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Jack McKeon talks bullpen pieces; Perry Hill and Joey Espada on Omar Infante's slick play

One night after the Marlins 5-3 loss to Philadelphia when Jack McKeon said he wanted his players to be “salesmen,” the manager expressed similar sentiments before Saturday’s game.

“Even though it’s getting near the end of the year, don’t slough off, because this is when to do it,” McKeon said. “This is a time you really put it out there, because you want to leave all these fans and scouts with the idea that you gave it all. You want to sell. Sell yourself. Quit bragging. Go out there and show somebody you can do it.”

At this point in the season, sometimes it takes looking through rose-tinted glasses to identify impressive performances, but McKeon saw several aspects of Friday’s defeat that stood out — and could factor into decisions for the 2012 season — especially in the bullpen.

Recently recalled reliever Jose Ceda fired two scoreless innings while allowing two hits and striking out two. Fellow bullpen arm Mike Dunn got Chase Utley to ground out to second and then struck out Ryan Howard, setting down two lefty batters.

“I was happy to see [Ceda],” McKeon said. “Got two innings, it really helped us out. I said to [pitching coach] Randy [St. Claire], ‘Gosh, maybe we found a two-inning pitcher.’ He threw the ball well.”

Ceda has posted nine multi-inning outings splitting time between the majors and Triple A New Orleans, where he had recorded 24 saves. For McKeon, who said “the industry is not developing pitchers like they used to” because “inactivity causes more problems than activity,” Ceda’s 31-pitch appearance was a good sign.

As was the performance turned in by Dunn, who pitched in his fourth game in five days, a stretch during which he has allowed one hit in two innings.

“Guys that want to pitch every day, Dunn is like that,” McKeon said. “I’ll say, ‘Take the night off.’ He says, ‘No, no, I’m ready. I can give you an inning.’ Whether he gets anybody out or not, he wants to go out there. You have to love those guys.”

McKeon had a similar reaction when speaking about Logan Morrison, who was held out of Saturday’s lineup. The manager called Morrison a “gamer,” but said the outfielder has “been nursing — nothing serious — but a little groin. A little irritation.”

“I figured this would be a perfect night, with the wet field and the lefthander [Cole Hamels] pitching, to give him a day,” McKeon said. “Nothing wrong with him. Just wanted to give him a day.

“He didn’t say anything to me. But one of the trainers was working on him and said, ‘Yeah, he wants to play.’ I know he wants to play. You love those guys.”

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INFANTE’S WEB GEM

On Friday, Omar Infante’s backhand pick and no-look glove flip to second base on Wilson Valdez’s sharply hit line drive back up the middle started a double play that Emilio Bonifacio completed. To Florida first base coach Perry Hill and third base coach Joey Espada, Infante’s stab-and-turn was just another effort in Infante’s growing list of highlight-reel plays that warrant some hardware.

“The thing about him, he makes everything look so smooth and easy,” Hill said. “Sometimes he gets overlooked because things happen for him so easily. It looks like he’s not trying. To me, he’s the best second baseman in the league defensively. He wins the Gold Glove, hands down. Without a doubt.”

Said Espada: "It’s a gift. Those hands, he’s been gifted. It’s been fun watching him play. Those two weeks that he was out of the lineup, we really missed him. In my opinion, he is the Gold Glove at second base. No question about it."

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TONIGHT'S LINEUPS:

Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Mike Stanton, rf; 4. Jose Lopez, 3b; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Mike Cameron,cf; 7. Bryan Petersen, cf; 8. Brett Hayes, c; 9. Ricky Nolasco, p

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

-- Matt Forman

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