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57 posts from July 2012

July 19, 2012

Beinfest: "Every game now is magnified"

CHICAGO -- With the clock ticking to the July 31 trade deadline, the Marlins could go into seller’s mode at any moment if they don’t turn things around immediately.

“I think every game now is magnified,” said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, after the Marlins dropped two out of three to the Cubs. “We need to win games or else we’re going to lose complete contact. Then we’ll have to make decisions from there.”

The Marlins (44-48) head to Pittsburgh where, even if they sweep the three-game series, would return home with a losing record. “To come here and lose two out of three is disappointing,” Beinfest said. “In terms of decision-making, I don’t know how that’s going to go. I really don’t. We need to win games just to make sure we’re on the periphery of even thinking about getting into things.”

Beinfest described the season so far as “very disappointing, frustrating.”

“With the talent we have here, we should have won more games than we have, and it hasn’t happened,” he said. Beinfest said it’s not surprising that the Marlins are being mentioned often in trade rumors. “I think we’ve underperformed -- underachieved -- and the position we’re in, I think it’s normal to hear a lot of things about us, especially (given) how public we were this winter about being all-in.”

Hitting coach blames Marlins record on squandered scoring chances

   CHICAGO -- Marlins hitting coach Eduardo Perez said the team's failure to produce with runners in scoring position is the primary reason it is languishing near the bottom of the standings.

    "It's been frustrating," Perez said Thrusday before the Marlins closed out their series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field. "We would be better, obviously, if we produced with runners in scoring position. I don't think we would be in this situation. We wouldn't be where we're at right now."

    In Wednesday's rain-shortened 5-1 loss to the Cubs, Emilio Bonifacio was left stranded at third after leading off the fifth inning with a triple. The Marlins didn't just miss out on three chances to score the man from third. Because of a botched rundown play, they actually came up empty four times. Carlos Lee, Logan Morrison, Hanley Ramirez and Greg Dobbs didn't produce the hit, or ground ball, or fly ball, that could have scored Bonifacio and given the Marlins a 2-1 lead. Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija retired Lee and Dobbs on one pitch. Morrison also hit the first pitch for a ground ball that turned into a botched play when catcher Geovany Soto dropped the ball in the ensuing rundown to get Bonifacio.

    "Those are the players you put there for that situation," Perez said. "Yesterday we got into trouble because we swung at pitches that Samardzija wanted us to swing at. We went out there and swung at first-pitch breaking balls down in the zone. If you're going to miss, miss up in the zone. We've got to look up and realize that the pitcher's the one who's in trouble. We haven't been patient."

     Perez said if the Marlins did a better job driving in runs, it would have a snowball effect on other facets of the game.

     "It would take the pressure off the pitcher, and it would take the pressure off the defense," he said. "It's something we could easily take the easy route and say, 'I can't explain it.' But we've got to look at ourselves and take responsibility. I have to look at myself to take responsibility for it. And the players have to look at themselves and take responsibility for it."

     The Marlins are hitting just .227 with runners in scoring position.


     While confirming to a Boston sports talk radio station on Thursday that the Marlins inquired about outfielder Carl Crawford with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington, team president Larry Lucchino also dismissed the rumored trade involving Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell.

      "(Marlins assistant GM) Dan Jennings, the guy from the Marlins front office who drafted Carl Crawford, he's been up in Boston scouting, presumably Carl Crawford and others, when Ben (Cherrington) let us know about that there had been an inquiry," Lucchino told WEEI radio. "And given the encouragement that we offer regarding being bold, I'm sure he said, 'What do you guys have in mind? What are you talking about?" That's just part for the course this time of year. We explore all possibilities, big ones, bold ones, small ones, incremental ones, whatever you can do."



     Marlins: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 3. Carlos Lee, 1b; 4. Justin Ruggiano, rf; 5. Hanley Ramirez, 3b; 6. Austin Kearns, lf; 7. Omar Infante, 2b; 8. John Buck, c, 9. Mark Buehrle, p.

     Cubs: 1. Reed Johnson, cf; 2. Starlin Castro, ss; 3. Anthony Rizzo, 1b; 4. Alfonso Soriano, lf; 5. Jeff Baker, rf; 6. Geovany Soto, c; 7. Darwin Barney, 2b; 8. Luis Valbuena, 3b; 9. Paul Maholm, p. 



July 18, 2012

Source: Marlins not dangling Bell, Ramirez or anybody in trade discussions right now

With the trade deadline on the horizon and the Marlins still unsure if they'll be buyers on sellers (they're 5.5 games back in the Wild Card Race), speculation has begun to ripple across the internet about what the team might do.

And today, USA Today unleashed a pretty big one.

Citing sources, Bob Nightengale reported the Marlins have had conversations with the Boston Red Sox about sending third baseman Hanley Ramirez and former closer Heath Bell to the northeast for left fielder Carl Crawford and an unnamed prospect.

Is it true?

Not according to the Marlins. A source with direct knowledge of the situation told The Miami Herald the USA Today report was as laughable as Tuesday's by ESPN's Buster Olney, who floated the idea the Marlins might even be willing to trade All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton if the deal was right.

Olney said Wednesday while the Marlins-Red Sox trade was discussed as a concept, it was immediately dismissed and there are no ongoing discussions.

Crawford, a four-time All-Star, is in the second year of an seven-year, $142 million deal, which is a record for an outfielder. Ramirez, a three-time All-Star and former batting champion, is in the fourth year of a six-year, $70 million contract. And Bell, a three-time All-Star, is in the first year of a three-year, $27 million pact.

USA Today says Marlins vice president Dan Jennings is in Boston scouting Crawford. The Red Sox told USA Today they aren't shopping him.

Of course, where there is smoke there always could be fire and it's no secret the Marlins have issues to address. But they could also wait until the off-season to do it.

Getting speed in the outfield is ideal, especially in left field with the thought that Logan Morrison will likely be moved to first base after this season. Pitching is also a priority because Anibal Sanchez is a free agent after the season. Left-hander Wade LeBlanc could be moved to the starting rotation if a starter is moved.

July 17, 2012

Autographed Bryce Harper bat part of prank; Oviedo's future clouded

    CHICAGO -- It was a mob scene inside the Marlins dugout a moment ago at Wrigley Field, where Ozzie Guillen, Carlos Zambrano and Mark Buehrle each conducted separate press conferences on their first visit to the Windy City since leaving for South Florida.

     "I don't need a standing ovation," Guillen said. "But I don't expect anything bad."

     Zambrano said it felt "weird" returning to Wrigley, where he spent his first 11 big-league seasons as a Chicago Cub.


      Guillen received a bat signed by Bryce Harper following Sunday's game in Miami. Turns out it was a prank orchestrated by either players or coaches on the Nationals stemming from Friday's pine tar incident.

       "It was funny," Guillen said. "I've got a few friends on (the Nationals). All those guys are trying to make fun of me."

       Guillen said he found out later that someone on the Nationals asked Harper to sign a bat, which he did. Later, the perpetrator wrote an inscription that read: "To my hero, Ozzie. I love you." For added effect, a generous amount of pine tar was applied to the bat barrel before it was sent over to the Marlins clubhouse.

        "I don't have anything against the kid," Guillen said. "I think this kid is going to be good for the game. We need players like him that play the game right. I think what he did was maybe because he was a kid. I hope he learned from that. His manager (Davey Johnson) said I was trying to intimidate him. I wasn't. That was the last thing that went through my mind."


        Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, is not optimistic that Juan Carlos Oviedo will pitch this season.

        Oviedo's comeback plans have been put on hold due to an elbow injury that could result in Tommy John surgery.

        "This is not looking good like he'll pitch for us this season," Beinfest said. "We have to move ahead with the thought that he's not going to (pitch)."

        Oviedo might not pitch for the Marlins again. Beinfest said the pitcher will become eligible for free agency following the season, whether or not he pitches.

        "I feel terrible for him," Beinfest said. "I think he handled his mistake (over the false identity issue) well. I feel bad for us in that we're not -- at least in the short term, and maybe not at all -- receiving any production from him. It's a sad situation all the way around."


        Guillen said that he is not platooning outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Greg Dobbs, and has no problem with starting Ruggiano against right-handed pitching.

        "I don't platoon anyone," Guillen said.

        Ruggiano did not start the final two games of the Nationals series against right-handers Stephen Strasburg and Edwin Jackson even though Ruggiano is hitting .346 against righties this season and .385 overall.

         "You hit .390, you're not a platoon player," Guillen said. "I just benched him those two days because I don't want to screw up his head. Facing Strasburg and then Jackson, I didn't want him to come out of his swing."



      Marlins: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 3. Carlos Lee, 1b; 4. Justin Ruggiano, rf; 5. Hanley Ramirez, 3b; 6. Austin Kearns, lf; 7. Omar Infante, 2b; 8. John Buck, c; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p

      Cubs: 1. David DeJesus, cf; 2. Starlin Castro, ss; 3. Anthony Rizzo, 1b; 4. Alfonso Soriano, lf; 5. Bryan LaHair, rf; 6. Geovany Soto, c; 7. Darwin Barney, 2b; 8. Luis Valbuena, 3b; 9. Travis Wood, p.

July 16, 2012

Marlins reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo has sprained elbow

According to the Marlins, an MRI has revealed that relief pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo has suffered a UCL sprain in his right elbow.

As of Monday evening the team has not given a timetable for his return.

Oviedo walked off the mound Saturday night in a rehab appearance at Triple A New Orleans after recording only one out because of right elbow discomfort.

Oviedo was back in Miami Sunday and was examined by team doctors. Manager Ozzie Guillen spoke to the media at 4:15 Monday afternoon and said Oviedo's MRI results were being evaluated.

Oviedo is eligible to return from his eight-week suspension for age and identity fraud on July 23.

July 15, 2012

Pine tar at the root of Ozzie Guillen-Bryce Harper clash

So what led to Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen yelling at Washington Nationals All-Star rookie Bryce Harper in the fourth inning Sunday?

Apparently, it all had to do with pine tar.

Although Guillen surprisingly didn't want to get into the details post-game, Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison, Nationals manager Davey Johnson and Harper all provided some insight afterward.

According to Morrison, Guillen told Nationals third base coach Bo Porter, a former Marlins assistant, Harper had too much pine tar on his bat during his first at-bat.

"Ozzie did it the right way and then Harper came up the next time and pointed his bat at Ozzie. It was kind of showing him up," Morrison explained.

"He did him a favor by not going out there and telling him his pine tar was too high to the umpire. I don't know if it's an ejection. He did it in a way that isn't showing him up and Harper then showed him up was kind of a slap in the face."

The Nationals of course didn't see it that way.

"Ozzie had complained that the pine tar was too high up on Harper’s bat," Johnson explained. "So we changed it. Then he was still chirping about it. It got on the umpire’s nerves. It got on my nerves. He was trying to intimidate my player, I guess..."

Harper said he had "no clue" what Guillen was yelling about, but said he did switch bats to one with less pine tar before his second at-bat.

"It’s such a fine line," Johnson said. "They put the pine tar, it’s only supposed to be at the top of the label. Some guys, it might be over half an inch or something. There’s still a foot of the barrel to hit it with. If you hit it on the pine tar, it’s going to shatter everything. The replace the ball all the time, anyways. What’s the big deal?"

What Guillen apparently didn't like was Harper pointing the bat towards him. He made a similar gesture toward home plate umpire Marty Foster during his tirade. Asked what he yelled at Harper, Guillen joked: "Nothing. I was just telling him how cute he was."

Guillen said he planned to talk to Johnson about it before Monday's game.

"I could have said a lot of [expletive] about this kid," Guillen said. "I've been praising this kid like everyday. The last three times they asked me about him, the only thing I said was he's a great player. What he did [today] was unprofessional."

Asked if Guillen antic's bothered him, Harper said: "No. He battles for his team, and that's the type of manager Ozzie is. He's a great manager to play for. He's going to battle for you, no matter what. That's a manager you want to play for."

Oviedo headed back to Miami to have elbow examined

Juan Carlos Oviedo's comeback has hit a snag.

The right-handed reliever formerly known as Leo Nunez walked off the mound after recording just one out Saturday night in a rehab appearance at Triple-A New Orleans because of right elbow discomfort and is headed back to Miami to be examined according to the Marlins.

Oviedo, who saved 92 games for the Marlins from 2009 to 2011, is eligible to return from his eight-week suspension on July 23. The Marlins were hoping he would be ready to return to the team that day.

Oviedo hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since revealing last September that he had been playing under a false name and birthdate.

Prior to pitching in New Orleans Saturday, Oviedo had made two appearances in Single A Jupiter, giving up a hit and an earned run (3.38 ERA) over 2 2/3 innings. He faced three hitters in New Orleans before being pulled Saturday. He gave up a walk, a hit and recorded one out.

> How do you celebrate your first career five-out save? Steve Cishek did by waking up sick to his stomach Sunday with vomiting.

The 26-year old right-hander, who picked up his second save of the season Saturday night against the Nationals, was in the Marlins clubhouse with a cup of Gatorade in one hand and a piece of bread in the other.

"This is the first thing I've put in my mouth this morning," Cishek said. "I couldn't probably play catch right now if I tried."

The Marlins probably were not going to turn to Cishek to close today anyway after he became only the third Marlins pitcher since 2008 to record a save of five outs or more.

The last pitcher to do it before Cishek? Burke Badenhop on April 14, 2010 vs. the Reds. Prior to 2008, it happened 59 other times. Robb Nen has the most five-plus out saves in franchise history with 12. Bryan Harvey is next with nine.


> Nationals (50-35): 1. Steve Lombardozzi 2B, 2. Bryce Harper RF, 3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Mike Morse LF, 6. Danny Espinosa SS, 7. Roger Bernadina CF, 8. Jhonatan Solano C, 9. Stephen Strasburg RHP.

> Marlins (42-45): 1. Jose Reys SS, 2. Omar Infante 2B, 3. Carlos Lee 1B, 4. Logan Morrison 1B, 5. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 6. Greg Dobbs RF, 7. Emilio Bonifacio CF, 8. John Buck C, 9. Ricky Nolasco RHP.

July 14, 2012

Jose Reyes explains embarrassing gaffe

      When I asked Hanley Ramirez what he and Jose Reyes were talking about when Bryce Harper swiped third last night as the two Marlins were busy chatting, the sheepish reply was "I don't remember." But Reyes remembered it vividly: they were talking baseball, at least.

      "We were talking about the throw (from Justin Ruggiano), the throw to third base," Reyes said of the play immediately preceding Harper's heads-up decision that caught the Marlins with their pants down. "The guy (Ryan Zimmerman) hit the ball to right field, Harper was at second base, and Ruggiano threw the ball to third. We were talking about cutting it off. It was too high."

      While Harper was unable to advance initially on Zimmerman's line out to Ruggiano in the first inning, he did when Ramirez and Reyes -- standing near one another on the edge of the infield grass -- became engaged in conversation. Seeing that third base was unmanned and no one was paying attention to him, Harper took off. Never mind that Harper and the Nationals didn't score that inning. It looked bad, enough so that ESPN announcers were mocking the play on SportsCenter.

      Ozzie Guillen called it a smart, "heads-up" play by the 19-year-old Nationals rookie but also acknowledged that "everybody's head was down, and he took advantage of that."

July 13, 2012

Ramirez dropped to 5th; Stanton watches HR Derby from hospital bed

     Only yesterday Ozzie Guillen was talking about how he wished he could find one lineup and stick with it. Well, here we are Friday as the second half begins and Guillen is rolling out his 62nd different lineup of the season in what will be game number 86.

      The big change is Hanley Ramirez, who drops to fifth in the order.

      "I'm trying to get something going," Guillen said. "I think right now Hanley is struggling at the plate, and as soon as Hanley starts to hit the ball better, he will be moved back to where he is supposed to be."

      Guillen said he still believes that Ramirez is a No. 3 hitter, even though he had been hitting in the second half before the All-Star break.

      "Right now, the way he's struggling the last couple of weeks, hopefully we can help him get his swing back," Guillen said.

      Guillen said he spoke privately with Ramirez about cutting his hand on a cooling fan inside the dugout in St. Louis last week. Guillen was upset about the incident, describing it as "immature."

      "Everytime players get upset and get hurt, you not only hurt yourself, you hurt a lot of people," Guillen said. "And I hope and wish it doesn't happen again. Thank God it's just a cut, it's not a broken hand."


      Giancarlo Stanton was walking without crutches on Friday, four days after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove two cartilage fragments from his right knee. But Stanton said the prognosis remains the same: four to six weeks.

      Stanton said the stitches will be removed on Monday.

      "It feels pretty good," said Stanton, adding that he has already started rehab work. "They say four to six weeks, but I have no clue."

      Stanton missed the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game because of the injury, but said he watched the home run competition from his hospital bed Monday night.

      "I know that we took care of business," Stanton said of the N.L. team's win over the A.L. in Tuesday's All-Star game.

      Stanton was officially placed on the 15-day list on Friday to make room for Emilio Bonifacio, who was reactivated from the DL.



      Marlins: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Carlos Lee, 1b; 4. Logan Morrison, lf; 5. Hanley Ramirez, 3b; 6. Justin Ruggiano, rf; 7. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 8. John Buck, c; 9. Josh Johnson, p.

      Nationals: 1. Steve Lombardozzi, lf; 2. Bryce Harper, cf; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Michael Morse, rf; 5. Adam LaRoche, 1b; 6. Ian Desmond, ss; 7. Danny Espinosa, 2b; 8. Jesus Flores, c; 9. Jordan Zimmermann, p.

      Umpires: HP -- Jeff Kellogg; 1B -- Eric Cooper; 2B -- Marty Foster; 3B -- D.J. Reyburn.

Marlins agree to terms with first-round pick, Andrew Heaney

     The choices were these for Oklahoma State lefthander Andrew Heaney: a $2.6 million signing bonus to join the Marlins -- about $200,000 less than he demanded -- or a season in independent ball while he waits for next year's draft.

     In the end, with the signing deadline down to hours, the Marlins' first-round pick went with the money.

     Heaney, the ninth overall pick in this year's draft, agreed to terms and now needs only to pass a physical to put his signature on a contract. The deadline for signing draft picks is 5 p.m. today.

     The two sides appeared to be at an impasse on Thursday when the pitcher balked at the Marlins' final offer of $2.6 million, below the recommended slot figure.