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47 posts from April 2011

April 23, 2011

Marlins Bullpen Primed and Ready

       At one point not long ago, manager Edwin Rodriguez was concerned that one of his primary weapons -- his bullpen -- would be overtaxed and cooked by the All-Star break.

       "The way it was going," Rodriguez said, "the middle of the season, these guys were going to be overworked. Now we're back to normal."

       For that, the Marlins can thank last Saturday's rainout in Philadelphia, Monday's off day, and performances like last night's when Anibal Sanchez went the distance in his one-hit victory over the Colorado Rockies.

       Since last Saturday's rainout, the bullpen has worked just 9 1/3 total innings and gone from being one of the most overworked pens in the NL to one of the league's least-used. The Marlins bullpen ranks 14th of the 16 NL teams with 55 1/3 inning total relief innings. Only the Brewers and Phillies have fewer innings from their pens.

       Then again, with Javier Vazquez headed back to the hill tonight for the first time since April 15, the holiday could be over for Marlins relievers. This is a big outing for Vazquez to prove that he belongs in the rotation.


        Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. John Buck, c; 8. Emilio Bonifacio, lf; 9. Javier Vazquez, p.      

April 22, 2011

OnFrozenFilm Special Edition: Anibal Sanchez Press Conference Video

Sorry about the beginning. I noticed the setting was wrong on the side of the camera so I had to fumble around with it. Sound isn't too great either. Not a great night for the flip cam. -- George Richards

Anibal Sanchez Goes into Ninth with No-No, but History does not Repeat ... Marlins Top Rockies 4-1 for Fourth Straight Win



With one out in the seventh inning, Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's hard shot up the middle hit Anibal Sanchez in the right leg, the ball heading toward first base.

Those inside Sun Life Stadium gasped, hoping that line drive wouldn't be the end of Sanchez's chance at a second no-hitter. Sanchez recovered, picking up the ball three steps from first before beating Tulowitzki to the bag, keeping his no-hit bid going.

Sanchez's attempt at history ended up coming up short as Dexter Fowler led off the ninth inning with a soft grounder past second base. The ball harmlessly rolled into right field, ending Sanchez's quest for the fifth no-hitter in franchise history and first since Sanchez beat the Diamondbacks here in 2006.

All was not lost however: Sanchez ended up finishing the game, his one-hitter helping the Marlins to a 4-1 win over the Rockies. The win was Florida's fourth straight after sweeping the Pirates earlier this week.

“I feel OK, just so excited because my mom in the stands, my family there,'' Sanchez said afterward. “If everything had happened good, if the ball got to someone and we got the out, it would have ended a different way. But I'm OK, I'm excited for the opportunity. Long term, I'm back three years from injury. Now I have to keep working so I'm ready every five days.''

Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez was keeping track of Sanchez's pitch count but said he was going to let him keep going as long as the no-hitter was. The pitch that ended up breaking the no-hitter – as well as breaking Fowler's bat – was Sanchez's 116th of the night. Rodriguez let him stay in to finish things off. Fowler ended up getting doubled up after Jonathan Herrera's fly ball was caught by a diving Scott Anibal2 Cousins.

Sanchez was able to get the final out as first baseman Gaby Sanchez fielded a grounder from Carlos Gonzalez and flipped the ball as Anibal Sanchez covered the bag.

The game was obviously Anibal Sanchez's best game of the season as he went nine complete, striking out nine. His chance at a perfect game was lost early on as Fowler walked to lead off the game. Colorado's lone run came off a Gaby Sanchez error with two outs in the first.

Anibal Sanchez is now 1-1 as he watched his ERA drop from 5.51 to 3.55.

“I didn't want to ask him how he felt, so I was just going hitter by hitter,'' Rodriguez said of Anibal Sanchez's outing. “He was just outstanding. Every area of the game, he was just excellent. He has a very strong mental approach to the game. They scored a run in the first off an error and it's tough to keep your composure. He did.''

Rodriguez and the Marlins have watched their pitchers go through this three times this season. Ace Josh Johnson – who pitches the series finale on Sunday – had a no-hitter through the sixth on Opening Day against the Mets. Johnson followed that up by pitching 7 1/3 no-hit innings against the Braves on April 13.

“We have five, six months to go,'' Rodriguez joked about when the Marlins would complete a no-hitter this season. “Chances are we might see one. I'll take two.''

The last person to throw a no-hitter at Sun Life Stadium was Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, who pitched a perfect game against the Marlins on May 5, 2010. Halladay is also the last person to throw a no-hitter in the big leagues as he got one against the Reds in the opening round of the National League playoffs last October.

On Friday, Chris Coghlan and Gaby Sanchez helped Anibal Sanchez out offensively as each led off innings with home runs to help give their pitcher a 4-1 lead by the third inning.

The Marlins, who came into Thursday's game with eight home runs in their opening 16 games, have five in the past two games -- or 38 percent of their season total. After the Rockies took the early lead, Coghlan tied the score in the bottom of the first when he deposited Jhoulys Chacin's offering into the orange seats beyond right field.

The Marlins added two more in the second thanks in big part to a drive hit to center field by Emilio Bonifacio. With Scott Cousins at first and one out, Bonifacio drilled a shot to center, the ball bouncing into the stands.

Anibal Sanchez, who hasn't had a base hit yet this season, came up next and dropped a soft bunt toward Chacin. Chacin fielded the ball cleanly but rushed the throw home by flipping it to catcher Chris Iannetta without taking the ball out of his glove. Iannetta couldn't handle the throw as Cousins slid in safely. Bonifacio later scored on Coghlan's force out.

Gaby Sanchez then made it 4-1 in the third by hitting the first pitch offered into the teal club seats overlooking left field. The homer was Gaby Sanchez's second this season (he hit 19 as a rookie last year). Sanchez has now reached base in 22 straight games.

“I don't know if we didn't get the run whether it would have affected him,'' catcher John Buck said of the offensive support shown Anibal Sanchez. “Coghlan getting up and putting one over the fence right away did reset things and that helped. .-.-. I think Anibal was pretty much locked the whole day.''

How Long Can Marlins Keep This Up?

    Last night's win improved the Marlins to 11-6 and left them a half-game between the first-place Phillies in the National League East. They have the fourth-best overall record in the majors. That's impressive considering:

    -- Hanley Ramirez hasn't done much of anything with his bat. He's hitting .222 and has only four extra-base hits, all doubles.

    -- Josh Johnson has been fantastic and Ricky Nolasco has been solid. But the other three starters -- Anibal Sanchez, Javier Vazquez and Chris Volstad -- have ERA's of 5.51, 7.43 and 6.60, respectively.

    -- Though they snapped out of their power funk with three home runs last night, two came off the bats of reserves Scott Cousins and Brett Hayes. Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, whose Rockies invade South Florida this weekend, has hit only four fewer home runs (7) than the entire Marlins team.

    -- Logan Morrison -- their top hitter so far -- is now on the disabled list and won't return for two to four weeks.

    -- Other than their two games with the Phillies, the Marlins have not played an opponent that currently boasts a winning record. The Rockies should provide an early litmus test. They bring the majors' best record to Sun Life Stadium for a three-game series that starts tonight.

    So what's your take on the Marlins? Are they fact or fiction? And, if you're not entirely sold on them, what would you like to see the front office do to increase your confidence level?

April 21, 2011

Even On Crutches, Logan Morrison Signs for the Kids

This is the sort of thing that'll endear you to the fan base. Injured left fielder Logan Morrison, wearing a fresh cast and walking on crutches, still took time to sign autographs for a group of kids before tonight's game against the Pirates. Check it out:

Logan Morrison Out 2-4 Weeks (w/video)

    Logan Morrison says he'll be out two to four weeks with tendon injuries to his left foot, a severe blow to the Marlins lineup.

    The Marlins have not placed Morrison on the disabled list, but are virtually certain to do so. Morrison is wearing a hard cast (on which he has drawn pinstripes to match his uniform) that will be removed on Monday in order to have the foot re-examined. But even under a best-case scenario, Morrison said he would be limited to "baseball activities" at first.

  Morrisonfoot     If the Marlins decide to replace Morrison with a player from the 40-man roster, their options are either infielder Ozzie Martinez or outfielder Bryan Petersen, who are both at Triple A New Orleans. Martinez was not in the lineup tonight for the Zephyrs, an indication he could be headed to South Florida. But the Marlins have given no indication what moves they intend to make with the roster.

     "Maybe if I get my superhuman cape on, it'll be a little quicker," Morrison said of the recovery timetable. "It (stinks). I was talking with my family and friends. They were 'Hey, what do you think about the All-Star Game?' And I was, like, 'Shhss. Don't say anything about it.' If I kept doing what I was doing, I might have had a shot. But, now I don't."

    Morrison said he has tendon injuries to both the top and side of his left foot.

    Said manager Edwin Rodriguez: "It's a huge loss."

    Morrison is hitting .327 and leads the team with four home runs and 11 RBI.

     Emilio Bonifacio is starting in left field tonight. Scott Cousins gets the start in center, a move designed purely to give Chris Coghlan a day off.

     But Morrison isn't the only Marlin who is ailing. Third baseman Donnie Murphy (bruised left knee) says he's probably still not ready to play nine innings. And right fielder Mike Stanton says his sore left hamstring is still bothering him.

     "It's an in and out process," Stanton said. "It's normal to take a lot longer to heal playing seven to nine innings out there all day. I think the biggest problem is it's not just one spot. It's top and bottom. So it can't let any part compensate for the other.

In the video below, Logan Morrison talks about the difficulty of getting around on crutches:

Logan Morrison Wearing Hard Cast, DL Appears Likely (UPDATED)

    Looks like there's a very good chance Logan Morrison -- the Marlins' top hitter so far -- is headed to the disabled list. He is now wearing a fresh, white hard cast on his left leg. But the Marlins have not yet made any announcements.

    And I just spoke briefly in the dugout with manager Edwin Rodriguez, who said Morrison has a sprained left arch, the cast will be removed on Monday, and the injury will be re-evaluated. With Donnie Murphy limited due to a bruised left knee, though, the Marlins are obviously playing short-handed, at least for the next four or five games, and a call-up would seem necessary.

     Morrison sustained an injury to his left foot on Tuesday, had a MRI on Wednesday, and was expected to receive the results this morning.

     Morrison was wearing a calf-length cast while being photographed by USA Today for a story they are working on about him. He was also walking on crutches. When asked by one of the photographers how long he thought he would be out, Morrison responded: "About two weeks." 

     Morrison is hitting .327 and leads the team with four home runs and 11 RBI.

    Emilio Bonifacio is again getting the start in left field for tonight's game against the Pirates. Scott Cousins is starting in center.


    Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, lf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Scott Cousins, cf; 8. Brett Hayes, c; 9. Chris Volstad, p.

April 20, 2011

Marlins have to wait until Thursday for MRI results of Logan Morrison's injured left foot

SUN LIFE STADIUM -- Logan Morrison's injured left foot appears to be a little more troublesome than first anticipated and now the Marlins will wait until Thursday morning to get the results of his MRI before reevaluating his situation.

Logan Morrison Morrison, who leads the team in homers (4), RBI (11) and ranks second with a .327 batting average, injured himself during his first at-bat Tuesday night against the Pirates and was initially diagnosed with a strained arch. He stayed in the game for two more at-bats before finally getting pulled at the start of the fifth inning. 

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said after Tuesday's 6-0 win he thought Morrison would be ready to go Wednesday. But Morrison, who left the stadium with a protective boot on his left foot, didn't wake up feeling any better on Wednesday morning and now it's unknown exactly how long he will be out.

"We don't have any news yet. We had the MRI done and nobody is going to be able to read it until tomorrow morning," Morrison told reporters as he stood in front of his locker about an hour before first pitch Wednesday.

"I feel pain when I walk on top of my foot. There's swelling on top of my foot. Other than that, that's all I got."

Morrison was walking around the Marlins clubhouse gingerly and had a set of crutches next to his locker. He said he isn't happy that he has to wait until Thursday to find out what's wrong. But he said a doctor won't be able to see the results until then.

"They don't know if its a hairline fracture or a sprained ligament or a torn ligament or a [strained] arch. But that's what they diagnosed me with," Morrison said. "But I don't think it's that because of the swelling and everything else."

Emilio Bonifacio was slated to start in left field Wednesday night against the Pirates.

With third baseman Donnie Murphy still at "about 80 to 90 percent" with a bruised left knee cap, Rodriguez has inserted the hot-hitting Greg Dobbs (.421 in 19 ABs) to start at third and bat fifth. Rodriguez said it's likely Dobbs and Helms, better offensive options, will play third while Morrison is out. 

> With LoMo out, the Marlins could certainly use an offensive lift from a few of their best hitters.

Hanley Ramirez is hitting just .234 and has started the season with the longest home run drought of his career (13 games).

Mike Stanton, slated to hit clean-up, has dropped down to sixth in the lineup (.206) -- although he nearly hit his first home run of the season Tuesday night (he settled for a double).

Omar Infante, batting second in the lineup, is hitting just .206 (13 for 63) with four RBI and five strikeouts. Infante said he studied film of himself Wednesday from this spring (when he hit .414 in 58 at-bats) and noticed he's opening up his front foot a little too early, leading him to not recognize pitches coming out of the pitchers hand.

"The last time I was in a slump like this was when I was in Detroit, my first year [2004]," Infante said. "But I'm working on it."

Hot starts nothing new for JJ

SUN LIFE STADIUM -- The season may only be a few weeks old, but Marlins ace Josh Johnson is already back on top of the statistical leader board. But to be honest, that's nothing new.

Josh Johnson The two hits Johnson allowed over seven scoreless innings Tuesday night against the Pirates not only lowered his ERA to an NL-leading 1.00, but it also dropped his WHIP to a league-leading 0.59 (St. Louis' Kyle Lohse is second with a 0.85). JJ's three wins are tied for most in the NL and his 27 Ks rank fourth overall (only Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Sanchez have more).

"If you want to start a franchise and pick a pitcher, you're not going to go wrong picking him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after Tuesday's loss to the Marlins. "He shut us down tonight. You're going to have those games in the big leagues. At the Major League level, there are a handful of pitchers that they stop you. You've got to catch them maybe when they're a little bit off or you get some opportunities to get some men on base, and we didn't have either one of those. He was not off and we didn't have anyone on base. They faced one man over the minimum as a team for the night."

Of course, hot starts are nothing new for JJ. In each of the past two seasons, he's started 8-2 with a 1.80 ERA over his first 15 starts in 2010 and 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA over his first 15 starts in 2009.

His best four game start prior to this season was in 2009 when he went 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA and 29 strikeouts.

While his new added pitch -- a slow curveball -- has drawn a lot of attention, the Pirates were mesmerized by JJ's fastball.

"His fastball is definitely his pitch," said Garrett Jones, one of two Pirates to get a hit off Johnson Tuesday. "Sometimes it cuts, it comes in on lefties and it goes away from righties, and he can two-seam it a little bit too. With being how big he is on the mound too, it gets on you quick. It's got a lot of life, a heavy fastball we call it. He's real effective throwing a lot of fastballs, mixing in an off-speed here and there, but his main pitch is hitting his spot with his fastball."

> Left fielder Logan Morrison, who strained the arch in his left foot during his first at-bat Tuesday and left the game after the fourth inning, is not in Wednesday's lineup for the Marlins. Morrison was wearing a protective boot on his left foot after the game. Emilio Bonifacio will start in left in his place.

Morrison came in with a .327 batting average, second highest among Marlins regulars. He went 1-for-3 Tuesday night to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.

> Marlins lineup for Wednesday: 1. Chris Coghlan CF, 2. Omar Infante 2B, 3. Hanley Ramirez SS, 4. Gaby Sachez 1B, 5. Greg Dobbs 3B, 6. Mike Stanton RF, 7. John Buck C, 8. Emilio Bonifacio LF, 9. Ricky Nolasco P.

April 19, 2011

Stanton slides down to sixth in the lineup

SUN LIFE STADIUM -- Mike Stanton won't be hitting cleanup for the Marlins Tuesday night -- and maybe not anytime soon.

Manager Edwin Rodriguez has dropped Stanton down to sixth, a move made to take a little pressure off the struggling 21-year old slugger who has started the season hitting below .200 and without any home runs in his first 11 games.

"I don't think he's pressing, but he's not expanding his zone too much," Rodriguez said. "I think he's looking for one pitch, one zone and he's still not ready to cover that outside part of the plate and reacting to the inside part. I think it will come with time. I think the more we keep throwing him out there the more he will have the plate coverage, the bat speed to cover the inside part.

"He didn't play much in spring training. It's a matter of throwing him out there and getting him at-bats."

Stanton missed all but six games this spring with a right quadriceps injury and has gotten off to a slow start, hitting just .194 with four doubles, three RBI and 11 strikeouts in 31 at-bats. He spent most of the 2010 season batting sixth or seventh for the Marlins, where he hit a combined .285 with 19 homers and 48 RBI. He led all rookies in 2010 with 22 homers.

In the meantime, Gaby Sanchez will hit in the cleanup spot. Sanchez hit cleanup when Stanton was out earlier this month with a mild left hamstring strain, and for most of the spring. Sanchez has gone 10 for 25 (.400) in the No. 4 spot for the Marlins this season.

"There's no difference for me hitting fourth, fifth or sixth, they're all RBI opportunities," Sanchez said.

"I think Mike is fine. It's one of those things where he had time off. It's not easy coming back. You're facing big league pitchers right away there after having a couple days off. He's going to be fine. At the end of the season, he's going to be where he's at. This is just to give him a little time to get back into it."

How soon could Stanton return to the cleanup spot? Well, that all depends Rodriguez said.

"If he starts swinging the bat better he should be our No. 4 hitter. But then again that all depends," Rodriguez said. "If Gaby keeps swinging the bat he's been swinging and LoMo also, he's been very consistent. If that lineup works, why not? We'll keep it that way. We all know if Mike starts swinging the bat and showing the power we expect from him, he should be our No. 4 hitter."

MURPHY IMPROVING: Third baseman Donnie Murphy, who fouled a pitch off his left knee in Friday's win at Philadelphia, said Tuesday he's feeling better and could be back in the lineup as early as Wednesday.

"I felt better hitting in the cage at least, so I'm going to do everything I normally do during [batting practice Tuesday]. Hopefully it goes well," Murphy said. "My situation is a lot better than it was a couple days ago. Hopefully it stays that way and running around doesn't cause swelling."

Rodriguez said Murphy is available to pinch hit Tuesday against the Pirates.

> Marlins lineup vs. Pirates (4/19): 1. Coghlan CF, 2. Infante 2B, 3. Ramirez SS, 4. Sanchez 1B, 5. Logan Morrison LF, 6. Mike Stanton RF, 7. John Buck C, 8. Emilio Bonifacio 3B, 9. Josh Johnson P.