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57 posts from July 2012

July 12, 2012

Marlins say "no deal" to first-round pick

      Sources have confirmed that the Marlins have informed their first-round pick -- left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney out of Oklahoma State -- that they do not intend to sign him. The news was first reported by Jim Callis of Baseball America.

      As the ninth-overall pick in the draft, Heaney is slotted to receive a signing bonus of $2.8 million, and sources said the pitcher did not ask for more than the established figure, according to a source close to the negotiations. But the Marlins offered the pitcher less than $2.6 million, which he rejected. The deadline for signing picks is 5 p.m. Friday, but an eight-hour physical would need to be performed before a deal could be completed.

      While there are strong indications that Heaney will go unsigned, another source said the team could be "posturing" by using pressure tactics as the deadline approaches and will ultimately reach a deal.

      If no deal is reached, Heaney could return to Oklahoma State for his senior season, but it's more likely he would play in an independent league and re-enter the draft next year. If the Marlins do not sign Heaney, they would be compensated with the 10th overall pick in next year's draft.

      There are currently six unsigned first-round picks from this year's draft. 

July 11, 2012

Heath Bell says his weight is not the reason he struggled in the first half

A day after Ozzie Guillen told another local radio station in Miami he was going to go with a closer by committee approach to start the second half of the season, Heath Bell took to the airwaves on Wednesday and said his weight has nothing to do with his first half struggles.

Heath Bell"I came into camp in shape, ready to go, just like I do every other year," said Bell, who blew six saves in the first half and lost leads a handful of other times without being credited with a blown save.

"The first thing people say when I don't do well is 'Oh, he's fat.' If you saw me in regular street clothes you'd never think I'm as big as I am. But I do have a big lower half and I do have big legs and in a baseball uniform I look real fat."

Bell, 34, is listed at 6-2, 260 pounds.

Three years ago, before he went on a run of three consecutive All-Star appearances with the Padres and saved a major-league best 132 games, Bell weighed 275 pounds. He then dropped 25 pounds and began his run of success.

"... I'm a big guy. I've always been a big guy. But if you ask anybody, I work hard," Bell told WQAM on The Dan Sileo Show. "I just don't eat cookies and chips all the time. I'm having my protein shakes like everybody else. I try to eat right.

Heath-Bell"I don't drink as much as other guys do who are skinny. I'm not going to name names but there are a lot of guys who drink a whole lot of beer and this and that. The thing is they're real skinny. There's a lot of guys who crush food all the time that probably eat three times as much as I do and are way skinny. God made me a big guy. God made me this size. I'm not going to look like Giancarlo Stanton."

Bell, who after Sunday's latest blown save took full responsibility for the Marlins being under .500 at the All-Star Break, said he respects Guillen's decision to go with a committee approach -- even if the manager hasn't spoken to him about it directly yet.

"It's one of those things that I haven't gone out there and lived up to what they wanted...," Bell said. "I got to go earn my job back. And if somebody is going to do better for the sake of the Miami Marlins, we need to go with that guy. I think I can go out and do the job, but I haven't done it and I haven't proved it. Ozzie is trying to win. I want to win and for whatever reason, I'm not getting the job done. Hopefully I can in the future.

"I'm a big team player. If we're doing better with somebody else closing it's going to kill me inside, but maybe it's going to drive me to work even harder than I am right now. Maybe the tides will change for me. I'm not going to second guess my manager."

In Wednesday night's debut episode of Showtime's The Franchise there is a scene from the end of May when Bell speaks with Guillen in his office and tells the manager he feels like he doesn't have his back. Guillen laughs it off and tells Bell: "I'm the only one who wants you out there. Nobody else does. Not the owner, the GM, the fans..." In another scene later on, President David Samson asks Guillen if he's keeping Bell in the closer's role because of the three-year, $27 million contract the Marlins gave him. To which Guillen responds angrily: "No [bleeping] way."

> Asked if Bell's woes were related to his weight on The Dan LeBatard show on 790TheTicket Tuesday, Guillen defended Bell: "... This man works hard, very, very hard. This kid is one of the first ones in the clubhouse, working on the field. I don't think that's his problem. It's about location."

July 10, 2012

Ozzie: It's closer by committee until Bell regains form

When the Marlins open the second half of the season Friday night at Marlins Park against the Washington Nationals, the ninth inning will no longer belong to Heath Bell.

In fact, the closers job won't belong to anybody.

On his weekly appearance on the Dan LeBatard Show on 790TheTicket Tuesday, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said he's going to with a closer by committee approach until Bell -- he hopes -- figures it out.

"... I'm going to go by committee, see who throws the ball better," Guillen said. "I will talk to [Bell] when we come back from the All-Star Break and explain to him why we're going to do this. Hopefully, he'll come back and start throwing the ball better and then he'll go back to his role."

"I have to," Guillen continued. "The players, club, the fans, myself, himself -- it's kind of hard dealing with this every other day."

Bell (2-5, 6.75 ERA) has blown six saves this season -- one more than he did all of last year in San Diego. But he's also had a handful of other situations where he's given up the lead and just hasn't been charged with a blown save because someone else inherited the opportunity or because the Marlins' lead was more than three runs (such was the case in a loss to the Cardinals on June 25).

This is the second time Bell has lost the Marlins closer's job. Guillen took it from him back in May temporarily, giving right-handers Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica and left-hander Randy Choate a couple opportunities to close out games and pick up saves.

Cishek and Juan Carlos Oviedo, who will complete an eight-week suspension for age and identity fraud July 22, are the most likely candidates to replace Bell in the closer's role moving forward. Mujica is expected off the disabled list (broken right pinky toe) Sunday, and also could be in the mix.

> Although the Marlins didn't have a visible representative at Tuesday night's All-Star Game in Kansas City, they'll receive more exposure -- and be exposed more than any other team in the league -- when The Franchise television series begins airing Wednesday night on Showtime.

Wednesday's first episode of the behind-the-scenes look at the Marlins will be one hour long. The next seven episodes will last a half hour.

MLB Productions executive producer David Gavant said the Marlins provided them more access than the Giants did last year, specifically to members of the front-office and ownership. “It’s ground-breaking,” he said.

Marlins President David Samson agreed.

"We promised to give them access to everything and we've delivered that. They're everywhere we are," he said. "They were there when we traded for Carlos Lee. They're there when we send players down. They there when we talk about players, off the field and on the field. It debuts Wednesday and it should be very interesting because there will be a lot of stuff that won't make the show because of the hours of footage.

"When they asked to do the Marlins, I don't think they had any idea what they were in for. I feel badly for next year's team."

> For more Marlins nuggets, check out Barry Jackson's Buzz Column.

July 09, 2012

Sight for Sore Eyes? "J.C.O." returns to mound (w/VIDEO)

    FORT MYERS -- As he made his way to the bullpen to begin his warmups, the pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez stopped to sign a child's autograph book with his new initials -- "J.C.O." It wasn't long after that that Juan Carlos Oviedo took the mound for the first time in an actual game since last September when the Marlins reliever was deported to the Dominican Republic for using a false identity.

    And Oviedo looked sharp in his first rehab outing for Single A Jupiter, retiring all three batters he faced in his one inning of work. Oviedo whiffed one batter with his signature change and, according to the digital display at Hammond Stadium, hit 95 with his fastball.

    Oviedo is eligible to return to the Marlins on July 23, and perhaps as the team's closer based on Heath Bell's long run of failures this season.

    "I don't care what inning it is -- sixth, seventh eighth -- it doesn't matter to me," Oviedo said. "I just want to pitch.

    Here's some video of tonight's outing by Oviedo: 

July 08, 2012

Angry Hanley Ramirez punches cooling fan in dugout; has two stitches put on knuckle, but expects to play Friday

ST. LOUIS -- The Marlins lost Sunday's first half finale in frustrating fashion. But even before Heath Bell blew his sixth save of the season, Hanley Ramirez lost his cool in the Marlins dugout.

After grounding out to second base in the sixth inning and falling to 2-for-22 on the road trip, the third baseman returned to the Marlins bench and punched a cooling fan in the dugout, slicing his knuckle and forcing him out of the game. Ramirez had two stitches put on his knuckle just above his ring finger. But Ramirez and the Marlins expect he will be fine for the start of the second half.

"Very stupid injury, very immature," an angry Ozzie Guillen said afterward. "You're going to hurt yourself because you can't hit? Good hitters don't do that. Good hitters battle back and try to get better. Your injury doesn't just hurt yourself, you hurt your ballclub."

Ramirez was replaced by Donovan Solano, who struckout with the bases loaded to end the ninth. The Cardinals then rallied with three runs off Bell to win the game.

"I got mad," Ramirez said of why he punched the cooling fan. "I think its starting to bother me because I know we can do better than this. Personally, I'm not comfortable with what I'm doing right now. I know I'm playing hard, but at the same time I have to produce more."

Ramirez came into the season with high expectations. Some in the organization thought he might in the MVP discussion. But he's hitting just .248 with 12 homers and 44 RBI.

"I think for me, I'm struggling right now. I'm not frustrated at all. But I get mad because I know I do better than that," Ramirez said. "It's going to be better than that."

His manager, however, isn't amused.

"I don't pay attention to stupidities," Guillen fired when asked to explain what happened. "That made me mad. Players get hurt for no reason -- hitting stuff. That's very childish. We're not kids. We're grown people. When you struggle and you're a great player you have to try and be better. To be honest with you I didn't even ask him, I was so disappointed.

"We built this ballclub around him. This is the man in this ballclub and I never criticized Hanley Ramirez for not having the season we thought he had, but I will for hurting himself."

> As for Bell, it appears Guillen has reached the point where he knows something has to be done. He said the situation will be discussed and changes will probably be made after the All-Star Break.

"I stand behind him, but on another hand he's got to be better than that. He is better than that," Guillen said. "If he doesn't get better, I'll find a solution. I will find a solution because I just get tired to watch this, very disappointing to watch this everyday. I try to give this kid confidence, hopes, but you get to the point where we have to win some games. A game like that, it hurts. We've been hurting a lot.

"I have to make a decision, a solution, it will be drastic. But I will do it. We'll wait until the All-Star Break and I will pick whoever is better out there to do the job."

Bell, who has blown six of 25 save opportunities and relinquished the lead a few other times this season, said he understands if his manager has to make a move.

"That's Ozzie decision. He's had my back and I like Ozzie as a manager. But he has to do the best thing, the right thing for the team and right now I plain out suck," Bell said. 

"I feel like I've let the whole organization down. I'm the reason we're 10 games back, plain and simple. I've had the worst first half I've ever had and I think all my teammates can definitely blame me. If I had been doing my job we'd be right in the hunt."

Bell said he didn't apologize to teammates afterward because he's giving it his all.

"If I come in here and say I'm sorry that means I didn't go out there and give 110 percent. But I went out there doing the best I can," Bell said. "Did I let them down? Yes, of course. But I think my teammates know I'm going out there and giving everything I have. For some reason, it's just not working. Right now my job -- is one of the main reasons we're under .500 and not five games above."

Stanton has successful knee surgery; Marlins expect he'll be out 4-6 weeks

ST. LOUIS -- The Marlins announced earlier this morning that All-Star Giancarlo Stanton had successful arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bone and cartilage fragments in his right knee. He is expected to be out four to six weeks.

The procedure was performed on Sunday morning by team physician, Dr. Lee Kaplan, in Miami.

An MRI taken on Tuesday revealed Stanton had some "loose bodies" in his knee. The 22-year-old missed four straight starts before returning to the lineup on Saturday against the Cardinals. He played two innings in the field and singled in his only at-bat before being lifted for Scott Cousins in the third inning.

The team is hopeful that Stanton, who leads the team with 19 homers and 50 RBI, can be back in early August to help them make a playoff push. Justin Ruggiano is expected to get plenty of playing time in right field with Stanton out. On Friday, the Marlins will reinstate center fielder Emilio Bonifacio off the disabled list and insert him in the lineup right away.

"Giancarlo knows he wants to come back, he needs to come back," Marlins President David Samson said. "We need him. He believes in the team and he wanted to have surgery immediately. It's not like he waited to have surgery. He left immediately. He was on a plane last night and on the operating table this morning. His interest is coming back. He's got to see how it responds. It was an arthroscopic surgery and it's a matter of the incision healing and then you're good to go."

Samson wants explanation as to why Marlins won't be represented at All-Star Game

ST. LOUIS -- Marlins President David Samson expressed his disappointment Sunday over the fact the Marlins will be the only major league team without representation at the All-Star Game in Kansas City next week.

"I think there were a lot of different ways [National League manager] Tony [LaRussa] or MLB could have gone. I think it's unfortunate. I think every team should be represent on the line in the All-Star Game," Samson said.

"... if our guy had surgery, he had to have surgery. Obviously, it's been a disappointing first half. That being said, there are plenty of other teams that have had a disappointing first half and they have All-Stars. We have a team full of All-Stars. You look at the fact this game counts and you need to win it, having [Greg] Dobbs as an All-Star pinch hitter off the bench was an option. Having [reliever Steve] Cishek come in and get righties out was an option. Having [Justin] Ruggiano come in, who is completely clubbing the ball was an option...

"Whoever made the decision, they had their own view of it and it's disappointing. There's nothing else you can say except to say I wish the first half could have gone differently."

Samson said he spoke with Tim Brosnan, an MLB vice president, about why no Marlins were selected. Asked about the explanation given to him, Samson said: “Can’t say that I had one.”

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, meanwhile, said while "it feels weird" the Marlins won't be represented at the All-Star Game, nobody other than Stanton in his eyes really had an All-Star caliber first half. Asked who he thought could have replaced Stanton, Guillen mentioned Rugginao (but worried he didn't have enough at-bats), Cishek and second baseman Omar Infante. 

"Everybody else, they should be watching on TV," Guillen said. "The funny thing about it is when we built this ballclub we thought we were going to have five guys in the All-Star Game. You look at the names we have, we should have a pretty good group of guys. They're just not playing up to the caliber."

> Samson also questioned why Nationals rookie Bryce Harper was the player selected to replace Stanton and why Ruggiano wasn't when they have nearly the same service time. Harper, though, has played in 62 games. Ruggiano has played in 31. Harper is hitting .283 with 8 homers, 25 RBI. Ruggiano is hitting .410 with six homers and 17 RBI.

> Samson said what bothered him the most about the Marlins during the first half was their inconsistency.

"There's been a lot of attention with the team there's never been before. I think when you talk about all the excitement going into the season that's what leads to this level of disappointment because you don't expect to be under .500 at the break at all," Samson said. "But the way things went I think we're pretty happy to be this close to .500. It could have been a lot worse. It took a record breaking May just to get to this position. I'd like to see us consistently win series and that's how we'll make the playoffs. This team is capable of it. Ozzie told the guys himself, there's no reason to think other than we'll be in the playoffs. 

"You look at the top of the lineup. There is so much upside with Jose and Hanley. Having a professional like Carlos Lee in your lineup makes a difference. Heath had his first half struggles, but he has 19 saves. I think he's blown five and that to me is a year's worth of blown save. I think his second half has a chance to be perfect. So, there's a lot of upside. The disappointment we feel now is what you take two seconds and say what could have been and you move onto the second half and realize what you have to do."

> Samson said that on paper he believes the Marlins could now have the best three through five hitting combination in the majors with Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Lee and Stanton. But Samson said it's time for those guys to deliver -- especially Ramirez.

"Hanley is the man on this team. But being the man -- saying you're the man and being the man -- are two different things," Samson said. "He has it in him to do it. I hope the switch goes on because he's sort of the catalyst."

> Samson said the key for the Marlins in the second half is getting back to .500 "as quickly as possible." The Marlins will certainly have a huge opportunity to gain ground right away. They open the second half with a four-game series at home against the first-place Nationals, whom they swept on their first trip to Marlins Park.

> Samson said the grass in the outfield at Marlins Park, which has turned brown, should be much improved when the team returns to action on Friday. Samson said the roof has been left open, allowing for rain and sunlight to help the situation.

> As for the team's home attendance, Samson said it's hard not to be happy with what Marlins Park drew (28,329, 18th best in the majors) in the first half. But he said the team's struggles hurt. He expects improvement in the second half because he expects the Marlins to perform better.

"Right now, our performance is just to the left of mediocre. We're not a team that shoots for mediocre," Samson said. "There are some teams that do. That's not our team. We're shooting for the playoffs and being around .500 is not anywhere near where we want to be.

"I think this market, our market can handle a good Marlins team, a good team and a good Dolphins team."

> With the Showtime series The Franchise set to resume Wednesday, Samson said Marlins fans will be privy to everything they want to see -- within the allotted time frame.

"We promised to give them access to everything and we've delivered that," Samson said. "They're everywhere we are. They were there when we traded for Carlos Lee. They're there when we send players down. They there when we talk about players, off the field and on the field. It debuts Wednesday and it should be very interesting because there will be a lot of stuff that won't make the show because of the hours of footage. I think fans around the world while they won't see us at the All-Star Game, they're certainly going to see us everywhere else."

> Guillen said he plans on keeping his starting rotation the same after the All-Star Break -- Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Carlos Zambrano and Anibal Sanchez. The Marlins and Reds are the only teams in baseball that have maintained the same starting rotation all season long and not used a sixth pitcher. 


> Marlins (41-43): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 3. Carlos Lee 1B, 4. Logan Morrison LF, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Greg Dobbs RF, 7. Omar Infante 2B, 8. John Buck C, 9. Anibal Sanchez RHP.

> Cardinals (45-40): 1. Rafael Furcal SS, 2. John Jay CF, 3. Matt Holliday LF, 4. Carlos Beltran RF, 5. Allen Craig 1B, 6. Matt Carpenter 3B, 7. Skip Schumaker 2B, 8. Tony Cruz C, 9. Joe Kelly RHP.

July 07, 2012

Stanton returns home to have knee surgery, out of All-Star Game, could be out 4-6 weeks

ST. LOUIS -- Marlins All-Star Giancarlo Stanton is on his way back home to Miami where he will have arthroscopic surgery Sunday morning at 7 a.m. to remove "loose bodies" in his right knee. 

The procedure, which will be performed by Dr. Lee Kaplan, should take less than an hour.

The Marlins say Stanton could be out anywhere from 2-8 weeks depending on how he responds. Stanton will not participate in the All-Star Festivities next week. He's already been replaced by Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

"It's a fairly simple surgery, athroscopic surgery, remove the loose body and he'll be able to resume range of motion and get back to functional activities," general manager Mike Hill said.

Hill said he met with Stanton as he was pulled off the field Saturday in the third inning.

"It was just discomfort," Hill said. "We knew once we tried it and it flared up again surgery was the logical option.

"Obviously he wanted to represent the National League, but he made it clear he wanted to be there for the Marlins first and foremost and if he couldn't be there for the Marlins he understood that wasn't going to be a possibility."

Hill said the Marlins will look to Emilio Bonifacio to help fill Stanton's shoes when he returns to the team after the All-Star Break. The Marlins will likely put Bonifacio back in centerfield and play Justin Ruggiano and Scott Cousins in right field.

"There's more than enough talent in that clubhouse and guys will have to just continue to step up to help us win ballgames," Hill said.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said the Marlins will take their time to make sure Stanton heals right and will have to find other ways to win without him. Stanton leads the team with 19 homers and 50 RBI.

"It's a big bat," Guillen said. "This is our power hitter, our RBI guy. We have to change the way we're going to play. I think Boni is coming around. Boni is not a Stanton, but we can play a different ballgame. Everybody has to step it up a notch and try to cover the space he's going to leave open. That's all you can do as a team.

"We feel bad for the kid, but we've got 25 guys out there that have to keep working, keep firing."

Stanton lifted in third inning with right knee discomfort, All-Star Game, HR Derby in question

ST. LOUIS -- Marlins All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton left Saturday's game in the third inning with right knee discomfort.

The 22-year old All-Star was making his first start since Monday when he tweaked his troublesomeknee against the Brewers. Stanton was replaced by Scott Cousins when it was his turn to hit in the third inning.

In the first inning, Stanton made a running catch against the wall in right center field off the bat of Rafael Furcal. Stanton later singled to right in the second and scored on Justin Ruggiano's home run. He didn't show any signs of discomfort. 

The Marlins have yet to comment as to how long Stanton may be out, but the team told Stanton they wanted him to play in both Saturday and Sunday's games against the Cardinals if he was going to be given the green light to participate in Monday night's Home Run Derby and the 83rd All-Star Game Tuesday night in Kansas City.

Friday, Stanton came in as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and struckout in his only plate appearance. That happened just a few hours after he tested his knee out under the supervision of the Marlins training staff. Stanton told reporters afterward while his knee felt "weird," he would return to the lineup Saturday and would participate in the All-Star festivities.

Stanton said Friday he will eventually need surgery to remove the “loose bodies’’ in his knee. But for now, he is looking to manage his knee with treatment.

“The muscles around it, my knee are not used to something bouncing around in there,” he said.

“... What we don’t want to happen is for it to get stuck in some place it shouldn’t, and make ligament damage. [But] the risk of that isn’t very high. It would lock up and tell me to stop before that. So, go from there.”

Stanton, who leads the team with 19 homers and 50 RBI, said he has to monitor the way he plays closely. “I’ve got to read my body,” he said. “If I’m changing the way I run or hit or anything, then that is going to lead to other problems and change the way I play on the field.”

As long as the Marlins remain in the playoff hunt, and he doesn’t think he will create any further damage, Stanton said, he will hold off on a procedure until after the season.

“I’ve had knee problems before, so I’m not new to the fact of managing it,” Stanton said Friday. “It’s just new to this feeling. I know my body well. So, it’s just a matter of what’s it going to do, and tell me.”

If the knee requires surgery before the season ends, Stanton said, he was told it could mean him missing two to eight weeks.

“It’s a big gap, but it all depends to the reaction to it,” he said. “It just depends. I didn’t have a lot of swelling or bruising. So that means it would be however my knee reacts to being cut open.”

Marlins play in 106 degree heat Saturday -- hottest game in team history

ST. LOUIS -- Time to rewrite the record book. 

The Marlins set a new team record Saturday when they took on the Cardinals at Busch Stadium and the thermometer inside read 106 degrees during the first pitch. The reading is the highest in Marlins’ history. On Friday night, the 103 degree heat matched the warmest ever.

Although the temperatures may be up, Marlins players say it doesn't feel like it's the hottest temperatures they've played in.

"It was hot, I'm not going to lie," Friday night starter Ricky Nolasco said. "But when we went to Boston it was pretty hot. And when we went to Puerto Rico [in 2010] I think that's the hottest I've ever pitched."

Outfielder Scott Cousins said playing in Sun Life Stadium on humid days felt hotter and said playing in Triple A New Orleans definitely felt hotter.

"There's nothing like the heat in the bayou," Cousins said. "This was just a dry heat."

The Marlins have skipped batting practice all three days in St. Louis to avoid extra time in the heat.


7/7/12 106 at St. Louis
7/6/12 103 at St. Louis
6/14/99 103 at Arizona
6/16/99 102 at Arizona
7/5/12 101 at Milwaukee
7/25/97 100 at St. Louis
7/26/97 100 at St. Louis
7/27/97 100 at St. Louis
7/2/11 100 at Texas
7/4/12 100 at Milwaukee