Josh Johnson won't measure his success in 2012 in terms of wins and losses.
Johnson feels he will achieve the biggest goal he set for himself Monday night when he pitches his final start of the 2012 season against the Mets. The outing will signify a fully healthy season for the Marlins ace, who returned from a shoulder injury that limited him to only nine starts last season.
Johnson (8-14, 3.81 ERA) will make his 32nd start of the season giving him the most in a season in his career since he started 33 in 2009. Johnson was an All-Star in 2010.
"Getting through the season healthy was the biggest thing for me this year," Johnson said. "I didn't really set any goals as far as numbers or wins. The biggest thing was stay healthy and be able to go out there night in and night out and get outs."
Although Johnson, like most of the Marlins starters this season, has been durable, it's been a frustrating season in terms of results.
Johnson has pitched 191.1 innings this season and has 165 strikeouts, but has allowed 180 hits (just four shy of his single-season career-high) and has allowed 81 earned runs - his most ever in a single season. Johnson's 14 losses will be his most as well and more than he had combined the past four seasons.
The biggest problem has been lack of run support.
Johnson has been receiving a Major League-worst 2.92 runs per nine innings, and only 2.32 during his past 12 starts. The second-lowest is Nathan Eovaldi (2.94) who started Sunday. And former teammate Anibal Sanchez (3.28) has the second-worst for a pitcher with at least 30 starts this season.
Johnson, however, said he's feeling well physically after a long season, something he's taking as a positive sign heading into next season.
"All the rehab I did last year put me in the correct position with my shoulder to be in this spot," Johnson said. "You're always going to be a little sore and tight at the end of the year, but overall my shoulder feels as good as it did at the start of the year."
Phillies (79-79): Rollins ss; Pierre lf; Utley 2b; Ruiz c; Brown rf; Schierholtz cf; Ruf 1b; Orr 3b; Hamels p
Marlins (67-91): Hernandez cf; Petersen lf; Reyes ss; Stanton rf; Lee 1b; Solano 2b; Buck c; Velasquez 3b; Eovaldi p
ATLANTA -- Adam Greenberg, the player whose only plate appearance in the majors culminated in a beaning to the head seven years ago, will be given a second chance to receive an official big-league at bat, courtesy of the Marlins.
Greenberg, 31, received a one-day contract that will allow him to bat Tuesday at Marlins Park when the Marlins face the New York Mets.
"It's a dream come true, part two," Greenberg said. "Life’s going to throw you curveballs, or a fastball to the back of your head. I got hit by one of them. It knocked me down. I chose to get up and get back in the box."
On July 9, 2005, while making his major league debut as a pinch-hitter for the Chicago Cubs, Greenberg was struck in the head on the first pitch thrown to him by Marlins reliever Valerio de los Santos. Greenberg fell to the ground and was removed from the game. It would turn out to be Greenberg's only major league appearance. Afterward, he struggled with post-concussion syndrom, double vision, nausea and vertigo and was never able to climb back to the majors.
Fred Van Dusen of the 1955 Philadelphia Phillies is the only other player in major league history to be hit with a pitch in his only major league plate appearance without ever taking the field. For official scoring purposes, a player is not credited with an at bat when hit by a pitch.
Greenberg has been the subject of a national campaign to get him an at bat. The Marlins received special permission from MLB commissioner Bud Selig to allow Greenberg the opportunity. Greenberg recently participated in World Baseball Classic qualifying in Jupiter for Team Israel.
"He has earned this chance as his love and passion for the game never diminished, despite his career tragically being cut short," said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria in a prepared statement. "I look forward to seeing Adam step up to the plate and realizing his comeback dream next Tuesday night."
Greenberg has agreed to donate his one-day salary to the Marlins Foundation, which will then make a donation to the Sports Legacy Institute, an organization that advances the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes.
"This is going way beyond just one at bat, and beyond sports," Greenberg said. "This was never a gimmick. I got to the major leagues on my own merit, and I earned that spot seven years ago. So the fact this is not my first at bat, that's important. It's just not 'Poor kid, let's give him a shot.'"
R.A. Dickey, a knuckleballer and Cy Young Award candidate, is scheduled to start Tuesday's game for the Mets.
Here's the piece that ESPN's "Outside the Lines" did on Greenberg a few years ago:
ATLANTA -- The negative milestones continue to pile up for the Marlins, who were not only shut out for the 17th time on Wednesday, but matched a club record by whiffing four times in one inning.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel did it to them in the ninth, accomplishing the rare feat by striking out Greg Dobbs, Donovan Solano, John Buck and Gil Velazquez. Solano reached on a wild pitch on his swinging K.
It's only the second time the Marlins have struck out four times in a frame. The Reds Frank Rodriguez did it to them in the seventh inning on July 22, 2001, at Pro Player Stadium.
Kimbrel's 4 K feat was the first by a Brave since Mark Wohlers did it in a 1995 game.
Three Marlins pitchers have performed the feat, which has occurred 66 times in major league history, according to Baseball Almanac: Kirt Ojala on Sept. 16, 1998, Archie Corbin on April 28, 1999, and A.J. Burnett on July 5, 2002.
Kimbrel became the 24th pitcher in MLB history to strike out the four batters in consecutive order. Ojala did it, as well.
ATLANTA -- As the bottom continues to fall out on their season, the Marlins could be headed toward one of the very worst won-loss records in franchise history.
Having lost five straight and seven of their last eight, the Marlins now sit at 66-88 with eight games remaining. Even if they manage to go 4-4, they'll finish up with a record that is worse than last year's 72-90 mark despite spending gobs of money on free agents to improve the team.
And a 92-loss season would rank as the team's fourth-worst:
1998 -- 54-108
1999 -- 64-98
1993 -- 64-98
2007 -- 71-91
2011 -- 72-90
As one can see, the three worst Marlins records belong to the 1993 expansion club and the '98 and '99 post-dismantling outfits -- teams, in other words, that were supposed to struggle.
David Samson has long said that the 2005 team (83-79) was the most disappointing one in his tenure as team president, only because most everyone in the organization felt that unit was the one best-equipped to reach the postseason. It didn't.
The 2012 team will not be going, either, making it nine straight seasons that the Marlins have failed to reach the playoffs.
Of all the bad Marlins teams, where does this one rank in your book?
ATLANTA -- Heath Bell wasn’t punished by the Marlins for saying it was "hard to respect" manager Ozzie Guillen. Not formally. But Bell was made to pay in a way that was potentially more painful.
He was made to listen Guillen talk about it.
As Bell sat in front of his locker before Tuesday’s game in Atlanta, unidentified teammates cranked the volume on Guillen’s weekly radio call-in show on 790-The Ticket and listened to their manager answer questions about the controversy.
Asked if he still respected Bell, Guillen replied, “As a player, yes. As a guy, I don’t know.”
Guillen also said that Bell had a habit of throwing others under the bus.
“I am the No. 10 guy he’s talked about this year,” Guillen said in answer to another question. “This kid has been saying so many things all year about a lot of people. It was my turn this week.”
Reporters walked in unknowingly on the awkward clubhouse scene before being detected by players and ushered back out by Greg Dobbs. But sources said the point was to show they supported their manager.
And Bell acknowledged later that, in the aftermath of his incendiary comments ripping the manager, his teammates probably had little respect for him anymore.
“Yeah,” Bell said, “I’ve pretty much lost all that.”
Bell tried to soften the damage on Tuesday, saying some of what he said in his interview on WQAM was taken out of context and that “I’ve always given Ozzie respect.”
Bell said he phoned Guillen Monday night to say he was sorry.
Guillen said he didn’t answer because he didn’t recognize the number. He also said that, by accident, he erased the message that Bell had left thinking it was from a media outlet wanting to talk to him about the incident.
“No matter what he said,” Guillen said, “it’s not going to resolve anything.”
Guillen said the comment from Bell that bothered him most was one in which the reliever said “it’s hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face to face.”
Guillen said that he’s truthful, sometimes to a fault.
“When you say I’m not honest with players, that I never tell people to their face how I feel, you have to have a lot of doubts on that one,” Guillen said.
Guillen said he will continue to respect Bell as a player, but less so as a person because of the way Bell has blamed others for his failures, from pitching coach Randy St. Claire, to the training staff, and even Showtime’s “The Franchise,” which he complained portrayed him in a negative light.
“It was my turn this week,” Guillen said of Bell’s latest criticism. “Last week it was somebody else, the pitching coach. The week before it was the catchers, and the week before that it was the scouting report. When all these things pile up, then you don’t have respect for someone.
“When you read every week, it’s another (excuse), another, another....all kind of stuff. You have to have principles. You have to look yourself in the mirror and blame yourself.”
Guillen said he felt he had the support of many of the rest of the players. Many, he said, texted him to say they were with him. Justin Ruggiano and Brett Hayes tweeted their support on Twitter.
“He got himself in trouble,” starting pitcher Mark Buehrle said of Bell. “He put himself in this mess. I’ve never looked at Ozzie the way he’s saying.”
Buehrle played under Guillen with the Chicago White Sox.
“I can’t answer for anybody else, but I feel if I’d wanted to talk to him (to air out differences), I’d go to him and not through you guys (reporters),” Buehrle said.
Bell vowed that he would not only refuse to answer reporters’ questions for what little time is left in this season, but through the remainder of his contract, which expires after the 2014 season. By then, Bell will likely be long gone from the Marlins, who hope to trade him.
“I’m pretty much done talking,” Bell said. “After today, after the next two minutes, you guys are done. You won’t hear from me until 2014 plain and simple. You guys are going to write what you want to write because apparently all year long you have.’
NEW YORK -- Jeffrey Loria is outraged with Fredi Gonzalez’s published comments in which the former Marlins manager said that no manager ever seems to satisfy the owner.
Gonzalez, who now manages the Atlanta Braves, is quoted in Sunday's Miami Herald as saying: “There’s not a manager dead or alive that Jeffrey thinks is good enough. Not Connie Mack, not anyone.”
Loria said that if Gonzalez made those comments, “I’m a little surprised because it’s classless -- and you can quote me -- especially because he was with us for five years and he was a colossal failure. Not nice. Not nice.”
Loria expressed his feelings to a group of reporters waiting outside the clubhouse following the team’s 3-2 loss to the Mets on Sunday. Gonzalez managed the Marlins from 2007-10, going 276-279.
The last two winning Marlins teams, in 2008 and ’09, were managed by Gonzalez. But Gonzalez was fired in June, 2010, after the team got off to a 34-36 start.
NEW YORK -- If not for a brain lapse by Jose Reyes, Justin Ruggiano would be playing this afternoon against the Mets. Instead, Ruggiano is out indefinitely with a sprained right shoulder and, along with injuries to Giancarlo Stanton (side strain) and Austin Kearns (back), are down to only two position players on the bench: emergency call-up Scott Cousins and catcher Rob Brantly. Manager Ozzie Guillen does not have a right-handed hitting position player on his bench this afternoon.
It all started in last night's sixth inning after Daniel Murphy opened the frame by striking out, but reaching on Brantly's passed ball. After Murphy advanced to second on David Wright's ground out, Ike Davis lined to Reyes at short. With Murphy breaking for third, an inning-ending double play appeared in order. But Reyes thought that there were two outs, and instead of flipping to Donovan Solano at second to double up Murphy, held on to the ball. Inning over. Or so Reyes thought.
"I thought there were two outs," Reyes explained Saturday. "That was an easy double play there. When I saw Solano running to (cover) second base, I said 'Oh man. Oops.'"
Murphy made it back to second and, one batter later, Scott Hairston tripled to left. Ruggiano made a diving attempt on the ball and, in the process, injured his shoulder. While he said he expects to play before the end of the season, there is no guarantee of that. Ruggiano said doctors have told him he'll have to rest the shoulder for at least 24 to 48 more hours before they can pinpoint the full extent of the injury. But Ruggiano said the injury felt worse Saturday after a night's sleep than it did immediately following last night's game.
He's not the only outfielder dealing with an injury. Stanton remains out with a left interocostal strain, which he now says he suffered while sliding into home plate during the Reds series last week.
"Throwing is better and running is better, so making a little progress there," Stanton said. "Hitting is the main thing right now. I've taken a few swings to see the initial (effect). You can tell after one what's going on."
Stanton said he does not believe he's done for the year.
"I'll at least get a few games in," he said. "I'm not done for the year."
Kearns also had his back "lock up" on him last night, making him unavailable for today's game. The Marlins, who have been going with just 12 position players since the end of the season -- even after the start of the Sept. 1 call-up period -- made a hasty call to California and called up Cousins. Cousins, who figured he was done with organized baseball for the season, said the only baseball work he's put in since the end of the Triple A season have been the practice swings he's been taking in preparation for his college alumni game.
It's back to a five-man rotation for the Marlins, as Wade LeBlanc, who made a relief appearance last night, heads back to the bullpen. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire said that, due to a couple of off days near the end of the season, the starters in the six-man set were losing sharpness because of the long off time between starts.
So much for all of the rumors and speculation involving Larry Beinfest and the rest of the front office. According to two sources, owner Jeffrey Loria does not plan to make any changes to his front office staff and Beinfest's job would appear safe for at least another year. Beinfest is under contract through 2015.
The same can't be said for manager Ozzie Guillen, who is also under contract through '15. Sources said Loria is still mulling a decision on whether to fire Guillen. Loria met Friday with his front office contingent and team president David Samson in New York. The group is expected to meet again following the season.
Several names have surfaced as possible replacements for Guillen, including Mike Lowell, Bo Porter and Brad Ausmus. But, while Lowell's name might have been discussed internally, sources tell me that he would not be considered for the job if, in fact, Guillen is fired. That sentiment could always change. Porter, the third base coach for the Nationals and a Marlins managing candidate twice previously, was dismissed by the source as a possibility. Ausmus, who has long-time ties to the Astros, reportedly withdrew his name from consideration for that team's managerial vacancy and has stated previously he does not want to return to baseball.
NEW YORK -- Ozzie Guillen says he's bounding off to Spain for a couple of weeks of bullfighting the moment the season ends. After that, Guillen said he intends to spend the winter warming by the fireplace at his home in Chicago. Whether he returns to South Florida as manager of the Marlins remains to be seen.
Guillen could get the heave-ho, along with president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and other members of the front office and coaching staff. Only owner Jeffrey Loria knows for certain how large the wrecking ball will be, and he's not saying at the moment.
Most people I talk to find it stunning that, even with the Castro flap and spectcularly bad season, anyone would even contemplate axing Guillen just one year into a four-year deal, no matter how poor his or the team's performance. After all, Guillen was Loria's top target (after Bobby Valentine), his personal choice to whip the lads into shape and steer the team to its first postseason berth since 2003. Loria was so high on Guillen that he didn't just give him the longest and largest ($10 million) contract of any Marlins manager, he traded two players to the White Sox to pry him him out of Chicago.
Now, after just six months of a baseball season, multiple sources say Loria is experiencing buyer's remorse.
It's not the first time. Counting his time in Montreal, Loria has hired and spit out managers like sunflower seeds. Felipe Alou. Fired. Jeff Torborg. Fired. Joe Girardi. Fired. Fredi Gonzalez. Fired. In 13 seasons as a major league owner, Loria has had seven managers -- eight if one counts the two separate stints served by Jack McKeon. Dumping Guillen and hiring a replacement would bring the total to eight different managers in 14 years.
Getting rid of Guillen so quickly wouldn't be unprecedented. Girardi, who was given a 3-year deal and was Loria's choice over other candidates favored by the front office, lasted all of one season before the axe fell. And that overachieving 2006 team earned Girardi the NL Manager of the Year title. Managing the Marlins is not a stable occupation.
But being in charge of baseball operations has always been. The Marlins have had only two such head architects in their 20 years: Beinfest and Dave Dombrowski. Beinfest's days now appear to be numbered, at least in his present capacity. With three years remaining on his contract, Loria could decide to reassign him rather than out-and-out fire him, but with the understanding Beinfest is free to look for new employment.
Soon, we'll know all the answers.
BY GEORGE RICHARDS
The Marlins knew Atlanta's Kris Medlen was the hottest thing going on the mound these days as the 26-year-old righty has been mowing down opponents for some time now.
Miami didn't offer much resistance to Medlen's continued dominance.
Medlen kept rolling right along on Wednesday, pitching eight shutout innings as the Braves breezed by the host Marlins 3-0 to stay within sight of the Nationals in the NL East.
The Marlins, shutout for the 16th time this season, ended their second-to-last homestand of the year by going 3-3 against the Reds and Braves.
Miami hits the road for the final time in the 2012 campaign as it visits the Mets and Atlanta before returning for one more six-game home set at Marlins Park to mercifully close the book on a strange and disappointing season.
"It's hard to believe we're not going on the road fighting in the pennant race,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think when we built this ballclub, we thought these last games were going to be very fun. And the bottom line is we're not where we want. It's unfortunate, sad and we're embarassed.''
The Marlins didn't challenge Medlen (10-1) for much of the night as the Braves scored a run in each of the first three innings against Josh Johnson (8-13). That little bit of run support was all Medlen needed to continue his hot streak.
Medlen, who missed most of last season after having Tommy John surgery, started the season in the bullpen but was put into the starting rotation in July.
Since the move, Medlen has gone 8-0 in 10 starts. Medlen has not suffered a loss in his past 26 starts dating to 2009 -- and the Braves have won each of Medlen's past 21 starts.
"He threw the crap out of the ball,'' Guillen said. "I thought we pitched well, but Medlen threw better. I think this kid, wow. He put a show on out there.''
The Braves, a virtual lock for the postseason with a large lead in the NL Wild Card race, looked like a team that needed a late September win.
After losing in 10 innings to the Marlins on Tuesday night, the Braves could ill afford another loss to Miami if they hope to catch Washington -- especially knowing the Nationals won the opener of their double-header against the Dodgers.
Michael Bourn led off the night with a double to get things going against Johnson. After moving to third, Bourn came home on a sacrifice fly by Jason Heyward.
In the second, Jose Costanza drove in Dan Uggla on a two-out single to make it 2-0 with Jose Prado coming home on a sacrifice fly in the third. The Braves may have added to their lead in the third inning if it had not been for a rookie mistake by 19-year veteran Chipper Jones.
Playing his final game in Miami, Jones apparently thought there were two outs when Bryan Petersen made a routine catch in right field on Freeman's fly ball. While Prado tagged up, Jones was racing around second. Petersen easily doubled-up Jones at first to end the inning.
"That comes with age,'' Guillen said laughing.
The game lulled after that as Johnson settled in. Although Johnson didn't have a rough night -- he put the Braves down in order in the fifth and sixth -- he was up in his pitch count as he left the game after throwing 108 pitches in six innings. Medlen, by comparison, came out of the seventh with just 88.
The efficient Medlen put the Marlins down in the seventh on just eight pitches. Medlen left after eight and handed things over to stopper Craig Kimbrel (38 saves). Jose Reyes singled to lead off the ninth (for Miami's fifth hit of the night) but failed to come home despite moving to third.
"I was all over the place early on, they were fouling balls off and getting deep in the count,'' said Johnson, who has lost six of his past eight starts. "You can't do that with [Medlen] on the mound. I was rushing a bit too much early. I slowed down, got some better pitches.''
Offensively, the Marlins didn't do a whole lot on Wednesday. Miami had runners on in the first but Greg Dobbs grounded out to end that.
Rookie catcher Rob Brantley extended his hitting streak to nine games with a one-out double in the second, yet he was stranded. In the fifth, Donovan Solano singled and moved to third by swiping a pair of bases. The Marlins failed to move him home when Gorkys Hernandez grounded out.
Petersen tried to get something going with one out in the eighth but was robbed of an extra-base hit thanks to a nice backhanded catch by Bourn in center.
Miami didn't get a baserunner aboard in the final three innings Medlen pitched.
-- Jones stepped out of the batters box and recognized the standing ovation he received when he came to the plate in the eighth inning. Jones' final at-bat in Miami was a ground out to second to end the inning. Jones was 1-for-4 against the Marlins on Wednesday.
"That was very nice by the Miami fans,'' Guillen said. "Very classy.''
CHIPPER SAYS GOODBYE: Marlins Honor Chipper Jones ... Guillen Doesn't Fault Cishek ... Reyes Gets Winner for First Time in a Long Time
BY GEORGE RICHARDS
Fredi Gonzalez says he doesn't want to think of the day when he isn't able to write Chipper Jones' name on his daily lineup sheet.
If the Braves make it to the postseason this October -- as they should -- at least Gonzalez will have Jones around for a little longer.
Jones, 40, has said this will be his final season. On Wednesday, in his last game in Miami, the Marlins celebrated Jones' 19-year career with a pregame ceremony in which he was presented with a rod and reel from Jose Reyes.
Jones has been similarly feted by every team the Braves have faced this season with many offering up cool going away gifts.
For instance, the Red Sox gave him a '1' and a '0' from the manually-operated scoreboard at Fenway to honor his number; the Padres gave him a surfboard and the Astros a 10-gallon hat. The Brewers hooked Jones up with a gas grill and a year's supply of bratwurst.
Jones doesn't look ready for the rocking chair as he made a highlight-reel play at third on Tuesday and came into Wednesday's game hitting .297.
"I think he's just had enough. He's told me he's missed enough time with the kids,'' said Gonzalez, now in his second season on the Braves bench after being fired by the Marlins in 2010.
"Believe me, you guys see his numbers, but there are some days you can just tell his knees are bothering him, his body is bothering him. Sometimes it's difficult for him. But he's having a hell of a going-away year. .-.-. It's time. He knows it's time.''
Jones and the Marlins have been linked since 1993 as both came into the league that year. Jones, who only played in eight games in the season of the expansion Florida Marlins, didn't make his debut against the Marlins until 1995. Jones went 2-for-3 with a run scored in Atlanta's 7-1 win over the Marlins at Joe Robbie Stadium on May 2, 1995.
Going into Wednesday, he had 257 hits in 860 (.299) at-bats with 40 homers and 165 RBI against the Marlins over his career -- easily the most of any opponent against the Florida/Miami franchise.
The 244 games against the Marlins is the second-most he's played against one team (Montreal/Washington) and he has driven in more runs against the Marlins than any other team.
Jones' most memorable series against the Marlins came when Florida beat Atlanta in the 1997 National League Championship Series.
In Florida's pivotal 2-1 win in Game 5, Jones struck out twice as Livan Hernandez racked up 15 strikeouts (with the aid of home plate umpire Eric Gregg's strike zone). The Marlins won that series in six and went on to win the franchise's first World Series title.
"I think Chipper was very underrated during his career,'' Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't know why he wants to quit playing. I asked him that. For me, get out of here. He plays very well against the Marlins. The Braves are going to miss him. Will baseball? No. He beats up on everyone.''
Closer Steve Cishek has struggled at times this month and Tuesday was rough as he was charged with all three runs Atlanta scored in the ninth as the Braves rallied from a 3-0 deficit. Cishek was pulled with two on and one out after Dan Uggla's single made it a 3-1 game.
Miami eventually won 4-3 in the 10th after Heath Bell pitched a 1-2-3 inning and Reyes dropped in a two-out single on a full count.
"[Cishek] has never been in this spot and I'm not going to blame him for a blown save,'' Guillen said after the game. "He's been one of the best things going for us all year long. You can blow saves. It's part of the game. He's going to compete the right way.''
-- Reyes' game-winning single Tuesday was his first since April 13, 2005 -- a span of 1,066 games. That streak was the second-longest in baseball as Eric Hinske has gone 1,245 games between game-winning RBI.
-- Fans coming to Wednesday's game were treated with a Reyes' bobblehead doll -- the third such giveaway of his career. The Mets gave out a Reyes' collectible as did his Double-A team in Binghamton, N.Y.
"I can't wait to see every fan with one of these. They come here and support us, so this is exciting for me,'' Reyes said.
--Friday: Mets LHP Jonathan Niese (11-9, 3.46 ERA) vs. Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (1-2, 3.75), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field, New York.
--Scouting report: Few thought the Marlins would be sitting in last place in the division this late in the season after all the offseason moves the team made. Yet that's exactly where they sit. The Mets were expected to be bad -- and could still end up behind the Marlins in the NL East cellar. "You just don't want to finish in last place,'' said former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. "I don't care who you have to beat, you need to do it.''