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47 posts from April 2011

April 17, 2011

Donnie Murphy Still Ailing, Might Have X-Rays

   PHILADELPHIA -- Gorgeous day here at Citizens Bank Park. A tad nippy, but the sun is out. Baseball will be played.

   Some disappointing news for the Marlins and Donnie Murphy. The third baseman, who fouled a ball off his left knee on Friday, said the injury hasn't improved any and that he might have X-rays, perhaps today.

   "I think they're going to X-ray it as a precaution, just to make sure there's no hairline fracture" said Murphy, who isn't in the lineup and wasn't sure whether he'd even be available to pinch-hit.

   Murphy said he tried hitting off a tee when he arrived at the ballpark Sunday morning, but the pain was noticeable.

   "Honestly, every swing it just hurt," he said. "On every swing it felt worse."

   Murphy said the bruise is on the tip of his kneecap. The same knee has given him trouble in the past.

   "I've had three partial tears and a bone bruise there before," he said. "I think the thing that is the worst part is I've hurt that knee before, so any little contact effects it more."

   With left-hander Cole Hamels on the mound for the Phillies this afternoon, Wes Helms gets the start at third.


   Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Logan Morrison, lf; 7. John Buck, c; 8. Wes Helms, 3b; 9. Anibal Sanchez, rhp.

   Phillies: 1. Shane Victorino, cf; 2. Placido Polanco, 3b; 3. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Ben Francisco, rf; 6. Raul Ibanez, lf; 7. Carlos Ruiz, c; 8. Wilson Valdez, 2b; 9. Cole Hamels, lhp.





April 16, 2011

Javier Vazquez Pushed Back In Rotation to Iron Out Mechanical Flaw

       PHILADELPHIA -- Javier Vazquez’s fastball velocity was down a couple of ticks on Friday, and manager Edwin Rodriguez said that he and pitching coach Randy St. Claire think they know the reason why.

          “I think he’s not loading like he was doing before with his lower body,” Rodriguez said. “He went from 91 miles per hour (in his start in Houston) to 86, 87 (on Friday). In my opinion, I don’t think that’s an arm problem. I think that’s a mechanical problem.”

          As a result, Vazquez won't make his next start until next Saturday.

          Vazquez was taken out after completing five innings on Friday, an outing in which he gave up three runs, including two in the first inning. He has given up first-inning runs in each of his three starts so far.

          “Yesterday, it was very obvious from our part that he wasn’t loading his lower body to throw his fastball,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes he gets too stiff with his right leg. It’s like hitting. Sometimes you have to load to generate power.”

          Rodriguez said St. Claire will spend time this week with Vazquez to work on his mechanics.

          “I don’t think he’s been close yet to what he’s capable of doing,” Rodriguez said. “And he’s still keeping us in the game. He’s going to help us a lot during the season.”

          Vazquez isn't the only starter whose start is being moved back due to Saturday's rainout. Chris Volstad, who was scheduled to pitch Sunday, now won't go until Thursday. Anibal Sanchez, who was down to start Saturday, will instead pitch Sunday against the Phillies' Cole Hamels. Josh Johnson (Tuesday) and Ricky Nolasco (Wednesday) will remain in their normal slots.

         - Rodriguez said he plans on starting Wes Helms at third on Sunday as Donnie Murphy continues to nurse a bruised left knee. Murphy left Friday's game after fouling a pitch off his knee.

Marlins/Phillies Rained Out! Rotation Changes

    PHILADELPHIA -- No surprise here considering the wet weather. Tonight's game against the Phillies has been rained out.

    They'll make it up on June 15 as part of a day-night doubleheader.

    Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Anibal Sanchez, who was scheduled to start tonight, will pitch tomorrow against Cole Hamels. But Chris Volstad, who was scheduled to pitch Sunday, will be pushed back in the rotation. Josh Johnson will start Tuesday, followed by Ricky Nolasco on Wednesday, Volstad on Thursday and Sanchez again on Friday. Javier Vazquez will not start again until next Saturday.

     The rainout is good news for a Marlins bullpen that has been logging innings. Monday is a scheduled day off, as well.  

Can Marlins Bullpen Keep It Going?

   PHILADELPHIA -- Good morning from the City of Brotherly Love, where the weather forecast for tonight is grim: a 90 percent chance of showers, coupled with strong winds. We'll see, but I have a gut feeling that this one gets banged. Just remember that if they do play, you'll hear it on 1080-AM, not 790, due to Heat playoffs.

    Speaking of playoffs, the Marlins would be in them if the season ended this instant. Yep, they're the NL wild card leaders at the moment, which is crazy considering that, despite an 8-5 record, they have a minus five run differential. What that shows is they're winning the close contests, the latest example coming last night when they came from behind to beat the Phillies, 4-3. They are now 4-0 in one-run games.

     Credit the bullpen for much of their success. Other than Josh Johnson, the starting staff has either been inconsistent (Ricky Nolasco) or largely ineffective (Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad). Their No. 3 and 4 hitters -- Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton -- haven't hit. Neither one has a home run. John Buck is slumping. Omar Infante is struggling at the plate. The Marlins have yet to score more than seven runs in a game. So it isn't the offense that's doing the job.

      But the bullpen has been sensational. Collectively, Marlins relievers now boast the lowest ERA in the majors at 1.97. Last night, the pen was charged with covering the final four innings after Vazquez came out after the fifth, and it shut down the Phillies lineup. The story was pretty much the same the previous night in Atlanta when the Marlins pulled out another one-run victory.

      If there's a dark cloud looming, it's the fact that so much has been asked of the bullpen so early. Marlins relievers have racked up the third-highest innings total in the NL due to the repeated failure of the starters to pitch deep into games. Still, so far so good for the Marlins pen.

      What do you think? Can they keep it up?

April 15, 2011

Coghlan's Catches

    PHILADELPHIA -- Quick show of hands. How many of you questioned the decision to move Chris Coghlan to center field? Be honest. I'll even put my hand up first. Now, after watching him play out there for a couple of weeks, what's your opinion?

    Coghlan added another spectacular catch to his highlight reel last night in Atlanta when, with the bases loaded and the score tied, he went airborne to rob Brooks Conrad in the sixth inning. That's at least four exceptional catches that I can think of, and we're only 12 games into the season.

     "I knew that he would be a good center fielder," said manager Edwin Rodriguez. "But, right now, I've been surprised with all the plays he's been making out there. I had confidence in him -- we had confidence in him -- that he would be able to handle the new position. But he's been taking that to the next level."

     Said Coghlan: "i've been fortunate so far. There's been plays at critical times that the ball's come to me. I feel good out there and I still have ways to improve."

    LEO NUNEZ: We spoke briefly with Leo Nunez in the clubhouse earlier, and the closer said he threw his slider to get Martin Prado to bounce into a game-ending ground ball last night. Prado's bat broke into pieces. But Rodriguez said Nunez isn't yet entirely comfortable with the slide. "I don't think he still has a lot of confidence in that pitch, but i think he's getting there," Rodriguez said. "I think he's still using ihs changeup more. and he's using that fastball as a show-off pitch just to make them think he's got that in his arsenal. But he really trusts that change-up, and I don't blame him. I also think he's concentating more on location of his pitches." Nunez has converted all four save opportunities so far.

   HANLEY RAMIREZ: Even though Hanley Ramirez went 3 for 3 with a pair of walks on Thursday against the Braves, Rodriguez said his shortstop has plenty of room to improve offensively. "He got three hits yesterday, but I don't tihnk he's still hitting the ball well," Rodriguez said. "it will help his confidence. but I think he's not even close to where he's going to be." One of the three hits was a swinging bunt.

    WEATHER: It'll be a chilly night at Citizens Bank Park but it's tomorrow's weather that everyone is watching carefully. Forecasters are calling for an 80 percent chance of rain, with wet weather lingering through the night on Saturday.


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

    Phillies: 1. Shane Victorino, cf; 2. Placido Polanco, 3b; 3. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Raul ibanez, lf; 6. Ross Gload, rf; 7. Carlos Ruiz, c; 8. Pete Orr, 2b; 9. Roy Oswalt, p.

April 14, 2011

More PT for Dobbs

   ATLANTA -- Greg Dobbs remains in the lineup tonight for his third straight start, a deviation from what manager Edwin Rodriguez had initially told reporters about his plans for third base. Rodriguez said on Tuesday that Donnie Murphy would receive most of the playing time and that he would pick his spots with Dobbs.

   "Yesterday was because I was looking for more offense from the lineup because we were struggling offensively," Rodriguez said of his decision to start Dobbs on Wednesday. "And today, why not? We had a good game yesterday. At least it's good to have options. It could go either way."

    Dobbs is hitting .500 (7 for 14) compared to Murphy's .148 average (4 for 27), so the numbers clearly favor Dobbs. So does the fact that the Marlins faced only rght-handed starters in the Braves series. Dobbs is not considered quite as strong defensively as Murphy. But Rodriguez pointed out that the Braves have a lefty dominated lineup, meaning fewer ground balls hit to third. 

   -- Another lineup note: Rodriguez said catcher Brett Hayes would likely start in place of John Buck on Friday when the Marlins open a three-game series in Philadelphia.

   -- Adjust your radio dials. Three upcoming games are moving from their normal spot on 790-The Ticket to 1080 AM (WHIM) due to scheduling conflicts. The following games will be heard on 1080: April 16 vs. Phillies, April 21 vs. Pirates and April 24 vs. Rockies.


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

   Braves: 1. Martin Prado, lf; 2. Nate McLouth, cf; 3. Chipper Jones, 3b; 4. Brian McCann, c; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Jason Heyward, rf; 7. Alex Gonzalez, ss; 8. Freddie Freeman, 1b; 9. Brandon Beachy, p.

April 13, 2011

Josh Johnson Throws Braves for a Curve

   ATLANTA -- Not that the Braves needed any further proof of Josh Johnson's skills. But the ace of the Marlins gave them something else to think about for the future when he not only flirted with a no-hitter in Wednesday's 5-1 victory at Turner Field, but showed them something new: a curveball.

   Johnson has been working on the pitch, incorporating it little by little into an already potent mix that includes a fastball, slider and changeup. But in throwing the curve six or seven times during his latest gem, he caught the attention of the Braves.

    "I thought, 'Okay, he's got a curveball now,'" said Braves veteran Chipper Jones. "I hope he doesn't throw that to me too many more times."

    Said Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez, Johnson's former manager with the Marlins: "He's thrown in a different wrinkle from what I've seen. That's the sign of a good pitcher."

    Johnson befuddled the Braves all night, taking a no-hitter into the eighth before Freddie Freeman broke it up with a one-out double past third baseman Greg Dobbs and down the line in left.

     While Johnson's pitch count was reaching code red level, manager Edwin Rodriguez said he planned to keep him on the mound as long as he was working on the no-hitter. Freeman's double put that issue to rest, and Johnson was lifted immediately after throwing 109 pitches.

     And some of those pitches were curves.

     "It's been getting better and better," Johnson said.

Hanley Ramirez Off To Another Slow April

   ATLANTA -- Hanley Ramirez told reporters on the first day of spring training that his goal was to get off to a fast start this season. So far, that isn't happening.

    After going 0 for 4 on Tuesday in his first game back from Friday's takedown in Houston, Ramirez is now hitting just .182 with zero home runs, three runs scored, two RBI and one stolen base. Those are hardly the MVP-caliber numbers everyone on the Marlins -- from owner Jeffrey Loria on down -- expected to see from the shortstop.

    Yes, it's still very early. The Marlins have played the equivalent of one NFL game, let's not forget.

    But Ramirez didn't swing the bat last April, ending the month with a .279 aveage, and isn't doing so now. The Marlins need his bat. That much is obvious 10 games into the season. They were shut out last night, have hit the fewest home runs of any team in the NL, and have scored the second-fewest runs in the league. Only the Twins have hit fewer home runs (3) than the Marlins (5) among all major league

    Should Ramirez's early-season slump be cause for concern?

    BULLPEN -- Another strong performance last night by the Marlins' bullpen, which is piling up the innings as the 3-4-5 starters continue to struggle. The Marlins' pen has the second-lowest ERA of any relief corps in the NL (2.25 to Philadelphia's 1.93). Their .195 batting average against figure is the best in the league.

    CROWDS -- Quick early observation: attendance appeared down in the Marlins' first four road games, three in Houston and last night's here in Atlanta. In fact, last night's announced figure of 13,865 was the lowest in the 14-year history of Turner Field. There were plenty of empty seats at Minute Maid Park for their home opener on Friday, and tons of them Saturday and Sunday.

April 12, 2011

Dan Uggla Talks About Being A Brave (video)

   ATLANTA -- Caught up with Dan Uggla, the Marlins' all-time home run leader just a moment ago. Takes some getting used to seeing him in a Braves uniform. Check out what he has to say:

Hanley Ramirez Returns to the Lineup

   ATLANTA -- For the first time since Opening Night, Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton will be in the lineup at the same time. Ramirez is returning after missing the past two games with a leg injury that he suffered in Houston on Friday.

   It's not the Opening Night lineup, however, as manager Edwin Rodriguez has elected to go with Greg Dobbs at third base over Donnie Murphy.

   Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Logan Morrison, lf; 7. John Buck, c; 8. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 9. Chris Volstad, rhp.