When it comes to stealing bases, no number is too high or too low for Emilio Bonifacio. As long as the Marlins are winning and need him to be on the move, he doesn't quite care how many steals he finishes with.
"I want to try and steal as many bases as I can, but as long as it's helping the team win," Bonifacio said with a grin Wednesday when asked how many bases he thinks he could swipe in 2012. "And as long as I keep getting on base, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to run. That's my game."
Bonifacio, who stole two bases in Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Cubs to raise his season total to seven, came into Wednesday's game against Chicago tied with Starlin Castro and the Dodgers' Dee Gordon for the major league lead in base swipes.
While four Marlins have led the National League in steals at season's end a total of five times (Juan Pierre stole 65 in 2003; Luis Castillo had 48 in 2002; Castillo had 62 in 2000; Quilvio Veras had 56 in 1995; Chuck Carr had 56 in 1993), none has gotten off to as quick a start as Bonifacio has (Veras had six steals through 14 games in 1995).
At this pace, Bonifacio is projected to finish with 103 stolen bases on the season. Nobody in the majors has stolen more than 100 bases since Vince Coleman swiped 109 in 1987 for the Cardinals.
But going after a record or stolen base title is the last thing on Bonifacio's mind.
"I have the green light to go, but I'm not going to do it all the time," Bonifacio said. "There are pitches they'll tell me not to go on and there are times when I won't go because Hanley [Ramirez] or [Giancarlo] Stanton are up and have a chance to drive a run in. My goal is to get into scoring position and let them drive me in. I won't lose sight of that."
Bonifacio has won stolen base titles twice in the minors, taking the Southern League title in 2007 (Double A) with 41 steals and the California League crown in 2006 (High A) with 61 swipes.
Since June 20th of last season, when Jack McKeon took over as manager for Edwin Rodriguez, no player in the big leagues has stolen more bases than Bonifacio, who has a total of 43 steals -- six more than Michael Bourn and Brett Gardner (37 each) over the same span. Manager Ozzie Guillen said he'd love for Bonifacio to maintain the pace.
"Boni is doing everything we've asked him to do," Guillen said. "Besides hitting [.341], he's getting on base, making things happen on the field. Like I said earlier, if we got the speed, we're going to use it."
> As a team, the Marlins have 12 stolen bases (15 attempts), tied for the major league lead with Philadelphia. The last time the Marlins led the National League in stolen bases was 2003 -- when they stole 150 bases and won the World Series. They haven't finished higher than sixth in steals in the NL since.
> Second baseman Omar Infante hopes to rest his sore left groin/hamstring until the Marlins open a three-game series in Washington Friday. Infante, who sat out and rested the groin in last Saturday's loss to the Astros, said he tweaked his groin after reaching second base on a double Tuesday.
Guillen said he Infante would be available in an emergency pinch-hit situation Wednesday, but the Marlins prefer to give him two days off. "That kind of injury could linger a couple days or a couple months," Guillen said. "I'd prefer to take care of it before it becomes a problem."