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51 posts from April 2012

April 25, 2012

Slumping Reyes to remain in leadoff spot -- for now

    NEW YORK -- Manager Ozzie Guillen says he has given "thought" to flip-flopping his one-two hitters -- Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio -- but intends to keep things the way they are, at least for the time being.

     "Right now, I think it's too early," Guillen said of switching the two. ""Right now it's kind of panicky. It's pushing the panic button."

     After going 0 for 4 in his Citi Field homecoming on Tuesday, Reyes woke up Wednesday with a .215 batting average and .278 on-base percentage. Bonifacio, on the other hand, is hitting .295 with an on-base percentage of .394.

     Guillen did not rule out the possibility of re-arranging the top part of the lineup at some point, though.

     "Let's keep them there a few more days, to see if it works (out)," Guillen said.

     LINEUPS:

     Marlins: 1. Reyes, ss; 2. Bonifacio, cf; 3. Ramirez, 1b; 4. Morrison, lf; 5. Stanton, rf; 6. Infante, 2b; 7. Sanchez, 1b; 8. Buck, c; 9. Buehrle, p.

      Mets: 1. Nieuwenhuis, cf; 2. Tejada, ss; 3. Murphy, 2b; 4. Wright, 3b; 5. Duda, rf; 6. Hairston, lf; 7. Davis, 1b; 8. Thole, c; 9. Dickey, p.

      Umpires: HP -- Bill Miller; 1B -- Dale Scott; 2B -- CB Bucknor; 3B -- Dan Iassogna.

Marlins make ML history with walkathon

     NEW YORK -- Don't think Josh Johnson, Randy Choate, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn will be boasting about this to their grandkids when they're older. But they made big-league history earlier this evening when the four pitchers walked four Mets batters in succession.

      Can you say "major league first?"

      That's right. According to Elias Sports Bureau, which knows everything there is to know statistically in major league baseball, that had never happened before. But happen it did at Citi Field, where -- for the first time since Abner Doubleday -- four batters in a row were walked by four different pitchers.

       It all started when Johnson issued his first free pass of the night, a two-out walk in the seventh to Lucas Duda. That's when Ozzie Guillen began a series of three trips to the mound. First in was Choate, who was brought in to face Ike Davis. Mets manager Terry Collins countered with pinch-hitter Justin Turner, who became the second player to walk.

       Cishek was brought in for Choate and walked pinch-hitter Scott Hairston to load the bases. Guillen turned to his 'pen one more time, summoning Dunn, who promptly walked Josh Thole to force in the tying run.

        Four Mets batters. Four Marlins pitchers. Four walks. New major league record.

        Interestingly enough, they were the only walks issued by Marlins pitchers the entire game.

April 24, 2012

Edward Mujica sustains hand injury for punchless Marlins

    NEW YORK -- Edward Mujica was soaking his right hand in a cup of ice water after being struck by a line drive on Tuesday, a line drive that scored the go-ahead run in the Mets' 2-1 victory over the Marlins.

     While X-rays were negative, Mujica said the middle fingers on his right hand were sore and swollen.

     "It hurts right now," Mujica said. "Right now, I don't feel nothing in my fingers. We'll see tomorrow."

     Manager Ozzie Guillen said he is hoping Mujica will be okay within a couple of days. If not, the Marlins could be looking at their first DL move of the season.

     Mujica was on the mound in the eighth when Lucas Duda lined a single off the pitcher's hand, scoring Kirk Neuwenhuis from third with what would turn out to be the deciding run.

      __________________________________________

      It's been a dreadful road trip offensively so far for the Marlins, who had totaled only three runs on 13 hits in the three games played in Washington and New York. Marlins pitchers have given up only seven runs in those three games.

      "We've got to start swinging the bat," Guillen said. "The last three games we've been shut down pretty well. Tonight we didn't get nothing going. We've got to do better on offense. We've got a better offense than what we show right now."

      Going back to Thursday's game in Miami, the Marlins have scored only three runs over the past 33 innings. Two of those came on Logan Morrison's ninth-inning home run on Saturday in Washington. The only other run during the drought was scored when Giancarlo Stanton raced home from first on Gaby Sanchez's double in the seventh.

        _____________________________

        Led by first-round draft pick Jose Fernandez, three pitchers combined on a no-hitter for the Single A Greensboro Grasshoppers on Tuesday. Fernandez went six innings against HIckory, striking out eight and walking two. Gregory Nappo went two innings before turning the ball over to Kevin Cravey to complete the no-hitter.

         Fernandez (2-0, 1.57) was taken by the Marlins with the 14th overall pick last June.

April 23, 2012

Beinfest: "Money well spent" on Pudge

     NEW YORK -- He spent only one season with the Marlins. But when Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez calls it a career during a retirement ceremony this afternoon in Arlington, Texas, he'll depart with one -- and only one -- World Series ring, the one he received as an integral member of that '03 club.

      The Marlins seldom spent big on free agents before this past winter's signing frenzy. But when Rodriguez was still on the market in late January of 2003, the Marlins took the plunge and signed the All-Star catcher to a one-year, $10 million deal.

       Cha-ching. The Marlins hit the jackpot.

       "It was big," said Marlins president of operations Larry Beinfest. "It was a late January kind of thing. I think we had just traded for Mark Redman and the budget was pretty much set, and Jeffrey (Loria) and I were talking about Pudge and special money and things like that....it changed a lot of things for us."

       Did it ever. While it could be said of any number of players on the '03 team, It's hard to imagine the Marlins winning their second Series title without Pudge.

        Pudge"He meant a lot to that young pitching staff late in the year," Beinfest said. "I can't speak to what he meant to them early on in the year, but when it got late and we were chasing the wild card, that kind of guy added a lot to the team. He settled the young pitchers. And then having him in the lineup around Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) and D. Lee was huge because he was so clutch.

        "Even beyond the physical attributes, people didn't run on him," Beinfest said. "We had the same pitchers who couldn't hold runners -- big guys that couldn't hold runners -- and they just wouldn't run on him because he was Pudge, just the reputation. There were a lot of things that didn't show up (statistically), but I remember it that way."

     Loria and the front office made several significant decisions that year, one of them being the trade of minor-league prospect Adrian Gonzalez to the Rangers for closer Ugueth Urbina. But pretty much all of them, including the signing of Rodriguez, worked out.

      "It's just like the Urbina trade with Adrian Gonzalez," Beinfest said. "You always hate to trade away a talent like Adrian Gonzalez. But you make it every day if you're going to win the World Series. It (the Pudge signing) was a risky deal at the time. But, looking back on it 10 years now, Pudge was very much in his prime still. If you ask Jeffrey, it was money well spent."

 

April 22, 2012

Rain Out -- Marlins head to NY

   WASHINGTON -- This afternoon's game between the Marlins and Nationals was called off due to a system that is bringing copious amounts of rain and nasty weather to the eastern seaboard. The stuff is falling as I write.

   No changes to the rotation. Manager Ozzie Guillen says he'll have today's scheduled starter, Josh Johnson, make Tuesday's start against the Mets. He'll round out the series with Mark Buehrle and Ricky Nolasco.

   One additional note: second baseman Omar Infante said his groin is feeling stronger and he expects to return to the lineup on Tuesday at Citi Field.

April 21, 2012

Zambrano to read Bible, not watch Showtime episode

    WASHINGTON -- Most of the Marlins I spoke with this morning said they don't plan on going out of their way to catch tonight's preview episode of Showtime's "The Franchise -- A Season with the Miami Marlins." For one thing, the team hotel here in D.C. doesn't include Showtime in its channel package. For another, it seems like most of them simply aren't all that interested.

     Carlos Zambrano not only said he has no intention of watching the inside look at the Marlins, but didn't even know it was airing.

     "I don't watch TV," Zambrano said. "What I do when I'm in the (hotel) room is read the Bible. Or I'll read an inspirational book."

     Zambrano says he prefers to hole up alone and order room service.

     "I don't do nothing in the street," he said. "The street is too dangerous, too much temptation. If I do go out, I try to get home early. You will never hear someone say, 'Oh, I saw Zambrano in a club.'"

     Mark Buehrle, like Zambrano, said he has no plans to watch the first show.

     "I'll be interested to see it, but it's not like I'm going to be sitting in my room with a beer waiting for it to come on," Buehrle said. "I'll just wait for them to give us a CD and watch it."

It's Showtime for Marlins

     WASHINGTON -- Quick reminder that the 30-minute special preview of Showtime's "The Franchise -- A Season with the Miami Marlins," airs tonight at 9 p.m.

      In the meantime, the Marlins are preparing for a rise-and-shine 1:05 p.m. start against Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals following last night's 2-0 loss. Manager Ozzie Guillen has done some tweaking to the lineup, going heavy on the lefty hitters against the hard-throwing Strasburg. Switch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio is making his first start of the season at second base, lefty Chris Coghlan goes to center, lefty Greg Dobbs is in right. Lefty Logan Morrison is in the cleanup spot.

      Here's what Strasburg will be seeing today: 1. Reyes, ss; 2. Bonifacio, 2b; 3. Ramirez, 3b; 4. Morrison, lf; 5. Sanchez, 1b; 6. Dobbs, rf; 7. Buck, c; 8. Coghlan, cf; 9. Sanchez, p.

      Check out this clip from "The Franchise" of Guillen receiving the news from team president David Samson that he is being suspended:

April 20, 2012

Marlins take aim on first-place Nats

    WASHINGTON -- As hinted by Ozzie Guillen, Logan Morrison and Omar Infante aren't in the starting lineup for tonight's series opener against the Nationals. Austin Kearns will be in left for Miami while Donnie Murphy returns to second base in Infante's absence.

     The Marlins will be shooting for their first five-game winning streak since the end of July last season. Meanwhile, the Nationals (10-4) are off to their best start since moving from Montreal to D.C. in 2005. The last time a team from D.C. posted 10 wins in its first 14 games was 1951 when the A.L. Nationals jumped out to a 10-4 start.

      Tough pitching matchups for the Marlins in this series, as they'll see Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.42) tomorrow afternoon and Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 2.04) in the Sunday matinee.

      LINEUPS:

      Marlins: 1. Reyes, ss; 2. Bonifacio, cf; 3. Ramirez, 3b; 4. Stanton, rf; 5. Sanchez, 1b; 6. Kearns, lf; 7. Buck, c; 8. Murphy, 2b; 9. Zambrano, p.

      Nationals: 1. Desmond, ss; 2. Espinosa, 2b; 3. Zimmerman, 3b; 4. LaRoche, 1b; 5. Werth, rf; 6. Nady, lf; 7. Ankiel, cf; 8. Flores, c; 9. Detwiler, p.

      Umpires: HP -- Gerry Davis; 1B -- Greg Gibson; 2B -- Phil Cuzzi; 3B -- Vic Carapazza.

April 19, 2012

Agent for Armando Galarraga, Mr. Near Perfect, calls Guillen about joining Marlins

Ozzie Guillen has a lot of friends throughout baseball and one of them -- the agent of 30-year old Venezuelan right-hander Armando Galarraga -- recently reached out to Guillen to see if the Marlins might have any interest in signing him.

Armando GalarragaYou remember Galarraga. Two summers ago with the Tigers he retired the first 26 hitters he faced against the Indians, but his bid for a perfect game was ended one out short when first base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled that Jason Donald reached first base safely on a ground ball. Galarraga instead finished with a one-hit shutout in a 3–0 victory.

His career has gone downhill ever since. He finished the 2010 season 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA and was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he went 3-4 with a 5.91 ERA in eight starts before being designated for assignment. Galarraga signed a minor league deal with the Orioles this spring, but was released April 6th after going 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in four appearances.

The Marlins aren't in need of starting pitching help at the moment. The came into Thursday's game tied for the major league lead with the Nationals and Rangers for the most quality starts in the majors at nine. Down in Triple A New Orleans, left-hander Brad Hand (2-0, 2.76 ERA), Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 2.00 ERA), and right-hander Alex Sanabia (1-0, 1.31 ERA) have all pitched well in their first three starts.

But it will be interesting to see if the team gives Galarraga a shot because of Guillen's Venezuelan connections.

"I've passed it up the ladder," Guillen said of Galarraga's request. "We'll see what happens."

> Guillen caused some controversy with his comments in Puerto Rico a couple years ago when he called Ivan Rodriguez -- and not Roberto Clemente -- the best player in the country's history. With news of Rodriguez's retirement breaking Wednesday night (thanks to our Clark Spencer), Guillen reiterated Thursday he stands by his praise for Rodriguez.

"You look at the numbers he's put up -- he's still the best," Guillen said. "People criticized me, but should know I was a huge Roberto Clemente fan, as big as anyone in his family. I think when I said that Clemente was the third best player in Puerto Rico's history, behind [Roberto] Alomar, and Ivan [Rodriguez] that was based on the position Pudge played, the way he played it for many years. His numbers speak for themselves. World Series. Gold Gloves. Silver Sluggers. What hasn't he done? All that's missing is what's coming -- the Hall of Fame."

Guillen stopped short of calling Rodriguez the best catcher of all time, but said " if I had to pick one, he would be it."

Stanton not worried about HR drought

Hanley Ramirez will attempt to become just the seventh player in team history to hit a home run in four consecutive games today when the Marlins host the Cubs in a 12:40 p.m. matinee at Marlins Park.

Giancarlo StantonWhile Ramirez tied Miguel Cabrera for third place on the Marlins all-time home run list Wednesday night, the guy many expected to be lighting up the home run sculpture in center field on a regular basis -- right fielder Giancarlo Stanton -- is still looking for his first home run of the season after 12 games. 

Is the team leader in home runs in 2011 surprised he hasn't hit one out yet? Well, not exactly. He's also not pressing either.

"Last year it took me forever to hit my first one," Stanton said Thursday referring to how it took him 14 games and 38 at-bats before he finally put one out.

"When I came to the big leagues it took me forever, too [9 games, 32 at-bats]. I don't know. Maybe I need more power. I've got to take some from Hanley and Omar [Infante]. Better yet, I need to play second base. That's where all the guys are hitting home runs."

All joking aside, Stanton said the good news is he's starting to feel healthier. 

"For the most part yesterday and for the past two days, I finally feel like I've got my legs back under me a little more," Stanton said. "It's just maintaining it, coping with it. Whatever I'm going through, though, it doesn't matter. I just have to go out there and do my job."

Couple quick tidbits from the pre-game locker room:

> Manager Ozzie Guillen spent about five minutes talking about the good attitude he's seen from Hanley Ramirez as he's rediscovered his swing at the plate this season. Guillen said he's enjoyed how Ramirez, who battled shoulder and back injuries last season, has celebrated during his recent string of home runs and doesn't consider it hot-dogging -- just a sign of pure fun.

“I saw some stuff here the last couple of days like, Oh my God, I never seen anybody hit a home run and turn to the right field line saying something to somebody,” Guillen said with a grin.

“He’s running the bases and he’s like this [arm outstretched]. That’s the way I want him to be. He was kissing everybody in the stands. I don’t know how many family he’s got there. But left field, right field, behind the [plate]. When you play every day as a superstar, good times last longer. That’s what Hanley Ramirez should be. Smile, happy, swagger. Cocky. That’s the Hanley we want, not just me.”

One thing Guillen has made an effort to do is take the pressure off Ramirez when it comes to his defense at third base.

"Yesterday he made a mistake at third base. First thing I told him was 'Don't put your head down. Let me handle your errors'," Guillen said. "I think every time he makes a mistake at third base he feels embarrassed. You can see that. I told him you make mistakes that's our fault. We put you there. Make sure you make the plays your supposed to make. Make errors, I'll take the blame, full responsibility."

> Second baseman Omar Infante, who sat out Wednesday's game with soreness in his left groin and hamstring, said he felt better when he woke up Thursday. Guillen, though, said he's in no rush to get Infante back into the lineup and would consider resting him again even when the Marlins hit the road Friday for the first of three against the Nationals.

"Obviously you want him in the game," Guillen said. "But if he doesn't give me the right answer, we'll play [Donnie] Murphy and give him some rest and get him back -- I don't want to say I want to say 100 percent -- but good enough to go and play without risk of [further] injury."

> Expect left fielder Logan Morrison, still recovering from his own knee issues, to get the day off Friday and possibly Sunday when the Nationals send left-handers Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez to the mound. Guillen said he has no problem getting his bench some playing time.

> Although we heard Guillen pushed for Donovan Solano to make the team ahead of Murphy, who struggled this spring, Wednesday's performance by Murphy certainly earned some points with the manager. "It creates confidence," Guillen said of Murphy's 2-for-3, 3 RBI effort Wednesday.

"When you're not an everyday player and have the type of game he had its awesome. It's not easy coming from the bench. I never expect guys coming off the bench to have a lot from them. But when those guys contribute -- defensively, base-running, at-bats -- that's something you appreciate."

LINEUPS

> MARLINS (6-4): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Emilio Bonifacio CF, 3. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 4. Logan Morrison LF, 5. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 6. Greg Dobbs 1B, 7. Donnie Murphy 2B, 8. Brett Hayes C, 9. Ricky Nolasco P.

> CUBS (3-9): 1. David DeJesus RF, 2. Darwin Barney 2B, 3. Starlin Castro SS, 4. Alfonso Soriano LF, 5. Ian Stewart 3B, 6. Bryan LaHair 1B, 7. Geovany Soto C, 8. Marlon Byrd CF, 9. Jeff Samardzija P.