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46 posts from July 2011

July 12, 2011

All-Star Game is finally here 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:

     I woke up at 7 a.m. on Monday with butterflies in my stomach. Not quite sure why since my sole responsibility here is just to have an amazing time. I jumped up and had to get out of the room because I had too much energy to just lay in bed. Plus, Gaby needs his beauty sleep. That kid can sleep for 10 hours if you let him. I needed a map to get to the gym, that's how massive this resort is. Got in a good workout (something I promised Gaby I wouldn't be doing on this trip). I saw one familiar face; Dan Patrick was getting in his cardio on the elliptical machine just a few feet away. I'm not easily starstruck, so it wasn't a distraction. Gaby was shocked a few months ago when I walked right up to Larry Bird at a Miami Heat game and took a picture with him. I'm still waiting on someone to leave me speechless and awestruck, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe tonight.

     The first part of the day was a breakfast that all the players and families were invited to. Gaby had a Miami reunion, meeting up with A's pitcher Gio Gonzalez and Indians closer Chris Perez.Judygaby

    We saw all of the All-Stars, dressed up nice and spiffy. Jacoby Ellsbury passes right by people, flying under the radar. That kinda upsets me since he's one of my favorite players. There's some old-timers here, too. We saw Ernie Banks, took a picture with him, and chatted with him for a while.

     In the afternoon, we headed out to Chase Field to watch the players take batting practice. We made bets on who we thought Gaby would be shagging balls with. We were surprised to learn he was hanging out with Andre Ethier, Lance Berkman and Andrew McCutchen. We were all wrong with our guesses. The best part of the day came next, the Home Run Derby.

    Rem -- Gaby's brother -- and I got to go on the field. We sat with Gaby and Ryan Braun and had a blast. Those guys can hit! Robinson Cano was unbelievable! It was fun hanging out there and just hearing all of the guys cheering for one another. I don't think I'd ever be somewhere where Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay are all right next to each other. Everyone was so relaxed and nice, and it was refreshing to see that all these athletes are down-to-earth-guys and not the egomaniacs that they are sometimes portrayed as. Along with all the National League All-Stars, several other baseball guys made their way past us. Rem was excited to see Reggie Jackson, while Gaby was stoked to see Cal Ripken, Jr., Gaby's favorite baseball player growing up. He got a pic with him that I know will be framed in our house by week's end. Gaby has now met him twice, but is still too shy to tell him that he was his hero as a kid. Gaby picked Matt Holliday to win, saying that the times he's seen him take batting practice that he's "just absolutely ridiculous." But the National League couldn't match Cano's power. Hopefully, tonight's game has a different outcome.

     There was a major logistics issue involving transportatoin and, post-Derby, there were no taxis or cars for the players to take back to the hotel. After 30 minutes of waiting out in the scorching heat, we were all shuffled onto a bus. So, Cliff Lee, Joey Votto, Jared Weaver and a bunch of other guys are all riding on his hot bus like they're on an elementary school field trip. Still, no complaints. Everyone is still all smiles and just seems very happy to be involved in the festivities.

     We got back to the hotel, quickly changed, and then headed out to a dinner at Mastro's City Hall Steakhouse. It was a big group of 20 people, with Gaby, Tim LIncecum and Hunter Pence in the mix. By the time we got done at midnight, Gaby was yawning and ready to get back to the hotel. It was a fun day, but tonight is the day he's been looking forward to. It starts with a brunch, where we will receive his ring, followed by the red carpet, and then, finally, the All-Star Game. Can't wait to see him out there on that field.

   (Pictured (seated left to right) Ryan Braun, Gaby Sanchez, Judy Sanchez and Rem Sanchez).

   -- Judy Sanchez

July 11, 2011

Marlins All-Star Gaby Sanchez arrives in Phoenix

   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 first-hand observations:

    The second Omar Infante caught the fly ball by Jason Michaels to make the final out of Sunday's game, it was officially time for the All-Star celebrating to begin.

     Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros, it was a nice way to close out the first half.

    Gabyphoenix  We hustled out of Sun Life Stadium, rushed home to get our bags, and met up with Gaby's family to make our 7 p.m. flight to Phoenix. We were in full-out party mode, very excited to get in all of the fun and parties that awaited us in the desert. But, after an hour and a half layover in Dallas, we slept  the second leg, arriving in Phoenix at 3 a.m. our time. Needless to say, it was time to sleep, not party. We walked out of the plane and were welcomed by a crew of men in All-Star Game shirts, eagier to assist us with everything. This was a first. Now Gaby was big-time.

      The crew was very excited to see Gaby. Not sure if it was because he's an All-Star or because he was the last player to arrive and their long day was over. The airport was completely decked out with the All-Star Game logo, from the floors to poles to the merchandise in the stores. Of course, the stores had been closed for hours by the time we got in, so no All-Star Game towels or umbrellas for us. Upon exiting the nice, air-conditioned airport, we were greeted by 100 degree weather (and this is at midnight) and an Escalade. Cold water bottles and cold towels were distributed. Nice, but a tad excessive. We are from Miami, after all. We know heat.

      Once we arrived at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Gaby checked in with the All-Star staff. He got his itinerary, got fitted for his All-Star ring and received his first round of free stuff -- from the NL All-Star hoodie, to the backpack to the goodie bag filled with candie and wine, among other things. We were now stocked with merchandise bearing the 2011 All-Star Game logo. Glad those stores were closed at the airport.Allstarfloor

      As Gaby was finishing up, his hands full of door prizes, the Mets and Giants players walked in. That's when we knew it had been a long day because they had played the Sunday night baseball game at 8 p.m. It's hard to identify players sometimes when they are out of uniform. Jose Reyes is an exception. I'd recognize his hair regardless of the clothes he wears.

      Also making his way through the line was Giants manager and NL coach Bruce Bochy. Bochy, who chose Gaby for the All-Star team with one of his manager's picks was directly responsible for getting Gaby to Arizona, so we were happy to meet him.

      We were escorted to the room and Gaby was happy to see the "congratulations" balloons and the custom All-Star Game M&M's awaiting him. After unpacking, admiring the exquisite room that's equipped with a bathtub and a shower, and figuring out the game plan for tomorrow, we finally got into bed at 1:40 Arizona time (4:40 a.m. for us). A long day, but definitely a fun one. Tomorrow the real fun begins with batting practice, the Home Run Derby, and the gala. Can't wait!

      -- Judy Sanchez

July 09, 2011

Will Hanley's new theatrics rile opponents?

     Have you noticed the new swing and glide routine Hanley Ramirez has integrated into his swing? If you watched tonight's game, you saw the performance three times -- once for every one of his three hits -- and might have thought to yourself, 'Some pitcher is going to drill him if he doesn't stop.'

     That's been my thought anyway.

     Here's the deal: Ramirez has made a few adjustments to his swing, one of which -- on the advice of new hitting coach Eduardo Perez -- is to make sure he follows through. Well, Ramirez is definitely following through. Every time he delivers a hit -- be it a home run or a bouncer up the middle -- he now raises his bat as he completes his follow-through and keeps it raised as he heads down the line to first. When he's about halfway to the bag, he flips the bat aside and continues on his merry way.

    "I'm not trying to show up anybody," Ramirez said after tonight's three-act performance. "I don't want to offend anybody.

     Ramirez said he’s merely adding extra emphasis to the end of his swing to ensure that he’s adhering to Perez's advice. He even has a name for it: “Hanley Through It.” (If anybody has a better suggestion, which shouldn't be too difficult, let's hear it.) I've been told that some of his teammates are starting to tease him about it.

    “That’s one thing he told me, ‘You got to finish up,’” Ramirez said of Perez's instructions to him. “When you finish up, that means you’re through the ball. Stay through the whole time.”

   Ramirez said first baseman Ryan Howard commented on it to him during the Phillies series earlier in the week.

   “Ryan Howard told me the other day, ‘That’s good, because you’re not shortening your swing,’” Ramirez said.

   Whatever impression it might create, the swing is working wonders for Ramirez, who is hitting .400 since moving into the cleanup spot.

   But at what potential risk?

   Let's hear it. Like it or hate it? What do you think?

July 08, 2011

Baby on the way for Bonifacio, Hatcher on the way for Marlins

    After living up to his prediction of a three-hit game, Emilio Bonifacio scurried off to the hospital to be with his wife, who is scheduled to deliver their first child -- a boy -- on Friday. As a result, Bonifacio said he would not be in uniform for Friday's game.

     Bonifacio extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games with Thursday's performance. His on-base percentage in the leadoff spot is .365, good for sixth overall among the 24 NL players who have had at least 100 plate appearances this season in the leadoff spot. At .301, Chris Coghlan ranks 22nd.

    Because he knew his wife was due to deliver, Bonifacio said he told reliever Edward Mujica before the game against the Astros that he would produce three hits in honor of the child. He lived up to that promise.

    Meanwhile, after rookie Brad Hand posted his first major league win in the Marlins' 5-0 victory over the Astros, he was optioned to Double A Jacksonville. The Marlins are calling up catcher-turned-pitcher Chris Hatcher from Jacksonville to take his roster spot.

July 07, 2011

McKeon on pie in Stanton's eye and Ramirez's flamboyance

     Whatever the topic, Jack McKeon always has an opinion and isn't afraid to share it. Here are a couple of the latest examples, taken from this afternoon's dugout session:

     On Mike Stanton's teammates plastering him with shaving cream after his walkoff home run last night despite the fact he's been bothered by blurry vision in his right eye, McKeon had this to say:

     "Players probably don't even know (about the eye problem). If they were conscious of that, they probably wouldn't have thrown any shaving cream in his eye. Maybe it'll help him. Who knows? Maybe that's the solution. So if it helps him, we say heck with the eye doctors. Go to the shaving cream."

      On Hanley Ramirez, who, each of the past two two nights, carried his bat with him more halfway down the line on base hits before flipping it aside: McKeon said this:

      "I tell you the truth, as long as he keeps hitting, he can carry it all the way around if he wants to. I don't bother with that petty stuff. You guys make a big issue out of pretty (stuff) like that. What's the difference? Is there any rule that says you can't carry it around? No, unless you're going to use it on the first baseman or second baseman. Big deal. Guys come to home plate, saluting and everything else -- nobody says nothing. But a guy carries a bat around and you guys want to make a controversy out of it. If he wants to carry his bat around, wants to carry his glove around, I don't care....as long as he keeps hitting."

     Anyone else have an opinion?

     TONIGHT'S LINEUPS:

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

     Astros: 1. Michael Bourn, cf; 2. Angel Sanchez, 3b; 3. Hunter Pence, rf; 4. Carlos Lee, 1b; 5. Jeff Keppinger, 2b; 6. Jason Michaels, lf; 7. Clint Barmes, ss; 8. Humberto Quintero, c; 9. J.A. Happ, p.

     Umpires: HP -- Dan Iassogna; 1B -- Dale Scott; 2B -- Jerry Meals; 3B -- C.B. Bucknor. 

Gaby's bunt, Cameron's influence

   Surprised the heck out of us last night when we discovered that Jack McKeon didn't order the first-inning bunt try from Gaby Sanchez with runners at first and second and no outs. All of us assumed it was McKeon up to his usual bag of tricks.

    Here was a player (in Sanchez) who was hitting decently (.270) with runners in scoring position and had enjoyed good success against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (7 for 13 with a double and a home run) going into the game. But Sanchez popped out trying to bunt and Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play to end the inning.

    Two innings later, Sanchez came up with runners at first and second and two outs and ripped a single to right off Kendrick.

    While McKeon said he didn't order the bunt, he enthusiastically applauded it:

    "That was his own," McKeon said. "You've got to give him credit. He's an unselfish player trying to do something. He saw the third baseman (playing) back. He decided he'd bunt one and fill the bases for us. Very unselfish. Didn't work out, but gotta tip your hat to him. At least he's trying. In '03, we saw Pudge do that a number of times and the next guy came in and got the base hit and put us out in front a couple of times. I had no complaints with that. Just didn't execute right. But he had great intentions. We need more of that."

    Asked whether it was the best decision given Sanchez's successful track record against Kendrick, McKeon replied: "Yeah, but that's history. That's past. You live by the stats, you die by the stats. The way we are, heck, we need to score runs. We need to get guys in scoring position and hope we get a break. So I would rather have the guy on third. If he could have made the bunt, it would have been bases loaded and nobody out."

    Anyone care to offer an opinion on Sanchez's decision to bunt?

    ________________________________________________________________________________

    Not really sure what Mike Cameron has left in him at this late stage, and he didn't sound too convinced about his future when I asked him how long he intended to continue playing. But Cameron's presence is already being felt.

    Logan Morrison was raving about Cameron and comments the veteran made on the bench throughout the course of last night's game. And Cameron was conspicuously available to sign autographs for a group of kids beforehand.

    After Bryan Petersen's sketchy game in center last night (he watched one liner sail over his head after taking a poor route and had another ball get past him), it was no surprise to hear McKeon say that Cameron would be in the lineup tonight. We'll see. There's always a chance Cameron could be the next Jacques Jones, only with the extra clubhouse intangibles.

July 06, 2011

Brian Sanches' 78-pitch outing was painful to watch

     Watching Brian Sanches pile up 78 pitches over three innings on Tuesday -- 38 of them in an excruciating-to-watch ninth inning -- reminded me of Dave Davidson. If you don't remember Davidson, you're probably not alone. The reliever's entire Marlins career amounted to one inning in 2009.

  Davidson              But what an inning it was. He gave up four runs, allowing five hits and walking four. More significantly, he threw 52 pitches. Right after that, the Marlins designated him and the Orioles claimed him off waivers. But the claim was voided when -- surprise -- the Orioles found him to have a shoulder injury. Davidson was returned to the Marlins and spent the rest of the season on the disabled list, collecting a major league paycheck.

     But that was his only consolation. Two years later, and Davidson has yet to appear in another major- or minor-league game.

     With Chris Volstad managing only four innings in Tuesday's 14-2 trouncing and most -- but not all -- members of the bullpen unavailable due to recent usage, Jose Ceda and Sanches covered the final five frames. Sanches, who had never before thrown more than 58 pitches in any one game, had his count up to 40 after completing the seventh and eighth innings.

     But it was in the ninth when matters turned ugly. Sanches was knocked silly by the Phillies, yet was left on the mound as the flogging continued. Steve Cishek got up in the bullpen but was never brought in to spare Sanches more punishment -- perhaps, even, to spare him from potential injury. When it was over, after Sanches finally got the third out, he took out his frustration in the dugout, spiking his glove several times before throwing it in disgust. He could be seen shaking his head as he walked up the back steps of the dugout, on his way to the clubhouse.

     Sanches refused to comment afterward, but sat in front of his locker, staring straight ahead, while the melting ice dripped from the wraps on his right shoulder and elbow. He was clearly not a happy man.

     Afterward, manager Jack McKeon expressed empathy for Sanches.

     "He was trying to save us from using another pitcher, and he sucked it up for us," McKeon said. "I was down to one more guy and I didn't want to use him. I didn't want to see Sanches get crucified out there. We kept going hitter by hitter. You've got to give him credit. He stayed out there and battled."

     For Sanches' sake, let's hope it's not his last battle the way it was for Davidson.

July 05, 2011

Marlins acquire Mike Cameron from Red Sox (w/video)

     The Marlins have acquired 38-year-old outfielder Mike Cameron from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later, or cash.

     Cameron Cameron hit just .149 for the Red Sox in 94 at bats this season before being designated for assignment late last month.

     A 16-year major league veteran, Cameron is a three-time Gold Glove winner and one of only five active players with at least 250 home runs and 250 stolen bases.

     But Cameron hasn't played as a full-time starter since 2009 when he appeared in 149 games with Milwaukee.

    Marlins president Larry Beinfest discusses the Cameron trade in the video below:

Marlins priming Clay Hensley for a rotation spot

     There's a very strong chance Clay Hensley won't be returning to the bullpen when he's activated from the disabled list shortly after the All-Star break. The Marlins are building up Hensley's arm strength as a precursor to inserting him into the starting rotation.

     "That's a possibility," said manager Jack McKeon. ""We've run that through the computer once or twice. He's been a starter."

 Hensley      Hensley has been ramping up his pitch count and throwing every fifth day in rehab outings in a bid to bring him up to speed as a starter. He threw 45 pitches on Sunday for the Gulf Coast League Marlins, is scheduled for 65 pitches on Friday in another rehab stint, and is aiming for an 85-pitch outing before coming off the DL from a sprained right shoulder.

      Hensley made 29 starts for the Padres in 2006 and nine more in '07. It appeared he would make Marlins' 25-man roster as a starter out of spring training in 2010 before the team traded for Nate Robertson just before Opening Day, bumping Hensley to the bullpen.

      The 31-year-old right-hander smiled broadly when asked if he would like to return to a starting role.

      "It's obvously somehting I've done my whole career pretty much, up until last year," Hensley said. "I'd be happy to do it. Since I've done it my entire career, it's not like it's going to be new. It's good if I was to start again. That's familiar territory. I've always had my heart in the rotation. But going back to the bullpen was fun."

      In 40 major league starts, all with the Padres, Hensley is 13-15 with a 4.35 ERA.

      McKeon said Brad Hand would start Thursday.

      MIKE STANTON'S EYE -- McKeon said he was surprised to learn that outfielder Mike Stanton continues to be bothered by blurry vision in his right eye and is planning to see an eye specialist on Wednesday. He said nobody told him about it.

      "That's news to me," McKeon said. "That's the first time I've heard that."

     ________________________________________________________________________________

     LINEUP:

     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. John Buck, c; 8. Bryan Petersen, cf; 9. Chris Volstad, p.

July 04, 2011

J.J.: Wants to pitch again this season, even if it's only one game

    Josh Johnson is determined to pitch again this season, even if it's September and the Marlins are 50 games out of first.

     Asked if it would even be worth returning to the mound if his shoulder problems persist through July and August, Johnson replied: "It's always going to be worth it. If I can come back and throw one start, I'm going to try to come back and throw one start."

     Johnson obviously hopes to make more than one start before the end of the season. But after another setback curtailed his throwing program and knocked him back to square one, nobody knows for sure when he'll be able to pitch again.

     Johnson was examined last week by Dr. James Andrews, who didn't discover any structural damage to his injured right shoulder but gave him a cortisone injection and placed him on no-throw status until the soreness subsides.

      "It's sore from the shot still," Johnson said Monday.

      It was either during spring training or in April that Johnson said he began noticing symptoms with his right shoulder. He said he notified the training staff, which provided treatment, and he was able to pitch without any major issues. But, following his ninth start in mid-May, he went on the disabed list with shoulder inflammation and has remained there since.

    "(Andrews) said sometimes guys get this, it sticks around for a while, but then, all of a sudden, they never feel it again in their career, or seven years down the road they'll feel it," Johnson said. "It's just one of those things that just happens. You've just got to stay on top off it and keep strengthening."

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

        Mike Stanton continues to experience blurry vision in his right eye and will see an eye specialist on Wednesday.

        "I'm having trouble seeing still," Stanton said. "It feels like I'm kind of looking through something hazy."

       Stanton was treated recently for an eye infection that caused him to miss three games. But the problem persisted during a road trip in which he struck out in 17 of 36 at bats. He suffered through a pair of four-strikeout games during the trip.

       "I've gone in (strikeout) streaks like this before, but this is different," he said. "I wasn't 1-2-3 gone like I am now. The strikeouts were six-pitch strikeouts, five-pitch strikeouts. This is different. I'm trying not to make excuses for it. That's what I did for three weeks when it first happened."

       Stanton said the problem improved somewhat - but not entirely -- after receiving treatment the last time.

       "It worked significantly but it didn't knock it out," Stanton said. "It never went away. It just decreased. We'll look at it (Wednesday) and see if I'm crazy and it's still there."

      _______________________________________________________________________________