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46 posts from July 2011

July 18, 2011

Choate steamed but bites tongue after McKeon lifts him mid-count

      Jack McKeon had already lifted Randy Choate once before when the lefty relief specialist went to 2-0 on a batter. That time it didn't surprise Choate because the batter was a right-hander. But when the manager took him out in the ninth inning on Monday when the count went to 2-0 on Lucas Duda, a left-handed hitter for the Mets, Choate said he was "surprised."

      Actually, it appeared he was more than a little surprised, reacting angrily in the dugout after being removed with one out in the ninth.

      "I was personally surprised this time, not so much last time," Choate said, who bit his tongue when reporters asked him about it following the Marlins' 4-1 victory over the Mets. "When he did it to me the first time, I wasn't as surprised, right-handed hitter. I was a little bit surprised tonight with the lefty. I guess I'll try to start getting them out."

     Choate is one of the best in the business at retiring lefties and takes pride in his specialty. Entering Monday, left-handers had gone 5 for 54 with a walk and 23 strikeouts against Choate. But Choate gave up a single to Willie Harris to start the ninth. One out later, he walked Nick Evans before going to 2-0 on Duda.

     Asked if he was angry, Choate replied: "He's the manager. I'm the player."

     Choate isn't the first pitcher McKeon has removed in mid-count this season. McKeon has made it a habit in his previous years as a manager, too. He once removed Billy Koch from a game in Philadelphia when, with the bases loaded, the the count went to 3-0.

      "I didn't think he was sharp," McKeon said of Choate. "Choate did a good job. He's been doing outstanding. But I thought it was time for a change. Done it before. Probably do it again. The name of the game is winning. We're not worried about hurting anybody's feeling. I would think everyone on this club would be interested in winning, and that's the way it's going to be. If someone doesn't like it, it's just too bad. I'm hoping everybody is on the same page as being unselfish and being happy with the W."

Chris Coghlan recalled from rehab assignment due to balky left knee

          NEW YORK – A tough season for Chris Coghlan continues to deteriorate.

          The latest setback: Coghlan was recalled from his minor-league rehab assignment to receive further treatment on his injured left knee.

          "The knee stiffened up a bit and we want to back him off and get it completely healthy," said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations.

          Coghlan, who has been on the disabled list since June 17 with inflammation in his left knee, had gone 4 for 19 in five games for Double A Jacksonville before the decision was made to return him to South Florida.

          Coghlan injured the knee last season when he smacked Wes Helms in the face with a shaving cream pie to celebrate a walk-off win. He underwent surgery last August but has struggled to recapture the form that led him to be named the National League Rookie of the Year in 2009.

          He hit just .230 this season – and only .107 against left-handers – in 65 games before he landed on the disabled list. In addition to his knee problems. Coghlan, who was moved from left field to center, was bothered by a sore throwing (right) shoulder throughout spring training and the early part of the season.

July 17, 2011

Mujica caught napping in bullpen by television camera

       CHICAGO -- A television camera caught reliever Edward Mujica napping in the Marlins bullpen during the second inning of Saturday's game, and the clip was shown repeatedly on ESPN. (See video HERE) On Sunday, Mujica showed up at Wrigley with a hand-written sign -- "Cameraman, Please Do Not Disturb" -- to hang around his neck, but only if the Marlins are leading.

       "It was not even close to five minutes," the good-natured Mujica said. "I closed my eyes and then I just opened my eyes. They got me right there."

       Mujica said napping during the early innings of games is one of his rituals. He said that when he was with the San Diego Padres, he routinely napped from the first inning through the third in a room adjacent to the bullpen at Petco Park.

       "In Miami I can't do that because there's no place to sleep," he said.

       Mujica said the sun and heat on Saturday made him sleepy and sent him nodding off into dreamland.

       "I was in Venezuela for five minutes," Mujica said.

Chad James earns first win of season

    JUPITER, Fla. -- Baseball is a funny game. You can show up to the ballpark and see something new every day.

    Marlins prospect Chad James has learned about one of baseball’s quirks the hard way this year: No matter how well you pitch, you’re never guaranteed a victory. On Saturday, fans in Jupiter witnessed something James hadn’t done all year: earn a victory.

    “It feels good to finally get that first ‘W’ under my belt,” James said.

    James, Florida’s first-round pick in 2009, entered the night with an 0-13 record, but he pitched six scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out seven and walking four to earn his first win of the season. James left with a 5-0 lead and the High Class A Hammerheads held on, 9-5.

    The southpaw’s 0-13 start was the longest losing streak by a Minor League pitcher since statistics were centralized in 2005.

    “Every body knows that’s baseball,” said James, who entered the year as the Marlins’ second-ranked prospect according to Baseball America. “We’ve been around the game for a long time. It happens. It just doesn’t happen all that often.”

    James, 6-3 and 185 pounds, hasn’t pitched poorly in 2011. In fact, he has pitched quite well for a 20-year-old in the Florida State League, and he lowered his ERA to 3.59 on Saturday. The circuit’s sixth-youngest pitcher has averaged 7.47 strikeouts and 2.85 walks per nine innings pitched.

    But a combination of bad luck and inconsistent run support hurt James’ win-loss record. Before Saturday, James had permitted two runs or less in 10 of his 18 starts, but Jupiter scored more than three runs only five times.

    James took matters into his own hands Saturday. He didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning when Brevard County’s Scooter Gennett bunted for a base hit, putting runners on first and second with no outs. But James worked out of the jam, striking out a pair of hitters after inducing a pop-up on a bunt attempt.

    The lefty took the mound to start the seventh, but manager Ron Hassey motioned for the bullpen after James completed his warm-up tosses. James, who had thrown 90 pitches (55 for strikes) left to a standing ovation from the 801 fans in attendance.

    “I had good command with all my pitches,” he said. “I threw my fastball where I wanted to. All my off-speed pitches I could throw wherever I wanted — down, up, in, out. Just mixing it up and everything fell into place [Saturday].”

    James’ slider, which he only started throwing this year, was particularly effective — six of his seven strikeouts came courtesy of the 83-84 mph offering.

    A season ago, James went 5-10 with a 5.12 ERA for Low Class A Greensboro in the South Atlantic League. Even if his record doesn’t appear to indicate progress, James said the difference between last year and 2011 has been “night and day.” That was certainly evident on Saturday, when Brevard County made solid contact only twice all night.

    “I would take this season over last season any time, including the record,” he said. “As long as I’m improving and getting better, the record does not bother me. It’s just a learning process, and the whole goal is to keep getting better and better.”

    We’ll have more on James’ development next week. For now, check out this exclusive post-game interview, taken in the clubhouse hallway at Roger Dean Stadium.

-- Matt Forman


July 16, 2011

McKeon: Stanton could become 30/30 threat with speed and power

     CHICAGO -- Mike Stanton put on a power display for 40,000 plus at Wrigley Field on Saturday, pounding his 19th and 20th home runs off Carlos Zambrano to confirm his status as a slugger. But Jack McKeon is intent on turning Stanton into a "complete player,"not just a one-dimensional ball crusher.

      "I told him, 'You can be a 30/30 guy, easy,'" McKeon said. "I've just got to sell him on the idea that this is what you've got to do."

       Despite his imposing frame, Stanton possesses natural speed. He was a wide receiver in high school. He's just never been asked to utilize his speed as a base-stealing threat.

       Stanton was slowed by a quad injury at the start of the season and never attempted a stolen base under Rodriguez. Since McKeon took over, though, he has been successful on three of five stolen base attempts.

        "Once  learn how to steal bases, I think I can (steal more)," Stanton said. "I just need to learn."

        Said McKeon: "He needs a little polish on the bases. But that’s because he has not had that much experience. I gave him the steal sign one night a while back and he stood there standing up. I was like, 'Get in position to steal.' All of a sudden, 'Boom!' He steals it easy. This guy has so much explosive speed. His first step, you can’t believe."

        But McKeon said he wants Stanton to become more consistent as a hitter, too.

       "I'd like to see him put the ball in play, because when he puts the ball in play, he hits it hard," McKeon said. "Just have to cut down on some of strikeouts, become a little more selective. Like today he was great. And some other day he'll be terrible. Some other time you'll see him strike out four times. Looks like he's lost."

July 15, 2011

Loria Speaks

    CHICAGO -- Based on the readout on my digital recorder, we just spent 27 minutes and 3 seconds talking with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria inside the visitor's dugout at Wrigley Field. Loria touched on a LOT of topics, including the need to improve the minor-league system and improving the lineup as the team moves forward to the opening of their new ballpark next season. Here's much of what Loria had to say:

    How frustrating was that June for you?

    Loria: "It wasn't a lot of fun to watch. But, we've passed that now, thank goodness. It's just the way we were losing games. I saw it in spring training. You all remember that I was upset...We weren't doing the things that baseball teams are supposed to be doing. This is a gifted, gifted bunch of players. I don't want to say I saw it coming, but when we were winning, we were winning in interesting ways. But we weren't doing what we were capable of doing and what we're doing now."

    How do you see the second half shaping up?

    Loria: "I see nothing but good things. It would be nice if J.J. were back and on the mound, and giving us the full complement of having an ace on the field. But it's a time issue, which we have no control over. We miss him."

    On Hanley and the team's hitting woes:

    Loria: "We know what Hanley is capable of. Hanley's capable of vying for the batting championship every single year that he plays. We had a different way of looking at hitting starting with the middle of last year (about the time John Mallee was hired as hitting coach). Frankly, I didn't really care for it. There was no direction given to approach. It was all technique. Technique is what you learn in the minor leagues. Approach is about what you do with your thoughts. Who's pitching? Having a plan. That wasn't part of the message that was coming from the hitting coach. He did us best, but it wasn't helping them - witness what happened.

   Going into the new ballpark, what do you think needs to be done to get the team to the next level?

    Loria: "We're going to sit down at the end of the year and address that. But we need to get a third baseman that's ready to play in the major leagues. We need some more starting pitching. We'll have to see what happens in the outfield. There are players that are capable of doing it. We just have to see if they can do it. It's unfortunate that Chris (Coghlan) got hurt. But he'll get himself back, I'm sure. And Mike Cameron is a breath of more than just fresh air, a real breath of professionalism. First thing I told him when I spoke to him was, 'I've been hoping to get you on my team for at least seven or eight years.' It's nice to see a real professional in that clubhouse who's been around."

    Can talk more about a third baseman and more starting pitching?

    Loria: "We have a third baseman (Matt Dominguez) highly touted. But we'll find out whether he's ready. We'll see at the end of the year where the situation is. Everybody needs pitching, more and more pitching.

    What are your thoughts about the minor-league system, the development system, because you just didn't have many players (who could be brought up to fill in on the major league roster)?

    Loria: "I will address the minor league system at the end of the season. You'll see. Wait and see. We need to improve that situation. When we needed some players, we didn't have them. Let me clairfy what I said. The top players in our minor league system are now here. So it leaves us a little thin down there. So we have a problem.....

    Some injuries didn't help down there either, West and Sanabia.....

    Loria: "West? He needs to get in gear. He has not been to where he needs to be for a while. He's a great talent, but the talent has to do the job. And he's capable of it. No one's giving up on him. But it would be nice after five years or six years down there to see him finally make that step forward, where he can help us. It's time to get going."

    Do you think the team needs more veteran presence?

     Loria: "That's one of the reasons we brought Mike in. One or two more guys like that, yeah. Veteran presence always helps. When you have the number of gifted young players that we have, they need to be surrounded by experience. I haven't counted us out yet. I know it looks tough. But what are we now -- four under? We still have 60 or 70 games left. Anything can happen. I would never bet against Jack McKeon. He's not a miracle worker, and he'll tell you that. But he certainly has a magic tough of getting players to want to work and succeed."

    Do you think Jack will be  back next year, or at least be considered?

    Loria: "We'll see where we are at the end of the year. There will be a number of candidates. But, right now, Jack's the manager, and we'll see where it goes. There is a chance, of course. I'm not ruling anything out, but it will have to be somebody with experience. I'm  not going to allow a repeat of what happened this year. It was all done with good intentions, but I think experience is important, in the clubhouse and on the coaching level. You always want to give your players the most you can give them, and that's what I want to do."

    How much is the new ballpark going to help you be able to give the team what it needs in resources?

    Loria: "That, of course, remains to be seen. But the history of going into new ballparks, additional revenues will be significantly helpful. It should be."

    Have you spoken to Edwin Rodriguez since he resigned?

    Loria: "I did. I spoke to him from abroad afterwards. I don't want to say anymore. I thanked him for his effort. But, obviously, he wasn't feeling good about what he was doing. Was I surprised? Absolutely. Did we have an immediate solution? As far as I was concerned, yes. It's a new ballgame here now. I didn't have any discussion about him leaving. I was out of the country. I was as surprised as everybody was. But, you know what they say, sometimes things work out for the best. I mean, Jack, let's face it. He's brilliant. And I don't care if he's 180 years old. He's got the hand on the pulse of this team, and everybody on it."

    Is your view of how close this team is getting back to the playoffs changed from the start of the season?

   Loria: "No, it hasn't. We're a pitcher or two away, probably. One hitter. Don't forget, the players who are out there performing every day, in one or two years, you won't even think needing anything else. Maybe next year we won't because they will have had that first year or two under their belt. Mike and Logan and Boni, I mean, they're just first-rate guys. Chris... and Hanley is alive again.  He comes to the ballpark with renewed energy, which is great to see.

   More on failures of June....

   "After winning games you're supposed to win, and we were not winning those games you're supposed to win -- all those one-run games. Obviously, there was something not working. It's not any one person's fault. It just happened. And we're passed that now. Look at Boni...Boni has a gift that everybody would like to have in baseball, and he wasn't using it. Jack came in here and said, 'Boni, you're going to run.' Now, every time he's on base, he's exciting. he never took a chance, never tried to steal a base. It's not the kind of baseball like I see played. You've got to take some chances, put the game in motion. Playing station to station baseball is not fun for anybody."

   On looking forward to rest of season....

   Loria: "I never quit. I never give up. How many games do we have left? 70? So there's plenty of time. What does Jack say? The train's moving north. Get on it? I'm not expecting miracles but I think it's going to be very interesting the rest of the way. We want them all playing the way we want them to be playing going into the new stadium. We're playing the game the right way now. There's a lot more live, more leadership, and more direction. And (new hitting coach Eduardo Perez) is doing a great job, teaching approach, going deeper into counts."

    Was Eduardo your idea?

    Loria: "All you have to do is listen to him speak and know what a bright young man he is. Forget his background. He played the game, professionally, for 10 or 12 years. A real student of hitting."

    How do you look at the trade deadline on the 31st? Do you have to be in it by that date?

    Loria: "We're looking to improve the team always. Larry (Beinfest) says the same thing, to find a way to improve the team. There's no call being made here. We're watching them play. We've got another two weeks before that happens. We need to fill in a couple of spots if we're going forward next year. I want us to be better. We're very good. But I want us to be better."

    Are you still happy with the job the front office is doing?

    Loria: "Couldn't be happier. Larry and Michael and D.J. There are no issues for me. Just to be clear, no issues. Nobody saw this coming in June. I saw a little of it in spring training, and voiced my opinion. But I didn't think it would be that severe over three weeks. We're capable of doing the same thing in the other direction."

    What are your thoughts about realignment?

    Loria: "I don't have any. I really don't. I'm happy where we are."

    What, specifically, can you say about changes to the minor league system?

    Loria: "We need to find a way to improve our system. Other than that, I don't want to be specific. We've been very successful with some of our draft choices. It' s a crap shoot half the time. Sometimes you're fortunate. Other times you're not. But I'm going to address it, and we need to find solutions that will get us to where we're not struggling to find a player when we need somebody to fill in."

    Was it not a point of emphasis at the end of last year to have experience on the coaching staff?

    Loria: "It was a point, but people felt they wanted to continue, and I said it was all right, gave them the go-ahead to do that (re-hire Edwin Rodriguez). But I think, going into our new facility. I want to give us the most possible chances to succeed, and if it means looking at the coaching staff, we'll have to do that. If it means looking at some of the players, we'll have to do that. It's an excellent organization. We always find ways to get better and to improve and be successful. There's a reason why we've had winning seasons after winning seasons, and I hope this season is no different. If you stand still, stay pat, someone's going to run right by you. You can't be looking back."

The bunt that wasn't figures in wild win for Marlins

    CHICAGO -- John Buck has dropped down exactly one sacrifice bunt over the past 4 1/2 seasons. Bunting is not his thing. But when the first two Marlins hitters in the ninth reached on walks delivered by Cubs closer Carlos Marmol on Thursday, manager Jack McKeon ordered Buck to bunt.

     Buck never put wood on any Marmol pitch, but it didn't matter, since none of them found the strike zone. Buck ended up walking, and the Marlins roared back from a 2-0 deficit in the ninth to win 6-3.

      Breaking into a smile afterward, Buck described his at bat, one that preceded pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs' bases-clearing double.

      "(Jack) asked me if I can bunt," Buck said. "I said, 'I'm a catcher. Of course I can bunt. When I went up there, (Marmol) was pretty erratic, so I wanted to make sure it was a ball over the plate. The first one was a slider that was nowhere near, the second one was nowhere near. Then I was kind of looking in (to the dugout) to see if Jack wanted me to take. And he said, no, put it down. That's when Marmol almost hit me in the crotch. And then it was 3-0 and I was taking."

     Marmol walked the bases loaded on only 13 pitches.

     Said Mike Cameron, who was the second of the three straight Marlins to walk to start the ninth - and one of six Marlins to walk in the six-run inning: "Marmol wasn't throwing strikes at all. That's Marmol for you. He can dot you with three or he can throw that thing everywhere."

     It was yet another improbable win for the Marlins at Wrigley Field, where they've had many over the years. They're now 39-39 at Wrigley, not counting the '03 NLCS when they won three of the four games here.

July 14, 2011

Hanley bids for 1,000 and beyond, Stanton's first impressions of Wrigley, Jack waxes nostaligic over '03 and Bartman

    CHICAGO -- Everyone rested up for the 'second half?" The Marlins return to the field tonight at historic Wrigley Field for the first of a four-game series here in the Windy City. And the wind, for now, is blowing in as the Marlins prepare to take batting practice.

    Hanley Ramirez is two hits away from 1,000 for his career and becoming only the third Marlin to reach four digits with the team, joining Luis Castillo (1,273) and Jeff Conine (1,005).

    "How many years? Five and a half? That means I've got to go 15 to get to 3,000," Ramirez said.

    Ramirez, jokingly, said he thought his 1,000th hit would be a grand slam.

    "Today, during early hitting, I felt like the first day of spring training," said Ramirez, who wasn't at the All-Star Game for the first time in four years and spent the time at home in South Florida, resting.

     But he said he watched both the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game despite not being a participant for the first time since 2007.

     "That's what I do," Ramirez said. "I think I learn from it."


     Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison are each making their first visit to the "friendly confines" of Wrigley. Stanton was struck by the beauty of the old park while Morrison was literally struck -- twice in fact, while bumping his head on the low dugout overhang.

     "It's real old-school," Stanton said. "I know there's a lot of history here and it's going to be fun to play here. It felt good (to hit). It's weird. (The ivy-covered wall) seems a lot farther than it is. The fences look farther, but they don't feel that way when you hit it."

     Stanton drew oohs and ahhs from the early-arrivals when hit a couple of mammoth shots during batting practice.


     And, of course, everyone was asking Jack McKeon about his memories of the old ballpark. This is his first visit back since his last season managing the Marlins in 2005.

     "I'd like to do it again here," McKeon said of '03 when the Marlins, down 3-2 in the NLCS to the Cubs, won games six and seven at Wrigley to advance to the World Series. "It was special."

     McKeon still defends Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan who became instantly famous when he got his hands on a foul ball in Game 6 of the NLCS, thus denying Moises Alou a chance to reach up and make the catch. The Marlins rallied to win the game after that point.

     "Bartman, he's the guy who really took the beating for something," McKeon said. "A couple of years later, in New York, Moises Alou comes out and says I couldn't have caught that ball. I said why didn't you do that when you were there? The poor kid got crucified. But, water over the dam. It was a long time ago."


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

     Cubs: 1. Kosuke Fukodome, rf; 2. Starlin Castro, ss; 3. Aramis Ramirez, 3b; 4. Carlos Pena, 1b: 5. Marlon Byrd, cf; 6. Alfonso Soriano, lf; 7. Geovany Soto, c; 8. Darwin Barney, 2b: 9. Matt Garza, p.       


July 13, 2011

Clay Hensley tabbed for Monday start in NY; Chris Coghlan nearing return

   Just finished a conference call with Larry Beinfest. Here are a few of the quick-hit highlights:

   -- With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, Beinfest said "I don't see major, major things happening at this point."

   -- Beinfest did not say whether the Marlins would be buyers or sellers, but team has a lot to do to make up for "unfortunate" June. "We're in digging out mode."

      "I never really consider ourselves sellers. You're always buying something. I guess the way we stand right now is we just need to continue to grind away and win some games. I think it's important to recognize our goal was to win this year and also, at the same time, build momentum into the new ballpark. Big picture view, there's a lot of pieces on this team we think will be parts of this team in years to come."

    -- There's still no timetable on Josh Johnson, or whether he'll even return this season. "We hope that he will pitch this year. We are not going to rush him back. We are going to make sure he's healthy and ready to go." Johnson has not picked up a baseball in more than two weeks.

   -- Clay Hensley is starting tonight for Double A Jacksonville, slated for 75 pitches, and -- assuming all goes well -- will start for the Marlins on Monday at Citi Field in New York against the Mets.

   -- Chris Coghlan has been transferred to Double A Jax and is expected to play at least two to four games in center before a decision is made on when to activate him from the DL.

All-Star Game was one to remember for Gaby Sanchez

    Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez is experiencing his first All-Star Game and who better to describe it than his wife, Judy, who is along for the trip and has agreed to share her observations:

     Tuesday was a big day. It was a day Gaby will certainly remember for the rest of his life.

     We started out in the morning at a player and family brunch, where Gaby got his All-Star ring. Brian Wilson showed up in a hat, shades and his signature beard. he looked every bit the part that he plays in the commercials. That beard is even thicker and darker in person! He's quite the character. My other favorite part was seeing San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain with his 7-month old daughter, who was dressed in a custom made Giants dress, complete with Cain embroidered on the back. She got my vote for "best dressed" and "best smile." And I don't dish out multiple awards that easily. I haven't said 'awww' like that since I saw that cat comfort its kitten having a nightmare on YouTube.Allstargame

    The next event was the red carpet show, where each player rides in a parade with their family. The parade route starts at the basketball arena and ends at the baseball field. On the bus ride to the arena, we saw in the back with Pablo Sandoval (aka Kung Fu Panda) and Yadier Molina. Sandoval let me try on the World Series ring. It's enormous! Talk about blinged out! He is all jokes and laughs. He definitely lives up to his nickname.

    The parade was really nice. We piled into the back of a Chevy truck and waved to all the fans that were gathered along the sidewalk. We thought it would be hard to smile for the entire route, but we were having so much fun we couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces even if we tried. People cheered loudly for Gaby, but there was only one person in the crowd wearing a Marlins hat! That was surprising. Where are all the Fish fans?? We finally arrived at our destination, Chase Field. We headed back to the hotel and Gaby went into the clubhouse to start preparing for the game.

    Game time. Back at the field, we grabbed some souvenirs, found our seats and got our cameras out just in time for the All-Star Game introductions. I had goosebumps after the players were announced and Jordin Sparks sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. It was time to play ball! The National League jumped out to an early lead after a 3-run home run by Prince Fielder, so that was nice. But we weren't sure when, if at all, we'd see Gaby exit the dugout. The suspense was finally over when we saw him make his way to the on deck circle in the 8th inning. He got jammed on a 1-1 pitch and flied out to second base. Kinda anti-climactic, but still so awesome to get to see him get in and be a part of the All-Star Game. We would've loved to have seen a hit, but maybe he's saving all of those for the upcoming 4-game series against the Cubs. I mean, we are riding a 5-game win streak. Don't count the Marlins out. The Fish are about to surge in the NL East Division in the second half. Oh, disregard the whole streak talk. I don't want the Marlins kicking me off the team plane for jinxing them. I know how superstitious baseball guys can be.

    Judysanchez  After the game, Gaby still had that look on his face of sheer happiness. He was so happy that he was part of the winning team and that 'not only can I say that I made the All-Star team, but I can say I actually played in the All-Star Game." The post-game bus ride marked the first time this trip that he actually felt like he could relax and take it easy. The entire experience was so much fun, but I could see that it was exhausting as well. There are so many things to do and it's nice to just have a second to soak it all in when it's over. Gaby considers this the fourth best day of his life. The good husband he is, he considers our wedding day the best (at least that's what he tells me, the smart man, huh?), his major league debut second and starting Opening Day as a close third.

    The night concluded with a dinner at the hotel with Gaby's agent and Hunter Pence and his family. It was a blast and it was a wonderful way to cap off our time in Phoenix. These two days were even more fun than I could have ever anticipated and I feel so lucky to have gotten to experience all of this. Not to mention the goodie bags that the wives were given that had gift cards, a wallet and makeup. I know that making the All-Star team will always be difficult, especially for a National League first baseman. But I hope to be in Kansas City this time next year, watching Gaby take part in his second Midseason Classic.

-- Judy Sanchez