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.
While 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."
> 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.