« May 2011 | Main | July 2011 »

62 posts from June 2011

June 19, 2011

AUDIO: Beinfest, Marlins players react to Edwin Rodriguez's resignation as manager

ST. PETERSBURG -- Here's what Larry Beinfest and several players had to say after learning of Edwin Rodriguez's resignation around 11:15 this morning.

Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest breaks the news 

Veteran Wes Helms talks about Edwin Rodriguez's resignation

Catcher Brett Hayes on Edwin Rodriguez's resignation

First baseman Gaby Sanchez talks about Edwin Rodriguez's resignation

Edwin Rodriguez resigns as manager; Jack McKeon a candidate for interim?

       Edwin Rodriguez bowed out as Marlins manager this morning, submitting his resignation to club officials in St. Petersburg. Bench coach Brandon Hyde will manage today's game against the Rays.

        Larry Beinfest, president of baseball operations, said the team would look immediately for an interim manager to finish out the season. Hyde and former Marlins manager Jack McKeon, who guided the team to the 2003 World Series title, are candidates for the interim job, according to sources.

        ESPN is also reporting that McKeon is a candidate.

        But McKeon, 80, said he had not spoken to anyone with the Marlins about the position.

        "I just walked in from church," McKeon said at 12:45 p.m. "I didn't even know he resigned. I haven't heard a word."

        Asked if he would consider returning as manager if asked, McKeon replied from his home in North Carolina. "I'd have to check with my wife and see what she says. But, no question I could do it."

       Considering the team's rapid plunge, going from 10 games over .500 and a game out of first on May 26 to seven games under .500 and 12 games out in a span of just over three weeks, the decision hardly comes as a surprise.

       Rodriguez was on thin ice even before the season began when he accepted a one-year offer to manage the team, and it's no secret that the Marlins would like a high-profile manager (Ozzie Guillen?) in place when they move into their new ballpark next season.

      Rodriguez was handicapped by injuries to key players, notably pitcher Josh Johnson and shortstop Hanley Ramirez, and Ramirez's season-long hitting slump.

      He didn't quite last one full year at the Marlns' helm, taking over for fired manager Fredi Gonzalez last June 23. Not long after Rodriguez was promoted from Triple A New Orleans to accept the interim title, the Marlins talked to Bobby Valentine about the full-time position.

      But talks with Valentine ultimately collapsed, and Rodriguez was left in charge to manage the rest of the 2010 season.

June 18, 2011

Mike Stanton talks eye infection and is it time for the Marlins to start worrying about Ricky Nolasco?

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mike Stanton missed his first game since April 8th on Saturday because of a right eye infection. But apparently, his eye troubles have been around for a lot longer.

After Saturday's 7-4 loss to the Rays, Stanton said he's been dealing with blurry vision since the Marlins returned from the West Coast on June 2nd. And even after battling through pink eye, the blurriness has remained.

"This has been going on for awhile now," said Stanton, who has gone 11 for 59 (.186) with four homers, nine RBI and 19 strikeouts since the Marlins came home from out West. "There's only so much you can do when your eyes are blurry and you can't see or pickup the ball. I'm not helping. There's type of injures -- and this isn't an injury -- where you can push through. But I'm not helping the team. If anything, I'm hurting them the way I'm playing. I just have to get it taken care of and get back as soon as possible."

Stanton said he's seen multiple doctors and has "tried four or five different combinations of drops," with little results. "I've pushed through it long enough," he said. "We've waited it out. There's no progress."

The Marlins are sending Stanton to a new doctor when they return home Monday.

NOLASCO CAN'T SOLVE WOES: Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said before Saturday's game he needed Ricky Nolasco to step up.

The Marlins' second-best pitcher heading into the season couldn't do it and simply went through more misery on Saturday. Over five innings, he gave up eight hits, five earned runs, walked one and failed to strike out a hitter for only the third time in his career.

Over his last five starts, he's gone 0-3 with a 8.20 ERA over 26 1/3 innings. Opponents have hit .371 off him during the stretch.

"He was up in the zone today and that's why he got hit," Rodriguez said. "Pretty much the same story. He's throwing 90, 92. He's missing the spot. He's not using both sides of the plate. It's pretty much down the middle, up in the zone. He's going to get hurt. This is the big leagues. Breaking ball is up in the zone. There's nothing in the bottom part of the strikezone. And he keeps saying he's fine. He's struggling like the whole team."

Asked about his health after this latest start, Nolasco reiterated he's "fine."

"I'm picking the absolute worst time for myself to go through some struggles. But that's just the way the game is," Nolasco said. "Tonight, a ouple pitches were up. Couple pitches they hit were good pitches. Couple pitches they found a couple holes. When it's snowballing like this, there is not much you can do. All you can do is go out and pitch and hopefully things start turning our way."

Edwin Rodriguez talks ghosts, losing skid, Hanley's struggles and the lack of leadership in the Marlins clubhouse

ST. PETERSBURG -- A couple hours before Saturday's game, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez spent about five minutes in the dugout sharing a few laughs and ghost stories with relievers Steve Cishek and Leo Nunez.

Edwin RodriguezWith the team staying at the Vinoy Hotel, a resort with its share of ghost stories, Nunez has flat out avoided staying there, instead opting to be a guest at the home of Rays reliever and friend Joel Peralta. Cishek, meanwhile, has had two rough nights getting any sleep. Cishek made Rodriguez roar with laughter when he told him how he heard pounding at his door at 3:30 a.m., followed by someone whispering his name.

"If the ghost can hit," Rodriguez said. "Let him know I'll give him a tryout."

With the Marlins mired in one of the worst losing skids in franchise history, Rodriguez is willing to do anything to get his team out of it. Saturday, he juggled his lineup and moved a struggling Hanley Ramirez down to sixth in the batting order. It's the first time since his rookie year of 2006, Ramirez, the NL's 2009 batting champion hasn't hit first, second or third in the Marlins lineup.

Rodriguez said he's tried everything to help the Marlins shake their hitting woes with runners in scoring position. From having the team's sports psychologist talk to each player individually to yelling, screaming and throwing things around the clubhouse himself. He said he's even tried meditation. But nothing has worked. 

"I wish you guys could be in the dugout during the game. When guys struggle and come back to the dugout it's amazing," Rodriguez said. "Some of them, they're shaking because they're so mad. We tell them breathe in, breathe out. They literally have been like that. I don't want to put out names. But during the game we actually have to tell them to calm down. You talk about it and people say it's an excuse. You have to be here to understand what we're talking about.

"There's only so much you can do or say to the player. Bottomline when they go up there in front of 40,000 people yelling and screaming, and you're 21 and 23, it's hard to do. I think it's what's happening to them."

Rodriguez insists what's led the Marlins to dropping 19 of their last 22 games coming into Saturday have been the injuries to their best players -- ace Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, setup man Clay Hensley and Nunez. He said young players are being asked to do more than they're ready to do. And a lack of leadership in the clubhouse is also hurting.

"That's another thing. We don't have -- we're lacking that veteran presence, a guy who will come and say come on guys, we need to step back and have some fun," Rodriguez said. "There's only so much a coach and manager can say. Coming from a player, one of them, it will be different. Like Luis Gonzalez or Carlos Delgado when he was here. Darren Daulton. We're lacking that."

"When we put together the team back in November we talked about JJ being the No. 1 guy in the rotation, Hanley being the No. 3 hitter, the run production guy, Leo being the closer, Hensley the setup. If any of those guys go down its going to affect the whole team. That's where the minor leagues come into play. We not only lost one or two or three, but four. The ace, three-hole hitter, setup and closer we're all down. How do you replace those guys? We don't have that. I don't think any organization has that where the ace goes down and replace the ace. That affected the team and the whole season. If you have an experienced team like St. Louis, when Wainwright went down, it doesn't affect as you as much. [Albert] Pujols, [Chris] Carpenter know how to handle that. This young team doesn't, they're still learning.</p>

<p>"Asking these young guys to step up and replace that -- I think they might do it, but they're putting too much pressure on themselves. We pretty much have the same team we had the first two months of the season, but not JJ and no Hanley. No coincidence we started losing when we lost Hanley. The talent is still there, but now the approach is different. They feel the pressure. It's a snowball."

As for Ramirez, Rodriguez said he's spoken to a lot of people around baseball to try and figure out why the Marlins $70 million man has fallen so off track.

"Nobody has the answer," Rodriguez said. "His swing is different, that's for sure. His swing is too much body, too much arm. The bat speed is at best average. So what it is, I don't know. I don't if he's off balance. I don't know if he's trying to hard. Nobody has an answer."

One National League scout in attendance Saturday said Ramirez's swing has simply gotten long and he's trying to make up for it by starting his swing earlier. Ramirez, who has bulked up over the years, has hit just .249 with 73 runs scored, 40 RBI and 12 home runs since he finished runner-up in the home run derby at last year's All-Star break.

"I think he needs to realize he's older now," Rodriguez said of Ramirez. "I didn't know him back then, but maybe he used to pick up the glove and bat a week before spring training and just start hitting. Now, he's getting a lit bit older now and it isn't the same. He needs to keep himself in good shape during the offseason. I don't know if that's the reason. Maybe he works out in the offseason. But that's my observation. He definitely needs to change his approach or whatever he's doing. During the season, during the offseason, whatever. Last year was a bad year for him under his standards. This year, it's not getting any better."

Mike Stanton scratched from lineup with right eye infection

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mike Stanton was scratched from the Marlins lineup Saturday with what the team is calling a right eye infection.

Stanton participated in batting practice before the game, but met with manager Edwin Rodriguez shortly afterward. "He said his right eye was bothering him," Rodriguez said. "He was seeing the ball a little blurry, it's not 100 percent -- especially the middle, away pitch. That's when I decided to scratch him out of the lineup."

Jose Lopez took Stanton's place in the lineup and will bat seventh. How long Stanton will be out remains a mystery.

"He said it's been bothering him awhile now," Rodriguez said. "He felt like today it was getting worse. I haven't talked to the trainers about all the details. I will talk to him, see how we approach it.

"It's hard to hit a baseball when you're 100 percent. I can't imagine what he's going through the last week or so. I know he's a streaky guy and been struggling lately. But nothing this bad."

Since hitting his last home run on June 11, Stanton has gone 4 for 28 with 2 RBI and nine strikeouts.

Hanley Ramirez, hitting .201, slides down to sixth in Marlins lineup -- first time since rookie year ('06) he isn't hitting in top three spots

ST. PETERSBURG -- Edwin Rodriguez told reporters after Friday's 5-1 loss to the Rays -- the 16th in 17 games this month for the Marlins -- that he was thinking about sneaking into the clubhouse early and changing the calendar to July.

Hanley Ramirez We're not sure if he did that, but we know he made at least one change -- dropping Hanley Ramirez down in the lineup.

Ramirez, who is hitting just .201 with 17 RBI this season, was moved down from the leadoff spot into the sixth hole. It's the first time since his rookie year of 2006 Ramirez has been in the starting lineup and hasn't been scheduled to hit first, second or third.

Rodriguez said before the Marlins left for Philadelphia earlier this week Ramirez would be his leadoff hitter until he started turning things around. Apparently, that was just a four game experiment. Ramirez has gone 1 for 13 with a double and a run scored since his return from the disabled list. He's also struckout five times. 

The Marlins new leadoff hitter is Dewayne Wise, who went 2 for 4 with a stolen base in his Marlins debut Friday. Emilio Bonifacio, hitting .273 with a .341 on base percentage, is hitting second. That gives the Marlins the most speed they've had at the top of the order all season. 

As for Hanley, is it fair to raise the question that maybe the Marlins ought to send him down to the minors too? Because Ramirez has over five years of major league service, the Marlins can't send him down to the minors without his consent. But may be he should consider it.

Chris Coghlan was sent down Friday for hitting .230 with five homers and 22 RBI. Just saying. If Ricky Nolasco and Coghlan can go down midyear to make tweaks why can't Hanley?

CLUTCH HITTING STATS: If there has been one constant throughout the team's 3-19 skid over the past three-plus weeks its that the Marlins have had epic sturggles hitting with runners in scoring position.

Since June began, they have gone a combined 28-for-144 with runners in scoring position (.194). Take out a 10-for-20 performance in their 12-9 loss to the Diamondbacks on June 13 and the numbers become even uglier (.145).

So who is coming up clutch and who isn't this season? Here are the stats for the season with runners in scoring position entering Saturday...

Marlins with runners in scoring position (2011)
- Brett Hayes .353 (6 for 17), 10 RBI, 2 HR
- Greg Dobbs .326 (15 for 46), 18 RBI, 1 HR
- Gaby Sanchez .279 (19 for 68), 29 RBI, 2 HR
- Hanley Ramirez .255 (12 for 47), 12 RBI, 0 HR
- Omar Infante .239 (16 for 67), 17 RBI, 0 HR
- Emilio Bonifacio .238 (10 for 42), 10 RBI, 1 HR
- John Buck .211 (12 for 57), 19 RBI, 2 HR
- Wes Helms .211 (4 for 19), 5 RBI, 0 HR
- Mike Stanton .208 (15 for 72), 24 RBI, 2 HR
- Chris Coghlan .200 (11 for 55), 17 RBI, 0 HR
- Jose Lopez .194 (6 for 31), 7 RBI, 1 HR (Most with Rockies, 1-2 with Marlins)
- Logan Morrison .184 (9 for 49), 17 RBI, 1 HR

> Marlins lineup: 1. Dewayne Wise CF, 2. Emilio Bonifacio RF, 3. Logan Morrison LF, 4. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 5. Greg Dobbs 3B, 6. Hanley Ramirez SS, Stanton DH, Buck C, Infante 2B, Nolasco P

June 17, 2011

More on Dewayne Wise's return, Coghlan's demotion, JJ's first bullpen and strange, scary noises at the Marlins team hotel

TAMPA -- Dewayne Wise was on his way to winning the reserve outfielder's job with the Marlins this spring when a nagging toe injury changed everything. 

Dewayne Wise Instead of heading to the minors, rehabbing and waiting for a call-up from the Marlins, Wise opted to get released from his minor league contract thinking he'd find his way onto a major league roster faster somewhere else. He signed with the Blue Jays, one of his four former teams. The call up never came. Now, a little more than three months after the Marlins cut him loose, Wise will make his Marlins debut Friday night hitting ninth and starting in center field against the Rays. 

"It is weird," Wise, 33, said of being back in the Marlins clubhouse. "You never know in this game. When I left I went out on good terms. I didn’t want to burn any bridges. I was playing well in [Triple A Las Vegas] and decided to take my out to see if there was an opportunity to get back to the big leagues. A couple of teams called. These guys were one of them. I just felt like they knew me, I was in camp all spring. I just felt like it was a good opportunity for me at this point."

Wise, who bats left-handed and throws left-handed, hit .333 with five homers and 21 RBI and had an on-base percentage of .380 in 36 minor league games this season. He stole eight bases and was caught stealing three times. With Chris Coghlan back in the minor leagues, manager Edwin Rodriguez said Wise will platoon with Emilio Bonifacio in center field.

"We all know what kind of hitter he is. He can help us here. But he's here because of his defense," Rodriguez said. "Defensively, he'll be our best outfielder out there and he's going to help the young guys on the corners. He's going to help LoMo and help Stanton. I think we need that experienced fielder out there and I think he'll be the guy."

Wise said his first goal is to try and get the Marlins off this losing skid.

"The main thing is I want to tell these guys, you got to have fun," Wise said. "Nobody predicted us to win this division. I feel like a lot of guys are putting a lot of pressure on themselves. It’s a young team I just got the feeling that a lot of these guys are trying to do too much. They got to realize there are 25 guys on the team and you got to help each other.

"I’m not going to come in here and be a life saver or nothing like that, I just want to do whatever it takes to help these guys get back on track and just have fun that's the main thing."

COGHLAN TAKES DEMOTION HARD: Friday was supposed to be a happy homecoming for Chris Coghlan. Instead, the former National League Rookie of Year found out he was heading back to the minor leagues.

"He took it hard," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He's the rookie of the year and he knows he belongs here. He's just having a bad start. You have to take into consideration he lost a lot of time in spring training. I think whenever he started playing the last week of spring training he never got into a groove offensively.

"He's physically fine. He hasn't complained to us with any pain or anything. I think when the season started he was a little bit behind offensively because he missed so much time in spring training. Now, he's trying to get back his swing and it's not working.

"I'm not a hitting coach, but I've been around him. I think he's getting late to the swinging position. But he knows better than anybody. What we have seen from Chris Coghlan he'll be the first one to tell you that's not him, swinging at bad pitches. I think he doesn't have the confidence to take close pitches like he did last year. So, there's something he needs to work on."

Rodriguez said he expects Coghlan to return this season.

"I really believe and we believe Chris Coghlan needs to work on his swing. We all know he's a way better hitter than he's been showing. So we really believe if he goes there and goes back to basics with less pressure I think he'll be fine. And whenever he's fine then he come back here and help us.

"I think whatever he was doing to tweak his mechanics wasn't working at this level. Facing Cliff Lee, Halladay and thinking about his mechanics, I don't think it was working. He should go down and work whatever he needs to work and we all know he's going to hit eventually."

JOHNSON THROWS BULLPEN: Josh Johnson took a step forward in his return from the disabled list Friday when he threw his first bullpen session since leaving the team with right shoulder inflammation on May 17.

"It felt good. It kind of felt like I was throwing about 10 miles per hour, but kind of what I expected to be throwing for the first time on the mound in about a month," Johnson said. "It felt kind of weird to be on the slope. I almost fell on the first throw. But it felt good to get back up there and throw some balls to the plate."

Johnson said he threw about 20 pitches -- a mix of fastballs and changeups. His next steps in recovery: bullpen sessions on Sunday and Wednesday before he heads back to the minors for at least two rehab assignments. Johnson said his goal is to return to the rotation shortly after the All-Star Break, July 16 or 17.

As for the strength in his arm, Johnson said, "You can't tell. You have to start letting it go on the mound. Until you really start letting it go, you don't know. But it feels better. That's good."

What hasn't been good, he said, is watching the Marlins slide down the standings during their 3-18 stretch. "It's awful, even worse watching it on TV," Johnson said. "At least whenever your here you can at least cheer guys on, help pick guys up."

SCARY NOISES AT TEAM HOTEL: Reliever Steve Cishek, 25, said he had a tough time getting any sleep Thursday because of strange noises at the team hotel. The Marlins are staying at the Vinoy, a St. Petersburg hotel with a rich history of hauntings and ghost stories.

Now, Cishek said Friday, he has one of his own after being woken up by "rattling noises."

"I didn't let it bother me at first because I knew it was an old hotel," said Cishek, who said he stayed at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee last year -- another hotel that is supposedly haunted.

"At one point in the night I thought I heard pattering and footsteps. I thought I was probably just imagining things. But at 6 in the morning I woke up to a really loud noise in my room, a lot of rattling. It sounded like the toilet water was running. I didn't think much of it. But it was going on for like 10 minutes and as soon as I got up to go put the light on, everything went completely silent before I switched the light. I was like what's going on?"

Cishek, a fan of the TV show Ghost Hunter, said he's staying in the 300 level at the hotel. "I heard the fifth floor is where it's at, where all the craziness goes on. But I don't know. I haven't investigated it yet. I might leave the recorder on tonight, see if I can catch anything."

> Outfielder Mike Stanton belted a home run off the clock/scoreboard in center field at Tropicana Field, a blast that had to have been at least 500 feet during batting practice. 

Asked about it in the clubhouse, a modest Stanton said: "The wind took it."

Marlins send Chris Coghlan down to minors; OF Dewayne Wise takes his spot

TAMPA -- So much for Chris Coghlan's homecoming. 

The Marlins 2009 National League Rookie of the Year was optioned to Triple A New Orleans Friday afternoon, the first time in his career the Marlins have sent him back down to the minors.

Coghlan was replaced on the roster by Dewayne Wise, who was signed to a minor league contract by the Marlins on Wednesday after being released by the Blue Jays earlier this week. 

Wise was with the Marlins in spring training and he hit .250 with two homers and 10 RBI (.304 OBP) in 18 games. A strong defensive outfielder, Wise is a career .222 hitter in eight seasons in the majors.

Coghlan, a Tampa native, was hitting .230 with five homers and 22 RBI in 65 games this season. He had a .296 on base percentage with 49 strikeouts in 269 at-bats. Among everyday leadoff hitters, Coghlan was hitting .236 (second worst behind Rangers' Ian Kinsler) and his on-base percentage was .301 (second only to Oakland's Coco Crisp among worst)

To make room on the 40-man roster for Wise, the Marlins designated left-handed pitcher Dustin Richardson for assignment.

We'll have more on this later.

Marlins need strong June finish to avoid worst month in franchise history

TAMPA -- The losing has almost become historic.

The Marlins 'rough ride over the past three weeks --three wins, 18 losses -- has seen the team drop from 10 games over and second place (29-19) to five game under and into last place (32-37) in the National League East.

And the worst may not be over.

The Marlins kickoff a three-game series tonight against the Rays (36-33) at Tropicana Field before heading home to take on the Angels (33-37). After that, it's back out to the West Coast for three games each at Seattle (35-34) and Oakland (30-40).

Unless the Marlins turn things around quickly they could be on the verge of setting some ugly team history. For starters, they need to win at least seven of their next 12 games to avoid completing the worst month in team history.

Here's a look at the worst months in franchise history:
Sept. '93: 9-19 (.321)
May '95: 7-20 (.259)
May '98: 8-20 (.286)
Aug. '98: 8-20 (.286)
Sep. '98: 7-17 (.292)
Apr. '99: 6-17 (.261)
Aug. '01: 9-20 (.310)
Apr. '06: 6-16 (.272)
Aug. '07: 9-19 (.321)
May '09: 9-20 (.310)
June '11: 1-15 (.063) - 12 games left

> Another dubious mark the Marlins could set -- worst 25-game stretch in team history. The previous mark was 4-21 from May 10-June 7, 1998.

> If the Marlins lose tonight, they'll match their season-high eight-game losing streak. The club record for consecutive losses is 11 games, set twice during a 108 loss season in 1998.

> Offensively, the Marlins stats for June aren't pretty. They've scored 50 runs (25th in MLB), hit .236 as a team (22nd), and have an on base percentage (.300) that ranks 23rd. The only stat in the top half of baseball? Home runs (14), which is tied with the Nationals for 12th best.

> Pitching wise, the 1-15 record is obviously the worst. After that, the team ERA of 5.24 ranks 28th, 53 walks rank 25th and the .261 opponent batting average ranks 21st. They've also managed to blow three save opportunities in four chances. The only good stat the Marlins have achieved? Strikeouts (132), which ranks second-most behind just the Giants.

June 16, 2011

Edwin Rodriguez: There will be no crying on the Marlins

      PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Edwin Rodriguez said if he's fired, so be it. He said he's not as concerned about his job security as he is about the mood of the Marlins players as they prepare to take the field at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon, trying to avoid a four-game sweep to the Phillies.

      Lose today, and the Marlins will have lost 15 of their past 16 games, matching the club record for futiliy over a 16-game stretch. The 108-loss '98 team also lost 15 of 16 toward the end of that season. A Phillies win and Nationals lose would also give the Marlins sole possession of last place in the NL East.

      With Cliff Lee facing off against Javier Vazquez -- a mismatch on paper -- Rodriguez said he planned to call a clubhouse meeting before the game to tell to tell the players he doesn't want to see any of them moping. If he does, he said he would remove them out of the game.

      "I don't want anybody hanging their heads, feel like we're defeated," Rodriguez said. "Everybody is expecting us to go out there and just cry and feel defeated. I don't want to see that. i don't want anybody dragging out there. Everybody is expecting us to just give away this game, Cliff Lee on the mound, Philadelphia....just going through the motions. It''s not going to happen. I'm going to tell them I'm going to tell them I'm going to pull anybody I see that's going to be dragging."

      As for his own mood, Rodriguez said he's feeling no additional pressure because the team has been losing. He said he's started receiving text messages and emails from acquaintances expressing concern about his job.

        "I want to be here," Rodriguez said. "Of course, it's a challenge for me. Of course I want to be here. I'm fine. I can't control that (his future as manager), to be honest. I'm grateful that they gave me a chance to e here. What they do after this -- whatever they want to do -- is fine."

       Shortstop Hanley Ramirez defended Rodriguez, saying he's the best manager he's ever had.

       "He's the best guy we ever had here," Ramirez said. "Everything's going bad right now, but he's there for you. He's a good guy, a good manager, and he's smart. When we do good, people are looking at us. It's like Ozzie (Guillen) says, when the team's winning, you guys give credit to the players. When we're losing, they want to fire me. It's not how it is. He (Rodriguez) is going to be here forever. I'm on his side. I've got his back."

       EDWARD MUJICA WRIST INJURY -- The reliever sprained his right wrist in Wednesday's first game and said he could barely brush his teeth this morning. "More pain today," Mujica said. X-rays were negative, but Mujica said he might have a MRI on Friday when the team gets to St. Petersburg. The injury is more problematic for Mujica. Not only is the injury to his pitching hand, but he relies on his split-finger, a pitch that places added torque on the wrist. "He relies on that split-finger, and the split-finger puts a lot of pressure on the wrist," Rodriguez said.

       Mujica isn't the only injured reliever. Leo Nunez took a line drive off his right ankle in Wednesday's ninth inning, remained on the mound, and gave up the go-ahead runs in an eventual 5-4 loss in 10 innings. Nunez said the ankle was feeling sore Thursday and Rodriguez said he's "questionable" for this afternoon's game.

      RANDY CHOATE AS OUTFIELDER? -- The odds of it happening are remote, but Rodriguez said he's given thought to having lefty specialist Randy Choate go from the mound to the outfield for one or two right-handed batters and then bringing him back to the mound to face a lefty. "He's willing to do it," Rodriguez said. "I even told him, make sure you take fly balls in the outfield. If we have a lefty, two righties and a lefty (coming up), I would put him in the outfield for two righties and bring him back in for the lefty."

     DH PLANS FOR TAMPA SERIES -- Rodriguez said that, with the addition of 3B/2B Jose Lopez, he'll likely use Greg Dobbs as his designated hitter in at least one game during the upcoming series with the Rays and 1B Gaby Sanchez in the other two. Rodriguez said Sanchez is tired from use and could probably use a breather. But he said Sanchez told him he wanted to play the entire Phillies series.

     LOPEZ'S GLOVES -- Did anyone notice that the glove Lopez used while playing second on Wednesday had a purple webbing to match Colorado's colors? Well, today, Lopez will be at third and use the glove he had with the Mariners, one with a bluish-green webbing that comes closer to matching the Marlins' colors.    

      LINEUPS:

      Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Jose Lopez, 3b; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. John Buck, c; 8. Chris Coghlan, cf; 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. Carlos Ruiz, c; 7. Domonic Brown, rf; 8. Michael Martinez, 2b; 9. Cliff Lee, p.