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Are Infante, Gaby Gold Glove worthy? Hill thinks so

NEW YORK -- The Marlins haven't had a Gold Glove winner since Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo were manning third and second base for them in 2005.

But with the type of season Gaby Sanchez and Omar Infante are having, Marlins infield coach Perry Hill said he wouldn't be surprised if either one becomes the next Marlin to earn baseball's highest defensive honor.

Entering August, Sanchez ranks tops among all National League first basemen in fielding percentage (.997) with just three errors in 917 chances. Infante ranks second among NL second baseman with a .990 fielding percentage, five errors in 507 chances. Only the Reds' Brandon Phillips has been cleaner among NL second basemen with four errors in 507 chances (.992).

"The things he does over there are unbelievable," Sanchez said of Infante. "People don't realize some of the plays he makes are incredibly hard. He makes them look so easy, they look routine."

Sanchez, who made 11 errors in 1,196 chances as a rookie last season (that ranked 12th among NL first basemen), said Hill worked with him vigorously during spring training to improve his footwork.

"I think he's just more comfortable now," Hill said of Sanchez. "He puts himself in a better position to field balls, puts himself in better position to catch balls."

The Marlins rank third in the NL, sixth in the majors in fewest errors with 58 in 108 games. The team's .985 fielding percentage is the highest it's been since the club finished fourth in the majors in 2004 with a .986 fielding percentage and just 86 errors. The Marlins ranked 26th in the majors last season with 123 errors and have ranked 26th or higher in errors each of the past five seasons.

"I think the group has done well, but there's still a lot of work to be done," Hill said. "We believe we can have the best defense in baseball. If that's not your goal, then you shouldn't be around."

INFANTE HAPPY MARLINS DIDN'T TRADE HIM: Although several playoff contenders inquired about acquiring Infante just before Sunday's trade deadline, the second baseman said Monday he's glad he will finish out the season in South Florida.

"I like being here," Infante said. "I wanted to stay here, finish this season with the Marlins and play strong. We'll see what will happen next year. They haven't told me anything. We're waiting for the off season to talk about it."

Infante, acquired in the Dan Uggla trade with the Braves, is making $2.5 million this season and will be a free agent at the end of the season. Although he went into Monday's game hitting just .266 (his worst batting average since he hit .222 with the Tigers in 2005), he's had a Gold Glove type season defensively and hit .291 in the month of July (the third highest average on the team behind Emilio Bonifacio and Hanley Ramirez).

Infante said he's hoping to finish the season strong and is working with hitting coach Eduardo Perez on the tee to shorten his swing.

"At times I've felt bad about how inconsistent I've been, but I'm still working on it and I know if I can put a few good weeks together, it could turn into a good thing," Infante said. "I'm working on the tee to hit the ball on the ground because I've been hitting the ball up in the air too much."

NO EXPLAINING ROAD SUCCESS: The Marlins closed out July with a franchise record-matching 17 wins and a major-league best 10-4 road record, improving the club's overall road record to 29-23, second-best in the National League.

"Guys have their domestic chores when we're home," manager Jack McKeon joked when asked to explain why the team plays so well on the road and is just 24-32 at Sun Life Stadium.

"I don't know. I don't know whether [small crowds] have anything to do with it. But I think anybody would like to see more people here. I think there's more energy."

The Marlins have only had one winning season on the road, in 2009 when they finished 44-37. The rank last in the National League in home attendance.

CHASING THE BABE: Felo Ramirez, the Marlins’ Spanish-language radio broadcaster, posted a handwritten note under the lineup card in the Marlins clubhouse Monday that read: “HOME RUN LEADERS Babe Ruth 714, Emilio Bonifacio 2."

Bonifacio, who hit his second big league home run to clear the wall Sunday in Atlanta, got a kick out of Ramirez's message. McKeon did too.

"I don’t care about him hitting home runs,” McKeon said. “I want him on base – hit by pitch, take a base on balls. Just get on. I don’t want him going up there thinking he’s [Mike] Stanton."

LINEUPS

> Marlins (53-55): 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. Bryan Petersen CF, 8. John Buck C, 9. Javier Vazquez P.



> Mets (55-53): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Justin Turner 2B, 3. Daniel Murphy 1B, 4. David Wright 3B, 5. Angel Pagan CF, 6. Jason Bay LF, 7. Lucas Duda RF, 8. Ronny Paulino C, 9. Mike Pelfrey P.

 

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