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44 posts from September 2010

September 22, 2010

Hanley Ramirez could be shut down; other notes

            A day after sparking the Marlins with a key eighth-inning hit, Hanley Ramirez was out of Wednesday’s lineup against the Mets and replaced by rookie Ozzie Martinez at shortstop.

Ramirez previously missed four games with inflammation in his left elbow. And on Wednesday afternoon, the All-Star shortstop was seen in the Marlins clubhouse with ice wrapped around his left and right elbows.

Although Ramirez didn’t address reporters, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said the prognosis isn’t encouraging.

“He’s not OK,” Rodriguez said. “He came out after the game [on Tuesday] and said he was feeling worse. That’s not a good sign. Right now, he’s not in the lineup and we’ll see how everything develops after that.”

Rodriguez couldn’t pinpoint a specific instance when Ramirez re-aggravated the injury, but said he noticed the slugger clutching his elbow in the dugout following his first at-bat.

As a result of the uncertainty, Rodriguez didn’t rule out the possibility of shutting down Ramirez for the remainder of the season.

“We have to leave that door open,” Rodriguez said. “We have to do what’s in the best interest of the organization.”

 

---After watching Gaby Sanchez belt his game-winning homer in Tuesday’s win, the Marlins are starting to lobby for the first baseman to win the National League Rookie of the Year award.

Sanchez has shined in his first full season in the majors, blasting 19 homers and 81 RBIs. He also leads all rookies in RBIs, doubles (36), extra-base hits (58) and total bases (249).

“I think he should get it,” outfielder Logan Morrison said. “He’s been doing it all year. He’s been a mainstay in this lineup. He’s been driving in runs and getting on base – doing what he needs to do.”

But Sanchez continues to deflect the attention. The slugger maintains he is solely intent on achieving team success.

“I’m not thinking about it until the last game of the season is over,” Sanchez said. “That’s an individual award and this is a team game. Just because you win the award doesn’t mean anything.”

          ---The Marlins were also without Emilio Bonifacio on Wednesday. The utility man – and Ramirez’s usual backup at shortstop – missed his third consecutive game with tightness in his left hamstring.

But the club has reason to be optimistic. Before Wednesday’s game, Bonifacio said his hamstring responded better in the batting cage and believed Friday could be a viable date for his return.

“I feel a lot better,” Bonifacio said. “I took a few swings in the cage and didn’t feel any pain, so I’m hoping for [Friday], but we’ll see how it responds and what the trainers say.”

In the meantime, Rodriguez tabbed Hector Luna, who hasn’t fielded at shortstop since 2006, as Martinez’s emergency backup.

September 21, 2010

Hanley Ramirez back; Bonifacio out with injury

            Hanley Ramirez, who missed the Marlins’ last four games after experiencing discomfort in his left elbow, returned to the lineup on Tuesday and was batting third against the Mets.

            Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, the All-Star shortstop took a few swings in the batting cage alongside a few coaches, who noticed improvement in his extension and convinced Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez to him the starting nod.

            Rodriguez – who wasn’t present – ultimately complied, but said he would monitor Ramirez’s performance closely because he believes the shortstop’s elbow isn’t completely healthy.

“I don’t think its 100 percent,” Rodriguez said of Ramirez’s injury. “But he says it feels better, so we’re going to give him a try.”

 ----Although the Marlins added one offensive sparkplug back in the lineup, the club lost another one in Emilio Bonifacio.

            Bonifacio, Ramirez’s recent replacement for three games over the weekend, missed his second consecutive game on Tuesday after experiencing some tightness in his left hamstring.

            “I feel a little bit better today, but I still feel some pain when I walk,” Bonifacio said. “We’re going to be careful because it’s the first time in my career that I’ve felt pain over there. I don’t want to risk anything.”

The Marlins utility man first experienced the tightness on Sunday when he was running to first base on groundout during his final at-bat.

And considering Bonifacio’s greatest asset is his speed, Rodriguez said the team would miss – literally and figuratively – his speedster for at least “three, four, five” games.

“To be honest, we can manage being without Hanley, but it’s hard to manage without Bonny because he can play everywhere,” Rodriguez said.

Hitting coach John Mallee also joined the Marlins injury list after tearing his left biceps tendon on Monday when lifting a protective screen during batting practice. Mallee said he would undergo surgery on Wednesday.

-Didier Morais

September 20, 2010

Rodriguez's near desperation move and other notes

            After exhausting his bullpen for the second time in five days in Sunday’s 13-3 loss against the Cubs, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez nearly resorted to a desperation move.

            Midway through the seventh inning on Sunday, Rodriguez asked rookie catcher Chris Hatcher – who was promoted from Double-A Jacksonville the same day – to get loose in the Marlins bullpen as an emergency reliever.

            Fortunately for Hatcher and Rodriguez, reliever Brian Sanches’ efficient seventh inning performance barred that scenario from occurring.

“We were almost close to that,” Rodriguez said of inserting Hatcher. “I was trying not to make that happen, but the game took me to that situation. At least, it was good to see him making his debut as a hitter and not as a pitcher.”

But that’s the way the past week has gone for the Marlins’ pitching staff. In an attempt to relieve the relievers, the club promoted pitcher Steve Cishek from Jacksonville on Monday.

Despite Cishek’s promotion, Hatcher remains prepared in case a similar situation unfolds in the next two weeks. The catcher said he pitched twice in the minors – once in July and once in August – and even recorded a victory over the Mobile Baybears.

“I feel comfortable doing it – I pitched in college and in high school, so it’s not foreign for me,” Hatcher said. “I feel like I can throw the ball down the middle and get strikes. It’s one of those things where somebody’s got to do it.”

----The talk over Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin’s accident on Sunday continued to reverberate in the Marlins clubhouse Monday morning.

Colvin was punctured in the upper left chest by his teammate’s maple bat as he was running toward home plate, prompting Rodriguez to call for Major League Baseball to take action.

 “Something has to be done,” Rodriguez said. We’re watching stronger players with more bat speed and pitchers with more speed – 95,98 [mph] on a daily basis. The manufacturers of the bats have to find a way to make it very quality so when the bat shatters it doesn’t become a missile.”

“Hopefully Major League Baseball can come up with a solution before somebody else gets hurt.”

---Injury news: Also Emilio Bonifacio is out of the lineup today with a tightness in his left hamstring and Hanley Ramirez (sore left elbow) took batting practice today, but his stance still raised some concerns for Rodriguez.

"No extension at all," Rodriguez said of Ramirez's elbow during batting practice.

-Didier Morais

Desperate Marlins Dig Deep for Help

 

           This just in from the Cape Cod Times: the Marlins are calling up right-hander Steve Cishek (page 257 in the small-print section of the team's media guide) for bullpen reinforcements. Exclaimed Cishek (stats), who was as shocked as anyone by the promotion: "I've never even gotten in a major-league spring training game."

           That's what it's come to for the Marlins, who are crawling to the finish line on hands and knees.

            Losers of six straight, and with their pitching staff in shambles, the Marlins have, in essence, declared a state of emergency simply to make it through these remaining 14 games. Following Sunday's debacle at Sun Life Stadium in which the Marlins used seven pitchers and the staff combined to issue a team record 12 free passes, the Marlins put out an immediate call for help. Cishek, who started the season at Single A Jupiter before ending up at Double A Jacksonville, was driving home to Massachusetts when he was ordered to reverse course and hit the accelerator, what with a makeup game looming this afternoon against the Cardinals.

            The Marlins have already used a club-record 29 pitchers. Cishek would make it 30. And Sandy Rosario (page 278 of the media guide), fresh up from the Southern League champion Suns, will make it 31 when he gets his turn on the mound.

             If you're heading out to today's game, take my advice and buy a scorecard.

September 19, 2010

Concern over Anibal Sanchez's innings; Hanley out

           After tossing five frames in Saturday’s 5-3 loss against the Cubs, Anibal Sanchez continues to pad his innings pitching total, logging a career-high 177 innings of work this season.

            And that amount is starting to concern Edwin Rodriguez. With pitchers Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco out for the season due to injuries, the Marlins manager doesn’t want Sanchez – whose previous career high for innings was 114.1 in 2006 – to overexert himself as the rotation’s No. 1 starter.

“That’s one thing that really concerns me,” Rodriguez said of Sanchez’s innings total. “He’s already been overworked and I don’t want him to feel like he’s the guy that needs to throw 120 pitches. I don’t want him to feel that way. I’m not going to allow that.”

“I don’t want him to feel like he has to go out there and shut everybody down. I would like to see that, but I don’t want him to feel that way.”

Following Saturday’s start, the Marlins right-hander acknowledged the danger of tossing so many innings, but maintained that wasn’t straining his shoulder to compensate for Johnson and Nolasco’s absence.

“I feel good,” Sanchez said. “I’m still OK. I know I don’t want to keep losing. I just want to start winning and be more consistent. But the most important thing is I’m OK and my arm is OK and I feel good.”

“Even if those guys were still here, I just want to do the same – try to win, try to help the team, try to do the best I can on the mound. I don’t feel any pressure.”

***Hanley Ramirez is out for the third consecutive game with a sore elbow

-Didier Morais

September 18, 2010

Ramirez out of Saturday's lineup; injury update

 

            For the second consecutive game, shortstop Hanley Ramirez was out of the Marlins lineup.

The All-Star shortstop continues to feel discomfort in his left elbow – an injury that initially caused him to miss Friday’s 2-0 loss against the Cubs – and may be available to pinch-run Saturday, but won't start.

“It’s day-to-day,” Ramirez said while icing his elbow. “I want to play. I’ve been playing through the pain the last two months and we just decided to give it a little bit of rest and see if it gets better.”

Prior to Saturday’s game, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez told reporters that Ramirez underwent an MRI on his elbow Wednesday that revealed inflammation in the area.

After receiving the results, Rodriguez planned to give his slugger Wednesday night off. But Ramirez insisted that he wanted play through the pain and finished with a 1-for-5 performance.

Ramirez reiterated his desire to play to Rodriguez Friday in a private meeting. But the manager overruled his star, deeming that his playing mindset was solely predicated on addressing the public’s perception that his injury is exaggerated.

“That’s one thing that he’s concerned,” Rodriguez said of Ramirez’ public perception. “He hasn’t said so, but I know. You can sense that. He’s really hurting, but because he’s concerned with what the perception is, he may want to play, but I’m not going to let him play.”

Ramirez, however, assures he isn’t the least bit concerned about the public’s perception of his toughness.

 “It’s OK,” Ramirez said. “People are always going talk, but the MRI is there and it’s going to show everything.”

-Didier Morais

September 17, 2010

Hanley Ramirez out for the game with sore elbow

Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez will not be in today's lineup against the game. Earlier today, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez told reporters that Ramirez has a sore left elbow and decided to keep him out of the lineup as a precautionary measure.

Rodriguez said Ramirez has been feeling discomfort for "about 10 days" but opted to play through the pain without telling anyone. The Marlins shortstop eventually notified the team's trainer before Wednesday's 10-5 loss.

And after watching Ramirez finish 1-for-5 for the night, Rodriguez noticed some differences in his stance that prompted him to make today's decision.

“Every time that he would stand in his swing, he said he couldn’t check swing," Rodriguez said. "He said ‘Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t check swing because of the extension.’ So it was affecting his starting of the swing and the finishing of the swing. I don’t want to throw him in there in this condition.”

-Didier Morais

September 15, 2010

Hensley settling into closer's role

        Hey everyone, this is Didier Morais filling in for Manny. Here are a few tidbits going into tonight's Marlins-Phillies game.

            Clay Hensley knows he doesn’t look that part of Major League closer. Aside from his atypical 5-foot-11 height, the Marlins pitcher doesn’t deliver flamethrowing pitches, opting instead to terrorize batters with breaking ball.

But the unconventional formula is working for Hensley. Since inheriting the closing job from Leo Nunez on Sept. 4, the righty has subdued opposing hitters, going 3-for-3 in save opportunities.

And that’s why Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez relishes the opportunity to go against the grain.

“We have the mentality now that [a closer] has to have 95 plus to be a closer, but I’ve never bought into that,” Rodriguez said. “We have seen so many guys close in games and they don’t 90 plus, but they know how to pitch. They locate it and throw strikes and maybe Hensley is one of them. The old fashioned way.”

And Hensley doesn’t mind getting by in that manner. Considering he came into spring training as an aspiring starter, he’s frequently proved his ability to make adjustments throughout the season.

But those duties may carry on even longer. Hensley, who is signed to a one-year contract, said he could envision himself as a long-term closer and plans to seek advice from Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman during next week’s series.

“I'm enjoying this role,” Hensley said. “I think it's something I'm able to do and be really good at instead of starting. That's something I'm going to look hard at over the off season, talk with Florida and see where they're at and put my input into it.”

--- After striking out four times in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss against the Phillies, outfielder Mike Stanton received the day off Wednesday and was replaced by Scott Cousins in the lineup.

But Rodriguez insists the decision to sit the 20-year-old rookie was to air on the side of caution. He simply didn’t want to disrupt his blossoming talent’s development – or confidence – with a tough outing against Roy Halladay after the four-strikeout performance.

“Like we’ve been saying all along we have to be very careful with Stanton,” Rodriguez said. “His mechanics sometimes get off and we have to be very careful when that happens, especially when you’re facing a pitcher like Halladay – that he will take advantage of anything.”

In six at-bats against the Phillies’ righty this season, Stanton has struggled, going 1-for-6 with a .167 batting average.

--- Although Cameron Maybin wasn’t in Wednesday’s lineup, the Marlins outfielder returned back to team after missing two games with a stomach virus and was available for pinch-hitting duties.

Prior to the game, he took swings in the batting cage, hoping to sweat the remnants of his virus. But he maintained the worst was behind him.

 “I’m feeling a little bit better and getting my energy back and my strength back,” Maybin said. “It’s coming back. The off day will be good for me tomorrow and I should be back to normal.”

September 14, 2010

Sinkbeil gets unexpected call-up from the Marlins

With the Triple A season wrapped up, the last thing right-handed reliever Brett Sinkbeil was expecting to get Monday was a big league call up from the Marlins.

Brett Sinkbeil But with the team looking to help a bullpen that will be overworked over the next 48 hours, Sinkbeil will likely make his major league debut tonight or Wednesday against the Phillies.

“I'm thrilled. I didn't even see it coming," said Sinkbeil, who was 3-3 with a 5.71 ERA in 58 appearances for the New Orleans Zephyrs, whose season ended Sept. 6. "I was sitting back home in Oklahoma when the phone rang yesterday. I was more than a little surprised."

With Chris Volstad and Alex Sanabia serving suspensions and starters Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco shelved for the season, manager Edwin Rodriguez said he's using a committee of relievers to pitch against Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay Wednesday.

Rodriguez is leaning toward starting Burke Badenhop if he is not used Tuesday. Jorge Sosa is another candidate, but Sosa pitched two innings on Monday. Rodriguez said he's hoping to get three innings out of Badenhop before piecing together the final six innings.

Rodriguez said Sinkbeil, whom he managed in New Orleans each of the last two seasons, could be a middle innings guy.

Sinkbeil throws 95, 96 mph and Rodriguez said he has a big-league slider and sinker. He was strictly a starter his first three years in the organization but was moved to the bullpen in May of 2009.

“He has a powerful arm but his problem has been throwing strikes on a consistent basis,” Rodriguez said. "Two or three nights out there, he's lights out. No chance. But then he comes out and he's all over the place. He's throwing across his body again. It might be his body. It might be his glove, when he pulls to the side his whole body will follow his glove. That's his main problem."

Sinkbeil, 25, was the team’s top pick in 2006, taken 19th overall and ahead of 2009 Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan. So far, he's just another talented pitcher in a long line of first round picks that hasn't exactly panned out for the organization. But Rodriguez thinks being a reliever might be the perfect spot for Sinkbeil.

"He doesn't have that third pitch to be in the rotation as a starter," Rodriguez said. "Going to the pen he can go out there and throw two innings and go all out. I think he's more confident doing that with those two pitches."

Sinkbeil said he's liked the move to the 'pen. "I like having the chance to be involved in a lot more games,” Sinkbeil said. “You don’t have as much down time. You are always staying busy. It gives you a chance to be a part of the game everyday.”

> With the Marlins longshots to make the postseason, most Marlins fans would probably be happy to see the team finish at least .500. That's not good enough though for Rodriguez.

"People talk about .500. I don't know if I should say this, but .500 for me is not a good season, for any club. You should be striving to finish 10 games over .500, something like that," Rodriguez said. "I think it means a lot of positive things for a lot of people because you say it's not a losing season. But my opinion, with the talent we have here, finishing .500, I wouldn't call that a good season. I would say 85, 87 wins would be an OK season. This team has the talent to win 90 games on a consistent basis."

> Center fielder Cameron Maybin missed his second consecutive game Tuesday as he continues to battle a stomach virus. "He came in saw Sean Cunningham and we sent him the doctor," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully, it's a 24-hour thing."

Rodriguez said he doesn't think Maybin will be in Wednesday's lineup either and would use him as a pinch hitter if he were available.

September 13, 2010

Uggla sets MLB record with four 30 HR seasons

SUN LIFE STADIUM -- Dan Uggla became the first second baseman in MLB history to have four seasons with 30 home runs Monday night when he crushed an eighth-inning, two-run shot in the Phillies' 11-4 win over the Marlins.

He also became the first Marlins player regardless of position to have four 30-homer seasons. 

"“It was wearing on me a little bit," Uggla said of the pressure to make history. "When you’re one away like that your body and your mind tend to take over and you try to do too much and that’s what I’ve been doing the last week and a half – trying to make it happen rather than just letting it happen. It just so happened that once I got to two strikes, I forgot about it and just reacted to it. That’s when good things happen in this game – when you let your ability take over and you just react.”

Marlins President David Samson chased down the fan who retrieved the ball in the teal seats in left centerfield behind the Cafe Bustelo sign. "David took care of that for me," Uggla said. "He followed it all the way and went to the guy and figured out what it was going to take. I had to just sign a ball pretty much with a little inscription on it and he was happy to give it to me.”

Now the question is will the Marlins give Uggla the big pay day he deserves. The home run not only made history, but matched Uggla's career-high for RBI with 92. With the Marlins hoping to sign Ricky Nolasco, did Uggla just make himself too expensive for the Fish? We'll see.