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50 posts from June 2012

June 17, 2012

Buehrle on standby if Johnson falters

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Mark Buehrle is scheduled to start the series opener at Boston's Fenway Park on Tuesday. But, due to a depleted bullpen, manager Ozzie Guillen said he's notified Buehrle to be prepared to take over this afternoon if Josh Johnson is knocked out early by the Rays.

    Chad Guadin, who went 4 2/3 innings in relief of Carlos Zambrano on Friday, is unavailable. So, too, are Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb, each of whom pitched three innings in last night's 15-inning victory by the Marlins. That leaves only Steve Cishek, Chris Hatcher, Randy Choate and Heath Bell.

    If Buehrle was to relieve this afternoon at The Trop, everyone in the rotation would move up a day and still pitch on full rest due to Monday's off day.

    So where does the 15-inning affair rank in Marlins history in terms of longest games? In terms of inning, it was the ninth game played by the Marlins of at least 15 innings. And it was the team's longest game since the club-record 20-inning loss to the Cardinals at Sun Life Stadium (or whatever it was called that year) on April 27, 2003.

    Marlins' Longest Games (by innings)

    20 -- April 27, 2003 -- Sun Life -- Cardinals 7, Marlins 6

    17 -- June 8, 1998 -- Sun life -- Marlins 4, Toronto 3

    16 -- Aug. 29, 1999 -- Sun Life -- Houston 6, Marlins 4

    16 -- July 12, 2002 -- Wrigley Field -- Cubs 5, Marlins 4

    15 -- Aug. 10, 1993 -- Sun Life -- Marlins 3, Cubs 2

    15 -- May 11, 1995 -- Sun Life -- Reds 3, Marlins 1

    15 -- June 18, 1996 -- 3Com Park -- Giants 9, Marlins 8

    15 -- June 19, 1996 -- 3Com Park -- Giants 7, Marlins 4

    15 -- June 16, 2012 -- Tropicana Field -- Marlins 4, Rays 3 

June 16, 2012

Guillen says players -- not hitting coach -- are to blame for offensive woes

     ST. PETERSBURG -- While the Marlins have been disappointing offensively, hitting coach Eduardo Perez does not appear to be in any danger of losing his job. Manager Ozzie Guillen was forceful in his defense of Perez, and the front office is not looking to make a change.

     “It’s funny how this game works,” Guillen said. “Nobody gives Eduardo credit when we were doing good. Now they’re going to (expletive) on him because we’re not hitting? That’s a bunch of (expletive). No, blame the players. They were good two weeks ago (with the) same hitting coach.”

     The Marlins rank 14th in runs scored in the National League, 13th in batting average, and 14th in hitting with runners in scoring position.

     Guillen acknowledged that poor hitting is the major reason the Marlins had lost nine of their past 10 games entering play on Saturday. They scored a total of only 17 runs in those 10 games.

    “You look at the numbers we’ve had the last couple of weeks, it’s ugly,” Guillen said. “Every number we have offensively is negative. That’s the reason I think we are where we are right now.”

    But Guillen was adament that Perez is not to blame, that he is putting in extra time working with the hitters going over scouting reports, examining video and hitting in the cages outside of of batting practice.

    “I fire my coaches,” Guillen said. “The only reason they’re going to get fired is if I see them not do what they’re supposed to do. If they don't work, I fire their (butt). This guy (Perez) has been working hard every day. He makes suggestions, tells (players) what he thinks. When the game starts, he cannot perform for them.”

   Guillen said the biggest problem is that hitters have been swinging at bad pitches.

   “The only reason they fail is because they swing at a lot of bad pitches,” Guillen said. “They’re not going to tell me they don’t because I (notice).”

   Said Logan Morrison, who is among a handful of Marlins who have struggled offensively: "I think at this level you should be able to fix yourself. It's good to have (a hitting coach) to help you notice something you don't see. But, for the most part, you should be able to help yourself."

No-hits and low-hits against the Marlins

     ST. PETERSBURG -- Had a batting practice ball not broken the nose of Hanley Ramirez before the Marlins took on the Rays here on Friday, who knows what might have happened? Ramirez's last-minute sub, rookie Donovan Solano, had the Marlins' only hit, a first-inning single to center off Matt Moore.

     As it turned out, Moore, Brandon Gomes and Burke Badenhop -- yep, the Hopper -- combined on a one-hitter. Over the course of their 20-season existence, the Marlins have been the victim of 10 low-hitters (two no-hitters and eight one-hitters).

     Here's the list of them, not including Friday:

Date

Opponent

R

H

E

LOB

R

H

E

LOB

Winner

Loser

Save

Record

07/14/1995

@LA

L

0

0

0

1

7

10

0

5

R.Martinez

J.Burkett

 

0-1

07/24/2002

Atl

L

0

1

0

5

10

12

0

7

D.Moss

M.Tejera

 

0-2

06/17/2003

NYM

L

0

1

2

0

5

9

0

5

J.Seo

C.Pavano

 

0-3

04/15/2005

@NYM

L

0

1

3

3

4

5

0

8

A.Heilman

J.Beckett

 

0-4

09/29/2007

@NYM

L

0

1

3

2

13

19

0

12

J.Maine

C.Seddon

 

0-5

06/26/2008

TB

L

1

1

0

0

6

9

0

10

M.Garza

M.Hendrickson

 

0-6

07/16/2009

Phi

L

0

1

0

2

4

10

0

6

J.Moyer

C.Volstad

 

0-7

05/29/2010

Phi

L

0

0

1

0

1

7

0

7

R.Halladay

J.Johnson

 

0-8

06/28/2011

@Oak

L

0

1

2

4

1

4

1

6

G.Gonzalez

J.Vazquez

A.Bailey

0-9

      The Marlins placed right-handed reliever Sandy Rosario on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad strain and called up right-hander Chris Hatcher from Triple A New Orleans. 

      ___________________________

      Ramirez returned to the lineup on Saturday, broken nose and all. I saw him in the hotel lobby last night and it didn't look too terribly bad. But Ozzie Guillen said Ramirez was pretty dazed by the blow.

      Marlins: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Hanley Ramirez, 3b; 3. Giancarlo Stanton, rf; 4. Logan Morrison, dh; 5. Omar Infante, 2b; 6. Greg Dobbs, lf; 7. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 8. Scott Cousins, cf; 9. John Buck, c. Pitching: Anibal Sanchez

      ___________________________

      Reality check. Despite losing nine of their past 10 games, the Marlins are 32-32.

      At the same 64-game mark, the 2003 Marlins, who went on to win the World Series, were 29-35.

      __________________________

      Given everything that's happened since -- new ballpark, new uniforms, new name, new everything -- it's hard to believe that tomorrow -- Father's Day -- will mark the one-year anniversary of former manager Edwin Rodriguez's resignation, right here in St. Pete.

June 15, 2012

Ball strikes Hanley Ramirez in nose, out of lineup

     ST. PETERSBURG -- Hanley Ramirez was a lineup scratch after taking a batted ball off the nose during a session inside the indoor batting cages here at Tropicana Field. Manager Ozzie Guillen said Ramirez was feeling a bit woozy and would be examined by a physician as a precaution.

     "He should be ready tomorrow," Guillen said.

     Guillen had originally penciled Ramirez into the No. 2 spot in the lineup, with Giancarlo Stanton batting third, just ahead of Logan Morrison at cleanup.

     "In the past, Hanley was a great leadoff hitter," explained Guillen. "I wanted to get Stanton batting with people on base and hitting in the first inning. Hopefully that will work, at least for a little while. My job is to try to put them in the best spot to have success."

     Tonight, at least, Donovan Solano will bat second and play third in Ramirez's spot.

     ___________________________________

     As expected, the Marlins recalled Scott Cousins from Triple A New Orleans on Friday. Guillen indicated Cousins will see some starting time (though not tonight with lefty Matt Moore on the mound for the Rays). If that happens, Cousins would become the 10th different player to start in the outfield for the Marlins this season.

     "I hope I can find one and stick with him," Guillen said. "It would make it easy for us. We wouldn't have to juggle with the lineup everyday."

     Cousins struggled mightily when he was with the Marlins last season, hitting just .135 in what was primarily a pinch-hitting role before going on the disabled list in June with a lower back strain that he has said was unrelated to his collision with Giants catcher Buster Posey.

     "As backs go, it was something I was dealing with for a long time," Cousins said. "It's a lot stronger. It's holding up a lot better on a day-to-day basis. I'm not going to say it doesn't get sore. It's a herniated disc. I had one doctor recommend I get surgery, but I didn't want to do that. I didn't want anyone cutting into my back."

     Cousins was hitting .292 for the Zephyrs with seven homers and 32 RBI.

     _________________________

     While the Marlins have been trotting out one new outfielder after another, especially in the absence of injured center fielder Emilio Bonifacio, they and the Cincinnati Reds are the only two teams in the majors that haven't had to use more than five starters.

     _________________________

     LINEUPS:

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

     Rays: 1. Jennings, lf; 2. Joyce, rf; 3. Upton, cf; 4. Matsui dh; 5. Zobrist, 2b; 6. Pena, 1b; 7. Lobaton, c; 8. Rhymes, 3b; 9. Johnson, ss.

     Umpires: HP - Gibson; 1B -- Davis; 2B -- Cuzzi; 3B -- Gonzalez.

 

June 13, 2012

Bell/Guillen flare-up termed a "misunderstanding"; Coghlan demoted

      Heath Bell wasn't particularly pleased when Ozzie Guillen lifted him with two outs in the ninth inning of tonight's 10-2 monstrosity of a loss to the Red Sox. Bell was clearly unhappy with the decision and his anger showed when he entered the dugout and exchanged words with bench coach Joey Cora. Guillen also appeared angry when speaking with Cora about it.

       "It kind of looked like I disrespected him," Bell said. "I didn't mean it that way."

       Bell said that after a couple of fielding gaffes -- one by Donovan Solano in left and the other by Hanley Ramirez at third -- extended the meaningless ninth, he wished to stay on the mound after striking out Will Middlebrooks to finish the inning. Instead, Guillen summoned Sandy Rosario to finish it off.

       Guillen said he was merely using Bell to keep him "sharp" and didn't want him pitching unnecessarily in a blowout loss. He said he didn't want Bell, who threw a total of 19 pitches in the inning, add to his pitch count even further, and especially for no reason. Afterward, Bell said he understood Guillen's decision, but not after putting up a mild protest.

       "I just said 'I can get this guy out,'" Bell said. "He wanted to protect me. I understand where Ozzie was coming from. I apologized and I don't mean any disrespect."

       Guillen called it a "misunderstanding" and didn't seem put off by the incident in the post-game press conference.

        "Not a big deal," Guillen said. "It's over with."

        __________________________

        The Marlins optioned slumping outfielder Chris Coghlan following tonight's game to Triple A New Orleans. The former National League Rookie of the Year has been unable to get on track and is hitting just .140.

        No word on who the roster replacement will be, and the Marlins don't have to make a decision until Friday when they open a three-game series in Tampa.

        One strong candidate is outfielder Scott Cousins, who has been on a tear at New Orleans. Cousins, who is hitting .295 overall, has gone 13 for 35 (.488) over his past 10 games. 

Survey: Guillen "least respected" manager; Stanton in "best physical shape"

    Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen didn't fare well in a Men's Journal magazine survey of 100 big-league players. When asked to identify the manager they respected least, Guillen was mentioned by 36 percent of the respondents -- considerably more than the runner-up, Boston's Bobby Valentine (14 percent). Third on the list is Cleveland's Manny Acta (5 percent).

    Ozzie In a release from Men's Journal: Players bristle that Guillen is "loud" and "can get under your skin." Says one opponent, "He loses it all the time." Adds another, "He always preaches that he backs his players, but he's been known to throw them under the bus." A rival reliever says, "You can't call your guys out every weekend, and he does that."

    Given how outspoken and prickly both can be, more so than most managers, it really comes as no surprise that Guillen and Valentine head the list. So far, though, I've yet to see Guillen throw any Marlins player under the bus, or call anyone out, and there have been a couple of occasions when I thought he might.

     The survey also asked players to identify the "player in best physical shape." The winner: Giancarlo Stanton, who was mentioned by 28 percent of the respondents. Giancarlo

      From Men's Journal: "He's a real-life Under Armour mannequin," one major leaguer says, marveling at the 6-foot-5, 248-pound outfielder, a former USC football recruit whose off-season rituals include running the stairs at UCLA's track stadium. "He's not normal, not human." An NL slugger adds, "I don't think he has any body fat."

      The full poll results are published in the July issue of Men's Journal, which hits newstands on Friday.

June 12, 2012

Solano, Ruggiano making a case for more P.T.; Bonifacio out through All-Star break

      THE ROOF IS OPEN ONCE AGAIN TONIGHT. THE GLASS PANELS IN LEFT ARE ALSO OPEN.

      Neither Donovan Solano nor Justin Ruggiano are in tonight's lineup for the Marlins. But look for them there with greater frequency in the future. Ozzie Guillen said "those two guys are going to have more playing time." What's more, Guillen said he would have no problem giving Solano a spot start at third for the slumping Hanley Ramirez and Ruggiano a start (or more) in center if Coghlan doesn't pick things up at the plate.

      "I like the way Ruggiano plays in center field," Guillen said. "I might get him more at bats there depending on how Coghlan's doing. I'm not afraid to play those two guys. I just told somebody yesterday, if we're going to give Hanley a day off, I don't mind playing Solano at third."

      The versatile rookie has already played some outfield, second base and short for the Marlins. But it's not as if Solano's some neophyte at third, either. He saw action in 173 games at third over the course of his seven minor-league seasons.

     Solano is hitting .455 (10 for 22) after driving in two runs Monday with a single and sacrifice fly. Ruggiano is at an even .400 (8 for 20) with six extra-base hits, including four doubles and a pair of homers. Coghlan entered Tuesday's game with a .146 average while Ramirez has just one hit in his past 25 at bats.

      "He's had huge hits for us," Guillen said of Ramirez. "But he's very inconsistent. I wish he was more consistent day in and day out. Hopefully he'll get better. But, every day, we don't know what we're going to get."

      _______________________________

      While the stiches were removed Tuesday from Emilio Bonifacio's left hand, Guillen said he doesn't expect him back until after the All-Star break. If that turns out to be the case, Bonifacio will have missed close to two months with an injury he suffered on May 18 in Cleveland.

       Bonifacio told our sister paper, El Nuevo Herald, that he hoped to begin swinging a bat in 10 days and planned to have the injured surgically repaired thumb re-examined in two weeks.

       "We have to stick with the plan, and the plan is maybe right after the All-Star break," Guillen said. "That's a pretty sensitive spot."

       ______________________________

       Guillen said Carlos Zambrano would make his next scheuled start, on Friday in St. Petersburg, when the Marlins open a three-game series at The Trop. Zambrano exited his most recent start with lower back pain. Guillen doesn't want Zambrano trying to swing the bat so hard. With the designated hitter, Zambrano won't be hitting in either of his two upcoming starts, in St. Pete and Boston.

       _____________________________

       LINEUPS:

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

       Red Sox: 1. Podsednik, cf; 2. Pedroia, 2b; 3. Youkilis, 1b; 4. Middlebrooks, 3b; 5. Gonzalez, rf; 6. Shoppach, c; 7. Aviles, ss; 8. McDonald, lf; 9. Buchholz, p.

       Umpires: HP -- Reyburn; 1B -- Wolf; 2B -- Cousins; 3B -- Kulpa. 

 

June 11, 2012

Music returns to the Marlins clubhouse

There was music playing in the Marlins clubhouse again Monday night, which could only mean one thing.

"That means we won and we played a good game," Marlins ace Josh Johnson said.

Said manager Ozzie Guillen: "It was like somebody had been dead in there for the last couple days. I don't blame them. Their feelings are hurt when they're not winning. But hopefully this win against a good pitcher, a good ballclub helps us get on another hot streak and continue to win."

The Marlins (32-29) snapped their season-long six-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory against the Boston Red Sox. And Johnson was at the center, tossing a season-high 116 pitches and seven strong innings, striking out seven, scattering four hits and giving up just one earned run as he won for the fourth time in his last six starts.

Much like everyone else at Marlins Park, Johnson was surprised to see the roof open for the first time since April 18th. Asked if it made a difference, Johnson smiled.

"It was cooler. It was breezy. So it kind of kept the humidity down," Johnson said. 

The 116 pitches followed up a 113-pitch start in which Johnson went 7 2/3 innings. Johnson, who missed most of last season with shoulder problems, said he feels just fine with heavy workload.

"I like being out there. I want the ball. Again today, I went underneath and hid [from Guillen]," Johnson said. "I wasn't going to let them find me."

Samson explains how phone call from Beinfest to end Marlins six-game losing streak led to roof opening

When David Samson's phone rang shortly after 5 o'clock Monday and he saw the call was coming from Larry Beinfest the first thing he said he thought was "something bad had happened."

David Samson
David Samson said it was Larry Beinfest's suggestion that led to the roof being opened Monday night.

Turns out the Marlins President of Baseball Operations was calling the team's No. 2 guy to make a suggestion.

"[Beinfest] said 'Hey, we've lost six in a row. I've got an idea. Let's open the roof and see what happens,'" Samson said. "I said, 'What's the temperature?' He said, 'It's going to below 80. It's going to be 79.' I said, 'Let's just try it.'"

Samson said he made two more phone calls. The first to owner Jeffrey Loria, and the next to manager Ozzie Guillen. Both agreed to it.

"[Loria] was worried about our fans, didn't want them to be too hot," Samson explained. "I spoke to the weather people and they said it was zero percent chance of rain, a nice wind breeze, our formula showed we could keep it open. We spoke to Ozzie, Ozzie said, 'What do I care? We lose six when it's open, we win six when it's closed, do whatever you want.' Ozzie was great. We decided to do it.'"

So, less than a half hour before Josh Johnson delivered the first pitch to Scott Podsednick, the roof was opened for a game at Marlins Park for the first time since April 18th.

Samson said normally the roof would have stayed closed on a night like this because the formula the Marlins use to determine if the weather is suitable (temperature, relative humidity and chance of rain) remained questionable in his eyes. But Beinfest's phone call and the unusually cool weather in South Florida with no chance of rain convinced Samson to go for it.

"The danger of this strategy is we win tonight and all of a sudden we hear from the man upstairs [Loria] the roof will be open at all-times, bring your umbrellas," Samson joked.

Samson said he expects the roof to remain closed on most nights this summer. "I don't know if this changes anything," he said. "But I'm still trying to hit my number of 11 open games for the season, which I promised you guys."

> As for the state of the team following six consecutive losses, Samson said: "We hope it's not April off. May on. June off.

"But it's too early to say that. We weren't hitting. The pitching has been holding us in so many tight games where they weren't getting support. Pitching has a hick up and you're not hitting you're going to have a problem. Ozzie is completely confident. We're all completely confident. Obviously, we wanted to bring Gaby [Sanchez] back up because we're a better team with Gaby and Logan [Morrison] in left. That's the team we built to play."

> Samson said the team will make adjustments to the pricing of tickets next season.

"Basically, we've studied everything," he said. "When we do prices and renewals for next year we're going to have adjustments all over the ballpark. We did pricing without knowing how fans would react, where they would buy. Certain areas are under priced. Certain areas are overpriced. We're going to go through them and do everything we can to make it better."

Marlins Park roof open for ESPN telecast vs. Red Sox

So much for indoor baseball in June.

Marlins Park
Marlins Park with the roof open Monday night. The team said the roof would likely be closed all summer because of the heat in South Florida.

The Marlins have opened the retractable roof up for tonight's game against the Red Sox, a surprise move considering the team said the roof would likely be shut until October because of the South Florida heat.

But apparently cooler temperatures -- and ESPN TV cameras -- had a little something to do with it.

The Marlins haven't played with the roof open since April 18th against the Cubs. They are 2-2 this season with the roof open.