« May 2012 | Main | July 2012 »

50 posts from June 2012

June 25, 2012

Guillen stops juggling Marlins lineup for a day; plus notes on Bonifacio, Webb, Ruggiano

As the Marlins have struggled through yet another June swoon, Ozzie Guillen has kept himself busy by changing his lineup on a daily basis. Only once during the team's 5-16 start to the month has the Marlins manager put the same lineup on the field on back-to-back days.

Ozzie GuillenHe finally broke the habit Monday. After the team's most lopsided win of the season Sunday against the Blue Jays, Guillen put the same guys out on the field and in the same order one through eight against the Cardinals. That's something he hadn't done since June 1st at Philadelphia, when he had the same lineup on the field for five games in a row.

"You're not going to change lineups -- unless there's a lefty pitching -- after you score nine runs," Guillen explained. "I think if we continue to play like this, this is the lineup we're going to keep to be honest... I don't think anybody here right now should be asking for playing time. I would have a lot of balls asking my manager for playing time if I was playing the way they're playing."

Guillen said Greg Dobbs, who got his second straight start at first base Monday, "is swinging the bat better." Does that mean Gaby Sanchez could see himself in a platoon situation moving forward? Guillen didn't elaborate. But the with Marlins struggling at the plate this month and Sanchez hitting .195 with two homers and 16 RBI that could be a possibility.

"I think the way we played yesterday, everybody should be back in the lineup and that's the reason we did it. If they win again today, that same lineup, the 90 games we have left, that's going to be the same lineup," Guillen said. "That's the way it goes. I got to put the guys who have the best chance to win for us."

Here's a link to every starting lineup the Marlins have used this season.

> While the Marlins bullpen -- with the exception of closer Heath Bell (no earned runs allowed in 6 1/3 innings) -- has had a month to forget (1-2, 6.72 ERA), Guillen doesn't put all the blame on his relievers.

"I think the reason we had a couple rough weeks -- if you can put it that way -- was because our starting pitching put us in a hole," Guillen said. "When you have good starters, your bullpen is going to look awesome. Because then, they're not going to be overworked. We're going put them in the right matchups. We're going to put them facing the people they should be facing, and everything is going to be set in the right place."

With Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle giving the Marlins back-to-back quality starts of seven innings, Guillen is hopeful the struggling Ricky Nolasco (0-3, 8.80 ERA over his last three starts) will follow suit tonight against the Cardinals.

"I'm looking for Ricky Nolasco to stick his [pause] in the dirt," Guillen said. "Got to pitch better... JJ was very good. Buehrle was great. I expect Ricky to follow them. This can be a good competition between those five guys to see who pitches better. It's not about it's my turn, let me see what I got. How about 'I'm going to be better than you tomorrow.' I remember the Braves' five guys. It was a very friendly motivation to go out and be better than the other guy."

> Asked if he's seen the worst from his team this month, Guillen said: "If something is worse than this, let me know. I don't want to manage that team. Believe me. Everything was bad. It wasn't like we caught a bad break here, the ball bounced this way. No. The pitching was bad. The hitting was bad. Defense was okay. The bullpen was a complete disaster... But I think we've played our worst and hopefully we'll not play like that again."

> Outfielder Justin Ruggiano said Monday he still feels soreness in his left shoulder from the diving catch he made Saturday to save two runs off the bat off Brett Lawrie. The catch was considered the Best of the Best this weekend by ESPN.

"I robbed one last year in Baltimore from JJ Hardy. But this one, now that I've had time to think about it, is probably the best [catch I've made as a pro] because of the degree of difficulty," he said."This one was more diving straight back, sacrificing the body."

> Emilio Bonifacio said he's having a specially designed protective wrap made to fit his surgically repaired left thumb when he runs the bases when he returns after the All-Star Break. Bonifacio said it will be similar to one worn by Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal. In fact, Bonifacio said he got a photo from Furcal of the wrap to show the Marlins what he wanted his to look like.

Bonifacio will see a doctor Tuesday before receiving the green light to start swinging off the tee as well as his rehab regiment.

> Reliever Ryan Webb, who gave up a career-high six earned runs over two innings of relief last Friday's 12-4 loss to Toronto, said he's working with pitching coach Randy St. Claire to adjust his delivery.

"I think I might have been having a problem with even when I was having success. I'm not really throwing the way that I used to," Webb said. "It's a part of my delivery, staying closed with my front body and shoulder. It's something I kind of got away from over the course of two years, trying to make little adjustments. It's kind of put me in the direction where I wasn't entirely comfortable everytime throwing... I'm looking forward to seeing how it works out."


> Cardinals (38-35): 1. Rafael Furcal SS, 2. John Jay CF, 3. Matt Holliday LF, 4. Carlos Beltran RF, 5. Allen Craig 1B, 6. Yadier Molina C, 7. David Freese 3B, 8. Daniel Descalso 2B, 9. Jake Westbrook RHP.

> Marlins (34-38): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Logan Morrison LF, 5. Greg Dobbs 1B, 6. Omar Infante 2B, 7. Scott Cousins CF, 8. John Buck C, 9. Ricky Nolasco RHP.

June 24, 2012

Hanley Ramirez called team meeting Saturday

Throughout his career, Hanley Ramirez hasn't been the type of player to open his mouth and address his teammates.

Hanley RamirezBut with the Marlins stumbling to their 15th loss in their last 17 games on Saturday, the three-time All-Star decided it was time to do something he had never done before. He called a team meeting.

“I don’t like to talk too much. I joke a little bit but I don’t like to speak. But sometimes there’s a time when you have too many things in your heart and you just want to say it,” Ramirez told the Palm Beach Post and Marlins.com Sunday morning.

“We wanted everybody to speak up and say what they think, what we’re doing wrong. We just wanted to hear everybody’s opinions.

The message?

“The past is in the past. We have to start today. It has been tough. You cannot just keep adding loses and losses every day. Clean your mind and let’s start from today,” Ramirez said.

“Everybody is struggling — 25 guys. What do you expect when everybody is struggling? We’ve just got to battle. It’s 25 guys, not just one guy.

“Every day in the big leagues can be a struggle. It’s what we’re going through right now. Some teams will get out of it quick. Some will take a little bit longer. It has been too long for us because the talent we have here [it should] not to be that much longer to be struggling right now."

Manager Ozzie Guillen held a meeting with players last week. Owner Jeffrey Loria met with the team in Boston before Thursday’s game. But all the talking is pointless, ace Josh Johnson said, unless the team starts to perform.

"It's all up to the guys in the room. We're the ones doing it," Johnson said. "Find a way to win a game. Find a way to win a couple games in a row and go from there. Once you start winning again, you like that taste. You want to get that.

"We know we can [win]. We proved it in May. Just don't go out there and put any pressure on yourself, relax and put in all the work you need beforehand. Just let it happen and let it speak for itself."

Guillen said after Saturday's loss it's hard to have on field leaders when everybody is struggling. 

Ramirez, who hit .342 and won the batting title in 2009, is hitting .258 with 11 homers and 38 RBI this season. But this month he's hitting just .213 with three homers and five RBI.

"It’s easy to lead the team when you’re hitting .390 and 100 home runs and pitching shutouts every day. Right now we don’t have anybody. It’s easy to lead the team when you’re a great player, but when you’re down on your knees begging for help, it’s hard to be a leader," Guillen said. "I don’t need leaders. I need good  players. I need them to go out and perform the way they should."


Former Miami Westminster Christian star and Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia said Sunday he's enjoyed his first trip back home as a major leaguer.

"It's kind of crazy hearing people call my name and I look up and it's somebody I played with in high school or someone I knew when I was a little kid playing at Flagami Khoury League. It's cool," said Arencibia, who was taken 21st overall by the Blue Jays in the 2007 Draft (nine picks after the Marlins took third baseman Matt Dominguez).

"My sister has six kids and they've all been here [for the three games]."

Arencibia, who homered twice on Opening Day 2011 as Toronto's new catcher, said he remains close to former teammate and Marlins catcher John Buck, who spent the 2010 season in Toronto and tutored Arencibia when he was first called up.

"He wasn't only an All-Star, he was a first class human being," Arencibia said of Buck. "He was great to me, taught me the ropes and I tell him all the time I'm very grateful. The way he went about his business, prepared for games, talked about setting up hitters, attacking the game plan and stuff -- there is something to be said for that."


> Blue Jays (37-34): 1. Brett Lawrie 3B, 2. Colby Rasmus CF, 3. Jose Bautista RF, 4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B, 5. Yunel Escobar, 6. Rajai Davis LF, 7. Kelly Johnson 2B, 8. J.P. Arencibia, 9. Jesse Chavez RHP.

> Marlins (33-38): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Logan Morrison LF, 5. Greg Dobbs 1B, 6. Omar Infante 2B, 7. Scott Cousins CF, 8. John Buck C, 9. Mark Buehrle LHP.

June 23, 2012

VIDEO: Ozzie Guillen 'embarrassed' his team playing this way

Here is the post-game video of manager Ozzie Guillen after Saturday's 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays.


Opening statement...

“Did you see the two ladies sleeping up there? That’s the freaking way I feel. I don’t blame them a bit they were sleeping there.”

“We should be embarrassed. I think we play tight. I think we’re waiting for something bad to happen. This game is about making things happen... The only way you survive out of this is get your head out of your butt and start to play, no looking behind somebody’s shoulder. Who can pick me up? What I can do? What I should do?”

“The talent is out there. We underachieved. I don’t think we played up to the caliber we should play. Bad at-bats, terrible at-bats, especially with men in scoring position. Bad managing, bad coaching, bad pitching. It’s a scramble of a lot of s---.  Put it that way.”

Q: Why are you being patient?

“I’ve been patient because I’ve seen this team play very well, but at the end of the day I think we should be ashamed. I’m ashamed of myself... I will take full, full blame about all this stuff. I don’t blame anybody because I’m the one who believes in the players. I’m the one who puts them in the best spot to succeed and they’re not, but at the end of the day guys got to do it.”

“It’s hard to replace 10 guys. That’s very hard... One guy gets three hits one day and the next day he’s 0-for-4 with a different approach. One guy throws the crap out of the ball one day and the next day he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Maybe it’s a lack of experience.”

Q: Did you have a meeting with the team?

“I had one last week. I look like Obama, having a meeting every freaking day. I’m not that type of manager. They never even see how I can get. That’s why I’ve tried to be patient, talking very normal here, but what I see is terrible. What I see is pathetic, including myself. I take the blame. I do take the blame, but in the meanwhile I have to see something different. There are a few people here that feel a little bit too comfortable and that’s going to change. I’m getting paid to win games and I’m not doing my job right now.”

“I always believe in this quote, I don’t know who said it: Bad teams have meetings, winning teams kick ass. That’s why we had three meetings the last three days, the last five days, because we’re not a good team right now.”

Q: Why didn't you talk to the players?

“I might say the wrong thing then tomorrow I will regret. I have a lot of kids in the clubhouse and I have to figure out how we’re going to talk to then. All of a sudden you say something, it’s not proper in that particular time, maybe they get worse or they get scared now because they have fights against them, fans and the manager.”

"If we are the problem, our coaching staff, myself is the problem, well, speak up. That’s easy. If you think we’re doing too much, we’re not doing enough, I’d like to hear, but they’re the ones who perform and we’re not performing the way we should."

Q: What happened in your meeting with your assistants?

"When I said how we can make this thing better, they rolled their eyes. That’s not a good sign. A lot of people are blaming coaches, blaming moves we make. We’re doing everything we can.

"That’s the first time in my life since I’m managing baseball, coaching, I had one of the players working batting practice with me. I mean, I care. It’s not because I don’t believe in Eduardo [Perez], it’s just because I had a few ideas. It’s the first time I ever did that."

Q: Are there enough leaders on the field? 

"No. It’s easy to lead the team when you’re hitting .390 and 100 home runs and pitching shutouts every day. Right now we don’t have anybody. It’s easy to lead the team when you’re a great player, but when you’re down on your knees begging for help, it’s hard to be a leader. I don’t need leaders. I need good  players. I need them to go out and perform the way they should. Everybody here,  I think they have good enough talent to compete at the big league level.

“I believe in myself. I believe in my coaching staff. They should believe in themselves too playing in the big league level. We’re not playing well? Well, do something about it. I hate this word: “We’ll get it tomorrow.” [Expletive] tomorrow. Get it now. Get it down. I don’t believe in tomorrow because tomorrow you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Ruggiano: 'I just try to make sure every pitch counts'

With his team struggling through a 4-15 June swoon, one might imagine it would be hard to get Ozzie Guillen to say something complimentary about one of his players at the moment. 

Justin Ruggiano
Justin Ruggiano is 12 for 36 with 10 extra-base hits since being acquired in a trade with the Astros on May 26.

But the Marlins manager does like what he's seeing from at least one guy -- Justin Ruggiano. The 30-year old veteran outfielder, who spent most of his career in the Rays farm system, has played well for the Marlins since being acquired in a minor league trade with Houston on May 26.


"I love this kid [from] the way he put on his uniform on down," Guillen said. "He does a lot of things. He has great speed, pretty good defensively. Got great at-bats, fights for his at-bats everytime we give him the opportunity. As long as you do that, you will play for me. I don't care if you're 0-for-4, as long as I see you're fighting for your at-bats and fighting for your situation, I think you'll have a great chance to play for me."

In the 18 games he's played for the Marlins, Ruggiano has started eight of them. He'll start his ninth game for the Marlins today against the Rays. So far, he's hitting .333 (10 for 36) with seven doubles, a triple, two homers, 6 RBI, 6 walks and 6 strikeouts in 36 at-bats. 

As far as fighting for his at-bats, Ruggiano displayed that well in the sixth inning of Friday's 12-5 loss to Toronto. He fouled off four pitches against Ricky Romero before drawing a walk. Omar Infante then followed Ruggiano up by blasting a two-run home run. 

Ruggiano said for fighting for at-bats -- by cutting down on his swing and just trying to make contact -- hasn't always been his thing.

"I used to give away a lot of at-bats," said Ruggiano, who in three big league stints in Tampa Bay hit just .226 with 58 strikeouts in 195 at-bats. 

"I think in the Rays system, strikeouts are kind of frowned upon. It was something [general manager Andrew Friedman] wanted me to focus on reducing [back in 2008]. For the longest time I couldn't figure out how. It was frustrating. I think I came up with a pretty good idea of what works for me and how to stay on the ball longer.

"I just try to make sure every pitch counts. I don't want to let a fastball go by, that's for sure. Over the last couple years I've also learned to stay in my zone a little bit better instead of chasing. It comes with experience. I've played winter ball the last couple years just to get those at-bats. The more at-bats, the more pitches you see, the easier it becomes to stay in your zone. As much minor league time as I've had, you better believe I'm going to make every at-bat here count. It's longer days down there that's for sure. I want to be able to sleep at night knowing I gave 100 percent effort, every pitch, every at-bat."

When it comes to looking at strikes go by them, the Marlins rank second-worst in the National League at 31 percent (only the Mets at 32 percent are worse). The league average is 28 percent.


I'm still not sure how a question about how losing 12-5 instead of 2-1 games got Guillen to go where he went last night, but it's obvious he's not a fan of sports psychologists.

"Psych? I don’t believe in psych,” Guillen said. “I just believe in good clubs. Great players don’t need psychiatric and psyche and shrinks. H——– players do. I never see Pete Rose talking to any psychiatry or Paul Molitor or all those guys. They were talking to nobody. All the h——– players they need a psych, a guy next to them to talk about it. The last five years, seven years, you see a lot of this in baseball.

“When players fail they need a doctor. When managers and coaches fail, they need another manager. They get rid of our a–, quick. Players are making excuse, talking to the shrink every day. How about the shrink when they are 4-for-4? They only got the shrink when they fail. I don’t believe in that. If some people do, good for them. I grew up in the good era of baseball when Budweiser and vodka take care of the psychiatric thing. That’s the best thing to do. You fail, get drunk and come back the next day and you see how good it feels.

“It’s a funny thing because most of the psycho guys and the doctors, they never played this game. They never come out of a slump. How is that going to help you? If that works for somebody, I need one right now. What I should do to get this ball club going? If that works, I will pay any kind of money to tell me.

“You play this game, it’s a long season. Whoever is tough mentally and physically, that’s the guy who’s going to finish in the top.” 


> Blue Jays (36-34): 1. Brett Lawrie 3B, 2. Colby Rasmus CF, 3. Jose Bautista RF, 4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B, 5. Kelly Johnson 2B, 6. Yunel Escobar SS, 7. Rajai Davis LF, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Brett Cecil LHP.

> Marlins (33-37): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Logan Morrison LF, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Omar Infante 2B, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. Brett Hayes C, 9. Josh Johnson RHP.


June 22, 2012

Marlins catcher John Buck: Cramping up is no fun

By now, just about everyone in the world with a TV set has seen the Game 4 highlights from the NBA Finals of a worn down, exhausted LeBron James being helped off the court and wincing in pain as the muscles in his legs cramped up.

John BuckMarlins catcher John Buck got a taste of exactly what that felt like himself Wednesday night in Boston. Although Marlins fans saw the highlights of Buck grabbing his right hamstring and limping around the bases during a seventh inning home run, they probably have no idea the agony the 31-year old veteran went through after he was finally pulled out of the game two innings later in a 15-5 blowout loss to the Red Sox. 

 "It was probably the most pain I've ever felt," Buck said. "I just was cramping up everywhere. My lats were cramping up. My hands. My feet.

"I ended up having to get help undressing because I couldn't bend. I'd bend over my back would pop out. My partner in crime [Brett Hayes] literally had to undress me. Good friend and good teammate. It used to be just good teammate. Now, it's good friend."

Buck said because there were no IVs [intravenous therapy] inside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway he was drinking soy sauce out of packets.

"The Red Sox actually sent over some packets that I was eventually able to put in water and drink," Buck said. "But it took about two hours once I got the hotel room to start feeling better. I went to lay down in my bed and my back locked up, I cramped... it wasn't a good feeling."

After sitting out Thursday's game, Buck is back in the starting lineup for the Marlins Friday against the visiting Blue Jays. He said facing Toronto ace Ricky Romero, who Buck caught for during his one season in Toronto in 2010, won't be easy. 

"If I take some bad swings, I won't feel so bad," Buck said. "He's a tough pitcher. The two seamer, the four seamer that cuts in on righties are good. The pitch that really stands out to me is his changeup. He'll throw it to left-handers, right-handers in any count. It's filthy, almost like a split finger with movement. It has a way to be hard with different speeds. He throws a hammer, too. He can go out at you a lot of different ways. Also, he's fearless, goes after you. That type of pitcher goes deep into games."

> Emilio Bonifacio, who had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb at the end of May, took approximately 25 right-handed swings Friday -- the first time he's picked up a bat in more than a month. The switch-hitting, Opening Day center fielder said he'll swing off the tee for the first time on Monday and then be reevaluated by a doctor Tuesday. He said he thought remains he'll back by the All-Star Break next month.

"For me, I wish I could be back out there tomorrow," Bonifacio. "But they don't want to rush it. Everything looks good."

> Manager Ozzie Guillen and hitting coach Eduardo Perez spent about an extra hour before Friday's game at Marlins Park trying to work with the struggling Hanley Ramirez on his swing.

"I tried to help him clean some stuff up," Guillen said. "Hanley’s been thinking a lot, he’s having a very bad month, just like everybody else. I tried to get him better and I tried to get him not to think too much and hopefully that helps."

> ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, a Rays season ticket-holder, took a special tour of Marlins Park before Friday's game and came away impressed. But don't expect him to buy any tickets.

"They tell me it's $400 a seat," Vitale said referring to the seats right next to the Marlins bench behind home plate. "I don't which of you guys is good at math, but at 80 games that's $32,000 a seat and times four that's $128,000. My four seats in the first row that touch the dugout in Tampa cost me about $19,000."

Vitale, in town for a event with the V Foundation for cancer research, had nothing put praise for the Heat, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and James after winning the NBA title Thursday night. Vitale said he expects James, the league and Finals MVP, to "only get better and better and better."


> Blue Jays (35-34): 1. Brett Lawrie 3B, 2. Colby Rasmus CF, 3. Jose Bautista RF, 4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B, 5. Kelly Johnson 2B, 6. Yunel Escobar SS, 7. Rajai Davis LF, 8. J.P. Arencibia C, 9. Ricky Romero P.

> Marlins (33-36): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Justin Ruggiano CF, 5. Omar Infante 2B, 6. Austin Kearns LF, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. John Buck C, 9. Anibal Sanchez P.

June 21, 2012

Jeffrey Loria address players in clubhouse meeting, says he still believes

    BOSTON -- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria addressed players and coaches in a closed-door clubhouse meeting shortly before batting practice, telling them he hasn't given up on them and doesn't want them to quit, either.

     Players I spoke with said Loria was calm and matter-of-fact, never raising his voice, during his talk, which lasted for about 10 minutes. Coaches and manager Ozzie Guillen also sat in on the meeting. Here's what Loria said he told the players:

    "The general theme was I wanted them to look back when they first started discovering baseball. And then they discovered that they could play baseball. And then they discovered that they could play it really well. And that they could become professionals, and what it meant to them....to start thinking about that for a few moments each day. I went on from there to talk about that this is the best team I've ever been involved with, and I believed in them. That they're capable of doing a lot of successful things this year.

    "I pointed to Josh (Johnson) and told him you have that little adorable blond here kid who's in here everyday, running around, and lots of you have little kids running around. Wouldn't you like them to know that you did something good? I'm not quitting on you, so don't quit on yourselves. We have a very good club.

    "I"m not angry at anybody. I have no anger with anybody. And Heath Bell at the end reminded them that it's still a family and we should all keep working with each other. There are ups and downs in this business. I still have enormous faith in everybody. The talent level is enormous."

    Loria said it was when he couldn't sleep last night following the Marlins' 15-5 loss to the Red Sox that he decided to speak to the team.

    "I was up the whole night thinking about it," Loria continued. "I care about this, as you well know. And I mentioned to my wife that I want to say what I want to say to the players.

    "I talked to them about that I've had the success I want to have in my life and you still haven't experienced it. Yes, you're making money. But when the money is all spent down the road, it's going to be what you accomplished that matters. And that's what you'll be talking about, not that I had a contract for X million dollars.

    "I think they heard. It may resonate with a few guys. It may resonate with many. But, eventually they'll think about it. I can't hit for them, I can't field for them and I can't pitch for them. But I do my part."

Do Marlins have any deserving All-Stars? Mike Dunn recalled

    BOSTON -- A month ago you could have argued Omar Infante deserved a spot on the N.L. All-Star team. But Infante has slumped, like practically everyone else on the Marlins, and it's more difficult to make a case for him these days. A lot more difficult.

    Giancarlo Stanton had a monster May, coinciding with the Marlins' own good fortunes. But Stanton's gone into a June swoon and is hitting only .172 for the month with one home run and three RBI. Among all outfielders in the NL, he's tied for eighth in OPS.

    Someone on the Marlins will go to Kansas City for the July 10 All-Star Game. Someone has to go. Every team must be represented by at least one player. That's the rule.

    But does anyone actually deserve to go? Let's hear what you have to say.


    A bit of roster news. The Marlins optioned RHP Chris Hatcher to Triple A New Orleans and recalled LHP Mike Dunn. Hatcher was not only shelled in relief of Ricky Nolasco, giving up a grand slam to David Ortiz, as a solo shot to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but threw 55 pitches in the process. Chad Gaudin also pitched for the second straight night, throwing 26 pitches in Wednesday's game. That left the bullpen a bit thin, especially with a degree of uncertainty surrounding Carlos Zambrano, who is on the mound tonight for the Marlins. Zambrano hasn't made it out of the third inning in either of his past two outings. So the Marlins brought in reinforcements in the form of Dunn, who has been up and down a couple of times this season.


    Tonight's lineup:

    Marlins: 1. Reyes, ss; 2. Ramirez, dh; 3. Stanton, rf; 4. Morrison, lf; 5. Dobbs, 3b; 6. Infante, 2b; 7. Cousins, cf; 8. Sanchez, 1b; 9. Hayes, c. Pitching: Zambrano

June 20, 2012

Ozzie: "We've got talent. We're good. We're not playing good."

     BOSTON -- Hot as blue blazes in Boston, where the "feels like" temperature was 95 hot ones a moment ago. Perhaps it's time they put a roof on Fenway?

     Ozzie Guillen used most of his pre-game chat with media talking about how he still believed in his players even though the team is in a June nosedive. Guillen said there's a natural "tendency to change lineups" when things aren't going well but that, from experience, it doesn't work.

      "I'm going to stick with the guys," Guillen said. "I'm going to believe in them. I'm going to make the same lineup if I can to make sure they know I'm behind them. We're know we're not performing. It's not a secret for anybody on this ballclub. I think everybody that wears this uniform knows we're not performing."

     But even Guillen said he's mystified how things have turned south so quickly.

     "It surprises me how good you can be one month and then so bad," he said. "I think everybody here has talent. Everybody here has done it before. And I think everybody will come out of this. We've got talent. We're good. We're not playing good."


     Most of the finger-pointing during the slide has been on the offense, or lack thereof. The Marlins, this month, have scored the fewest runs of any team in the majors. But the pitching hasn't exactly been stout as evidenced by a hefty staff ERA of 5.49 this month.

     "April and May we were really good," said pitching coach Randy St. Claire. "It hasn't been good since. About the last week of May was when it started getting some hiccups in there."

     The 5.49 ERA ranks 14th of the 16 N.L. teams, but is a full run higher than the team just ahead of them, the Phillies. Only the Rockies (5.49) and Astros (6.86) rank lower. Last month, the Marlins ranked fifth in the N.L. with a 3.57 ERA.

     "When you look at most of the pitches we're getting hurt on are pitches up in the zone," St. Claire said. "Right now we're making too many mistakes. I've talked to them about it. Whether they feel like they have to throw zeroes up (due to the lack of offense), I don't know. But you can't feel that way."



    Marlins: 1. Reyes, ss; 2. Ramirez, 3b; 3. Stanton, rf; 4. Morrison, lf; 5. Ruggiano, cf; 6. Infante, 2b; 7. Kearns, dh; 8. Sanchez, 1b; 9. Buck, c. Pitching: Nolasco

    Red Sox: 1. Nava, lf; 2. Kalish, cf; 3. Gonzalez, 1b; 4. Ortiz, dh; 5. Ross, rf; 6. Saltalamacchia, c; 7. Youkilis, 3b; 8. Aviles, ss; 9 Punto, 2b. Pitching: Doubront.



June 19, 2012

Giancarlo Stanton goes Monster hunting

    BOSTON -- Much to the dismay of batting practice gawkers -- a legion that includes Boston outfielder Cody Ross -- Giancarlo Stanton has re-designed his regimen to hit pretty much everything to right, and line drives at that.

    But Stanton confessed that he took a few pokes at Fenway Park's fabled Green Monster when several Marlins showed up for a round of "early" B.P. on Tuesday.

    "I let a few loose," Stanton said, chuckling. "There were a few. You're not fully warmed up in early B.P. but I still got a few out. It's cool. You don't need to necessarily get under the ball. It's high. But you don't have to change anything to get it up over that thing."

    Ross, by the way, was upset that Stanton wasn't aiming for the fences during batting practice when the Red Sox were in Miami. Ross had talked his Red Sox teammates into hanging out in the dugout when the Marlins took B.P., just to see Stanton. When Stanton kept hitting opposite-field line drives, Ross yelled out for him to give the ball a jolt.

    Stanton obliged and hit one over the Red Grooms sculpture.

    The Marlins could use a real home run or two right now, from Stanton or anyone else. The Marlins have hit only five home runs over the past 12 games (10 losses). The power isn't the only thing missing from their attack. They've stolen only one base as a team during the stretch.

    Individually, take a look at what their core players have done since June 5 when the Marlins began their tumble:

    Omar Infante 7 for 44 , 0 HR)

    Stanton (8 for 46, 1 HR)

    Hanley Ramirez (6 for 41, O HR)

    Logan Morrison (8 for 36, 1 HR)

    Gaby Sanchez (4 for 24, 0 HR)

    Jose Reyes (13 for 15, 2 HR)

    John Buck (4 for 26, 0 HR)


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

     Red Sox: 1. Aviles, ss; 2. Pedroia, 2b; 3. Gonzalez, rf; 4. Ortiz, dh; 5. Youkilis, 1b; 6. Middlebrooks, 3b; 7. Ross, lf; 8. Kalish, cf; 9. Shoppach, c. Pitching: Buchholz.

June 18, 2012

Marlins sign 25. Can any of them supply offense? Immediately?

    BOSTON -- The Marlins today announced the signings of 25 players from this year's draft, though not their top two picks: pitcher Andrew Heaney (9th overall) and shortstop Avery Romero (104th).

    Which somehow leads us to.....

    It was nine years ago that the Marlins rolled into Boston for what was arguably a turning point series to their World Series season. The first game of that series was particularly memorable. The Red Sox scored 10 runs in the first inning before an out was recorded, and Johnny Damon nearly hit for the cycle -- a single, double and triple -- in the FIRST INNING ALONE.

    The Red Sox won that game 25-8, Marlins reliever Kevin Olsen was hit in the head with a line drive that brought a frightened hush to the Fenway faithful and landed the pitcher in the hospital, and owner Jeffrey Loria's personal guest in his box seat near the dugout was none other than that year's first-round pick, local product Jeff Allison.

     The following night, the Marlins rallied for one of their biggest comeback wins in franchise history, and the team took off from there.

    At any rate, the current-day Marlins come crawling into Boston mired in a pronounced hitting slump. Will their bats wake up in Boston?

    Signings: OF Kolby Copeland (Comp B); OF Austin Dean (4th round); SS Austin Nola (5th); SS Anthony Gomez (6th); RHP Ryan Newell (7th); RHP Drew Steckenrider (8th); RHP Nicholas Wittgren (9th); 3B Ron Miller (10th); RHP Matt Milroy (11th); SS Christian Rivera (12th); RHP Blake Logan (13th); C Mike Vaughn (14th); RHP Brian Ellington (16th); OF Christian Keene (17th); LHP Patrick Merkling (18th); LHP Hayden Fox (21st); RHP Robert Ravago (22nd); OF Cameron Flynn (23rd); 3B Matt Juengel (24th); RHP Dane Stone (25th); RHP Justin Jackson (27th); RHP Casey McCarthy (28th); RHP Ronald Barnes (29th); C David Cruz (30th); 3B Patrick Claussen (34th); UT Blake Barber (undrafted free agent).