CINCINNATI -- Another Marlins starter could be on his way to the injured list.
Second baseman Omar Infante left tonight's game against the Reds in the fifth inning with what is being a right hamstring cramp. Infante, who drove in the only run of the game thus far (the Marlins lead 1-0) on a first inning single, reached for the back of his leg after fouling off a pitch in his third at-bat.
Manager Edwin Rodriguez and assistant trainer Mike Kozak came out to check on Infante, but he remained in the game. Two pitches later, he grounded out to the third base and gingerly jogged toward first.
Emilio Bonifacio, who started in left field, replaced Infante at second base. Scott Cousins entered the game and went out to left.
The Marlins are already short left fielder Logan Morrison, who is on the disabled list with a strained right arch. Center fielder Chris Coghlan (strained right shoulder) started Saturday after missing his first start of the season Friday, but is questionable for Sunday.
CINCINNATI -- Win or lose tonight, the Florida Marlins are going to finish the month of April with more wins than they've ever had before.
The Marlins ace, virtually untouchable in his first five starts, will go for the team's 17th victory when he faces reigning NL MVP Joey Votto and the defending NL Central champion Reds (13-13). Votto was on deck last night when Leo Nunez struckout Jay Bruce looking with a runner on second to end a 7-6 Marlins victory, only the third victory in the Queen City for Florida since 2007.
Tonight, fans at Great American Ball Park will be handed a Votto bobblehead as they enter the stadium.
JJ is hoping to ruin the experience after that and make a little Marlins history in the process by becoming only the second pitcher to enter May undefeated. Dontrelle Willis, who is down in Triple A Louisville for the Reds, is the only other Marlins starter to achieve that feat. He went 5-0 in 2005.
Johnson (3-0, 1.00 ERA) has yet to allow a hit in the first three innings of all five of his previous starts this season. Opposing hitters are 0 for 45 with four walks and 20 strikeouts during those innings. According to research done by Trent McCotter of the SABR records committee, the last pitcher to have a streak like that was the Mets Sid Fernandez, who had batters go 0-for-50 in the first three innings at one stretch from April 30 to Sept. 25 in 1990.
According to research done by yours truly, the Marlins enter their final game of April with the second lowest ERA (3.18) for the opening month of the season in franchise history. Only the 2005 Marlins, which began 14-8, had a lower ERA (2.28).
Marlins lineup vs. Reds: 1. Chris Coghlan CF, 2. Omar Infante 2B, 3. Hanley Ramirez SS, 4. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 5. Mike Stanton RF, 6. Greg Dobbs 3B, 7. John Buck C, 8. Emilio Bonifacio LF, 9. Josh Johnson.
CINCINNATI -- Logan Morrison's team-autographed cast, up for auction on eBay to raise money for the American Lung Association, could be getting another signature soon.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who made it a point to sign plenty of autographs throughout spring training, said he was surprised Friday to hear everyone on the team had signed Morrison's cast except for him.
"He never told me," Ramirez said. "I was in the [batting] cage. I didn’t see it."
Of course, that’s not what Morrison told WQAM’s Sid Rosenberg on Wednesday. "The whole team signed it, and then we put it up on ebay, expect for Hanley," Morrison said.
Rosenberg asked if maybe Hanley was too busy or being a jerk. "I don’t think he was busy at the time," Morrison replied.
"He said he didn’t want to touch it. He was worried about cooties or germs. I don’t know why he’s worried about that, seeing what he hangs out with."
Ramirez laughed when told about the radio interview and insisted he didn’t know he was supposed to sign the cast.
"You know how it is. People want to make news," Ramirez said. "But when we get back hopefully, you know, I'll sign it."
The bidding for the cast ends May 6 at 5:30 p.m. As of 5 p.m. Friday, the cast, which Morrison wore for a few days last week after he was diagnosed with a sprained arch, was going for $566.
COGHLAN UPDATE: Chris Coghlan missed his first start of the year Friday night against the Reds, and it's likely the Marlins center fielder and lead-off hitter will have to sit out a few more games throughout the season to give his strained right shoulder some rest.
Coghlan, who hopes to be back in the lineup Saturday, said he had an MRI performed Thursday before the Marlins left for a seven-game road trip and there was "no structural damage."
But it's clear Coghlan will have to deal with the pain the rest of the season as the injury will not fully heal until he's able to rest it significantly. Coghlan didn't want to speculate over having surgery, but it's likely he'll have to have it after the season.
"There was definitely something -- a sharp pain I wasn't feeling before," said Coghlan, who asked out of Wednesday's loss to the Dodgers in the seventh inning, the first time he said he's ever had to ask out of a game.
"I have to take a little bit more [meds] and do treatment, stay on top of it, do exercises to strengthen my scapula and my rotator cuff, do all that. The early work, I have to be smart with what I do because it fatigues out with what I do.
"I'm just trying to go day-by-day, avoid the DL and strengthen as much as I can when I have the opportunities to strengthen it. It's not like I can't do everything. It's just how it responds after I do it."
Manager Edwin Rodriguez said it's likely Coghlan, who is hitting .373 over his last 13 games and leads the team in homers (4) and RBI (16), will no longer play in afternoon games following a night game.
"Our concern is more of swinging the bat than throwing," Rodriguez said. "He puts a little more pressure on his shoulder that way. Hopefully, tomorrow he'll be okay. The last homestand he dealt with it fine. It was just the last day."
"I have to go with matchups, who we got on the mound, if I need more offense than defense," Rodriguez said. "So far my decision on who is playing third is based on that.
"Murphy was doing a good job, but then he got hit by a pitch on the wrist, swinging the bat. I know if he would have been 100 percent, he would be doing a great job there, holding himself there. But with all the injuries and all the situations he's been going through, it's been tough. I think we're asking way too much from him."
Murphy, hitting just .105 (4 for 38) through 17 games, said he's fully recovered from his ailments. He admitted he was a little surprised to not see his name in Friday's lineup, but is putting the team first.
"As long as we keep winning, that's all anybody cares about," Murphy said. "If he wants to give me a start, that's fine. If he wants to keep me in that bench role, that's fine too. It doesn't matter to me. I'm just trying to get the swing back, that's all it is."
So far, Greg Dobbs leads the team with nine starts at third. Helms and Murphy each have six. Emilio Bonifacio has three. Rodriguez said what concerns him more than the revolving door at third base is how it's affecting his pinch hitting situation late in games.
"What concerns me, every time I play Wes or Dobbs I am taking them out from their comfort zone, from their role," Rodriguez said. "I feel very confident when I have Dobbs or Wes late in the game. If I have to start them, then at the end of the game I have to find another source to fill those holes."
CINCINNATI -- Chris Coghlan's sore right shoulder is going to cause him to miss his first start of the season Friday against the Reds.
The Marlins red-hot leadoff hitter, hitting .373 with 13 RBI and three homers over his last 13 games, wasn't spotted on the field during early pre-game drills here at Great American Ball Park and is absent from the starting lineup.
We should find out more on Coghlan shortly when the clubhouse opens.
But here's the starting lineup for the Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio LF, 2. Omar Infante 2B, 3. Hanley Ramirez SS, 4. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 5. Mike Stanton RF, 6. John Buck C, 7. Wes Helms 3B, 8. Scott Cousins CF, 9. Javi Vazquez P.
Reds: 1. Drew Stubbs CF, 2. Jay Bruce RF, 3. Joey Votto 1B, 4. Brandon Phillips 2B, 5. Jeremy Hermida LF, 6. Miguel Cairo 3B, 7. Ramon Hernandez C, 8. Paul Janish SS, 9. Travis Wood P.
Some troubling news for the Marlins beyond today's extra-inning loss to the Dodgers. Center fielder Chris Coghlan left the game in the eighth with a sore throwing shoulder, the same right shoulder that caused him to miss the bulk of spring training.
"He was playing with pain, and after his last at bat, it was too much," said manager Edwin Rodriguez, who replaced Coghlan after his seventh-inning at bat in which he grounded out. "We'll have to wait and see (about whether Coghlan will be able to play Friday). He came to me and said the pain was too much. Hopefully he'll be all right for Friday."
Said Coghlan: "It was something I couldn't keep going on."
Coghlan described the pain as "sharp," which is why he approached Rodriguez before his final at bat and told him that he would be unable to continue. Scott Cousins took over in center in the eighth.
"You have to make a decision on how much you can play through," Coghlan said.
The Marlins outfield is already minus Logan Morrison, who will likely miss up to another couple of weeks with a strained left arch. And right fielder Mike Stanton has been playing on a sore hamstring. Coghlan and Morrison lead the team in home runs with four each.
Not much down time from last night's final out to first pitch at noon today, but enough for the Marlins to take over sole possession of first place in the NL East. That's because the Phillies lost late last night to the D-Backs, putting the Fish on top, a half-game in front.
The Marlins (15-7) now own the second-best record in all the majors, behind only Colorado (16-7). If they win again today -- and they're placing the ball in the competent hands of Anibal Sanchez for that task -- they'll complete a sweep of the Dodgers and have the best record any Marlins team has ever had at the 23-game mark.
As usual, the Marlins had to come from behind to win last night. That's the 10th time this season, it's happened. That's right. They've trailed at some point in two-thirds of their 15 wins.
And it looks like Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton are starting to show signs of life at the plate. With Logan Morrison expected back in about eight days, it's time to ask that question: How good is this team? Or better yet, do you think they can hang with the Phillies all season?
If you look at the video replay of last night's walk-off win, you'll see a certain injured outfielder running onto the field and partaking in the celebration with all the other Marlins. And who might that certain injured outfielder be, but none other than Logan Morrison, who had the cast removed from his foot earlier in the day.
It didn't sit well with manager Edwin Rodriguez or team trainer Sean Cunningham, who told Morrison not to do it again.
Edwin Rodriguez: "We had a conversation."
Reporter: "What did you tell him?"
Rodriguez: "You don't want to know."
Obviously, Rodriguez was not pleased with Morrison's decision to bolt on the field and hop up and down on his left foot. Morrison think he'll be ready to go when he's eligible to come off the DL on May 5.
"I won't do it again," Morrison said Tuesday.
Said Rodriguez: "We pay the price of having a young team. Chris Coghlan (shaving pie incident) last year. And now Logan Morrison. We can laugh now. Nothing happened. But, yeah, we had a very mature conversation about it. It was -- what do you call that? -- a monologue."
In other words, Rodriguez did most of the talking, warning Morrison not to do it again.
Hanley Ramirez returns to the starting lineup for tonight's game -- no surprise there. Ramirez came up as a pinch-hitter in Monday's big ninth inning and sliced a two-out single to right that kept the rally going in the Marlins' ninth come-from-behind win of the season.
Ramirez closed his stance a little more, going back to the one he used in 2009 when he won the NL batting title.
Are the Marlins charmed, or what? They pulled out a win on Sunday even though they tallied only three hits. Last night, two Dodgers fielding miscues and some late clutch hitting led to another victory. Both days, the bullpen blew save opportunities.
Reliever Brian Sanches remained ridiculously unhittable, though. Sanches pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. This season, he has given up just one hit in 13 2/3 innings -- and none over his previous 8 1/3 innings.The Marlins relief record for most consecutive innings without allowing a hit is 14, set in 2004 by Armando Benitez.
A win tonight would improve the Marlins record to 15-7, matching the start of the '04 club.
1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Mike Stanton, rf; 6. John Buck, c; 7. Wes Helms, 3b; 8. Emilio Bonifacio, lf; 9. Chris Volstad, p.
Doctors removed the cast from Logan Morrison's foot on Monday and the outfielder is optimistic he could be ready to play as early as May 5 when his 15-day stint on the disabled list expires.
Morrison has a strained left arch. He began riding a stationary bike on Monday and said he could begin taking batting practice over the weekend.
As for the cast, Morrison had it signed by his Marlins teammates and plans to auction it off on eBay to raise money for the American Lung Association.
HANLEY SITS -- Slumping shortstop Hanley Ramirez isn't in the starting lineup as manager Edwin Rodriguez has decided to give him the night off.
Donnie Murphy will be starting at short.
Marlins: 1. Coghlan, cf; 2. Infante, 2b; 3. Sanchez, 1b; 4. Stanton, rf; 5. Dobbs, 3b; 6. Buck, c; 7. Bonifacio, lf; 8. Murphy, ss; 9. Nolasco, p.
Hanley Ramirez has tried just about everything to change his hitting luck, besides putting in extra time working on his swing. He hiked his pants up to expose his socks. When that didn’t work, he lowered them back down, hoping that would do the trick.
It hasn’t. Next?
“Maybe no pants,” Ramirez said, producing laughter after going 0 for 4 on Sunday and hearing boos for the second straight day.
Ramirez, the league batting champ in 2009, is now mired in a 2 for 27 slump that has lowered his average to .182.
“I know I’m going to get out of it,” he said. “At the end of the year, the numbers are going to be there. So I’ve just got to go through it right now and try to get out of it soon, get back on track.”
Ramirez said he heard the boos Saturday and Sunday, and understands why fans are unhappy.
“It’s good because they expect a lot of things from me,” Ramirez said of vocal fans. “I’m not doing it right now. But we’ve got five months to go.”
Ramirez and manager Edwin Rodriguez both agree that he’s been guilty of chasing bad pitches.
“The good thing is he’s concerned,” Rodriguez said. “He wants to do good. It’s not like he doesn’t care. In my opinion, I think he’s been way too aggressive at the plate. He wants to do good so bad that I think he’s swinging at balls out of the strike zone.”
Rodriguez said it’s possible he might give Ramirez a day off to get his head together. Teammates are 100 percent supportive of Ramirez and say his attitude, despite the slump, has been exemplary.
“Whatever he’s been in the past is far from what I’ve experienced here,” said catcher John Buck, a newcomer to the team. “He’s struggling probably the worst on the team, and when I’m punching out, he’s the first one patting me on the butt. It’s directly reflected in the way we’re playing the way he’s dealing with it. When he gets going, it’s going to be something fun.”
Ramirez said it’s only a matter of time.
“I’m rushing too much at home plate, trying to hit every pitch,” he said.
Even though he’s struggling, Ramirez is happy the team is winning.
“It’s only me,” he said. “Everybody else is fine right now.”
Hanley Ramirez heard a smattering of boos when he grounded out in his final at bat of an 0 for 4 night on Saturday. And manager Edwin Rodriguez has also heard the demands from fans and pundits that he either drop the slumping shortstop in the order or take him out entirely.
"I agree he needs a day off," Rodriguez told reporters this morning.
But Rodriguez said the options he has are not good ones at the moment. Who does he install at shortstop, for example? Ozzie Martinez, who was 1 for his previous 17 at Triple A New Orleans before the Marlins called him up to take Logan Morrison's roster spot? Donnie Murphy, who is hitting .121?
And, Rodriguez countered, if you drop Ramirez down to the lower half of the order, who do you hit third?
"Gaby (Sanchez)?" Rodriguez offered. "Okay, then who do you hit fourth?"
Ramirez is hitting just .194 and is still looking for his first home run.
"I've talked to him about his hitting," Rodriguez said. "The good thing is he's concerned. He wants to do good. It's not like he doesn't care. In my opinion, I think he's been way too aggressive at the plate. He wants to do good so bad that I think he's swinging at balls out of the strike zone. That's what I see.
"I've got options. But better options? I don't think so. I'd rather keep him out there. He needs to find a way out of the slump. Good hitters, they do that. They find a way out."
Ramirez showed up early to the ballpark on Sunday and spent an hour working on his swing in the indoor cages.
MURPHY BACK AT THIRD -- Murphy is back in the lineup for the first time since April 15 when he fouled a ball off his left knee. Rodriguez said he would prefer to give Murphy most of the starts at third so that he could use Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms off the bench.
"We're looking for a little bit more defense with Murphy at third," Rodriguez said. "We can use Dobbs at the way he's been successful in the big leagues, coming off the bench and as a spot starter. I always like to put players where they have a better chance to succeed. When we put together the team, that was the plan, Dobbs and Helms coming off the bench. It makes an impact on the strategy of the game."
Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Mike Stanton, rf; 6. John Buck, c; 7. Emilio Bonifacio, lf; 8. Donnie Murphy, 3b; 9. Josh Johnson, p.
Rockies: 1. Dexter Fowler, cf; 2. Jonathan Herrera, 2b; 3. Carlos Gonzalez, lf; 4. Troy Tulowitzki, ss; 5. Jason Giambi, 1b; 6. Seth Smith, rf; 7. Jose Lopez, 3b; 8. Jose Morales, c; 9. Ubaldo Jimenez, p.