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51 posts from May 2011

May 14, 2011

Infante's slide caps night of web gems in DC

WASHINGTON -- It may have only been the 37th game of the season for the Marlins, but if you missed it make sure you catch the replay or the highlights at the very least.

A wild, back-and-forth tussle between the Fish and Nationals finally came to an end after 11 innings Friday, but only after Omar Infante scored on a slide to remember, avoiding a tag from Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos when he should have been out by a mile at the plate.

How exciting was that slide? As reporters walked into the clubhouse after the game, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez couldn't contain himself re-enacting the play for Infante in front of his locker for several moments.

"The most impressive part of that slide was that they were waiting for him.," Rodriguez said moments later. "It was the way he avoided the tag. It wasn't like he went over his glove. The whole body went over and then he reached for home plate. It wasn't like he avoided the tag and home plate was waiting for him. He avoided the whole tag and then he reached for home plate. That was hell of a body control there."

Infante showed reporters what he actually touched the plate with. "These three fingers, that's it," Infante said pointing to the tips of his fingers. "I see that play on ESPN, a couple of guys do that. I pulled the hand [back] when he [went] to touch me, That's the only opportunity I had [to be] safe."

Greg Dobbs, who doubled home Infante, thought for sure Infante was going to be out from his perspective.

"[Right fielder Jayson] Werth played the ball perfectly," Dobbs said. "I watched the whole thing develop. I watched him pick it up, play the kick, bare-handed it, turned, fired in to the cut-off man, which he's very good at doing, one of the best right fielders in the game. Omar did a great job, made a great jump, made great turns and finished it off with a great slide."

Of course, Roger Bernadina had a pretty big play too. His tumbling, highlight reel catch in the fifth inning to rob Mike Stanton of a two-run double might have been the best defensive play made in the majors all season.

"We absolutely couldn't believe it," Dobbs said of Bernadina's slide. "I wish I had an ounce of his athleticism. He's special. It was an amazing catch, especially the ball being hit so hard off Stanton's bat. You know those balls are going to carry because he gets good back spin. Bernandina never gave up on it."

May 13, 2011

Coghlan interviewed by his childhood idol Ripken; LoMo still feels discomfort

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Instead of going to visit Capitol Hill or the Washington Monument, Chris Coghlan and Logan Morrison got up early Friday to go visit the XM Radio Headquarters and serve as guests on Cal Ripken's afternoon show. 

Chris Coghlan The interview proved to be a thrill and a bit embarrassing for Coghlan, who grew up in Maryland idolizing the Orioles Hall of Fame shortstop, and had never spoken to him before.

"It was cool," Coghlan said. "They were just asking us questions about pitchers and different nicknames. They asked us who we don't like facing on the Giants, the Phillies, pitchers. Then he asked us about the nicknames for Gaby [Sanchez] and Mike [Stanton]. That was it really.

"Then Logan was like Chris can't concentrate because he loves you, or your his idol or whatever. I was like, 'Sweet 'Mo thanks for dropping me under the bus."

Ripken let Coghlan off easy and even complemented the Marlins center fielder, telling him 'You wear No. 8 well.' But Morrison gave his teammate a hard time and even used an Eminem rap from the song Lose Yourself to describe the scene for reporters.

"He was all nervous," Morrison said before breaking into the lyrics of Eminem's song. "His palms were sweaty. His knees were weak and his arms were heavy. There was vomit on his sweater already, his mom's spaghetti. He was calm and ready to drop bombs but he kept forgetting the words he wrote down... I forgot the rest."

Coghlan did share a good Ripken story from his childhood.

"I remember trying to get his autograph when I was a kid," Coghlan said. "It was at Camden Yards, the only game I ever went to. He was always really good about giving autographs. He came out for awhile before the game and of course everybody is bombarding him. I'm down there, he's passing by and I'm like I've been sitting here for 20 minutes I'm going to throw my hat on the field, surely he's going to pick it up. He walked right by it.

"I was maybe 7. I was about to cry because now I didn't even have my hat. Eventually a security guy picked it up and gave it to me. I've seen other kids try that maneuver. Now, I actually pick up the hat and sign it because it's a good manuever man. It didn't work for me but it's worked for other kids for wanting my autographs."

> After missing the last 21 games, Morrison is more than the thrilled to be back in the Marlins lineup tonight. But just because he's back doesn't mean his left foot is completely pain free.

Morrison, who suffered a strained arch on April 19 and played in three rehab games down in Jupiter earlier this week, said he still occasionally feels his foot "bite" when he's "making adjustments and last second cuts in the outfield."

"Swinging, I don't really feel it that much unless it's an awkward swing where my foot is out in front or I take bad swing at a ball in the dirt," Morrison said. "It's just something that bites and goes away. It never lingers."

Morrison said he had the option of playing another game in Jupiter Thursday, but opted to skip it because he didn't want the expanded strike zone in Single A to affect his swing. When Morrison went down, he was leading the team in batting average (.327), home runs (4) and RBI (11).

How would he rate his swing now? "I'd put it In the garbage can," Morrison joked. "I don't know. We'll find out today. I'm excited to get back out there and to see where I'm at. It's one of those things that if it's not there right away, I'll be able to figure it out next week or so. I don't think it's going to be one of those things where I go o-fer for awhile. I hope not. I could go o-fer if I was hurt or not too. I'm just going to go out there and grind it out, be the player I am. "

> Reliever Edward Mujica, who hopped down into a heap of pain Monday before being carted off with what he called a ligament strain in the back of his left knee, will be available to pitch tonight. Mujica was available to pitch Wednesday in an emergency situation according to manager Edwin Rodriguez.

Mujica said he will wear a protective sleeve on his left knee for the next couple days. "I'm just going to keep using it a couple days for balance," he said.

> Javi Vazquez, who left the team Tuesday on bereavement, was back in the clubhouse Friday after returning home to Puerto Rico for a few days to be with his wife and children.

Vazquez said a family member of his wife's died suddenly and he received the news late Sunday night, less than 24 hours before making what turned out to be another rough start against the Phillies.

"I was just concerned for my wife and my wife's family," Vazquez said.

The Phillies got nine hits and produced six runs, five earned off Vazquez over a span of 4 1/3 innings. But he said the tragic news didn't affect him.

"When I'm on the mound I forget about that stuff, concentrate on what my job is," Vazquez said. "It didn't bother me. It was no excuse for how I pitched."

Vazquez said he worked out in Puerto Rico with his personal trainer after dropping his kids off at school Tuesday through Thursday. He said he was going to throw "a short bullpen" Friday.

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said he will monitor Vazquez, scheduled to pitch Sunday, closely. "He will stay in the rotation Sunday and then Friday," Rodriguez said.

> With Morrison back in the lineup, Rodriguez said he will try to get first baseman Gaby Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante -- the only Marlins to play in every single game this season -- a day off. Infante will probably go first, possibly on Sunday.

"He keeps saying he's fine," Rodriguez said of Infante. "[But] I think it's affecting his quickness at second and his bat speed. He wants to be out there, but I think it's fair to give him a break."

LoMo's back, will the Marlins keep winning in D.C.?

WASHINGTON -- After a tough 2-4 homestand, the Marlins get back at it tonight here at Nationals Park, a place they've had a lot of success before. 

In fact, the Marlins 19-7 record here all-time is second only to the Phillies (20-10) for the most wins by an opponent.

Chris Volstad will start tonight and try to capture the Marlins seventh straight win here. Volstad (2-2, 5.73) will start opposite left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (2-2, 2.87), who did a good job taming the Marins' bats in last Saturday's win for the Nationals at Sun Life Stadium.

The big news for the Marlins is Logan Morrison is back in the lineup. Morrison was hitting .327 with a team leading four homers and 11 RBI when he went down with a sprained left arch on April 19. Tonight will mark only the 10th time this season Morrison, Chris Coghlan and Mike Stanton will all be in the outfield together. The Marlins are 6-3 in the previous nine games when that's happened.

> Marlins (21-15): 1. Chris Coghlan CF; 2. Emilio Bonifaco 3B; 3. Hanley Ramirez SS; 4. Gaby Sanchez 1B; 5. John Buck C; 6. Logan Morrison LF; 7. Mike Stanton RF; 8. Omar Infante 2B; 9. Chris Volstad.

> Nationals (18-19): 1. Roger Bernadina CF; 2. Ian Desmond SS; 3. Jayson Werth RF; 4. Adam LaRoche 1B; 5. Wilson Ramos C; 6. Laynce Nix LF; 7. Danny Espinosa 2B; 8. Jerry Hairson 3B; 9. Tom Gorzellany P.

-- MANNY

May 10, 2011

Hensley has fractured scapula, but not a setback

    A MRI done Monday on injured reliever Clay Hensley revealed a hairline fracture in his left scapula, but he said he still expects to be ready on May 22 when he is eligible to come off the disabled list. Hensley was placed on the DL on May 7 with what was first diagnosed as a bruised rib, near the back of his shoulder.

     "I don't think it means anything," Hensley said of the new finding.

    While Hensley said he was told it would take four to six weeks for the fracture to heal completely, it is the bruising and swelling in that region that is keeping him off the mound. He said that, once the swelling subsides, he could still pitch even with the fracture.

    "I asked (the doctor) if I'd be ready in 15 days, and he said, 'Yes, I think so,'" Hensley said.

    Hensley sustained the injury when he slipped and fell on some stairs on April 26 at the team in hotel in Cincinnati. He said he'll begin playing catch on Wednesday.

    JAVIER VAZQUEZ UPDATE -- The Marlins haven't yet decided whether they'll call up a player to replace Javier Vazquez, who was placed on the bereavement list on Tuesday due to a death in his wife's family. If the Marlins promote someone from the minors, it would be for Wednesday's game only. The team is off on Thursday and Vazquez is expected to rejoin the team on Friday in Washington.

Javier Vazquez goes on bereavement list

   Due to a death in his wife's family, pitcher Javier Vazquez has returned to Puerto Rico and was placed on the bereavement list. But manager Edwin Rodriguez said the struggling right-hander will likely rejoin the club on Friday in Washington and make his next scheduled start on Sunday.

   "Before the game yesterday he told me there was something going on," Rodriguez said.

    Vazquez was knocked out in the fifth inning of Monday's loss to the Phillies, after which he made no mention of any personal issues. But Rodriguez said it was possible that Vazquez might have pitched with a heavy heart.

     "Before the game, he sounded concerned with what was happening in Puerto Rico," Rodriguez said.

     Not only did Vazquez pitch poorly, but he also failed to back up the throw on a play at the plate. The throw from Emilio Bonifacio ended up sailing over the head of catcher John Buck, and a run ended up scoring.

     EDWARD MUJICA UPDATE -- Marlins reliever Edward Mujica, who was carted off the field on Monday with what was diagnosed as a left knee strain, said the injury felt "a little better" on Tuesday and that he thought he could be ready by Friday.

     "It will be a day-to-day thing," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully he will be back on the mound when we play in D.C. on Friday."

     After going 2 1/3 innings last night, it's unlikely Mujica would have been available to pitch tonight. Thursday is an off day, so Wednesday is really the only day the Marlins might have used him.

     SCOTT COUSINS EXPLAINS MISSED BAG -- Scott Cousins should have ended up at second on his ninth-inning bloop hit down the line in left and just over the outstretched glove of Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco on Monday. Instead, he failed to touch the bag at first, which is where he ended up.

     "I was watching the ball too long and the next thing I know, I passed the base," Cousins said. "I should have put my head down sooner. I think it was natural because it was so close to the line. But, after you hit it, it's out of your control anyway, so you should just run."

     Cousins could have hoped that the first base umpire wasn't watching and kept running for second, but decided not to chance it.

     "There's no point in taking that chance," Cousins said. "I know it's that umpire's job to watch to see if I hit the bag, but I'm not about to take a chance. I look worse if I miss first and I get to second and he calls me out. I would have liked to be on second and do it fundamentally right. But, you know what? I missed first. I'm human."

    LOGAN MORRISON UPDATE -- Morrison went 0 for 3 and struck out once Monday in his first rehab game for Single A Jupiter. Rodriguez said Morrison would probably play all nine innings in left tonight and make either one or two more rehab starts before rejoining the club on Friday.

     LINEUPS:

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

     Phillies: 1. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 2. Shane Victorino, cf; 3. Placido Polanco, 3b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Raul Ibanez, lf; 6. Ben Francisco, rf; 7. Pete Orr, 2b; 8. Dane Sardinha, c; 9. Roy Halladay, p.

     UMPS: HP -- Mark Carlson; 1B -- Tim Timmons; 2B -- Jeff Kellogg; 3B -- Eric Cooper.

May 09, 2011

Javier Vazquez: "Frustrated" and "Embarrassed"

         As i wrote in my game story, the signing of Javier Vazquez is beginning to bear a striking resemblance to the signing of Al Leiter, which is not a good thing for the Marlins. Vazquez was knocked out early once again on Monday when the Phillies got to him for six runs on nine hits.

         Afterward, Vazquez -- now 2-3 with a 6.88 ERA -- sounded as down as he's been all season.

         "I wish I had an explanation, but I've got nothing," he said. "Just frustrating. I'm embarrassed the way I'm throwing. Things aren't happening right now for me. Nothing's going right, so we've just got to keep working hard, battling, and hopefully I'll get through this. If not, then I'll be in trouble."

         On top of everything else, Vazquez forgot to back up home plate on a throw in from Emilio Bonifacio, which ended up going over the head of catcher John Buck and striking the backstrop. Vazquez took full blame.

         "I was not where i needed to be," Vazquez said. "The first thing I did wrong was I didn't cover home plate."

         A run ended up scoring on the play.

         The Marlins spent $7 million on Vazquez thinking he would bounce back in the National League after a poor season in 2010 with the Yankees. Sound familiar? For Marlins fans, it should. They signed Leiter to a $8 million deal for 2005, and he was a huge flop, going 2-7 with a 6.64 ERA before he was finally released midway through the season.

          At the moment, the Marlins have no such plans for Vazquez, and manager Edwin Rodriguez said he'll make his next scheduled start. But it must be troubling to the front office, which doesn't exactly have a viable replacement for Vazquez waiting in the minors.

         -- Reliever Edward Mujica was carted off in the seventh inning with what the Marlins termed as a strained left knee. But Mujica was walking around in the clubhouse afterward and is listed as day to day. He said he felt sore, but would wait to tomorrow to see if it was any worse.

Hanley goes back to the '09 bats, Gaby wins NL player of week

     The slumping shortstop walked into the clubhouse with a couple of bats on his shoulder.

     "These are my babies," said Hanley Ramirez, before planting a kiss on one of the bat barrels.

     Yes, it's come to this. The three-time All-Star, desperate to produce, dug around in the dark recesses of his closet at home and found what he hopes to be the solution to his woes: the very bats he used during the 2009 season when he won the NL batting title.

      "I take any leftover bats home after every season," Ramirez said. "And I had some left from '09."

      It's quite obvious that the bats aren't fresh out of the box. They're dinged, dented and discolored. But, at this point, Ramirez is willing to try anything to snap out of his season-long funk at the plate. He put the bats to their first test on Sunday, and though he went just 1 for 5 -- the only hit coming when he dumped a single into center -- he smoked a couple of pitches, one for a long fly ball to left that twisted just foul and a line drive to short that that was turned into a double play.

      Asked if he had thought about burning his old bats to exorcise the demons, Ramirez, who is hitting just .195, responded: "Coming soon."

      -- One Marlin who is hitting is first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who was named NL Player of the Week after going 13 for 28 (.464) with three doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI in seven games last week. On Sunday, Sanchez went 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles, a three-run home run, and a walk.

      "He's been out most consistent hitter pretty much the entire month of April and May," said manager Edwin Rodriguez. "People are going to start talking about him a little bit more."

     LINEUPS:

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

     Phillies: 1. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 2. Shane Victorino, cf; 3. Placido Polanco, 3b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Raul Ibanez, lf; 6. Ross Gload, rf; 7. Pete Orr, 2b; 8. Brian Schneider, c; 9. Joe Blanton, p.

May 08, 2011

Is it time to drop Hanley Ramirez in the order?

      Chris Coghlan and Emilio Bonifacio have flip-flopped positions at the top of the order for today's game, but slumping Hanley Ramirez remains in the third spot -- at least for the time being. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said he decided to have Bonifacio lead off to help spark the struggling offense. And he was also quick to add -- before being asked -- that Ramirez is staying put.

      "Boni has been swinging the bat very well," Rodriguez said. "So I think a switch there may help. We'll  see how he does. But I feel comfortable with either one. Before you guys ask about Hanley, he will stay there, the three hole. I don't have any other options. There's not too many options. He's been battling there in the three hole, putting in the work, so hopefully he will come out of his slump. We need him, big time."

      Ramirez enters the day with a .195 average, only one home run on a day when even Bonifacio put one out, and just 12 RBI. From the standpoint of OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), only the Cubs and Padres have received less offensive production than the Marlins from their No. 3 hitters. 

      Rodriguez might have to wait until Logan Morrison comes off the disabled list and returns to the lineup to make a lineup move with Ramirez if the shortstop's slump continues. Morrison is schedule to play his first rehab game on Sunday as long as his injured left foot checks out today with a doctor. The Marlins are hoping Morrison will be ready to return to the lineup next Friday when they open a road trip in Washington.

      If Ramirez is demoted to the lower part of the lineup, it wouldn't be the first time. Joe Girardi dropped Ramirez into the No. 7 hole for a handful of games in late July and August of the 2006 season, and the rookie's bat came to life. Ramirez went 11 for 23 in six starts from the No. 7 spot before Girardi put him back in the leadoff position, and his average improved from .259 in late July to .292 by the end of the season when he was named NL Rookie of the Year.

      Give us your thoughts. What should  be done with Hanley Ramirez in terms of his position in the lineup?

      Here are today's lineups:

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

      Nationals: 1. Roger Bernadina, cf; 2. Ian Desmond, ss; 3. Laynce Nix, rf; 4. Adam LaRoche, 1b; 5. Michael Morse, lf; 6. Jerry Hairston, 3b; 7. Ivan Rodriguez, c; 8. Danny Espinosa, 2b; 9. Livan Hernandez, p.

May 07, 2011

Burke Badenhop Returns; Clay Hensley (Bruised Rib) to the DL

       Burke Badenhop, the odd man out when the Marlins set their bullpen coming out of spring training, has been called up from Triple A New Orleans to replace Clay Hensley, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised left rib.

       In 11 appearances with the Zephyrs, Badenhop has allowed 11 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings.

       Badenhop was one of eight relievers battling for seven bullpen spots during spring training but, because he had minor-league options remaining, began the season in New Orleans instead of with the big-league club.

       Hensley has struggled of late. After facing one of the two batters he faced last night -- the sixth walk he has issued over his five most recent appearances -- the Marlins decided to make a move.

May 06, 2011

Marlins may be planning roster move with Clay Hensley

    The Marlins may be planning a roster move with struggling reliever Clay Hensley, possibly by placing him on the disabled list.

     Members of the front office, along with owner Jeffrey Loria, held a closed-door meeting with manager Edwin Rodriguez for more than 30 minutes following the 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Nationals while Hensley waited at his locker.

     At one point, Loria emerged from the meeting, approached Hensley and in a conciliatory tone, told the reliever that it was "a long season."

     Hensley declined to answer reporters' questions and the Marlins did not announce any moves, which they seldom do following a game. Rodriguez did not talk to reporters after the game, either.

     Hensley has been in a funk of late. Known for his precise control, he issued a leadoff walk in the eighth, struck out the next batter, and was lifted. Hensley has walked six batters over his five most recent outings.

      When the team was in Cincinnati last week, Hensley said he slipped and fell on some steps at the team hotel, bruising his left shoulder, and was unavailable for two games.