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44 posts from September 2010

September 13, 2010

Back, shoulder pain end Josh Johnson's season

At the end of July, Josh Johnson was arguably the best pitcher in the National League and in serious contention for his first Cy Young award. On Monday, he became just another ailing Marlins player shut down for what's left of the season. 

Josh Johnson The two-time All-Star, who had been battling a strained muscle near the middle of his back since August and was scratched from a start last Friday after he began to feel pain in his shoulder during a bullpen session, said it was "just the smart thing to do."

"You have to be smart [with] things like this," said Johnson, who was 10-3 with a 1.72 ERA at the end of July. "I told them 'if something else starts hurting, if something else comes from my back, then I'm going to shut it down. I'll let you guys know.' They said 'OK.' Everything felt good until the last start.

"We did treatment for it. We did all the right stuff to get it right. The shoulder is actually getting a lot better. It's probably two or three days away from throwing, I'd say. But the back -- if the back's not 100 percent, then the shoulder is going to go right back [to feeling bad]."

Johnson said he first felt discomfort in his back "early in the year" before it went away and returned during an Aug. 7 start against the Cardinals. Over his final six starts, including that one in St. Louis, Johnson went 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA. He finishes the season 11-6 with a career-best 2.30 ERA and 186 strikeouts over 183 2/3 innings.

"I'm not one to make excuses -- you know that," Johnson said of his late season struggles. "Every now and then you could tell things were a little ragged, a little off. I was just trying to protect my back or subconsciously think of my back."

Monday was the first time in two months he actually woke up and didn't have pain. But with the Marlins eight games behind the Braves in the wild-card race and nine games back of the visiting Phillies in the division with 20 games remaining, nobody on either side figured it was smart to keep running him out on the mound.

"He was getting a little bit better, but he was very far from being 100 percent," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "Next year, this team is going to be very competitive and JJ has to be a big part of that. That was part of the decision and a factor in our decision.”

The Marlins of course also want to protect their investment. They gave Johnson, who is 33-12 with a 2.94 ERA since returning from reconstructive elbow surgery in July 2008, a $39 million, four-year contract in January. He's due to make $7.75 million in 2011 then $13.75 million in 2012 when the Marlins open their new ballpark, and again in 2013.

Johnson said the plan now is to try and have him come back and "throw" during the final week of the regular season. As for his season, Johnson didn't want to talk about what could have been. The Marlins' bullpen blew six starts in which Johnson handed them the lead this season.

"Even though he’s going to be shut down for the rest of the season, he still had a great year," Rodriguez said. "I think he was the best in the first half of the year. Although Ubaldo Jimenez got more wins, JJ was the best one first part of the season.”

> With Johnson done for the season and Chris Volstad and Alex Sanabia serving suspensions this week in the aftermath of the Nyjer Morgan fiasco, the Marlins are short on starting pitching. 

Rodriguez said the plan is to try and hold either Jorge Sosa or Burke Badenhop from pitching over the next two days so they can start Wednesday in Johnson's place. Badenhop, who started for the Marlins twice last season, is 2-3 with a 6.95 ERA in 10 career starts. Sosa is 27-39 with a 4.55 ERA in 88 career starts. Sosa. But he hasn't started a major league game since he pitched for the Mets on July 27, 2007.

> Center fielder Cameron Maybin was scratched from Monday's start with flu like symptoms and was replaced by Emilio Bonifacio. 

September 12, 2010

Chris Volstad On the Cusp of History, Marlins Style

 

           All eyes will be on Chris Volstad this afternoon when he returns to the mound to face the Nationals for the first time since he slammed down his glove and dared Nyjer Morgan to take his best shot. That was 11 days ago in South Florida, when all heck broke loose.

            But there's a subplot to Volstad vs. Washington, and that is this: If Volstad earns the "W" today, he'll become the first pitcher in Marlins history to record five wins against an opponent in one season.

           You heard right. Volstad, who has faced the Nats four times so far this season and emerged with victories in all four, could be the Marlins' first 5-game winner against one team. Josh Beckett never did it. A.J. Burnett never did it. Kevin Brown never did it. Dontrelle Willis never did it. Livan Hernandez never did it. Alex Fernandez never did it. Heck, it's hard enough just facing the same opponent five times, much less winning each of them. The stars have to line up just right for it to happen.

            According to reserach by Matt Roebuck, the Marlins' media relations guru, Volstad is only the third pitcher to win as many as four games. Brad Penny went 4-0 against the Expos in 2001 and Ryan Dempster was 4-1 against the Mets that same season.

           The amazing thing is that Volstad hasn't exactly dominated the Nationals. He lasted five innings -- the bare minimum for a starter to qualify for a victory -- in defeating the Nationals the last two times he faced them. In those two outings, Volstad was aided by gobs of run support, as he gave up four runs on eight hits to them in the Marlins' 9-5 triumph on Aug. 11 and six runs on nine hits in the brawl-marred Sept. 1 outing that the Marlins won 16-10. Overall, Volstad's 4.50 ERA against the Nationals this season is nothing to write home about.

            Still, I'm sure Volstad is more interested in the bottom line than any of the other numbers. After all, take away the Nationals, and Volstad is sitting on a 5-9 record. Not so hot.

           But a W is a W is a W is a W is a W, at least the way Volstad hopes to be counting them after today.        

September 11, 2010

The Latest on J.J. and More

 

             WASHINGTON -- Rather quiet morning here at Nationals Park. I see that Nationals manager Jim Riggleman has taken Nyjer Morgan out of the eighth spot and has him batting seventh. We'll see if Morgan comes up with a new way to insult the Marlins.

             Here's the latest in the continuing saga of Josh Johnson: he didn't throw off the mound to test his back and shoulder this morning, and manager Edwin Rodriguez said if he doesn't do so by Sunday, he probably won't be able to start on Wednesday, which is the tentative plan.

             "His back is kind of too tight," Rodriguez said. "If he's not 100 percent, we're not going to throw him out there."

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

              Rodriguez said the Marlins' front office has told him "they like what they've seen so far" from him as manager, but have not given him any indication whether or not he'll be brought back next season.

              "I would have to think, yes, they would take me into consideration next year," Rodriguez said. "But they have given me no indication what's going to happen next year and, to be honest, I like it that way. I'd like to concentrate on what I'm trying to do here."

            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

            The Marlins have used 52 different players this season -- a team record.

            -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

            LINEUPS:

            Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Chad Tracy, 1b; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Cameron Maybin, cf; 8. Brad Davis, c; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.

            Nationals: 1. Danny Espinosa, 2b; 2. Ian Desmond, ss; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b; 5. Roger Bernadina, lf; 6. Michael Morse, rf; 7. Nyjer Morgan, cf; 8. Wilson Ramos, c; 9. Jason Marquis, p.                               

Hensley to Hoffman: Only 599 To Go

 

           After recording his first big-league save on Friday, Clay Hensley figured it was time to get in touch with his old pal from their Padres days, Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman saved his 600th -- the all-time record -- a couple of days ago.

           "I'm going to shoot him a text and tell him I've got 599 to go," Hensley said.

           Hensley showed no emotion when Adam Kennedy's ground out in the ninth ended the game. There were no finger-pointing, fist-pumping theatrics like those favored by some closers. Hensley said he'd be berated by Hoffman had he done something like that.

            "Hoffy would call me and set me straight," Hensley said.

            _____________________________________________________________________________

            Good news for those who didn't care for Andrew Miller's mustache. It's gone.

            "It was time to go," Miller said.

            Miller said he shaved it off on Thursday, one day after getting lit up in Philly.

            "It obviously didn't help," he said.

            _____________________________________________________________________________

September 10, 2010

Brad Davis Sticks It To Nyjer Morgan

 

         Marlins catcher Brad Davis hit his second major league home run on Friday, but he was much more enthused about throwing out Nationals hothead Nyjer Morgan, Against all baseball sense, Morgan attempted to steal with two outs in the second, his team trailing 2-0, and the pitcher at the plate. But this is Nyjer Morgan we're talking about, and using your head and playing by baseball's unwritten rules don't seem to apply to him.

              "It was the wrong time to steal and he did it (to) spite us," Davis said. "With all that happened, I think he kind of wants to put it to us a little bit. It was the wrong situation. But it was the wrong situation for him to run after we hit him that (last) time. But he's not really playing by those rules."

              It was Morgan who started the bench-clearing brawl in South Florida on Sept. 1 after Chris Volstad took exception to his base running antics earlier in that game and threw a pitch behind his back his next time up at the plate. With his team trailing 14-3 in that game, Morgan stole second and third  before tagging and scoring -- thumping his chest in the process.

              That infuriated the Marlins, enough so that Volstad sent him a message that Morgan didn't care for. Davis figured Morgan would be going on Friday, even when the situation didn't call for it. And off Morgan went on Alex Sanabia's first pitch to Nationals pitcher John Lannan. Davis' throw beat Morgan by a hair.

               Said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman: "That's his game (running). I can't tell him to bat eighth but don't run. That's Nyjer. I can't take that away from him."

               Morgan had his appeal heard Friday for two separate suspensions, including his eight-game sentence stemming from the melee with the Marlins. But baseball discipline czar Bob Watson, who was on hand for Friday's re-match, said a decision likely won't be rendered until early next week. That means Morgan could remain in the lineup through the weekend series, and continue to play by his own rules. Just a hunch, but I would wager that his Nationals teammates are just as tired of his act as the Marlins are, and probably weren't too terribly disappointed to see him being thrown out in that situation.

Gaby Sanchez To Begin Suspension Tonight; Josh Johnson Speaks

 

         WASHINGTON -- Nyjer Morgan is in the Nationals lineup. Gaby Sanchez is out for the Marlins.

         While Sanchez has decided to drop his appeal of a three-game suspension stemming from the Sept. 1 brawl with the Nationals, Morgan is fighting on. Morgan's appeals (yes, plural) were heard Friday morning but no decision has been made, apparently. Morgan received an eight-game suspension for his involvement in the Nationals/Marlins brawl and a seven-game suspension for a previous transgression.

          "I'm just going to take the three game, just get it over with, and not worry about when it's going to be," Sanchez said.

         Sanchez said that, in speaking with his agent, his suspension would either be removed or reduced. And, after meeting with manager Edwin Rodriguez, it was decided they would prefer to have Sanchez available for the upcoming Phillies series when the Marlins return home than against the lowly Nationals. So Sanchez will miss the entire weekend series against Washington.

         ______________________________________________________________________________

         Josh Johnson continues to hold out hope he can pitch again this season but said he won't take any chances.

         "Only time will tell," said Johnson, who was diagnosed with a mid-back strain and inflammation in his throwing shoulder. "It's something that we're taking very cautiously and being smart about. Obviously I want to be out there. But I want to make sure things calm down. So it's a waiting game from here."

         Johnson said he has experienced back pain off and on this season.

         "The last month or month and a half it's been there and just had to deal with it," Johnson said. "It was a little bit more difficult to repeat my delivery, but I felt fine."

         Johnson could try to throw off a bullpen mound Saturday or Sunday.

         ________________________________________________________________________________

         LINEUPS:

         Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Wes Helms, 1b: 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Cameron Maybin, cf; 8. Brad Davis, c; 9. Alex Sanabia, p.

         Nationals: 1. Danny Espinosa, 2b; 2. Ian Desmond, ss; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b; 5. Roger Bernadina, lf; 6. Michael Morse, rf; 7. Ivan Rodriguez, c; 8. Nyjer Morgan, cf; 9. John Lannan, p.        

Gaby Sanchez To Begin Suspension Tonight; Josh Johnson Speaks

 

         WASHINGTON -- Nyger Morgan is in the Nationals lineup. Gaby Sanchez isn't.

         While Sanchez has decided to drop his appeal of a three-game suspension stemming from the Sept. 1 brawl with the Nationals, Morgan is fighting on. Morgan's appeals (yes, plural) were heard Friday morning but no decision has been made, apparently. Morgan received an eight-game suspension for his involvement in the Nationals/Marlins brawl and a seven-game suspension for a previous transgression.

          "I'm just going to take the three game, just get it over with, and not worry about when it's going to be," Sanchez said.

         Sanchez said that, in speaking with his agent, his suspension would either be removed or reduced. And, after meeting with manager Edwin Rodriguez, it was decided they would prefer to have Sanchez available for the upcoming Phillies series when the Marlins return home than against the lowly Nationals. So Sanchez will miss the entire weekend series against Washington.

         ______________________________________________________________________________

         Josh Johnson continues to hold out hope he can pitch again this season but said he won't take any chances.

         "Only time will tell," said Johnson, who was diagnosed with a mid-back strain and inflammation in his throwing shoulder. "It's something that we're taking very cautiously and being smart about. Obviously I want to be out there. But I want to make sure things calm down. So it's a waiting game from here."

         Johnson said he has experienced back pain off and on this season.

         "The last month or month and a half it's been there and just had to deal with it," Johnson said. "It was a little bit more difficult to repeat my delivery, but I felt fine."

         Johnson could try to throw off a bullpen mound Saturday or Sunday.

         ________________________________________________________________________________

         LINEUPS:

         Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Wes Helms, 1b: 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Cameron Maybin, cf; 8. Brad Davis, c; 9. Alex Sanabia, p.

         Nationals: 1. Danny Espinosa, 2b; 2. Ian Desmond, ss; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b; 5. Roger Bernadina, lf; 6. Michael Morse, rf; 7. Ivan Rodriguez, c; 8. Nyger Morgan, cf; 9. John Lannan, p.        

Gaby Sanchez To Begin Suspension Tonight; Josh Johnson Speaks

 

         WASHINGTON -- Nyger Morgan is in the Nationals lineup. Gaby Sanchez isn't.

         While Sanchez has decided to drop his appeal of a three-game suspension stemming from the Sept. 1 brawl with the Nationals, Morgan is fighting on. Morgan's appeals (yes, plural) were heard Friday morning but no decision has been made, apparently. Morgan received an eight-game suspension for his involvement in the Nationals/Marlins brawl and a seven-game suspension for a previous transgression.

          "I'm just going to take the three game, just get it over with, and not worry about when it's going to be," Sanchez said.

         Sanchez said that, in speaking with his agent, his suspension would either be removed or reduced. And, after meeting with manager Edwin Rodriguez, it was decided they would prefer to have Sanchez available for the upcoming Phillies series when the Marlins return home than against the lowly Nationals. So Sanchez will miss the entire weekend series against Washington.

         ______________________________________________________________________________

         Josh Johnson continues to hold out hope he can pitch again this season but said he won't take any chances.

         "Only time will tell," said Johnson, who was diagnosed with a mid-back strain and inflammation in his throwing shoulder. "It's something that we're taking very cautiously and being smart about. Obviously I want to be out there. But I want to make sure things calm down. So it's a waiting game from here."

         Johnson said he has experienced back pain off and on this season.

         "The last month or month and a half it's been there and just had to deal with it," Johnson said. "It was a little bit more difficult to repeat my delivery, but I felt fine."

         Johnson could try to throw off a bullpen mound Saturday or Sunday.

         ________________________________________________________________________________

         LINEUPS:

         Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Wes Helms, 1b: 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Cameron Maybin, cf; 8. Brad Davis, c; 9. Alex Sanabia, p.

         Nationals: 1. Danny Espinosa, 2b; 2. Ian Desmond, ss; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b; 5. Roger Bernadina, lf; 6. Michael Morse, rf; 7. Ivan Rodriguez, c; 8. Nyger Morgan, cf; 9. John Lannan, p.        

September 09, 2010

Angel Alerts -- Marlins Rookie Hazing (w/video)

 

         Credit veteran reliever Will Ohman for coming up with this year's rookie hazing gimmick. Ohman bought angel wings and halos for rookies Chris Leroux, Jay Buente and Jose Ceda. The three players are required to wear the outfits before each road game when they stroll out from the dugout to the bullpen. In Philadelphia, with the bullpens situated in center, that's one long hike.

         The beefy Ceda was the star attraction. Even the Phillie Phanatic mascot gave him a giant bear hug when he emerged from the Marlins dugout wearing the outfit.

         "He kind of stood out from all of us," Buente said.

         Video clips of the three Marlins angels are making the rounds. One showed up on ESPN. Check this one out.

         "I got phone calls from people saying 'Nice fairy wings,'" Buente said.

         Angels 
        The three players received a fair amount of heckling from Phillies fans. But they're not done yet. Fans in Washington, Milwaukee and Atlanta -- the Marlins' final three road stops -- will get their chance to make fun of them, too.

September 08, 2010

Josh Johnson Has Right Shoulder Inflammation and Mid-Back Strain

 

       (6:17 p.m.) The Marlins have announced that Josh Johnson has right shoulder inflammation and a mid-back strain, but that there is no structural damage. He will rejoin the club in Washingon on Friday, but no determination has been made about when his next start might be, or even if there will be another start this season.

         PHILADELPHIA -- No reports so far on what doctors found with Josh Johnson after he flew back to South Florida today, or even if they've completed their examination. But manager Edwin Rodriguez told reporters down in the dugout a moment ago that the Marlins will take no chances with their ace and will shut him down if they feel there's even a remote chance that he could compromise his future by pitching again this season.

         And for good reason. Johnson not only has three years remaining on his contract, but those three years will cost the Marlins $35.25 million. Johnson's four-year deal pays him $3.75 million this season, $7.75 million in 2011, $13.75 million in 2012, and $13.75 million in 2013. In other words, Johnson hasn't started earning the big dough.

         Under a best-case scenario, Rodriguez said Johnson would rejoin the rotation next Wednesday, at the earliest. That would mean he would make just four more starts the rest of the season. Is it worth risking three years for those, four largely inconsequential starts?

          "If there's any chance, any possibility, that he would get worse, we're going to shut him down," Rodriguez said. "You're asking me today, and I would say my opinion,  if there's any chance he's going to get worse -- just a little bit worse -- let's shut him down."

          Johnson is having both his back and throwing shoulder examined. Rodriguez said he has been aware of Johnson's back issues for a few weeks. He said he didn't learn that the shoulder was an issue until Tuesday.

         "We have to make sure that J.J. is okay, not only for the time being," Rodriguez said. "We have to make sure that his career is not in jeopardy. We have to make a decision on what is best for J.J."

        -- Ricky Nolasco underwent surgery on the torn meniscus on his right knee on Wednesday. The Marlins said the surgery went well and he could be good to go in four to six weeks -- just in time for the World Series!?

        -- The upcoming rotation will go like this: Alex Sanabia (Friday), Anibal Sanchez (Saturday), Chris Volstad (Sunday), Andrew Miller (Monday), Adalberto Mendez (Tuesday) and Johnson (Wednesday, but don't hold your breath). Rodriguez said Sanabia and Volstad would drop the appeals of their suspensions after their next starts. Sanabia received a five-game suspension for his part in the brawl with the Nationals. Volstad got six games. Gaby Sanchez, who received a three-game suspension, said he thinks his appeal will be heard on Saturday.

       -- Hanley Ramirez is not in tonight's lineup due to back stiffness that resulted from being hit by a pitch in the first game of Monday's doubleheader. Rodriguez said he could tell from Ramirez's swings on Wednesday that the bruise was bothering him.

       -- Rodriguez said he will stay away from Leo Nunez (stiff neck) and Jose Veras (flu-like symptoms) in tonight's game.

       LINEUPS:

       MARLINS: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 2. Logan Morrison, lf; 3. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Mike Stanton, rf; 6. Wes Helms, 3b; 7. Cameron Maybin, cf; 8. Brad Davis, c; 9. Andrew Miller, p.

       PHILLIES: 1. Shane Victorino, cf; 2. Placido Polanco, 3b; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Jayson Werth, rf; 6. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 7. Raul Ibanez, lf; 8. Carlos Ruiz, c; 9. Cole Hamels, p.