« January 2011 | Main | March 2011 »

21 posts from February 2011

February 20, 2011

Sean West Trying To Make It Back

       It's been one minor setback after another for lefty Sean West, who is trying to return to prominence with the Marlins. Two things need to occur for that to happen, though. West needs to show he's healthy after missing a chunk of last season with knee and elbow issues. And an opening needs to develop in a starting rotation that is firm at the moment.West

       "It's been pretty frustrating," West said. "But that stuff's in the past and I'm really looking forward to the future and making an impact in the big leagues. I'm 100 percent healthy. They've got me going bullpens every three days instead of every two days right now. But I've thrown a few and felt better than ever."

       After making 20 starts for the Marlins in 2009 and going 8-6 with a 4.79 ERA, West was limited to only 13 starts last season -- two with the Marlins and 11 at Triple A New Orleans -- due to injuries. And when he experienced elbow discomfort during the Arizona Fall League, the Marlins shut him down.

       "It wasn't really the time and place to push it and see if I could pitch through it," West said. "But this this is a huge camp. Obviously, they went out this offseason and made some really key signs (most notably, Javier Vazquez). This team is going to be extremely competitive this year, and I would love to be a part of it. I'm just telling myself to do what I can do, and not worry about what's on paper. If I show that I'm ready, I'm sure they'll make room."

       The Marlins don't have a lefty in their rotation, and West stands as the best available southpaw.   

February 19, 2011

Rodriguez Not Sure On His Leadoff Hitter

     Manager Edwin Rodriguez said he isn't sure whether he'll go with Chris Coghlan or Omar Infante as his leadoff hitter. He said he could wind up using the two players in both the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

      "Either one could be leading or he could be a two-hole hitter," Rodriguez said. "I always like a two-hole hitter being a left-hander, because you can (advance a runner on a ball hit to the right side of the infield). But it could be either way.

      This much is certain: with Coghlan coming back from a knee injury, Rodriguez said he would go "very easy" on the player the first two or three weeks of spring training. During that time, Rodriguez said Infante would lead off.

Nolasco: Thumb Injury "Not Serious"

      Ricky Nolasco remains on no-throw status as he waits for the swelling to subside in his jammed right thumb. Nolasco said he suffered the injury about a week in Miami when he was working out and fell on his hand.

      "It's nothing serious," Nolasco said, adding he hopes to get back on the mound sometime next week. "X-rays were negative. But I've just got to let it calm down. There's not much I can do about it right now."

      Nolasco said he doesn't think the injury will set him back greatly, and that he should be ready to go as the Marlins" No. 2 starter when they face the Mets on April 2.

       "It's not going to take forever to build it back up," he said. "It doesn't take me long (to build up arm strength) anyways, and I've been throwing since Dec. 1. Once I'm able to just go ahead and let it go, it's not going to take forever to build it back up."

       Though Nolasco isn't throwing, he's taking part in all other conditioning drills.

February 18, 2011

Nunez adds cutter/slider; Nolasco rests (thumb)

Marlins catcher John Buck was happy to get to work Friday with his new pitching staff. On his first day, he caught ace Josh Johnson, fellow new arrival Javi Vazquez and closer Leo Nunez.

Ricky Nolasco One guy Buck won't be able to catch for at least a week is Ricky Nolasco, who signed a three-year, $26.5 million contract in December. The reason? A sore thumb according to manager Edwin Rodriguez."

"He's 100 percent. His knee is 100 percent. It's just his thumb. He said he's fine, but there's no sense taking the chance with him," Rodriguez said. "The doctor said there was no concern.

"I think he was working, going back and forth and doing his conditioning before he got here [when he was hurt]. I think he slid or something. We'll wait one more week and see. I don't think it's a concern."

Nolasco was unavailable for comment.

As for the other pitchers and catchers who got to work Friday, Buck said he thought Johnson, Vazquez and Nunez all looked very good.

Nunez, who signed a $3.65 million deal in January, impressed Rodriguez and Buck with a new pitch -- a slider/cutter. Nunez said he used the pitch "maybe two or three times" last season, but plans on using it a lot more after spending all winter perfecting it.

"It was the best sliders I ever caught from him," said Buck, who spent four seasons with Nunez in Kansas City. "He didn't have that type of slider in Kansas City ever. It was a non-existant pitch. The slider he was throwing today were definitely competitive. It just adds one more pitch to the repertoire. I think it will definitely be effective."

Nunez, who lost his closer's role to Clay Hensley in September of last season, said he's gained five pounds of muscle in the offseason. Rodriguez said on Monday Nunez will begin the season as the team's closer. Nunez said he thinks the addition of the slider will help him keep that job moving forward.

"I'm hoping I can get it to the point where I can use it a lot," Nunez said. "It's not 100 percent. But it's strong."

Upon first impression, Rodriguez agrees: "You can tell the difference. He's not jumping on the mound. He's got a nice and easy delivery. His arm action is down. He calls it a slider. I call it more of a cutter. It was very hard, down below the arm. I like what I saw in Leo.

"He needs that -- that pitch is going to make the other pitches better and it's going to have the hitter thinking both sides of the plate, in and out, instead of everything going middle away."

February 16, 2011

Catching up with the Marlins' John Buck

Since signing a three-year, $18 million deal in November, John Buck has spent a lot of time collecting sky miles with the Marlins. The 30-year old veteran catcher went on the recent team-sponsored tour of overseas military bases and visited places like Germany and Bahrain.

John Buck "Life changing trip," Buck said of his venture overseas. "I got to do somethings I never would have imagined doing." 

Friday when camp opens, Buck will get to start doing the things the Marlins imagined when they signed him in November -- working behind the plate with their pitching staff. The 6-3, 230-pound former seventh round pick from Kemmerer, Wyoming (the only active MLB player from Wyoming) can't wait to get started. Coming off his first and only All-Star season in Toronto in which he hit a career high .281 with 20 homers and 66 RBI, Buck said a big reason he signed with the Marlins is because of the potential he sees for winning championships.

"Before I even knew I was going to be a Marlin or had the opportunity, this was always a team that when the Marlins came up in conversation you would talk about the three guys they had up front -- Josh [Johnson], Ricky [Nolasco] and Anibal [Sanchez] -- and how good they are," Buck said Monday during the Marlins media luncheon. "Now, you get here, see the depth, the young guys like [Chris] Volstad and you see how good they are and say 'Man how good could those guys be?' It's something that could be very special. And that's the exact reason I signed here, to be a part of something very special.

"Everything is brand new. Nobody knows how good this team can be, what the young nucleus can do now that they have experience. You start to grow, start to gain experience and you start to get better. This organization has had success with teams like that before. The ceiling is very high for my expectations."

Buck is the first All-Star catcher the Marlins have signed through free agency since they inked Pudge Rodriguez in his prime to a one-year, $10 million deal in 2003. Rodriguez was 31 that season and helped lead the Marlins to the World Series crown.

Of course, Pudge came to the Marlins with a few more All-Star appearances than Buck, who is a career .243 hitter that had never driven in more than 50 or hit higher than .247 until last season. But offense isn't what Buck is concerning himself with. It's learning the tendency of NL hitters. Before playing in Toronto last season, Buck spent six seasons with the Royals. Prior to that, he was acquired from Houston in a three-team trade for Carlos Beltran.

"I've faced all the teams in a course of seven, eight years, played against a lot of people," Buck said. "Obviously I don't know the hitters as well as I knew them in the American League. But I don't have any doubt I'll know them once I get through the full first swing in the league, especially our division after watching film all winter long. My past experience with hitters helps me shorten the gap without being familiar with certain guys. It's not something I'm too worried about."

Defensively, Buck only made five errors in 778 chances last season and had a .994 fielding percentage in 993 innings behind the plate (10th most in baseball). Only Joe Mauer had fewer errors in more innings. Although Buck rarely makes mistakes behind the plate, he isn't among the league's elite at throwing out would-be base steals. He threw out 18 of 47 would be base-stealers last season -- a 28 percent clip. That ranks 15th among the 25 catchers who were behind the plate at least 700 innings last season, a shade lower than Ronny Paulino, who threw out 31 percent of would base-stealers last season for the Marlins.

Of course, Buck might not be here if Paulino wouldn't have been suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug last September. John Baker, who once shared the job with Paulino, is still recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and will try to make the team as a left-handed bat off the bench. Baker hit as a DH during spring training and will remain on a throwing program. The Marlins are hoping he can return to catching by May.

As for Buck, manager Edwin Rodriguez said he's already looking toward him for leadership on a relatively young team -- especially with Cody Ross and Dan Uggla gone.

"It seems like that stuff always falls on catchers anyway with the stuff we do during the game," Buck said. "I don't think it's something I've ever consciously thought about. Just being myself and giving whatever I have to the team, hopefully that will be enough for me to be a leader. Whether I was here or not, people should know there is some leadership on this team already."

Buck said one of those leaders is shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the only Marlins player Buck has actually played with before.

"I played with Hanley when we were young, 19, 20, 21 dow in the Dominican for winter ball," Buck said. "We were teammates for [Tigres de] Licey [in Santo Domingo]. He wasn't playing everyday. But you could see how good he was going to be then. You could see someone special in the making was being created that's for sure. I'm excited we're going to be on the same team again."

February 15, 2011

Marlins take BP, feed workers at new ballpark

It was a fun morning out at the new Marlins ballpark on Tuesday.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson helped install the first seat about 10 rows behind the third base dugout. The official location: Section 19, Row H, Seat 12. The seat, which is red, will be the only red seat in the stadium when it is expected to open for play on March 1, 2012. The rest of the seats will be blue.

Samson said the first games that will be played at the stadium next spring are college and pro exhibitions. Personally, it would only be fitting if the University of Miami played the Marlins in the first official game seeing as its the site where the Orange Bowl once stood.

Loria said the stadium was about 60 percent completed on Tuesday and expected it to be ready in time for Opening Day.

As for the rest of Tuesday's event, six players were on hand for batting practice: Hanley Ramirez, Chris Coghlan, Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton, John Buck and Gaby Sanchez. Ramirez took the first cuts and belted a couple that would have been home runs. Morrison belted a few into the upper deck in right and Stanton literally hit one out of the stadium entirely. The best part: watching stadium workers played the role of outfielders and shagging fly balls. Some workers were diving in the dirt to make catches.

After BP ended, the Marlins took a tour of their future clubhouse and then fed a group of about 700 stadium workers lunch. On the menu: lechon (shredded pork), black beans and rice and yuca.

Here are a few videos that captured the scene:

- Watch Samson and Loria install the seat and sit in it.

- Scenes from batting practice and interviews with players

- A tour of the stadium and a view from the press box:

February 08, 2011

Marlins Overseas Trip -- Day 3 -- Logan Morrison Plays Marine


For the second straight year, a Marlins contingent has traveled overseas to visit U.S. troops. They've agreed to share their experiences in periodic blog updates over the coming eight days of the trip to Germany and Southwest Asia. Follow along as we bring you their updates. Reporting today: Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison.


    Got sleep? Sorry guys. The schedule picked up and started Day 2 of the trip with a 0530 lobby call time. The day started early with the Marlins at 0600 for a physical training session with the Marines of FAST Company. Staff Sergeant Hensley conducted a "LZ Drill," incorporating elements of the Marine Corps Martial Arts program. It was pretty tough -- bear crawls, baby walks, burpees, push kicks, among other things. All of us made it except the Team President (David Samson). He took one for the team and bruised a rib while holding the hip pad during the Marines' group practice. I don't know another Team President that would be keeping up with us. We got right back at it after a quick shower and breakfast. We visited a unit that is responsible for coordinating support in the Middle East. The Mermaids performed for the Marines and their faces lit up watching the dance session. Then all eyes were on me as Sgt. Reed gave me a "high and right" with about 100 Marines looking on, but I kept the goatee. They all really enjoyed making fun of my new look, especially my ears. If they could flap, I could fly away. The Marines really left an impression on me, especially on having discipline and what it takes to be a team. After that, we got a chance to see the patrol boats that guard our ships coming into port. There are two sailors out on the water, a gunner and a coxswain. The sailors are out there no matter what the conditions for eight hours at a time. It sounded pretty monotonous to me, but they did not seem to mind at all. The Mermaids opted to go to the front of the boat on the way out, not quite realizing how choppy the waters were. The gunner told them they would not get that wet. Five minutes into the boat ride, we stopped and the Mermaids became actual mermaids! They were troopers, though, and did not complain about staying out on the water so everyone could finish the rest of the simulated patrol. We got a chance to do a little shopping and I got my new carry-on for the season -- a camouflage Camelbak. My new hobby is collecting patches and other stuff from the service members I have met on the trip. I gave away my batting practice jersey and t-shirts at the autograph session to one of my Twitter followers who follows the Jacksonville Suns. He gave me a patch. @TravisAkers on Twitter. Then it was time for a break in preparation for watching the Super Bowl on 0230 on Monday. I got an hour of sleep, so at that point I had three hours of sleep in four days. We went to "Schwarma Alley" for a special edition with Lunch with LoMo and had a traditional Middle Eastern sandwich. I had three and the group total was 25. We headed back for Super Bowl Monday. It was a great game on a huge, big-screen with some sailors that were getting the chance to enjoy themselves after 58 days at sea. Right after the game, with no sleep, we headed straight to the airport to head to our next location. I got a 20-minute nap on the plane. Then we headed to two different bases to meet service members. The highlight of the visit was getting the chance to sign a 2,000-lb. bomb on a B-1 that we also saw take off for a flight in support of our troops over in Afghanistan. My chest shook as we stood there watching the bomber take off into the night sky. Headed back to the airport and will talk with you again when we get to Germany.

                                   -- Logan Morrison


February 06, 2011

Marlins Watching Super Bowl in....Bahrain

       Of all places to watch the Super Bowl -- the nation of Bahrain. That's where a contingent of Marlins are watching it, anyhow. The group is on its overseas trip to visit US troops. How many Marlins can you identify in this photo? Is that Jeff Conine, Mr. Marlin, in the back row?


February 05, 2011

Marlins Overseas Trip -- Day 2

      For the second straight year, a Marlins contingent has traveled overseas to visit U.S. troops. They've agreed to share their experiences in periodic blog updates over the coming eight days of the trip to Germany and Southwest Asia. Follow along as we bring you their updates. Reporting today: Marlins president David Samson:

    It is 10:05 p.m. and we are all going to sleep becuase tomorrow at 5:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m. Saturday night), we are all working out with the U.S. Marines. Logan (Morrison), John (Buck), Jeff and I are competing to see who can keep up with the physical activity that awaits us. The Marines will not tell us what is in store, but I will let you know after we are done. In the meantime, our day today started with breakfast with the troops inside a secure Army base in Bahrain. Andre (Dawson) had a milkshake while Logan and I shared a dozen eggs. We then drove to another base, where we passed nothing but desert on the way to meet and greet at a secure station inside Bahrain. We were shown Patriot missiles, all of which are aimed in the same direction! We visited with troops as they told us stories of what they do every day monitoring situations in the Middle East. We were struck by the seriousness of war as we drove by the Persian Gulf throughout the day. Lunch was spent with a different battalion, and I shared a meal with a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Air Force. While she was a fan of the Boston Red Sox, she wondered whether we would miss Hanley Ramirez if he were to change uniforms. After telling her that he is, and will be, a Marlin, she stood down. Eating lunch in the Mess Hall was fascinating, due in part to the food, but mostly because of the company. We were able to see the living quarters on the Isa Air Base, which made us even more thankful for how lucky we are to be at home each night with our families. We were able to do a clinic with over 100 children of members of military and ex-Pats. The dads had just as much fun as the children...autographs were signed, photos were taken, and everyone had a great time. On the way back to our living quarters (hotel), we saw the Tree of Life. In the movie L.A. Story, Steve Martin describes the three most mystical places on earth. one of the three is the Tree of Life, which is located in the desert outside Bahrain. To have the opportunity to actually see the Tree was beyond description. In a desert with nothing but sand, there is one tree that stands high nad has been around for more than 400 years. Legend says this tree, which has no business growing in the desert, marks the location of the Garden of Eden. In any case, we ended the day back at the hotel and just finished dinner. I will keep everyone updated after the Marine workout. 

Andre Dawson, David Samson and Logan Morrison at the Tree of Life -- Bahrain

February 04, 2011

Marlins Overseas Trip -- Day 1 (Bahrain)

      For the second straight year, a Marlins contingent has traveled overseas to visit US troops. They've agreed to share their experiences in periodic blog updates over the coming eight days of the trip to Germany and Southwest Asia. Follow along as we bring you their updates. First up: Marlins president David Samson.

      Night 1 -- We have arrived! Our day began at 11 a.m. at Miami International Airport. Our gropu of eleven includes me, Andre Dawson, Jeff Conine, John Buck, Logan Morrison, Sean Flynn, Boris Menier, (3) members of the Mermaid Dance Team -- Kim, Ashley and Naty -- and John Sulser from Fox Sports. We checked our bags and had to pay excess baggage fees because Andre and Kim over-packed. It was a good thing Kim over-packed because Naty's bag did not make it overseas. After check-in, we had our final meal in America in Miami and boarded a plane to Dulles in Washington, D.C. That flight was only 2 1/2 hours. We then got on a 12-hour flight and landed at 4:30 p.m. (local time, 8:30 a.m. this morning), finally arriving in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Before we go there, the plane stopped in Kuwait, where we all had a chance to see the Kuwait Airport during our two-hour layover. We were able to buy some goodies, including Kit Kats, Gummy Bears and, of course, key chains and snow globes (for my daughter, Hannah, who collects them). It was smooth sailing until we got to Bahrain when John's fancy camera (he is filming the entire trip) was not allowed through Customs and Naty's bag got lost. She was very upset until she realized she would be able to go shopping in Bahrain, but then became upset again when she ralized there is no Prada in this Kingdom. We arrived at the hotel and immediately went to work out in the gym. We are all ready for Spring Training, and eveyrone in the gym was staring at Logan and wondering how a professional athlete could be huffing and puffing so much! We just finished dinner and are going to bed because our first Troop visit is at 8 a.m. (midnight Miami time). Lt. Mark Miner and his lovely wife had dinner with us, and told us that the soldiers are incredibly excited to see us tomorrow. He started dinner as a Red Sox fan, but his favorite team is clearly the Marlins. We are all glad to finally be here and are looking forward to tomorrow when we will able to visit Troops. We also plan to play baseball with them. Tensions are high here because of what's going on in Egypt, but we are all very safe in the hands of Armed Forces Entertainment (and it doesn't hurt that their hips are bulging). Speak to you tomorrow. -- David Samson

Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison sleeping on the long overseas flight.