis (2003) and Hanley Ramirez ('06) were the others -- to win the award.
"I saw the shirt when we were in Atlanta when Wes [Helms] showed it to me," Sanchez said. "I was like 'Oh boy.' I'm definitely not like that. I'm not big into doing any of that stuff. But it's nice to see the Marlins taking an initiative and trying to promote it."
Sanchez, who went into spring training expecting to battle Logan Morrison for the starting first base job, has arguably been the Marlins' second-most consistent player this season behind team MVP Dan Uggla.
Among all NL rookies, Sanchez ranks first in RBI (83), hits (153) and doubles (36), and ranks third in homers with 19. He went into the final series of the season Thursday against the Pirates hitting .274. Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (.278, 18 HRs, 71 RBI) and Giants catcher Buster Posey (.311, 16 HRs, 64 RBI) are considered by most, though, to be the front-runners for the award.
Sanchez said it would mean a lot to win the award, but doesn't think he'll pay too much attention when it's announced in mid November. Sanchez said what he's most proud of is that he was able to play the entire season.
"If it doesn't [happen], I'm not going to think I had a bad year just because I didn't get it," Sanchez said. "There's a lot of guys who are playing this year that are rookies that have unbelievable numbers, that had great seasons as well. It comes down to going out there and playing and winning. It's an individual award, which would be nice to get. But that's not why I'm playing baseball -- to win awards. I'm trying to win and help the team have fun playing baseball."
WEST WOULDN'T MIND FALL BALL: Injuries and inconsistency didn't allow Sean West to have the type of sophomore season he was hoping for in 2010. But the 24-year old left-hander, who went 8-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 20 starts as as a rookie last season, said he's planning to come back strong in 2011.
The first part of the plan: West said he's going to remain in Jupiter where he'll train the entire offseason at the Marlins spring training facility.
"I'll be at the complex everyday, stretching, running," West said. "I want to come in the best shape of my life, ready to earn a spot. There's some guys that have come up this year that have made it a point to be in that rotation. It's definitely going to be a challenge going into spring training with the year I've had. [But] I'm just going to bust my [butt] as they say and be ready to compete for a spot."
West, who went on the disabled list with right knee inflammation Aug. 18 after making only two starts for the Marlins and going 0-2 with a 7.71, said he's been playing catch down in Jupiter with catcher Kyle Skipworth. The Marlins' 2008 first round pick left earlier this week for the Arizona Fall League, something West said he hopes he'll be able to do too if he can. West said he would like to work on his velocity in the offseason, which he says is down from the 92-94 mile per hour range he normally hits on the radar gun.
"They just want me to establish health, prove to them I'm fully healthy," West said of the Marlins. "Then we'll talk about what's going to happen after the season."
What will 32 home runs and 100 RBI get Dan Uggla? He's probably hoping for a multi-year contract extension. For now Uggla will have to settle for a non-monetary reward: Most Valuable Player of the Marlins' 2010 season.
That honor was bestowed on Uggla by members of the Miami chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Uggla is the only second baseman in major league history to pound out at least 30 home runs in four consecutive seasons. In addition to his historic achievement, Uggla is also setting new career standards in batting average, on-base percentage and RBI.
"We're not where we wanted to be with not making the playoffs," Uggla said. "But, as an individual season, it was probably the best season I've had so far. So when you look at it from that standpoint, it's kind of a cool season."
Uggla said he would like to remain a Marlin for years to come. He and the Marlins have discussed a contract extension that would keep him around for the opening of the new ballpark n 2012 and beyond.
"Do I see it getting done anytime soon?" Uggla said of a multi-year contract agreement. "No. But I do feel like there's going to be a really good effort to get something done. They're going to a new balllpark. Everybody knows I'd like to be here to open it up, and they've expressed to me they want me here to open it up, too."
Also receiving year-end honors from the writers are first baseman Gaby Sanchez, reliever Clay Hensley and Marlins Senior Director of Travel Bill Beck.
Sanchez was named the team's Rookie of the Year for his consistently strong play throughout the season. Sanchez was one of the Marlins' top run producers, hitting .299 with runners in scoring position, and leads all NL rookies in RBI and extra-base hits.
"The rookies we have on this team all have shown that they can play at this level," Sanchez said. "You have Lomo (Logan Morrison), who's done outstanding since he got called up. You got (Mike) Stanton, who has the most power I've ever seen in my life from any human being."
Hensley received the Jeff Conine Award given to the Marlin who best embodies the spirit of the game through integrity and selfless play. Hensley earned a job out of spring training and evolved into one of the Marlins' most effective relievers, posting a 2.25 ERA while appearing in a staff-high 65 games.
Beck is this year's recipient of the Charlie Hough "Good Guy Award" that is given to the Marlin who fosters a positive relationship with reporters. Beck, a popular baseball jack-of-all-trades and an integral behind-the-scenes member of the organization, has worked in the game for 42 years and is retiring after 19 seasons with the Marlins.
Previous Marlins award winners:
MVP: Bryan Harvey (1993), Jeff Conine (1994), Jeff Conine (1995), Gary Sheffield (1996), Moises Alou (1997), Cliff Floyd (1998), Luis Castillo (1999), Preston Wilson (2000), Cliff Floyd (2001), Luis Castillo (2002), Juan Pierre (2003), Miguel Cabrera (2004), Dontrelle Willis (2005), Miguel Cabrera (2006), Hanley Ramirez (2007), Hanley Ramirez (2008), Hanley Ramirez (2009).
Rookie: Charles Johnson (1995), Edgar Renteria (1996), Livan Hernandez (1997), Mark Kotsay (1998), Preston Wilson (1999), Chuck Smith (2000), Josh Beckett (2001), Michael Tejera (2002), Dontrelle Willis (2003), Jason Vargas (2005), Hanley Ramirez (2006), Matt Lindstrom (2007), Chris Volstad (2008), Chris Coghlan (2009). (Note: No award was given in 1993, 1994 and 2004).
Good Guy: Charlie Hough (1995), Rene Lachemann (1996), Bobby Bonilla (1997), Rich Donnelly (1998), Mike Redmond (1999), Mike Lowell (2000), Kevin Millar (2001), Andy Fox (2002), Braden Looper (2003), Juan Pierre (2004), Carlos Delgado (2005), Dontrelle Willis (2006), Matt Treanor (2007), Luis Gonzalez (2008), Cody Ross (2009). (Note: No award was given in 1993 and 1994).
Jeff Conine Award: Alfredo Amezaga (2008), Wes Helms (2009).
ATLANTA -- The injury list keeps growing for the Marlins. The latest to go down: center fielder Cameron Maybin, who suffered a lower back and left leg injury on Tuesday when he slammed into the wall at Turner Field.
While manager Edwin Rodriguez said it's possible Maybin could return in two or three days, don't count on it. Standing at his locker afterward, Maybin said he was in great pain and wasn't sure if he would be able to play. After all, only five games remain in the season.
"My whole left leg, it was really numb," said Maybin, who was carted off the field after his collision with the wall in the seventh. "My back, there was a lot of tingling. I tried to get up, but I couldn't."
X-rays were negative.
Maybin was trying to chase down Brooks Conrad's long fly ball, which nicked the end of his glove but bounced away for RBI triple that tied the score.
ATLANTA -- With Dan Uggla presently stuck on 99 RBI as he takes aim on his first 100-RBI season, here are some other figures and facts worth noting......
ATTENDANCE STANDINGS.......If not one fan shows up for the Marlins' final home series, they'll still avoid a last-place finish in the all-important overall attendance race. But not by much. The Oakland A's have already clinched last-place honors. The A's, who closed the turnstile books on their 81-game home slate over the weekend, finished with total attendance of 1,418,391. The Marlins are at 1,423,614 with four home games remaining with the Pirates. The Marlins will, however, finish last in attendance among NL teams -- behind the Pirates -- even if they sell out every game. No matter what happens, they'll still receive a slight attendance bump on Sunday when the team reveals the final tally from tickets that it continued selling AFTER Roy Halladay's perfect game.
ANOTHER MARLINS/A's CONNECTION....According to research by the Elias Sports Bureau, the Marlins' have owned a .500 record a club-record 26 times so far this season. Remember, a team can be .500 up to 81 times (1-1, 2-2, 3-3....81-81) over the course of a 162-game season. But nobody tops the A's in the .500 department. Oakland's wins have equaled their losses 32 times. Stay tuned, though. It's not over yet. Both the Marlins and A's have identical 77-79 records at the moment.
MARLINS ZINGED ON BRAVES BROADCAST....During last night's local broadcast, a graphic was shown that detailed how various franchises have recognized retiring Braves skipper Bobby Cox in every city the Braves have visited this season. On the Braves' last road trip. for example, the Nationals presented Cox with a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol and enlisted the U.S. Navy band to perform a mini-concert in his honor. At the bottom of the list of team-by-team tributes, which filled up the entire television screen, was this notation: "Marlins: No recognition or gift." Privately, the Marlins are miffed that Cox made disparaging remarks about owner Jeffrey Loria after Fredi Gonzalez was fired in June. The team did nothing to recognize Cox during the Braves' final trip into South Florida this season.
MUST-SEE MUFFS... Check out this video of last night's double error by Gaby Sanchez and Dan Uggla. It's a classic.
INJURY NOTES.....Will Ohman, the only lefty reliever in he Marlins bullpen, said he will be available for duty on Tuesday. Ohman hasn't pitched since Sept. 12 due to a sore left elbow......Hanley Ramirez entered as a pinch-runner last night but is highly doubtful to start another game due to his own elbow issues.
It was the end-of-season rite for Marlins rookies on Sunday when the vets made the youngsters don outlandish costumes for the flight down to Atlanta. Sorry for the poor photo quality, as the hallway was dimly lit and I was using a cell phone camera, not a Leica. But here are a few fuzzy snapshots taken just a moment ago following the Marlins' 7-1 loss to the Brewers:
First, the group photo (standing, left to right, are Alex Sanabia, Gaby Sanchez, Brett Sinkbeil, Brad Davis, Mike Stanton, Scott Cousins, Chris Hatcher, Ozzie Martinez, Jose Ceda and Steven Cishek)
Next up, Aldaberto Mendez. Talk about insult to injury. Mendez was tagged for four home runs in two innings, then forced to wear this outfit:
Next is Logan Morrison, who singled in four at bats before putting on this uni:
Finally we have big reliever Jose Ceda:
MILWAUKEE -- Marlins president David Samson said the team has a list of four or five candidates for the manager's job. That list, Samson said, includes current manager Edwin Rodriguez.
Other than Rodriguez, Samson refused to divulge the names of any other candidates.
But it is believed Yankees bench coach Tony Pena and Padres bench coach Ted Simmons would be considered. The Marlins could also have interest in former manager Jim Fregosi and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen if he becomes available.
Guillen, however, has one year remaining on his contract with the White Sox, with a club option for 2012 -- the same year the Marlins move into their new ballpark -- and would be off limits to the Marlins if his status doesn't change.
"Obviously, we'd like a manager hired as we head into the off-season, as the team takes shape, as we head into the new ballpark," Samson said.
But Samson said it's uncertain how long the hiring process will take.
"It could happen quickly, or it could take time, and the reason is we'll go through a process of identifying the exact direction we want to go," Samson said. "And it's hard to know, as we sit today, how long that process will take. In terms of winnowing it (the list of candidates) and deciding internally which way we want to go, it hasn't happened yet."
Samson said Rodriguez, who replaced fired manager Fredi Gonzalez on June 23, would be in the mix.
"It's been a three-month interview for Edwin," Samson said.
The Marlins have gone 43-41 since Rodriguez took over.
Without question, Scott Cousins' pinch-hit triples in back-to-back games is fluky. But, for Cousins, the triple itself isn't such a rare bird. He led Double A with 11 triples in 2009 and set a Marlins minor-league record in the process.
Cousins came off the bench on Friday to deliver a pinch-hit triple into the right field corner at Miller Park. On Saturday, he did it again. Same spot. And he might be sitting on three pinch-hit triples had he gambled on a ball he hit off Roy Oswalt into the right-field corner in Philadelphia. He ended up with a double, but third base coach Joe Espada told him afterward he should have gone for three. Remember, the fledgling rookie Cousins only has 26 at bats so far with the Marlins.
A left-handed line drive hitter with above-average speed, Cousins said he used to be content with doubles. But after it dawned on him that he could usually reach third on balls hit into the corner, he began taking more chances.
"I came to the realization that it's a really difficult play for the right fielder to throw me out from the corner," Cousins said. "It's a tough play for him to get it to the cutoff. It's a long throw, like the longest part of the field. So it's a lot easier to take off and make them be perfect, when before I was tentative and I would stop at second base because I wasn't sure. It was a matter of getting over that fear of being thrown out."
Cousins said he doesn't take unnecessary risks, especially with two outs. But the situation was ripe for risk-taking Saturday when he came up to pinch-hit with one out in the ninth and the Marlins holding a 3-0 lead over the Brewers.
"There was one out and nobody on base, and we needed an insurance run," Cousins said. "So I was trying to get to third."
Cousins succeeded, and ended up scoring on Ozzie Martinez's RBI hit.
By the way, for future reference, Juan Pierre holds the Marlins' single-season record for triples with 13, which he set in 2005.
AS THE OZZIE TURNS.....Every day, it seems, there's some new twist in the Ozzie Guillen saga with the White Sox, one the Marlins are watching with interest from afar. Even though he has another year remaining on his contract and the White Sox hold a club option for 2012, Guillen says he wants the Sox to show him some love, loosely translated as a contract extension. White Sox G.M. Ken Williams said that if Guillen wants to cut out after the season, nobody's stopping him. Guillen keeps saying that his first choice is to stay with the White Sox forever -- forever being a relative term for managers. At the same time, Guillen says that if the White Sox don't want him, don't give him that love, he'd consider the crosstown Chicago Cubs, who, like the Marlins, are in manager-search mode. It'll be interesting to see how it all goes down. Stay tuned.
Today's Lineup (Game 155)
Marlins: 1. Cameron Maybin, cf; 2. Ozzie Martinez, ss; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Wes Helms, 3b; 8. Chris Hatcher, c; 9. Adalberto Mendez, p.
MILWAUKEE -- It happened so quickly that Sandy Rosario hardly knew what hit him. But when the rookie pitcher for the Marlins made his major league debut in Thursday's seventh inning at Miller Park, the first pitch he threw was clobbered for a home run by Rickie Weeks. Two pitches later, Prince Fielder went deep, as well.
By the time Rosario could count to three, he had given up two home runs. Still, Rosario, 24, said he wouldn't take back the experience even though he wished it would have turned out better. In addition to the back-to-back homers, Rosario gave up hits to the first five batters he faced and gave up three runs in his first inning of work.
"I was living a dream," Rosario said. "That's what I worked hard for all my life, to pitch in the majors. I felt good."
Rosario, who was recently called up from Double A Jacksonville, said he was surprised that the Brewers came out swinging when he took the mound. Being unfamiliar, he figured they would take a pitch or two. But Weeks and Fielder did nothing of the sort.
"I was attacking the strike zone," Rosario said. "And if I had to do it over, I'd do it again."
Still, Rosario was left shaking his head when Weeks swung at the first pitch and went deep.
"I thought, damn, the first pitch," Rosario said. "I thought they were going to take a few pitches."
Pitching coach Randy St. Claire walked out to the mound to calm Rosario during the rocky beginning. His words of advice: "The sun will come up in the morning," Rosario said St. Clarie told him.
INJURY UPDATES -- Lefty reliever Will Ohman, who has not pitched since Sept. 12 due to a sore elbow, said it was possible he could be available as early as Sunday. Without Ohman, the Marlins don't have a lefty in their bullpen....Emilio Bonifacio (hamstring) could be available to pinch-run or enter as a defensive placement tonight.
MILESTONES -- Dan Uggla is one RBI shy of 100. He would become the 11th player in Marlins history to reach the century mark.....By reaching base tonight by base hit, walk or hit batsman, rookie Logan Morrison would extend his streak of reaching base to 43 consecutive games -- the longest in the majors this season. The Yankees' Mark Teixeira also had a 42-game streak of reaching base. Luis Castillo holds the Marlins record -- 46 games -- set in 2002. Kevin Millar had a 43-game streak for the Marlins, also in '02....The Marlins have used the most rookies (20) of any team in the majors this season. Next on the list: the Cubs (18), followed by the Mets (17).
Marlins: 1. Cameron Maybin, cf; 2. Ozzie Martinez, ss; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Chad Tracy, 3b; 7. Mike Stanton, rf; 8. Brad Davis, c; 9. Andrew Miller, p.
Brewers: 1. Rickie Weeks, 2b; 2. Corey Hart, rf; 3. Ryan Braun, lf; 4. Prince Fielder, 1b; 5. Casey McGehee, 3b; 6. Lorenzo Cain, cf; 7. Jonathan Lucroy, c; 8. Luis Cruz, ss; 9. Mark Rogers, p.
Umpires: HP -- Scott Barry; 1B -- Jerry Meals; 2B -- Dale Scott; 3B -- Dan Iassogna.
Before ending up at Cal-Berkeley, John Baker was accepted by UCLA into their honors political science program. Baker has never held political office but, as the Marlins' nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, he's asking for your vote.
Without further ado, take it away John:
I want to start by saying that I am incredibly honored to be mentioned in the same sentence as the great Roberto Clemente. I wear the number 21 proudly in his honor.
No matter where I've been, people of all faiths and walks of life have told me that things, both good and bad, happen for a reason. In January of 2010, the Florida Marlins gave me the opportunity to visit the men and women of our Armed Forces overseas in Kuwait and Iraq. I did some research and found out that, despite the fact that we have military veterans in our baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, no active players had ever been to the Middle East to support troops. I learned right away that the service men and women did not care that I played Major League Baseball. They cared that I showed up to support them. The experience taught me that, most of the time, a person's most valuable philanthropic asset is their time an dlove. I also learned that, although it is the athletes that receive all of the glory and praise for their abilities, is is the menm and women of our Armed Forces that should be receiving nightly standing ovations. While in Iraq, we slept in a bunker in order to protect us from mortar shells that occasionally are lobbed over the base walls with the intention of killing or wounding the sleeping soldiers. It was the first and only time in my adult life that I went to bed scared of the dark. I made a commitment when I got home to do the best I could to support veterans in our community. It was then when I was introduced to Stand Down House and Roy Foster. First, during spring training, I spent some time with the men and women there and knew immediately that I would do whatever I could to both promote and help their noble cause: to make sure no military veteran in South Florida is ever left behind.
On May 15th, I was placed on the disabled list with a nagging injury to my right elbow. At the time, I thought I would be back with the team in a matter of weeks. Little did I know that I would miss the rest of the year. Part of my recovery process called for six weeks of complete rest. The rest period weighed heavily on my psyche. I love the game of baseball with all of my heart, and in nearly 10 years of professional baseball, I had never missed more than two or three games. I again received a phone call from the Marlins. They asked if I was interested in helping spearhead their Homes for Haiti campaign. The intention of the Homes for Haiti project is to build a Haitian village with 25 concrete family homes. Since I had a few more weeks of rest, I agreed and hopped on a plane with Food for the Poor, bound for Port Au Prince. I wish I could say something positive here, but the truth is that the situation in Haiti is both bleak and heavily disturbing. I had no idea that Haiti was a mere hour and 10 minute flight from Miami, closer by plane than any of our division rivals. Tents abound, rumors of government corruption run rampant, and many people there are homeless or starving. While the situation is bleak, the spirit of the people is strong. I met children that smiled and laughed despite recently losing their entire families. I learned immediately that no matter how bad one thinks their situation may be, someone very close is going through something much more difficult with a smile on their face. This lesson has helped me immensely as I recover from Tommy John surgery. Anytime the rehab seems too tough, or the injury too painful, I think back to the kids I met and their positive attitudes, and I gain hope.
Please take the time to vote for me for the Roberto Clemente award. Winning this award would garner national attention and funding for both Stand Down House and the Marlins' Homes for Haiti project. I am pushing as hard as I can to give back as much as I can, becuase these experiences have taught me so much. Sometimes as players we are so concerned with wins and losses that we forget to take a broader view of our surrounding community. I hope to never make that mistake again.
Please vote here: Vote John Baker for Roberto Clemente
-- John Baker