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44 posts from March 2012

March 08, 2012

Zambrano has up and down start to spring

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Carlos Zambrano's first Grapefruit League start with the Marlins Thursday turned out to be a bit like his days with the Cubs -- a bit of an up and down ride. 

Zambrano, whom the Marlins acquired in a trade for Chris Volstad, lasted just 1 1/3 innings, but left with four strikeouts. That was the good. The bad: three walks, three hits, three earned runs and just 27 strikes on 51 pitches.

Zambrano started his day by striking out the first two Mets he faced, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Justin Turner, both swinging. But Zambrano started to lose a bit of his control after that as he tried working on his slider.

He walked Jason Bay on four pitches and then walked Ike Davis on a 3-2 count. Catcher Lucas May then doubled both of those runners home when he crushed a 2-2 pitch into the gap in left center-field. Mike Baxter then gave the Mets a 3-2 lead when he stroked a single back up the middle. Zambrano finally got out of the inning when he struckout Adam Loewen, the next hitter, looking on a 3-2 fastball.

In all, Zambrano threw 39 pitches, 20 for strikes in the first inning.

He started the second by walking Ronny Cedeno and giving up a line drive single to center to Omar Quintanilla. But he ended the outing by striking out Nieuwenhuis looking, bringing his Grapefruit League ERA down to 20.25.

Marlins in no rush to get Anibal Sanchez his first Grapefruit League start

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Carlos Zambrano will make his Marlins debut this afternoon at Digital Domain Park against the Mets.

That leaves the Marlins with one starting pitcher in their rotation who has yet to make a start this spring -- Anibal Sanchez -- and it's still unclear when the 28-year old right-hander will do that.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said before Thursday's game against the Mets that Sanchez still has a ways to go before he pitches in a spring game and the team is in no rush to get him on the mound.

Sanchez experienced tightness in his throwing shoulder last Friday during a bullpen session. Sanchez threw off flat ground on Tuesday and told reporters afterward he expects to progress normally over the course of Spring Training.

"We're not going to put a guy out there just because. When he's ready to pitch, he'll pitch," Guillen said. "I don't think it's a big deal, but it could be a big deal if we don't handle it the right way. Right now, he's kind of sore. No matter how much you workout in the winter -- you don't throw a baseball -- you have to go through conditioning."

Guillen said Sanchez was expected to throw again Friday in Jupiter.

Sanchez was awarded $8 million in arbitration shortly before the start of spring training.

If he's unable to go at the start of the season, the Marlins could consider going with right-hander Alex Sanabia, left-hander Sean West, right-hander Tom Koehler or left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who will start in Sanchez's place Friday against the Nationals. 

> The Marlins are expected to play their starting infield together for the first time this spring when they face Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg Friday night Roger Dean Stadium. They haven't been able to play together as of yet because of the number of split squad games the Marlins have played since Grapefruit League play began on Monday.


> Marlins: 1. Scott Cousins LF, 2. Donnie Murphy SS, 3. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 4. Austin Kearns DH, 5. Aaron Rowand RF, 6. Terry Tiffee 1B, 7. Luke Montz C, 8. Donovan Solano 2B, 9. Kevin Mattison CF. P Carlos Zambrano
> Mets: 1. Kirk Nieuwenhuis CF, 2. Justin Turner 3B, 3. Jason Bay LF, 4. Ike Davis DH, 5. Lucas May C, 6. Mike Baxter RF, 7. Adam Loewen 1B, 8. Ronny Cedeno 2B, 9. Omar Quintanilla. P Mike Pelfrey

March 07, 2012

MLB tells FIU collegians they must use wood bats vs. Marlins

    Interesting development here at Marlins Park as we await the start of tonight's Marlins/FIU exhibition. Major League Baseball notified the Golden Panthers only a couple of hours ago that they would required to use wood bats in their game against the Marlins. The FIU players are borrowing bats from the Marlins to take batting practice and use in the game.

    I have a couple of calls in to MLB to find out what the reason is for this sudden decision, as the University of Miami was permitted to use metal bats in their game against the Marlins last night and in previous years. It could be an issue with the MLB players' union, too.

    -- One other note: Marlins president David Samson said that, starting tomorrow, fans with complaints or suggestions about the new ballpark can send them to ballparkfeedback.marlins.com

March 06, 2012

Former UM recruit Christian Yelich helps beat the Canes

     When outfielder Christian Yelich spoke to Jim Morris on the field before Tuesday's exhibition, it was their first conversation since the prized prospect notified UM's baseball coach nearly two years ago that he had decided to turn pro rather than play for the Canes. A few hours later on Tuesday, Yelich went 2-for-3, delivering the game-tying hit in the bottom of the ninth in a game the Marlins won 7-6 on Terry Tiffee's game-winning single.

      "I said hi to him, asked him how it was going, how the team was doing," Yelich said of his pre-game pleasantries with Morris. "It was a little awkward. It was the first time I've talked to him since I decided not to go there. The last conversation I had with him was saying I'm not going to come to MIami."

       Yelich, who is rated by Baseball America as the Marlins' top prospect, instead entered the 2010 draft, where he was the team's first-round pick (23rd overall). Yelich, who will likely start the season at Single A Jupiter, said he has no regrets.

       "It was definitely a good decision," Yelich said. "I feel bad (about turning down UM), but it's part of the game. I was pretty close to going to the other side of the field, and I know some guys over in Miami's dugout and coach Morris."

       Yelich was excited about the opportunity to play at Marlins Park. He was told two days ago that he would be making the trip down to Miami from Jupiter to play with the Marlins in the exhibition.

       "I was pumped," he said. "I wanted to come down and check out the stadium, see what it's all about," he said. "It was awesome. It was my first time ever in a big league environment. I was a little nervous during B.P. But once the game started, I just kind of relaxed."

Home run sculpture a nice target during Marlins BP

Remember that big 73-foot statue in left-center field at Marlins Park?

It turned out to be a pretty good target during the Marlins' first batting practice session Tuesday night.

Luke Montz, a 28-year old catcher who spent last season in Double A Jacksonvile, was the first to smack it with a home run. He hit it twice. Marlins catcher John Buck drilled it once, as did third baseman Hanley Ramirez.

"You wonder if your going to hear that noise if you hit in in the game," said Montz, who hit 22 homers last season in Double A. "Like Buck said it felt like you hit your dad or grandpa on the arm with a ball."

The Marlins are experimenting with the different field conditions created by having the retractable roof both opened and closed as well as when the glass panels beyond the outfield are open and closed.

Tonight against UM, the roof will remain open and the glass panels closed. So far, that's created strong winds that are blowing out.

Wednesday night against FIU, when Giancarlo Stanton makes the trip down from Jupiter, the Marlins will close the roof and open the windows.


Left-handed freshman Andrew Suarez, a ninth round pick by the Blue Jays who was an All-Dade First Team selection last year at Miami Columbus High, will start against the Marlins tonight for the Hurricanes.

It's his first start at the college level. Suarez has a 19.29 ERA in two appearances for this season, but says he's not nervous about facing a lineup that features Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison.

Suarez's little brother, Kevin, played at the park Monday night when Columbus beat Belen in the first exhibition at the new stadium. Andrew said he was coached by former Marlin Alex Fernandez in little league.

"I'm excited to be playing against the Marlins. They're the team I grew up rooting for. I have no idea what I'm going to throw. Whatever sign they give me, I'm going to throw what they ask for and try to keep the ball low," Suarez said.

Samson pulls groin to prove point: HR sculpture not a distraction

       The roof is open at Marlins Park, where the Marlins are presently taking batting practice for the first time in advance of tonight's game against the University of Miami. The wind is blowing out, even with the glass panel closed in left. And the home run sculpture is not a distraction, that according to both Marlins president David Samson, catcher John Buck and Triple A manager Ron Hassey.

        All three stood on the mound and in the batter's box to discern if the sculpture would distract left-handed hitters facing a right-handed pitcher with a sidearm delivery. The conclusion: not a problem. In fact, Samson -- though not tall in stature -- said he reached so far to his right while standing on the mound that "I pulled a groin doing it."

        The original apple green batter's eye in center is now black. In fact, the paint is still wet.

        Samson said are experimenting with different roof and windows combinations to find out what works best when the ballpark is not fully enclosed. Today, as I mentioned, it's roof open/windows closed, and the wind is blowing out briskly to left. Everything was open for Monday night's high school game. For Wednesday's game against FIU, it will be roof closed/windows open. The first Yankee game on April 1 will be played with roof and windows closed.  And the second Yankees game on April 2 everything will be open, weather permitting.

         "What we're measuring is temperature inside the bowl, how many degrees it goes up and down, with certain things open and certain things closed," Samson said.

         In the meantime, check out this video of the Marlins' very first batting practice in their new ballpark:

March 05, 2012

Marlins win, Josh Johnson discusses outing (video)

   JUPITER -- Josh Johnson was back on the mound in a game situation for the first time since May 16, looking J.J.-esque at times and not as much at others. But he was pleased with the 41-pitch outing in the Marlins' 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

   Greg Dobbs was the big star, going 3-for-3 with three RBI on a home run and two doubles. But most of the attention was aimed at Johnson, who is returning this season from a shoulder injury that cost him most of the 2011 season.

   Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 first inning in which he struck out John Jay and Matt Holliday, the latter on a 3-2 change-up that surprised the Cardinals hitter. He retired the first two batters to start the second before giving up a single to Matt Adams, double to Tyler Greene and walk to Daniel Descalso, at which point he had reached his pitch limit and was lifted for Wade LeBlanc.

    He was happy with the "pain-free" performance, however. Here's what he had to say afterward:

March 04, 2012

Steve Cishek hopes home run sculpture benefits him

   JUPITER -- I'll have a story posting up a bit later about the home run sculpture and how some Marlins believe it's possible the towering, pop art structure in deep left-center could be a distraction for a certain few, specifically left-handed hitters facing right-handed pitchers with sidearm deliveries.  There was some talk (combined with light laughter) about how some pitches might look as though they're popping out of the pink flamingos contained in the artwork.Ballpark

   Already the Marlins are planning to remedy one potential distraction for hitters by re-painting the batter's eye in center from apple green to black. Now, as one player joked, will the Marlins be required to camouflage the trippy sculpture with, say, a large curtain, raising it only when a Marlin cranks a home run?

    Don't count on it. The Marlins say the wacky sculpture is positioned in a spot -- just to the left of the batter's eye -- where it won't be a factor. "No issue whatsoever," David Samson said Sunday. Samson said MLB officials thoroughly checked out the new ballpark on Thursday to make sure it conformed to standards, standing on the mound, checking out all the angles, and so forth.Sculpture

    And even the players say they don't know for sure whether or not the sculpture could be a potential hitting hazard. After all, they've yet to play there. But catcher John Buck said he took a practice squat behind home plate several days ago and thought maybe -- just maybe -- it might be an issue. And Logan Morrison, a left-handed hitter, stood in the batter's box to see if he could tell. He couldn't say for certain.

    Cishek"It's kind of my job to scope those things out," Buck said. "It might be close. It might be all right. I don't know. We'll see. I think for left-handed batters, it might be trouble."

    One Marlin who isn't complaining is right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, who not only throws sidearm, but stands on the third-base side of the rubber. He said he welcomes any advantage he can get.

    "If my arm's stuck behind that thing, that's fine with me, as long as the catcher can see it," Cishek said. "Sucks for the hitters, I guess."

    Fellow reliever Ryan Webb has a low three-quarters delivery and could also potentially benefit. Like Cishek, he expressed no sympathy for any hitters that might be distracted by the sculpture, which stands as the signature feature of the new ballpark.

     "That's the hitter's problem if they want to be staring at the sculpture," Webb said. "There's a lot of distractions in ballparks. There's also a fish tank behind home plate. If I get caught looking at that, I'm not going to make a good pitch, am I?"


      No need to wait until tomorrow to get your lineup for the Marlins' Grapefruit League opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. Here it is:

      1. Donnie Murphy, ss; 2. Aaron Rowand, cf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, 3b; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Greg Dobbs, dh; 6. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 7. Bryan Petersen, lf; 8. John Buck, c; 9. Nick Green, 2b. Pitching: Josh Johnson. The Cardinals are sending out Kyle Lohse.

Jose Reyes homers in first at bat as a Marlin (w/video)

  JUPITER -- It didn't take long for Jose Reyes to make some noise as a Marlin. The former Mets star homered in his very first at bat, taking Ricky Nolasco deep in Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage at Roger Dean Stadium. The home run to right came on the second pitch thrown to him, an inside fastball. Check it out, as well as some bonus footage of Carlos Zambrano pitching in the scrimmage:  

March 03, 2012

See the new ballpark? Give us your thoughts.

       Thousands of fans and gawkers poured into Marlins Park in Little Havana this morning for FanFest, checking out the team's new digs. If you were one of them, we'd like to hear what you thought. Give us your review. Did you like the Home Run Sculpture or find it hideous? What about the overall color scheme? Were the seats to your liking? What was your impression in general? Here's your chance....Ballpark