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49 posts from August 2011

August 24, 2011

Morrison leads Marlins to 6-5 victory in first game of Wednesday's doubleheader; Game two lineups

Manager Jack McKeon said “maybe LoGo can bring us some good luck” before the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader. Of course, McKeon was referring to LoMo, Logan Morrison, who had just rejoined the Marlins after being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans following a 10-day demotion.

“We’ve been looking for that key hit now for two weeks, so hopefully [Morrison] can supply that,” McKeon said.

Morrison might not have delivered the biggest hit of Florida’s 6-5 victory in game one, but he did play a big role at making the Marlins’ offense “LoGo.” Morrison, who was 2 for 4 with two runs scored, contributed to each of Florida’s three-run frames and helped the Fish snap their six-game losing streak. Morrison put Florida on the board in the fourth with a solo home run and singled through the hole on the right side in the eighth.

“I was able to get some quality pitches to hit and didn’t miss the barrel, so that was good,” Morrison said. “It means a lot, man. It doesn’t matter where I’m at, what jersey I have on, that’s what I want to do: I want to contribute to the win, help the team win. I was happy for that.”

With the exception of a fourth-inning rally, the Marlins’ offense largely was quieted by Homer Bailey throughout game one. Bailey retired the last eight batters he faced and handed the ball to the Reds’ bullpen with a 3-3 tie.

But Florida was suddenly injected with a spark in the eighth when Emilio Bonifacio smoked a triple over Drew Stubbs’ head in centerfield. Omar Infante followed with a go-ahead single, and Greg Dobbs’ double down the right-field line scored both Infante and Morrison.

“It was a different ballclub with LoMo in there,” McKeon said. “He's a threat, he did a great job. He played hard. It was a different attitude. The whole energy level was different.”

Marlins’ starter Javier Vazquez pitched seven strong innings, allowing three runs on six hits while whiffing a season-high 11 batters — all swinging. It was Vazquez’s 43rd career double-digit-strikeout effort and his third of the season. He also passed Don Drysdale for 30th on the all-time strikeout list with 2,487 Ks.

Joey Votto, the 2010 National League MVP, launched an opposite field two-run home run in the third to give the Reds an early 2-0 lead.

Votto’s 23rd long ball of the season scored Bailey, who had doubled to right field. But before Bailey reached base, he appeared to offer at Vazquez’s offspeed pitch in the dirt. After Bailey’s extra-base hit dropped behind Mike Stanton, argued the call with the first-base Todd Tichenor, who ejected the manager for disputing the check-swing appeal play. It was the first time McKeon has been tossed this season.

Two batters after Morrison’s home run in the fourth, Stanton doubled and Jose Lopez laced a line-drive homer to The Bermuda Triangle to give Florida a 3-2 lead.

Cincinnati evened the score at 3 in the fifth. Vazquez walked former Marlin Edgar Renteria, who was sacrificed to second by Bailey, and then Brandon Phillips hit an RBI double to left.

Todd Frazier, the former Toms River (N.J.) hero who led “The Beast of the East” to the Little League World Series in 1998, went 2 for 4 with a double and home run.

Frazier’s long ball came in the ninth off reliever Edward Mujica, who was filling in for closer Leo Nuñez. After Mujica walked Yonder Alonso, bench coach Brandon Hyde motioned for Steve Cishek, who got two quick outs to shut the door on Cincinnati’s comeback and earn the second save of his career.

Vazquez took a no decision while reliever Ryan Webb earned the win by striking out the only batter he faced.

“That eighth inning went a long way for us,” Morrison said. “We needed every single run because they can swing it.”

Alonso, the Miami native and former University of Miami star, was held out of Dusty Baker’s starting lineup one night after knocking in four runs.

“It was good to get a win,” McKeon said. “We’re trying to win both of these.”

The second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader started at 7:24 p.m.



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

Reds: 1. Brandon Phillips, 2b; 2. Fred Lewis, lf; 3. Joey Votto, 1b; 4. Jay Bruce, rf; 5. Miguel Cairo, 3b; 6. Drew Stubbs, cf; 7. Ryan Hanigan, c; 8. Paul Janish, ss; 9. Bronson Arroto, p

-- Matt Forman

Logan Morrison returns to Marlins' lineup; Jack McKeon talks Leo Nuñez struggles

Logan Morrison, sitting in front of his locker and wearing a Hanley Ramirez jersey T-shirt, addressed the media for about five minutes before the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader, speaking for the first time since he was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

Morrison is in the Marlins' lineup for Game One, batting third and playing left field, the same lineup spot and position he was playing when he was sent down 10 days ago.

"I hope he gives us the same production he was giving us before," manager Jack McKeon said. "Despite his .249 batting average, he was still right up there with RBI, he was getting a lot of key hits. We’ve been looking for that key hit now for two weeks, so hopefully he can supply that.

"He’s a good kid, really. I talked to him earlier and he understands the situation. I’m quite sure you’re going to see a different guy."

Here's the complete transcript from Morrison's meeting earlier today...

(What’s new?)

Nothing. Just got called back up, so I’m pretty excited.

(How difficult have these last 10 days been?)

It hasn’t been easy, but take it in strike and deal with it and just keep moving forward, keep pushing forward.

(How did you play in New Orleans? Do you say up there or down there?)

I guess you say up there geographically but down there in status. I did OK in New Orleans. Played Colorado Springs, the Rockies, I did OK against those guys. And then faced the Rangers, and I’m pretty sure they don’t have a Triple-A team, they have another big-league team. Those guys have some pretty good arms. It was big-league pitching with Triple-A lighting, so it was difficult for me, but those guys didn’t seem to have any problem. The New Orleans team rakes.

(You had a groin or hamstring injury?)

Groin. That was like the third night down there, or second night down there. I don’t know, it’s fine now. No soreness or anything.

(Did you miss any time?)

I missed one game because of it, but then I was back the next day.

(Did they have any conversations with you about what they expect?)

No, I haven’t talked to anybody.

(Even since that night, have you talked to anybody?)

No, I hadn’t talked to anybody.

(Did that surprise you? Did you want to know more from them?)

No, I just didn’t really care at that point, I just knew I was being sent down. Go down there, work on things, come back up ready to play.

(Did you see the scores up here, see what was happening?)

Yeah, I know it’s tough that, I wish I could be there with these guys. That’s the tough part about it. Teams are going to struggle, but you always like to be with your teammates while they’re doing it, while they’re going through the ups and the downs.

(Are you going to be any more reserved than you were before? Or are you going to be the same guy?)

I’ll be the same person.

(Tweeting and communicating and all that?)

Yeah, sure.

(Did that have anything to do with the move by the team?)

I have no idea.

(You don’t have a handle why you were sent up or down?)

No, I don’t. I’m just here to play.

(Is it important for you to find out?)

No, I don’t really care. Not any more, it’s in the past. Just looking to move forward.

(Is it a wasted move if you don’t know why they did it?)

I mean, I don’t really have any control over it. I can’t control it. I can’t control if they’re going to give me a reason or not. So I’m just here to play baseball. Get the jersey dirty and help the team win games, that’s all I can do.

(What do you think was accomplished by the move?)

I’m not sure. I just went down there and played hard, just like I do up there. That’s all I know. I don’t know anything else.

(How would you describe your relationship with the organization?)

I don’t know, I haven’t talked to anybody.

(From your standpoint, did the move change anything?)

No, I think the relationship is that I’m the baseball player and they’re the organization that provides the jersey. So I’m just going to go out there and play hard for my teammates and for organization, and that’s the relationship that I have with them.

(Did you think you were being punished for anything?)

I don’t know. I try not to think about any of that stuff. It’s hard enough hitting a baseball, so I just kind of deal with that and go from there.

(Larry Beinfest said it was surprising to see you hitting .249. Do you agree?)

Yeah, I’m not a .249 hitter, or a .240 hitter, .250 hitter, I see myself as more of a .300 hitter. But it’s part of the game. You struggle. You have ups, you have downs, you have good seasons, you have bad seasons. Just take these next five weeks, work to get and hopefully work to get the average up a little bit. If not, just grind it out and ground out at-bats and grind out games.

(How’s your knee?)

It’s alright. Healing up pretty good. Still can see where the stitches are. Healing up pretty good.

(What’s up with the Hanley jersey you’re wearing?)

I don’t know. I think they gave these to us during spring training, I just picked it out of my locker.

(When did you get the news that you were coming back?)

I was in the clubhouse yesterday when [Greg Norton], the manager, came and said, ‘Pack your bags, you’re going back to Miami.’ I was like, ‘OK, cool.’ I don’t know where else to go from there. Got on a plane at 6 and was over here by 12:30 last night.


Including Tuesday’s ninth-inning meltdown, Marlins closer Leo Nuñez has had several rocky outings in a row, allowing nine runs in his last 2 2/3 innings while blowing two saves and squeaking by for a one-run victory in the other appearance.

What’s going on with Nuñez?

“I wish I knew,” McKeon said. “He’s done a pretty good job most of the year, and the last few times out I don’t know what has happened to him.”

McKeon questioned his 28-year-old reliever’s pitch selection at times.

“He trusts his fastball, but he’s been getting hurt on the changeups,” McKeon said. “He had that guy [Tuesday] night, [Dave] Sappelt — [Sappelt] couldn’t get around on him and he throws him a changeup and hits it for a double and ties the game.”

Does Nuñez rely to heavily on his offspeed stuff?

"I think so, yeah," McKeon said. "The idea is if you’ve got a good change — and he’s got a good change — you’ve got to keep the ball down. You just can’t say, ‘I’ve got a change,’ and just throw it and think these hitters are going — if you throw it up in the zone, any good hitter is going to jump on it. It’s like a batting practice pitch. But hopefully he learns from his mistakes.

Nuñez was unavailable on Wednesday, as McKeon said he wanted to “give [Nuñez] a few days rest.” McKeon said Edward Mujica and Steve Cishek would be used in save situations.

"Mujica has done a super job for us," McKeon said. "He got hit in San Diego, but that happens when a guy leads off with a double or triple. That’s something, in the bottom of the ninth you cant do much about that. Overall, he’s been pretty successful. And Cishek is coming along. He’s done a fine job."



Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 6.Jose Lopez, 1b; 7. Mike Cameron, cf; 8. John Buck, c; 9. Javier Vazquez, p

Reds: 1. Brandon Phillips, 2b; 2. Dave Sappelt, lf; 3. Joey Votto, 1b; 4. Jay Bruce, rf; 5. Ramon Hernandez, c; 6. Drew Stubbs, cf; 7. Todd Frazier, 3b; 8. Edgar Renteria, ss; 9. Homey Bailey, p

-- Matt Forman

August 23, 2011

Dontrelle Willis returns to South Florida

UPDATE: 12:05 A.M.

Dontrelle Willis, arguably the most popular player in Marlins franchise history, returned to South Florida for the first time since being traded to Detroit in 2007. Willis spoke with reporters in the visiting dugout for about 25 minutes before Tuesday's game. Here's a quick video clip of the interview:



And here's the almost-complete transcript from Willis' meeting with the media earlier this afternoon...

(How does it feel to be back?)

It feels good. I’m enjoying the humidity, kind of familiar with that. Definitely feels good. Definitely feels good and proud to be a part of a great organization. They welcomed me back with open arms, all the way from the gate guards to security, so it feels good.

(What memories come flooding back to you?)

Well, obviously, winning the title here. Just the great teammates, the organization, everything in South Florida. Just having fun, and the fans embracing us, from the little parks in the minor leagues all the way up to the majors, so I have a lot of great memories. It’s still a little weird, to be honest with you, to be on the evil side of the diamond. But I definitely have a lot of great memories here.

(What’s been working well for you this year to get back here?)

I’m throwing the ball pretty well, just got to get a couple W’s. I like the way I’m throwing. I like the I’m working with the coaching staff. Great organization, Dusty Baker, from top to bottom they’re all good guys. We’re having fun, we just have to win some ball games to get back in this race.

(Did you want to pitch in this series?)

Most definitely. Most definitely. But I’d probably be too amped up and they’d probably kick my butt all over the field anyway, so it would be an unhappy homecoming.

(Does it surprise you to look across to the other dugout and see Jack sitting there?)

No, not at all. Not at all, because I know Jack. I know Jack. He’s a timeless piece. He’s like a fine wine, keeps getting better by age. But I’m happy for him. I still keep close tabs on the team, still follow those guys, and they definitely have some young talent coming up and they’ll turn it around. I’m still close to Ricky [Nolasco] and Anibal [Sanchez]. I’m still rooting for those guys.

(Ricky Nolasco could pass your franchise record for strikeouts tonight…)

I’m happy for him. Records are made to be broken. I never thought I’d have a record to be broken. I’m definitely happy for him. Just not tonight. I hope we get my man tonight. It’s a sign of longevity, thank God that he was healthy most of the time. He’s definitely a talented guy. But all those guys over there — Josh Johnson, Anibal, all those guys that were over there with me, they’re definitely talented guys and good for baseball.

(How would you describe what you’ve been through since you left here?)

Long. Long but fun. I just played like do-do. I had fun. In everybody’s careers they go through ups and downs, and now I find myself in Cincinnati. I never thought I would find myself here, but I played well down in the minor leagues and got the chance, and earned my right to come up. So far I’ve been doing pretty good, but I could do a lot better. But I’m having fun, having fun with the organization, great organization.

(Do you feel like things are going in the right direction for you?)

No, I’m just working off community service hours. Yeah, of course, of course. I’m having fun, I like this style of baseball, and they’re all great guys, like I said earlier. They’re all great guys, and they all work hard, you see the guys out early. They like to have fun. That’s right up my alley.

(Why do you think you never got back to 2005 form?)

Well, No. 1, I would love to win 22 games every year. No. 2, just trying too hard. Just trying to hard. Trying to play other people’s style of baseball instead of my own and not really enjoying it. Not to say that I didn’t have fun, but when you press, it’s kind of like when you’re shooting jumpers and you miss the first three, and now you’re shooting all over the place. But you have to take the good with the bad. I wouldn’t change a thing, because it made me appreciate things a little more and really enjoy things a little more. It’s just one of the things where I was pressing and couldn’t get out of the hole.

(Did the big contract put pressure on you?)

No, I love making a lot of money. I don’t think there’s anybody that doesn’t. I was just going into a new place. It’s almost feeling like transferring to a new high school senior year, something that like. You know what I mean? You want to do everything in one year and was it tough. But I have a great deal of respect for those guys in Detroit, they’re doing great. Jim Leyland and those guys are stand-up guys, but I still keep in touch with those guys up there, so it’s no love lost up there.

(Still a Heat fan?)

Oh man, it was a great season. I think ya’ll put too much pressure on them, ya’ll gave them the title. It was a great season. I think it was definitely good for basketball. I’m still a Heat fan, still a Dolphins fan, keep up with those guys. But it’s tough. They won once and now they have to win every year because of you guys. It’s your fault. But they had a great year, it was fun to watch, and I hope they bring all those guys back and give it another run.

(What about the Dolphins?)

Good defense, good defense, good defense. I hope the quarterback situation works out, because I think Chad Henne is pretty good -- Don’t kill me. But I think they’re going to be good. I think the new coach has made great strides. Like I said, they’re gong to be tough this year. We’ll see with my Raiders too.

(Not many people have warm feelings about this stadium…)

I love it. I love it. It’s The House That Conine Built, I like to say. The House That Conine Built. I just put down some fixtures for him. But I love this stadium, every year they change the name. Joe Robbie, Sun Life. It’s the culture. You gotta love it, you gotta embrace it. I love playing down here, like I said, no matter if there was 1,000 or 40,000 [fans]. Hearing the ‘Let’s go Mets’ and then the ‘Let’s go Marlins’ chants mixed in, I loved it. I definitely enjoyed all of it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

(Next year the new stadium opens…)

Yeah, that’s big. We’ve gotta fill the seats though, that’s your job. You gotta get everybody to come out. But they’re definitely going to have some talent to go out there and make you guys proud.

(What was it like when this stadium was full of people?)

Oh, man. Besides my kids' births, one of the most exciting things in my life was to see 74,000 cheering and rooting me on. But even our 10,000 faithful. They make it loud, and it seems like it full. I loved every moment of it, I really did. From the dog days -- the hot, humid dog days -- and now they’ve got the DJ, I loved all of that. I’ve always loved being apart of the Marlins family and the culture, down to [Jeffrey] Loria, they’re all stand-up guys. To see the talent they fulfill every year, it’s fun to be a part of, fun to be part of that frat. I never got to go to college, so I feel like the Marlins are kind of like my frat. I definitely have a lot of love and respect for these guys, and it feels good to be back.

(Get back to South Florida much?)

Yeah, all the time. I come back all the time. My wife’s family is still down here, so we come back every once in a while.

(McKeon said he wishes his players would bring an energy level…)

They do, they do. They just have to learn it. I was blessed -- I tell everybody. This is no B.S., I was blessed to play with well-rounded guys, guys that are cornerstones like Derek Lee, Mark Redmond, Jeff Conine, Pudge Rodriguez. These are guys that left the Marlins and went to be cornerstones of organizations and stuff like that. And the work ethic that Juan Pierre instills, to this day, I still can’t keep up with him. To see those guys, and those guys kicked me and Miguel in the butt regardless of what type of game we had or what type of month we had, and to still put their arm around us as well, that’s something that’s almost like having a good parent around. I think veteran guys are key, and the game I think is going away from that, to have veteran guys that have been through the struggles, quote unquote. There’s a lot more young guys that are thrusted into positions to lead, and it’s tough. It’s very tough. My hats off to the young guys too, to learn kind of on the ropes. I was blessed to have guys that taught me whether or not to have my cell phone on, what to dress, what to do. So it’s tough for those young guys. I pray for them to make the right decisions. And the athleticism is there. You don’t have to worry about that. They can definitely play the game with the best of them. Just learning and learning how to fail, that’s all they need to work on.

(What do you think of Mike Stanton?)

Oh, he’s a beast. I’ve got to meet him in the tunnel. He’s a beast. He’s a beast. Like I said, just for him being so young and so talented, the sky is the limit. I’m hearing that he’s got more power than my boy Miguel [Cabrera], so I’ve got to see it in person. I’m mad it’s raining right now, because I wanted to see his BP. He’s a talented guy. They say he’s a great guy, a stand-up kid. It’s amazing with these kids coming up, 12 years old and 200 pounds. He’s 21 and he’s 240 pounds. But I said, ‘Good luck.’ And he gave me a hug and said, ‘Nice to see you back up,’ and he said, ‘We’re big fans.’ And that meant a lot to me, because I’m not that old.

(Stanton hit a ball on the concourse in right-center at Coors Field…)

Wow. Wow. I don’t even think I’ve walked up there. That’s some power. And if I give them up, I give them up big. We’ll see each other on the battlefield one day.

(Any change we’ll see you pinch-hit this series?)

Dusty is old school, I don’t think so. Dusty is old school. I don’t think so. But I’ve been running into some balls lately.

(What’s your average?)

I don’t look at that. I just hit the ball hard. Whether I hit the ball hard or not, that’s my tally. That’s my two categories, hit the ball hard or not. But I’m having fun getting back into it.

(You hit a home run recently…)

Did I?

(You can strike out a guy to end the game or you can hit a walk-off homer. Which would you prefer?)

Oh, man. I’m going to keep it [politically correct] and say strike out a guy, but you know where my heart lies. Like I said, man, I love it here. Great organization. They definitely gave me a calling shot what they wanted me to do, what they wanted me to accomplish. Dusty, you know, and the talent they have over here, it reminds me a lot of the Marlins. I fit right into the system. They just want me to go out and be me, play hard, and sometimes I play a little too hard for them, as far as sliding and stuff like that. I need to work on that. But it’s a great organization.

(Jack McKeon story from your rookie year?)

Oh, man. Trader Jack? Oh, man. I don’t know if I want to do this to Jack. I got to say hi to him first to see what’s going on.

(How about when he came out in San Diego and didn’t take the ball from you to get those outs when you got your first win?)

That’s pretty PC of you, to say it like that. That’s pretty PC. Like I said, I loved every minute of it. I definitely got a tongue-lashing from him more than once, but I was able to decipher the message. I knew that he cared about me. I was like the bad little brother in that locker room. I was always in trouble for something down there. Don’t let him try to spill the beans on me. He definitely kept me at arm’s length.

(Could you have won the World Series in 2003 if McKeon hadn’t taken over that club?)

I doubt it. I doubt it. Just because of the personality. I’m a firm believer that personality starts from the top to the bottom. Him not caring about anything kind of helped us not care about anything but going out there and playing baseball, and sometimes that’s important. He’s kind of the Phil Jackson of managing, just sit back and let those guys play, and if you teach them the right way, they’ll do the right job. And if not, you tip your hat and try to get them tomorrow. But he loved guys that worked hard, and we worked hard. He loved being honest, and we loved receiving it.

(He gave you tough love?)

Oh yeah, real tough love. Real, real tough love for me, but he was good. I was able to decipher the message and we all understood, and I enjoyed it.

(Part of the Giants last year, what was your status?)

Right after September, I was home. I knew [Brian] Sabean, he looked at me when I got drafted, so it was kind of like a father-son thing. He asked if I wanted to come, I was like, ‘No, I want to see my family and stuff like that.’ I didn’t help them. I didn’t think [at any point I was close to being back.] I said, ‘Good luck, you’ve got enough. You don’t need me messing it up.’ That’s one thing about me. I’m honest about my play. I’m honest about everything. ‘Good luck, I’ll see you in high-def.’ I’m from there. I was happy for them that they won. I popped a Bud Light, I think, and wished them good luck. ‘I’ll see you next year.’ There wasn’t no hard feelings. And he was happy for me, he sent me a text. It was mutual respect. I knew Sabean when I was in high school and stuff like that, so he gave me an opportunity, but by that time they all had their fleet ready to go out there and do battle. So it was all good.

(How often do you think about the 2003 season?)

Every time I walk around my kitchen, around my dining room. I have a trophy and a ring, and it’s a special feeling to be apart of a special group and a group that basically was [written] off when I got called up. To be apart of one of the greatest stories, let alone baseball stories, but sports stories of all time. And I’m not just saying it because I was on the team. But I remember in ’97 when the Marlins won, none of us in Oakland knew where the Marlins played. We didn’t know if it was Orlando or anything like that. To be able to be a part of that and be able to win, and then to see kids in Oakland wearing Marlins hats and people on the street wearing Marlins stuff, that’s a pretty cool frat or organization to be a part of. They say it’s a small market, but now they’re wearing Marlins hats wherever, and that’s a tough color to match — black and teal. To see them think it’s cool, for whatever reason, with the Mike Stantons and Josh Johnsons, that’s a cool frat to be a part of.

(Ever see a Willis Marlins shirt?)

All the time. Most definitely. All the time. I actually saw one yesterday. It looked a little faded. But I was fired up. Most definitely. I’m always proud. Even when I struggle, I’m always happy for the opportunity and stuff like that. Even when I came up, you know me. To be here, it all came full circle.

(You always said ‘it always could end tomorrow,’ but it hasn’t for you…)

Yeah, well the sun shines on everybody. With all due respect, you’ve got to keep believing. You’ve got to keep having fun. I’ll take myself home the second I stop having fun, believe me, with this humidity. I’ve got climate control, I’ll go home. But I enjoy playing, I enjoy being around the game. I enjoy the camaraderie. I enjoy the talent that I’m going up against.

(How much are you proving to yourself right now?)

Ya’ll just wrote me off. I didn’t write myself off. I’ve never felt like that. When I signed with the Reds, I was barbecuing with my kids, to be honest with you. It wasn’t like I was -- Let’s get this straight: Being a bad baseball player is different than being overseas fighting a war. It wasn’t that bad to be struggling making money. Let’s put this all in perspective here. Giving up a three-run home run sucks, but you live to fight another day. I’ve got friends over there, navy kids and stuff like that I grew up with, and that helped me put things in perspective. And I think that’s what motivated me during the game. You do the best you can and prepare yourself the best way you can and leave it on the field.

(Are you going to stay in the game when your career is over?)

I think I’m too nutty for everybody. I think I’m too nutty for a fungo [bat], because then I get to say what I want. But I hope so. I hope I stay in the game. I hope people think I have enough knowledge to be able to stay in the game. And I think I do. To be able to be on both sides of the fence and teach people the successes and failures of the game, who better than me? And I can do it with a smile. A smile like this?

(You can teach them how not to repeat their delivery…)

I can clean it up. I can tell them how not to do it.

(How similar is your delivery now to ’03?)

Everyone says I don’t get my leg up, but I think I get my leg up as high. I think my direction is pretty good. I have no torso, so I can get my leg up pretty high. Pretty similar Everything is just timing. Hitting, pitching, everything is timing and the consistency with the timing and stuff like that. Just simplifying it and believing in your stuff. And having the confidence to do it, that’s about it.

(Classic moment in ’03 when you all came to the top of the dugout and gave Rodger Clemens a standing ovation…)

He came back! I was a little salty -- no, it was a classic time, a classic moment. He was one of the greats in the game. I’ve been blessed to play with and against some of the best in the history and the game. So to be apart of that, there was no better feeling than to see Rodger Clemens, at that time, do the Brett Farve and give him a standing O. It was classic. I think it was soothing. And I think both teams handled it well.

(Still have a place here?)

No, I live in Scottsdale.

(What was the hardest ball you hit here?)
Off my leg. Off my leg, very often. That’s why I wear a shin guard now. Off the old leg.

(When’s the last time you were here?)

I can’t remember. You guys huddle up together and figure it out. Probably ’07, my last start.

(Did you see any of the Heat games here or in Phoenix?)

No, I didn’t get to see any Heat games. I have a cool man cave back in the house in Arizona, so I’m a homebody now. That’s where I catch up with the game, keep up with the Marlins and stuff like that. I’ve got a man cave, and I enjoy it. 

(What did you think of LeBron in the finals?)

You guys are going to get me beat up. I thought he played hard. This is your guys’ fault. When you have three studs on the team? I don’t know. I’m not Stephen A. Smith. Don’t quote me on it, I’m not a basketball insider, I’ve got enough problems trying to do this. With three guys like that, it’s hard. I thought they did a great job. I thought everyone did a great job. I thought the coach did a great job for the scrutiny under all the time. I thought they did a great job, and I think they’re going to go back next year as well. They’ll be alright.

(Any chance you'll pitch an inning tomorrow)

It's not part of my job title, sir. I have bosses just like you.

(Think of the tickets they would sell...)

Not many.


A few quick notes:

- McKeon said Hanley Ramirez was scheduled to take live batting practice in Jupiter on Tuesday. McKeon said that if Ramirez can take a few days of pain-free BP, the manager would not need his star shortstop to play rehab games before returning. Ramirez is eligible to come off the 15-day DL whenever he is ready.

- The Marlins announced Thursday’s game has been canceled and rescheduled for Wednesday, when the Marlins and Reds will play a doubleheader, because of the impending inclement weather from Hurricane Irene. Game one is scheduled for 4:10 p.m., while the second game will start roughly 30 minutes after the first one ends. The Marlins will leave South Florida for Philadelphia late Wednesday to travel difficulties later in the week.

A Florida representative said tickets for Wednesday will be single-admission only; fans with tickets to Wednesday’s game will be able to watch both games, while those with Thursday tickets can exchange them for tickets to Wednesday’s doubleheader or any other remaining home game.

McKeon said Thursday’s schedule change won’t affect Florida until Monday, when the team has to play a doubleheader against New York, a makeup from August 3’s rainout.



Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 2. Bryan Petersen, lf; 3. Mike Stanton, rf; 4. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 5. Omar Infane, 2b; 6. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 7. Mike Cameron, cf; 8. John Buck, c; 9. Ricky Nolasco, p

Reds: 1. Brandon Phillips, 2b; 2. Dave Sappelt, cf; 3. Jay Bruce, rf; 4. Miguel Cairo, 3b; 5. Yonder Alonso, 1b; 6. Drew Stubbs, cf; 7. Ramon Hernandez, c; 8. Paul Janish, ss; 9. Johnny Cueto, p

-- Matt Forman

Jack McKeon on Dontrelle Willis; Fish fall to 14 games below .500

I wasn't able to fit Jack McKeon's comments about Dontrelle Willis in Tuesday's story, so here's the transcript of McKeon's quotes from earlier today...

(Aside from the numnbers, what made Dontrelle the special player that he was?)

I think, no question, he’s one of the most colorful guys we ever had. But the thing I really enjoyed about Dontrelle, and I wish some of our guys would, is the energy he had, and that just poured over to the other plays. This guy is out there, ‘Give me the ball, I want the ball,’ instead of going to sleep on you. Some guys take five innings to deliver a pitch. But the energy he brought was almost contagious to the other players. And it wasn’t clowning, it was serious love of the game. ‘I want to go out there and pitch, I love it.’

(And he would fill the stadium too...)

Because he was one of the most colorful guys we ever had in this franchise.

(What do you think allowed him to turn things around this year?)

Well, he had some tough times. I really haven’t had a chance to get with him about it. But it looks like he’s back on track again, and I’m so happy for him. He went through a little period of adversity and he was able to make adjustments, and that’s what I tried to tell our guys today: This is a game where you’ve got to continue to make adjustments.

(Dontrelle could hit too...)

Oh yeah, he could hit. I think I batted him sixth one time, if I’m not mistaken. He was aggressive and had a good idea of the strike zone. He delivered a lot of times. I know he hit a grand slam in Puerto Rico. He was always a threat to hit it out of the park. I pinch-hit over a few guys a few times over those years, and I saw that he’s been hitting the ball pretty hard for these guys. I’ve been following him.

(Dontrelle said you gave him tough love, some tongue lasings -- and more than one...)

I gave him tongue-lashings. But it’s for their good. I try to emphasis what it takes to be a star, an All-Star, a Hall of Famer. It requires a little pride and dedication. And you’ve got to want to be good. Today we see a lot of gives come to the big leagues and they’re here and they’re comfortable, and I told them today, it aint’ going to work. I told them today the record books are full of one- and two-year phenoms. But all I try to do is help them in their career. Yeah, I’ve got to chew somebody out once in a while. Poor [Josh] Beckett and [Brad] Penny -- if any two guys would not have liked me, it would have been them two. But then when it was all said and done, when they became pretty good pitchers and stuff, they all would pick the phone up and thank me. That was the good part about it. When they thank you for turning their career around or making [them] realize what it took to be a big winner. I hope they stay the same way. But heck, I could go days with Beckett, he wouldn’t talk to me for 3 or 4 days, and I wouldn’t take to him, because if he did talk to me, he was going to get some more, so I kind of stayed away from him. And then it all settled down, and we loved one another again. But they all know it’s not personal, it’s trying to get them to realize what it takes to become an All-Star, or a 20-game winner.


The Marlins’ second-half-of-summer bummer continued on a downward spiral Tuesday night, hitting arguably a new low when closer Leo Nuñez blew his sixth save of the season, sending the Marlins an 8-6 loss and their 16th defeat in the last 18 games.

“Everybody is overwhelmed here with just the way it’s going,” Ricky Nolasco said. “Nobody is doubting Leo and his stuff and every time we give him the ball. It just didn’t work out today. It’s all coming at the worst possible times, and it’s tough as a team.”

Nuñez entered with a 6-4 lead in the ninth, but he promptly walked pinch-hitter Joey Votto, gave up a single to Brandon Phillips and allowed a 2-RBI double by Dave Sappelt to make it 6-6. That’s when Miami native and former University of Miami star Yonder Alonso delivered the biggest blow of the game, smoking a game-tying two-run double back up the middle.

Alonso, the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft, factored in half of the Reds’ runs. He launched a line-drive home run to put Cincinnati on the board in the second, then knocked in another to give Cincinnati a 2-0 lead in the third.

It looked like Tuesday would follow the same story as seemingly all of the Marlins’ games in August: The Fish fell behind early and couldn’t capitalize on scoring opportunities, stranding six runners in the first three innings. But it seemed like something clicked when Nolasco retired the next six hitters and the offense broke out for a three-run fifth.

Even that wasn’t enough for the Marlins to snap their five-game losing streak, as the Fish fell to 14 games below .500.

“It was a tough one,” McKeon said. “The guys played hard. They played like they hadn’t played in a while, battled back and got the lead. … No question this hurt.”

Nolasco became the Marlins’ all-time franchise leader in strikeouts in the second, whiffing Johnny Cueto for the 758th “K” of his career to break the record previously held by Dontrelle Willis. The “D-Train,” now with the Reds, was sitting in the opposing dugout when his record was broken, and he later tore down the new stadium countdown number in the fifth inning.

“[The record] won’t sink in now,” Nolasco said. “Everybody is frustrated, and those personal goals aren’t going to mean anything when the team is scuffling like this.”

Nolasco struck out seven more batters while allowing four runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. If not for the blown save by Nuñez, Nolasco would have moved within four games of Willis’ mark (68) for victories in franchise history.

The Marlins pushed across three runs in the fifth on Greg Dobbs’ sacrifice fly and a double high off the left-field wall by Gaby Sanchez. In the sixth, Emilio Bonifacio connected on his third home run of the season to extend the Marlins’ lead.

Florida added a would-be insurance run on Bonifacio’s sacrifice fly to center that scored Buck in the eighth, but everything imploded in the next half inning, when Nuñez threw 37 pitches to record two outs.

“It looked like we had it and it went away,” McKeon said.

The Marlins went down in order in the ninth.

-- Matt Forman

LoMo: The Boogeyman is back; McKeon talks closed-door meeting

UPDATE: 11:50 p.m.

It's official: The Marlins announced after Tuesday's game that Logan Morrison has been recalled from Triple-A New Orleans and Dewayne Wise has been designated for assignment.

As was suspected earlier Tuesday evening, Morrison will rejoin the Marlins on Wednesday. At around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Morrison tweeted: “6pm flight to FLL. The Boogeyman is back!” But Morrison later deleted the Tweet from his @LoMoMarlins account.

Morrison was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in a controversial move on Aug. 13. Morrison said the demotion had to do with an off-field incident, while Florida's front office said it was performance related. Morrison spent 10 days away from the big leagues, equal to the mandated minimum number of days a player must stay in the minors.

The 23-year-old left fielder was hitting .249 with 17 home runs and 60 RBI with the Fish. Since being sent down, Morrison went 4 for 24 (1 for 16 in the last four games) with two doubles, one home run and 5 RBI for the Zephrys.

Wise, the veteran outfielder and defensive whiz, was hitting .239 with two doubles and six runs scored in 67 at-bats.


Manager Jack McKeon held a roughly 20-minute closed-door team meeting before Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds, the first one he has called since taking over for Edwin Rodriguez. The short version of McKeon’s message: “Time to wake up,” he said.

"Time to start thinking about how we can win ballgames doing the little things again," McKeon said. "Also, this is the time of the year when you got a chance to really show the rest of the world that we’re better players or a better team than we’ve shown.

Here's more quotes from McKeon on the meeting...

(Why did you decide to have the meeting?)

I was getting tired of losing. Sometimes I kind of file everything for when I need to have a meeting at the appropriate time. Just let them know that I wasn’t satisfied, that I was embarrassed, and I hope they are too at the way we played.

(Did you get any feedback on the meeting?)

From who? I don’t go around and ask for any feedback.

(Was part of your message about having professional pride?)

That’s part of it. You’ve got to have pride in this game. That’s what hurts me is the fact that I’m a winner. I want to win. You’ve got to be accountable. And the way we’ve been playing is unacceptable.

(Have you seen a lack of effort?)

I don’t see a lack of effort, I just see a lack of execution. We’ve got to concentrate better, be a little better with concentration. We played seven games in a row and gave up 2, 3, 4 runs every game before we could do anything, and that puts our hitters at a disadvantage. We don’t have the kind of power that we can come back from 4, 5 runs early in the game. I just reiterated that we have to be better prepared starting the game, early in the game. We’ve got to be better prepared. We’ve got to pitch smart.

(Did you speak in strong terms?)

When I have meetings, I always [speak in] strong terms, because I don’t have that many [meetings]. I let it all pile up, then let it all hang out.

(So you gave it to the team pretty hard then?)

I was trying to be diplomatic, but I probably let a few guys know. I don’t like to have them that often. I tend to let everything pile up and then let it all hang out. Most of the time they work, we’ll see what happens. I want to see them get back out there and start thinking about winning, not thinking about what’s happening next.

-- Matt Forman

August 22, 2011

Giants claimed Cody Ross one year ago today

    Just a gentle reminder that the Marlins lost outfielder Cody Ross to the Giants on a waiver claim one year ago today. Ross was extremely popular as a Marlin. He became a baseball folk hero for the Giants.

    Check out Tom Krasovic's retrospective piece on the Ross claim at his blog, insidethepadres.

August 21, 2011

McKeon after latest loss: "I'm up to my ears with it"

SAN DIEGO – Saying he was “up to my ears” in his frustration, manager Jack McKeon lashed out Sunday after the last-place Padres made it a four-game sweep over the Marlins with a 4-3 victory.

“I’m embarrassed and they should be, too,” McKeon said after the Marlins concluded a 1-6 road trip.

Will Venable’s bases-loaded walk-off single off Mike Dunn in the ninth sent the Marlins to their 15th loss in their past 17 games and gave lowly San Diego a sweep of the seven-game season series between the two teams.

The Marlins were swept in a four-game series a total of eight times during the team’s first 18 seasons. It’s happened to them four times in this season alone.

Mike Stanton smacked his 30th home run to move into a tie with the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols for the National League lead. But McKeon used it to make a dig, saying Stanton would have even more if he was able to hit off Marlins pitchers.

“I imagine he’d sure as heck like to hit against our staff, because if they get behind, they lay it in there,” McKeon said. “Ridiculous.”

As they had done in every game of the series, the Padres on Sunday scored in the first, coming up with three runs off Anibal Sanchez, who gave up a leadoff homer to Venable.

“You come into this ballpark and they say, lowest hitting club (the Padres) in the league, this is the toughest park in America to hit home runs,” McKeon said in his rant. “And they just wear us out with home runs.”

The Padres have hit the fewest home runs of any team in the majors.

“This (Petco Park) should be ideal for the type of pitchers we have,” McKeon continued. “Throw strikes, keep the ball down and don’t get behind hitters. You’ve got to start using your brain. You’ve got to start figuring out how to get hitters out.”

Sanchez, who escaped a decision when the Marlins fought back and tied the score on Mike Cameron’s two-out home run in the ninth off Heath Bell, remained at 7-6.

“If I was a pitcher, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be labeled a .500 pitcher with some of our guys’ stuff out there, because I didn’t bear down or concentrate enough,” McKeon said.

After falling behind 3-0, the Marlins slowly chipped away at the lead. Stanton connected on his 30th home run, a solo shot in the fourth off starting pitcher Cory Luebke. Luebke set down the first 11 Marlins he faced before Stanton became the 11th player in major league history to slug at least 30 home runs in a season before his 22nd birthday.

The Marlins added another run in the eighth before tying it in the ninth on Cameron’s home run, handing Bell his fourth blown save in 38 chances. The Marlins threatened to take the lead in the ninth by loading the bases following Cameron’s homer. But Bell struck out John Buck to end the inning.

With Edward Mujica on the mound, Nick Hundley opened the ninth for the Padres by driving over the ball Cameron’s head in center. The ball struck a fence post, though, and took a sideways carom, enabling Hundley to end up at third with a triple.

“That’s just the way it’s been for us,” Cameron said. “If the ball bounces straight off, it’s a double instead of a triple. All the breaks that we were getting earlier are definitely not coming our way now. We’re having a hard time to find ways to win ballgames. It’s been rough.”

McKeon had the next two batters be walked intentionally to create a force at every base, brought in Cameron as a fifth infielder, and brought in lefty Mike Dunn from the bullpen to face Venable, a left-handed hitter. All of those ploys failed to work, though, as Venable lined a shot over Stanton’s head in right for the walk-off win.

“Some of these guys better wake up,” McKeon said. “This is crunch time. This is the time of the year when you better be a salesman and sell your wares, and show how badly you want to be a major league player. It’s not a picnic. They’re not on scholarship.”

McKeon intimated that he would be speaking with the team about his displeasure before the Marlins open a three-game series on Tuesday against the Reds.

          “Definitely,” McKeon said. “If we have to be out there all day working, practicing, that’s where we’ll be. If that’s what it takes, we’re not going to keep putting up with this (stuff).”




McKeon: "It's getting embarrassing"

        SAN DIEGO -- The mighty San Diego Padres splattered the Marlins 14-1 last night, after which Jack McKeon sat at his desk looking like a man who would rather be sitting at home in Elon, N.C., with his beloved dog Yogi than this team of mutts.

        "It's getting embarrassing," McKeon said.

        Yes it is. The Padres are not a good team, and yet the Marlins make them look like the Phillies or Red Sox. The Pads are 6-0 against the Fish this season and will be aiming for a series sweep later this afternoon at Petco Park. If it occurs, it will be the third four-game series sweep this season against the Marlins.

         Nick Hundley had as many hits last night -- four -- as did the entire Marlins lineup. Aaron Harang, who gave up 31 hits and eight walks in his previous three outings, held the Marlins to a run on three hits and five walks over six last night.

         The Marlins have lost 14 of their past 16 games. They are 12 games under .500 for the first time this season. The 13-run difference last night was the largest losing margin of the season. After starter Clay Hensley gave up four runs in the first last night -- all coming with two outs -- the avalanche didn't stop. The Padres, one of the worst hitting clubs in the majors, have scored in the first inning of every game they've played against the Marlins.

      "This club's not a very good hitting club," McKeon said of the Padres. "(But) they kick the hell out of us every time we see 'em. We just can't keep putting crooked numbers up the first and second inning of every game. I don't know what we can do about it. We got what we got. That's it."

August 20, 2011

Omar In, Gaby Out

    SAN DIEGO -- Omar Infante was back in the lineup on Saturday for the first time since Aug. 2. But slumping Gaby Sanchez is being given a mental day. First base will be manned by Jose Lopez, who made a handful of starts at first in his Mariners days.

    Sanchez is really struggling at the plate. He's gone 3 for his last 46, hasn't driven in a run over the past 10 games, and went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position Friday night. Sanchez is hitting just .184 since returning from the All-Star Game. Manager Jack McKeon said that with Sanchez it could be a case of "trying to do too much."

      "Take a breather for a day or two or three," McKeon said. "We know he's a pretty good hitter. Right now he's in a rut. Hopefully the only thing he needs is a day or two or three. Who knows? We need him. He was a big force early in the season."

      Lopez had three doubles Friday and, with Infante returning to second base, McKeon wanted to keep Lopez's bat in the lineup. Therefore the move to first base.

      Mike Stanton, who did not start on Friday but came up as a pinch-hitter, is in tonight's lineup -- for now. If his injured big toe bothers him during batting practice, he could be scratched. 

Marlins fall to 11 games under with another loss to the Padres


          SAN DIEGO – A stubbed big toe kept slugger Mike Stanton out of the lineup on Friday, and the stumbling Marlins limped to a 4-3 defeat to the Padres in a meeting of last-place teams.

With Stanton watching from the bench, Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante healing on the disabled list, and outfielders Logan Morrison and Chris Coghlan stabled in the minors, the hodgepodge lineup for the Marlins on Friday looked like one they might put on a bus bound for Kissimmee the first week of spring training.

The current collection of Marlins is not a pretty sight at the moment.

Either is their record, which now sits at a season-low 11 games below .500.

“We had all the opportunities in the world to break it open,” said manager Jack McKeon of his noticeably thin lineup, which went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. “That’s the way we’ve been going.”

The Marlins, losers of 13 of their past 15 games, will have Infante back in the lineup on Saturday. Stanton is day-to-day. With only 37 games left, it no longer makes much difference in the grander scheme.

The Marlins are going nowhere. The Padres own an even lousier record than the Marlins, yet have dominated the one-sided season series so far with victories in all five meetings.

Chris Volstad returned to the mound for the Marlins and gave away two leads – 1-0 and 2-1 – en route to his 10th loss. Not that Volstad, with the depleted lineup on his side, received much in the way of run support. It was his own RBI double in the fourth that gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead that turned out to be brief.

Kyle Blanks, slugged a two-run homer off Volstad in the bottom of the fourth that put the Padres on top, 3-2. The Padres stretched their lead to 4-2 on Jason Bartlett’s two-out single, and only a blown call by home plate umpire Larry Vanover kept it from being even greater.

Vanover called the sliding LeBlanc out at the plate on Will Venable’s double, but replays indicated that the Padres pitcher was clearly safe and the crowd of 26,065 voiced their displeasure long after the out was recorded.

“Typical Volstad,” McKeon said. “One or two mistakes and it’s costly.”

LeBlanc’s long gallop from first to home might have removed the wind from sails, as he immediately ran into trouble in the sixth. Jose Lopez opened the inning by reaching on one of his team record-tying three doubles, and the Marlins loaded the bases with one out.

Stanton emerged from the dugout to pinch-hit for Volstad and the Padres changed pitchers, bringing in right-hander Erik Hamren, who struck out Stanton. Stanton is now 0 for 6 in his career as a pinch-hitter.

Hamren walked Emilio Bonifacio to force in one run, but the Marlins couldn’t produce any more than that. Gaby Sanchez went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and has gone 10 straight games without driving in a run.

“Got to get some production out of those guys that we’re counting on,” McKeon said. “If they don’t come through we’re hurting, and we’re hurting.”

The setback left the Marlins with a record of 57-68. They were 11 games under one other time when they lost in Oakland on June 28 to fall to 34-45.

Heath Bell took over in the ninth to close out the victory, recording his 34th save.

 The Marlins optioned infielder Ozzie Martinez to Triple A New Orleans after the game to make room for Infante, who will be activated from the DL on Saturday.