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62 posts from June 2011

June 15, 2011

Villanueva back to New Orleans, Jose Lopez in second game lineup, Mujica hurt

    PHILADELPHIA -- Elih Villanueva's first day in the majors lasted for all of three innings. Now he's returning to Triple A New Orleans after being pulverized by the Phillies in his first major league debut. The Marlins selected the contract of infielder Jose Lopez and are starting him at SECOND base in the second game of the doubleheader, which starts at 7:05.

    And that's not the all of it. Reliever Edward Mujica was awaiting the results of X-rays on his right wrist, which he injured in a tumbling collision at first base with Wilson Valdez in the seventh inning. The initial diagnosis is a sprained wrist. Mujica said he was feeling a lot of pain. There's obviously a chance he goes on the disabled list and the Marlins call up Jose Ceda, who is already in Philadelphia. But no word yet on that.

     To make room for Lopez on the 40-man roster, the Marlins designated catcher Brad Davis for assignment.

      The Marlins signed Lopez a few days ago after he was released by the Colorado Rockies. Lopez spent seven seasons with Seattle, where he enjoyed his best season in 2009 when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 96. But he's tailed off at the plate the past two seasons. He hit just .208 for the Rockies before his release.

      "I look at this as an opportunity to play everyday," Lopez said. "(In Colorado) I didn't play everyday. I have to play everyday. This year I play one, off four, play another one, off five. I don't like that. I want to play."

     Manager Edwin Rodriguez didn't indicate how he intended to use Lopez, who also plays second.

     The Rockies are on the hook for all but the pro-rated minimum of Lopez's $3.6 million salary this season.

     As for Villanueva, it was a rough debut. He gave up eight runs in only three innings, during which he threw 92 pitches, only 52 of them for strikes.

     "Trying to be too fine," Villaneuva said of Wednesday's performance. "I wish things had turned out a little bit better, but the command was off."

Let the long day begin

   PHILADELPHIA -- As we sit here awaiting the start of a day/night doubleheader.....

   Manager Edwin Rodriguez is presently reading "177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class" and passing along a few of the pointers to Marlins players, who are suffering through a horrid losing slump -- one of the worst in franchise history.

   Rodriguez said he's looking for "some tips to relax the players through tough times, something that I should say, certain words that I should be using to get them going."

   If that fails to work, Rodriguez joked that he might bring in the Dalai Lama to address the players.


   Rodriguez said he senses that the absence of Josh Johnson is now taking its toll on the rest of the players. When Johnson was first placed on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, the thought was he would return in two weeks. Now, with Johnson being transferred to the 60-day DL, it will be at least two months.

     "It's hard to take because he's the ace of the rotation," Rodriguez said. "I think the players are feeling that way. First it was two weeks and pretty much everybody was 'Okay, two weeks, maybe we can handle that as a team.' But now it's getting longer and I can see the players feeling that loss."

    The earliest date that Johnson can return is July 16 in Chicago. Rodriguez said Johnson is gradually "improving" and should be ready to go the moment he's eligible to come off the DL. But nobody knows for certain.

     "He's moving in the right direction," Rodriguez said.


     While Hanley Ramirez has returned from the DL, he's not yet 100 percent. As a result, Rodriguez said team doctors have advised that the shortstop not play day games following night games. Ramirez is not in the lineup for the first game of today's day/night doubleheader, and won't be in the lineup on Thursday when they conclude the series here with another day game. Rodriguez said

      "I think it's a doctor recommendation, so we have to follow it," Rodriguez said.

      Ramirez went 0 for 4 and struck out twice in his first game back on Tuesday.


      On Chris Volstad and Javier Vazquez, who own the two highest ERAs (6.07 and 7.09, respectively) among starting pitchers in the majors, Rodriguez said: "Hopefully these guys can turn it around and the worst is already over for them."


     Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Mike Stanton, rf; 6. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 7. Omar Infante, 2b; 8. Brett Hayes, c; 9. Elih Villanueva, p.

     Phillies: 1. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 2. Shane Victorino, cf; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Domonic Brown, rf; 6. Ben Francisco, lf; 7. Wilson Valdez, 3b; 8. Dane Sardinha, c; 9. Kyle Kendrick, p.

June 14, 2011

Josh Johnson headed to 60-day DL

   PHILADELPHIA -- Josh Johnson won't be rejoining the Marlins' starting rotation until mid-July at the earliest. That's because they're transferring Johnson to the 60-day disabled list in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Elih Villanueva, who is being called up from Triple A New Orleans to start the first game of Wednesday's day-night doubleheader.

    Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Johnson informed coaches on Monday that he was feeling the best he's felt in weeks. But Johnson (shoulder inflammation) is still throwing flat ground only and, because he hasn't pitched in so long, will now require additional time to rebuild arm strength and regain command. He'll need at least two or three rehab outings in the minors before he comes off the DL.

     By surrendering eight runs in Tuesday's 9-1 loss to the Phillies, Chris Vostad's ERA climbed to 6.07. That means the Marlins now have the starting pitchers with the two worst ERAs (min: 60 innings) in the majors. Javier Vazquez, who has a 7.09 ERA, starts here on Thursday for the Marlins.

     To make room for Villanueva on the 25-man roster, the Marlins are optioning infielder Ozzie Martinez to New Orleans.

Jose Lopez, Jose Ceda make trip to Philly with Elih Villanueva

  PHILADELPHIA -- Along with pitcher Elih Villanueva, infielder Jose Lopez and reliever Jose Ceda made the trip to Philadelphia and will be on standby when Villanueva makes his major league debut by starting the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader.

   The Marlins are primed to make a series of transactions during the course of the day Wednesday. Villanueva will be placed on the 25-man roster, perhaps in place of infielder Ozzie Martinez. Following his outing, Villanueva will probably be returned to Triple A New Orleans so that the Marlins can replace him with Lopez, the veteran infielder whom the Marlins signed last week.

    Ceda is likely insurance in case the Marlins feel they need an additional relief arm to make it through the Philly series.

     Of the three, only Ceda is on the 40-man roster.

Anibal Sanchez: Give Me Roy Halladay

   PHILADELPHIA -- A light rain is falling at Citizens Bank Park and the field is covered, but forecasters think it'll pass and they'll start this one on time.

   Just heard something interesting from manager Edwin Rodriguez, who said that Anibal Sanchez asked him several days ago if he knew which game Roy Halladay would pitch in Wednesday's doubleheader.

    "He wants to face Halladay," Rodriguez said. "He was asking four or five days ago if we knew where Halladay was going to pitch in the first or second game. And he said when we find out, he wants that game. He's up for the challenge."

     As a result, Sanchez will face Halladay in the second game of the day-night doubleheader. The Marlins are calling up Elih Villanueva from Triple A New Orleans to pitch the first game against Kyle Kendrick. That move will be announced after tonight's game.

     In order to make room for Villanueva, the Marlins will have to remove someone from both their 25-man and 40-man rosters. One possibility on the 40-man side: transferring Josh Johnson to the 60-day disabled list. If that occurs, Johnson would not be able to pitch at the earliest until after the All-Star break in mid-July.

     But Rodriguez said Johnson said Monday in a meeting that he was feeling the best he has in a long time. Johnson is still throwing on flat ground, though.


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

     Phillies: 1. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 2. Shane Victorino, cf; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Placido Polanco, 3b; 6. Raul Ibanez, lf; 7. Domonic Brown, rf; 8. Carlos Ruiz, c; 9. Cole Hamels, p.

Will end come quickly for Marlins in Philly?

   PHILADELHPIA -- It's bad enough for the Marlins that they've just had the sand kicked in their face, losing 10 of 11 at home. Now they have the unpleasant task of not just facing the first-place Phillies in the unfriendly confines of Citizens Bank Park, but facing their best pitchers to boot.

    Cole Hamels (tonight), Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick are scheduled to take the mound for the Phillies in the compressed, four-game series. The Marlins are sending out Anibal Sanchez and a V-team of Chris Volstad, Javier Vazquez and, in all probability, Elih Villanueva

     It could get real ugly for the Marlins, and their season could be over in a hurry. The four games are being played in a span of less than 48 hours. They're already 7 1/2 games behind the division-leading Phillies, and closer to last place (2 1/2 games in front of the Nationals) than they are to second (5 1/2 behind the Braves). If the Phillies sweep the series, and the pitching matchups certainly don't bode well for the Marlins, I'd say a 11 1/2 game deficit would spell curtains, see ya next year.

     Hanley Ramirez is not only returning to the lineup tonight, but will likely be batting in the leadoff spot. Can you say desperation move? Normally you would consider Anibal Sanchez to be a sweep-preventer in the quartet the Marlins are sending to the mound, but that's before you examine his brutal record here: 1-5 with a 7.85 ERA in eight starts.

     How many games do the Marlins win -- if any -- in this series?

Cousins heads to DL with lower back strain; Marlins hit the road with Hanley after 1-10 homestand

The Marlins will head to first place Philadelphia losers of 14 of their last 17 games. Hey, but at least Hanley Ramirez will be back in the lineup.

The Marlins activated Ramirez from the disabled list after Monday's 12-9 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks and sent outfielder Scott Cousins to the DL with a lower back strain.

In all honesty, the Marlins couldn't be happier to be getting out of town. With Monday's loss, they fell to 15-22 at Sun Life Stadium. They'll hit the road now to play 16 of their next 19 away from this place. And that might be a good thing considering they're 17-11 on the road.

"There's no scientific explanation for that," manager Edwin Rodriguez said about his team's home record after Monday's loss. "We play better when we're away. It's sad to say, but yes it will be good to hit the road and see if we can start winning some ballgames."

Ricky Nolasco, who had his shortest outing of the season (3 innings, 8 hits, 9 runs, 5 earned, was quick to shoot down questions about him having any mechanical issues despite issuing a season-high four walks. Rodriguez said otherwise.

"I think he was flying up a little bit," Rodriguez said. "He wasn't hitting the corners. It was a matter of getting behind in the count. The arm was fine, the velocity was fine."

June 13, 2011

Manager Edwin Rodriguez counting on Hanley Ramirez to snap Marlins out of hitting funk

For the first time in two weeks Hanley Ramirez took batting practice with his teammates on Monday.

Hanley_ramirez Nobody might have been happier to see that than manager Edwin Rodriguez. The Marlins, in the midst of a 3-13 swoon that's dropped them from being just two games back of the Phillies to 32-32 and a half game out of falling into fourth place, will get Ramirez back from the disabled list on Tuesday.

Although Ramirez is hitting just .210 with four homers and 17 RBI, Rodriguez believes having the former batting champion back in the lineup could do wonders for the Marlins, who have had epic struggles during their current 1-9 homestand delivering hits with runners in scoring position (12 for 91, 92 runners left on base).

"Getting Hanley back tomorrow will give the young guys a little bit of an opportunity to relax at the plate and don't feel the pressure they have to be the guys to bring those guys home," Rodriguez said.

"That's what it is. The talent is there. We saw the first two months of the season. Eventually those guys, the same guys, they're going to be relaxed at the plate and their performance is going to be way better. But now because Hanley is not in the lineup and [Josh Johnson] is down and we were struggling, those young guys are feeling the pressure. So with experience and with the help of Hanley in the lineup, those guys are going to be better."

Rodriguez said Sunday Ramirez, who won a batting title in 2009 and has hit primarily third in the lineup over the past three seasons, would bat leadoff against the Phillies upon his return. It could be a role Ramirez remains in for awhile.

With Chris Coghlan struggling against left-handed pitchers (.118 batting average, .176 OBP) and Emilio Bonifacio doing well against southpaws (.311 batting average, .426 OBP), Rodriguez dropped Coghlan down into the eighth spot in the Marlins order Monday and moved Bonifacio up to the top spot.

Rodriguez said in the long run he believes Coghlan should be the team's lead off hitter and Ramirez should hit third. "But right now that's wishful thinking," Rodriguez said. "That's the not reality and they're struggling so we have to make a move."

In the meantime, Rodriguez said Coghlan, who has made just one other start hitting eighth this season, will likely alternate with Omar Infante in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

"When you're losing and you're the leadoff guy and you're not getting on base, the manager wants to switch something up and hopefully it changes something. I'm sure this one of those times," Coghlan said.

"I'm sure he's trying to get Hanley going too. In order to win and do what we have to do we, both of us have to produce more than what we've done. I think he would say the same thing as I'm saying. I think it's just part of Edwin's strategy and what we need to do to help the team. Regardless of where we hit, we still got to hit. Do we both prefer different spots in the lineup? For sure. I'm sure he may say a different spot than me. The bottomline is we're not doing what we're capable of doing and we really don't have a say. We just have to go out there and hit our way out of wherever we're at and hopefully eventually he'll go back to where it's always been."

> Asked to explain why the Marlins have had so much trouble driving in runs lately, Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison both said they think the team is pressing at the plate with runners in scoring position.

"I think once we get guys in scoring position, knowing our staff is pitching so well, we start chasing pitches we normally take and we don't let the pitcher make the mistake, which is what we do when there are no guys on," Sanchez said.

"I think we need to step back as ourselves and as a team and say relax, don't think about it, go up there and hit. We're all in the big leagues for a reason. We can play this game. It's all about trusting ourselves."

> The Marlins still haven't announced a starter for the first game of Wednesday's double-header against the Phillies, but Rodriguez said Sunday it would either be Elih Villanueva (4-5, 5.23 ERA), Chris Sampson (3-0, 3.91 ERA) or Tom Koehler (5-3, 5.14 ERA). All three right-handers are in Triple A New Orleans.

Left-hander Sean West, who is 1-3 with a 9.33 ERA in New Orleans, won his first decision in six minor league starts Sunday. But the story wasn't his pitching. West went 3-for-3 and hit the first home runs of his pro career in the 7-4 win over the Memphis Redbirds. On the mound West gave up four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings.

> Rodriguez said he expects closer Leo Nunez, who has been battling a stiff back and hasn't pitched since June 5th, to be available to pitch Tuesday against the Phillies.

"He said yesterday after he played catch he would be alright for today," Rodriguez said. "We still don't know how he feels today after he played catch. I would want to see him throw in the bullpen and see how he goes. If he throws a light bullpen today, he'll be available."

> Rodriguez said Monday the most optimistic timeline for Josh Johnson to make his return to the rotation at this point is early July. Johnson has been out since May 21st with right shoulder inflammation and the Marlins want him to throw two to three bullpen sessions before making a couple rehab starts in the minors.

> Setup man Clay Hensley, out with a right shoulder sprain since June 3rd, said he will play catch on Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list. He targeting his return as "the end of June or the beginning of July."

> Catcher John Buck might break out his new silver catcher's mask this week against the Phillies. Buck, who wears a mask similar to those worn by hockey goalies, said he's been a little apprehensive about wearing the mask because it might be a little too flashy for him.

"We're to the point where I might have to go outside of the realm of comfort to get things going. Maybe if we concentrate on that we'll start getting hits," Buck said. " It's a little bright. But we'll see. I'm going to take it. If you see me wearing it, we're in desperation mode."


> Marlins (32-32): 1. Emilio Bonifacio SS, 2. Omar Infante 2B, 3. Logan Morrison LF, 4. Gaby Sanchez 1B, Mike Stanton RF, 6. John Buck C, 7. Wes Helms 3B, 8. Chris Coghlan, 9. Ricky Nolasco RHP.

> Diamondbacks (36-30): 1. Ryan Roberts 3B, 2. Kelly Johnson 2B, 3. Justin Upton RF, 4. Stephen Drew SS, 5. Chris Young CF, 6. Miguel Montero C, 7. Juan Miranda 1B, 8. Gerardo Parra LF, 9. Zach Duke LHP.

June 12, 2011

Hanley eager to return, expects to hit leadoff Tuesday in Philly

After rehabbing in two minor league games up in Jupiter, Hanley Ramirez was back on the Marlins bench Sunday afternoon playing the role of anxious spectator.

And, after watching the Marlins lose for the 13th time in 16 games, the three-time All-Star shortstop said he can't wait to get back on the field. The Marlins are hoping that will happen Tuesday in Philadelphia.

"Only myself knows how bad I really want to be out there," said Ramirez, who has been out since May 30 with a left back strain.

"It's hard being out for one game. 15 days without being on the field doesn't feel good, doesn't feel right. But it's in the past now. My back is better now and I'm going to be able to compete out there."

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Sunday there's "a big chance" Ramirez, hitting just .210 with four homers and 17 RBI, will be the Marlins new leadoff hitter when he returns.

Before moving to the three hole full-time in 2009, Ramirez was one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball, compiling a .311 career average with 70 homers, 118 stolen bases and 333 runs scored in 400 starts.

"I love it," Ramirez said of hitting leadoff. "Anything for the team. It doesn't matter. I'll be 9, 8, 7, I just want to be out there."

Ramirez, who finished 5-for-8 with an RBI and a run scored in his two rehab starts, took batting practice indoors Sunday and will practice with the team on Monday.

"He said he was a little bit sore, but he should be alright," Rodriguez said. "We need that offense."

LoMo wants Mike Stanton to wear a Superman cape to the home run derby

Sunday mornings at the ballpark is usually a good time to catch ballplayers taking things lightly and joking around. Such was the case this morning with Marlins outfielders Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton.

Mike Stanton Morrison, always in awe of Stanton's power, told the 21-year old slugger that if he gets invited to next month's home run derby in Arizona he has to wear a cape. 

"A Superman cape," Morrison said.

"Only if you buy it," Stanton replied.

"You can go as Superman and I'll go as Wonder Woman," Morrison fired back.

"Yeah, but you have to wear the short shorts," Stanton answered.

Stanton, who is tied for fourth in the National League with 16 home runs entering Sunday, has homered in three straight games for the Marlins. He's done that twice before. On Aug. 11-13, he he hit four homers in three games vs. the Nationals and Reds. Then, on Sept. 6 at Philadelphia, he hit a homer in each game of a double header before hitting a third blast the next day.

The Marlins record for consecutive home run games is four, last done by Josh Willingham from Sept. 22-26.

Stanton, who doesn't like to talk too much about his home runs, estimates that of his 16 homers this season he thinks he's only hit about "six to seven with good wood."

"Last night was probably the first one in the last five I actually felt like I got good part of the barrel on it," Stanton said. "But you know, I really don't care about that stuff."

Earlier this week, Marlins radio broadcaster Glenn Geffner said during a broadcast that the Diamondbacks' scouting report on Stanton listed him with "Herman Munster power." Stanton definitely displayed that Saturday night with a 430-foot plus blast to center field off Ian Kennedy in the fifth inning.

The home run was among the top three longest for Stanton this season. According to hittrackeronline.com, Stanton's 465-foot blast to centerfield at CitiField ranks as the fifth longest in baseball this season. Among NL power hitters, Stanton is tied for first with the Diamondbacks Justin Upton for the most "no doubt home runs" with six according to the website. 

"It's just ridiculous man," Morrison said of Stanton's power. "The guy hit 16 home runs and he's hardly hit any of them good."

Entering Sunday, Stanton has played in 160 major league games and is hitting .260 with 38 home runs, 98 RBI and 184 strikeouts.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only eight players to debut since 1910 have hit more over their first 160 games. Rudy York had 54, Mark McGwire 49; Ryan Braun 47; Chuck Klein 44; Ryan Howard 43; Bob Horner 42; Tony CLark 40; and Frank Robinson 39. Three others have hit 38: Josh Hamilton, Evan Longoria and Wally Berger.

Stanton, by the way, would only get to participate in the home run derby if he earns an All-Star selection. 

> Speaking of Morrison, the left fielder said he'll be going to Game 6 of the NBA Finals tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena with a Marlins fan.

"Dan has season tickets to Heat games and usually sits in left field here," Morrison said. "He saw me at the last Heat game and said if I wanted to go to next Heat game with him to let him know. So I gave him my number. He's got good seats, 24 rows up, section 113."

Morrison said the Finals is the first championship series he's ever been to. His advice to the Heat? They need to take it to the hole stronger.

"I think they settle for too many jump shots," Morrison said. "They don't know how to run an offense. Kind of sounds like us. We get them on, can't get them in it."

> Marlins lineup vs. ARI: 1. Coghlan CF, 2. Infante 2B, 3. Morrison LF, 4. Sanchez 1B, 5. Stanton RF, 6. Dobbs 3B, 7. Bonifacio SS, 8. Hayes C, 9. Hand P