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38 posts from March 2011

March 06, 2011

Jorge Cantu Trade Update: Poveda Throws, Reed Watches (w/video)

    JUPITER -- Marlins minor leaguers are out on the back field taking on Team Italy in a "B" game. Of significant note to the Marlins: Omar Poveda, one of the two right-handers they received from the Rangers in last year's trade deadline deal for Jorge Cantu, pitched in his first game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last February.

    Poveda went two innings and gave up a run, but looked sharp otherwise, mixing in a wicked changeup to complement a high 80s fastball that should reach the low 90s once he stretches out. Poveda will either start the year at Double A Jacksonville or Triple A New Orleans.

    "I was nervous," Poveda admitted afterward.

    Watching from behind the backstop screen was the other piece in the Cantu deal, Evan Reed. Reed won't be pitching anytime soon. After coming over in the trade, Reed made one appearance for Jax and injured his right arm. He had Tommy John in September.

    "I came out to see how he looks and whether there are any differences from the past," Reed said. "He looks good. That was just two innings of work. But he threw a changeup and got a pop up and he was throwing his breaking balls for strikes. The only time he got hurt was when he left it up. The thing is he mixes his pitches so well and throws them all for strikes. That's what I expected to see, and that's what I saw."

    Reed wasn't the only onlooker. The entire Marlins's baseball office brass was out in force, with Larry Beinfest, Mike Hill, Dan Jennings and Jim Fleming on hand.

    (Video of Omar Poveda pitching "B" game against Italy: Sunday)

March 05, 2011

Dewayne Wise Is On The Map

       FORT MYERS -- Nice game by Dewayne Wise, who snapped out of a hitless spring by going 3 for 4 on Saturday against the Red Sox. Wise hit a two-run home run off Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka to go with a pair of singles. Wise had gone hitless in eight at bats coming into the day.

       Wise is among several players battling for that bench spot reserved for a left-handed hitter. Bryan Petersen, Scott Cousins, Josh Kroeger, Ruben Gotay and Greg Dobbs are also in the mix. With Mike Stanton nursing a quad injury and Chris Coghlan playing every other day. manager Edwin Rodriguez is providing playing time for those contenders.

       "Especially early in spring training I would like to take a look at all those guys," Rodriguez said.

       Pinch-hitting will be an important aspect of that lefty bench role, and Wise said he feels confident he can handle that assignment. He's a .308 career pinch-hitter, but said it wasn't until he was with the Braves in 2004 that his approach changed. He went from passive to aggressive.

       "Bobby Cox called me in the office one day and said, 'D, when you pinch hit, if you get that first-pitch fastball, you've got to swing at it," Wise recalled. "Since then, I've been comfortable, I go up there hacking."

March 04, 2011

Ricky Nolasco Remains on Track for April 2 (w/video)

     JUPITER -- All systems remain "go" for Ricky Nolasco starting the second game of the season for the Marlins -- April 2 against the Mets -- after he just completed his second side mound session of the spring. Nolasco said there is no discomfort in the right thumb, which had idled him to start camp.

      "Everything's fine, just keep going forward," Nolasco said after throwing 50 to 55 pitches in the pen alongside No. 1 starter Josh Johnson. "I was a little rusty. The mechanics are a little off, but that's normal right now."

      Nolasco said he'll throw one more bullpen on Sunday, a couple of live batting practice sessions, and a simulation game before making his first Grapefruit League start in the middle of the month.

      "I think my first (regular season) outing I'll probably be around 80 or 90 (total pitches)," Nolasco said. "But I think I'm only missing two starts here, so no big deal. I'll still have four starts before I go -- five because my simulated game will be like my two-inning first start."

      The video below shows Nolasco and Josh Johnson throwing bullpens on Friday:

John Baker DHing Today

      John Baker is back in business. Sort of. Baker is in today's lineup as the Marlins' designated hitter. It will mark the first time that Baker has taken game swings since May 12 of last season, before he landed on the disabled list and underwent Tommy John surgery.

      Manager Edwin Rodriguez said he plans to use Baker as his DH on an every-other-day basis, at least for the time being. Baker will not catch, though, or play any position on the field that would require throwing. There's been some talk of Baker making the Opening Day roster exclusively as a lefty pinch-hitter off the bench, though that scenario seems doubtful. The Marlins will more likely give that lefty bat role off the bench to an outfielder.

      In other news:

       -- Mike Stanton (right quad) hit off the tee on Thursday and Friday and appears to be progressing nicely. Stanton could be back in uniform in another week or so. The Marlins are not rushing him.

       -- Greg Dobbs (right knee) also took cuts off the tee on Thursday and Friday. Rodriguez said Dobbs would likely play on Sunday.

       -- The Marlins have a "B" game scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Sunday against an Italian national team managed by former major leaguer Mike Piazza.

        -- Ricky Nolasco is throwing off the mound in a side session this morning. It's Nolasco's second bullpen work of the spring.

       Today's lineup: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Logan Morrison, lf; 6. John Buck, c; 7. John Baker, DH; 8. Matt Dominguez, 3b; 9. Bryan Petersen, rf. Pitching: Javier Vazquez.

March 03, 2011

Coghlan Not Making Road Trips -- For Now

    KISSIMMEE -- Chris Coghlan isn't with the Marlins for the second straight day, and that's by design. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said that Coghlan is healthy. But they don't want to take any chances with his left knee, which he injured last season, and aren't allowing him to take two-hour bus trips, at least for the time being.

    "We're planning on him to keeping him away from the road trips, at least for the next two weeks," Rodriguez said. "We're taking care of his knee. It's the driving part. If we had a helicopter, he'd be able to play. He's fine. But we're going to try to do that for at least the first two weeks."

    Coghlan wasn't with the Marlins in Viera on Wednesday and isn't with them again today for their game against the Astros in Kissimmee. After today, he will have appeared in only one of the Marlins' first four spring training games.

    "He looks great," Rodriguez said. "He's been swinging the bat very well. We saw him make one or two plays in center field. His knee is 100 percent. We just want to be careful with him."

    Outfield coach Joe Espada also confirmed that Coghlan's health is fine.

    "He's getting his work in, but the most important thing is he's getting healthier," Espada said of Coghlan, who is moving to center field this season. "He looks good. He still hasn't gotten a ball where he's been pushed out or challenged. But the most important thing is, at the end of the day, when he goes back in the clubhouse, he feels great."

    Today's lineup: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 2. Ozzie Martinez, ss; 3. Scott Cousins, rf; 4. Logan Morrison, dh; 5. Joe Thurston, 2b; 6. Matt Dominguez, 3b; 7. Bryan Petersen, lf; 8. Josh Kroeger, 1b; 9. Brad Davis, c; Pitching: Alex Sanabia

March 02, 2011

Shaky 1st Outing for Josh Johnson

    VIERA -- Repeat after me: it's spring training. No need to panic if you're a Marlins fan over what we just witnessed here a moment ago at Space Coast Stadium. But....

    Josh Johnson made his first start of the spring, and his first in an actual game since Sept. 4 of last season when back and shoulder injuries shut him down the rest of the way, and it was not pretty.

     The Marlins were hoping to get three innings out of Johnson, but he was knocked out before he could complete the second, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits. He was also charged with a wild pitch and a throwing error. He threw 58 pitches, 37 of them for strikes, in his spring debut against the Nationals.

      The most damaging of the hits issued by Johnson was a wind-blown, Roger Bernadina 3-run homer in the second. Johnson walked a batter and struck out one. Johnson's velocity appeared to be there, but he spent most of his time on the mound working out of the stretch.

       Contributing to Johnson's woes, in addition to his own mistakes, was a Hanley Ramirez fielding error that extended the first inning to 30 pitches for the right-hander.

       We'll be heading down to the clubhouse shortly to get Johnson's assessment of the performance, and I'll be updating afterward. Until then...here's some video of Johnson pitching that was shot in the first inning.

March 01, 2011

Ricky Nolasco Throws First Bullpen

    JUPITER -- Encouraging news for the Marlins and Ricky Nolasco on Tuesday when he threw his first bullpen of spring training and emerged giving a thumbs up with his right hand. That would be the same sore thumb that's kept him off the mound this spring -- until today.

     Nolasco said that if he remains on schedule, he'll make his first Grapefruit League start on March 13 and fall into his normal No. 2 slot in the rotation to make his first regular season start on April 2 against the Mets.

      "The more I throw the more it flexes it out of there," Nolasco said. "The doctor said it might linger for now, just listen to it, and I'm just going to try to pretty much pitch through it as much as I can until it goes away. And, by that time, the season should be starting and it should already be gone. That's the way I felt today, once I got loose and hot, I didn't feel anything at all."

      Nolasco wasn't scheduled to throw his first pen until Wednesday but said he decided Tuesday to move it up a day. He threw 55 pitches and used everything in his arsenal.

      The right-hander said he'll throw a couple of more bullpens, two live batting practices and a simulation game before facing the Nationals on March 13.  

John Baker Delivers.....A Baby

     Marlins catcher John Baker didn't merely witness the birth of his first child. He delivered it. Listen to Baker describe the event....