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34 posts from February 2013

February 28, 2013

Jose Fernandez pitches. Jake Marisnick hits. Mike Redmond catches? (VIDEO)


      JUPITER -- It was gray and chilly here this morning when Jose Fernandez took to the back fields and made a two-inning start against the Cardinals in a "B" game. Nothing too remarkable, other than the fact he somehow managed to sting the hands of the first batter he faced with a fastball that was fouled back to the screen. The guy left the game briefly to have the hand examined.

       Here's a video clip of that at bat:



     Later, outfielder Jack Marisnick -- obtained in the Toronto Blue Jays deal -- stepped into the batter's box: 



        Later, manager Mike Redmond grabbed a mitt between innings to catch Fernandez's warm-up pitches:

Ruggiano looking for pilates instructor

      JUPITER -- A doctor recommended pilates to Justin Ruggiano as a way to prevent further occurrences of the back problems that have caused him to miss the early part of Grapefruit League action.

       "I saw the doc yesterday and he said everything looked good," Ruggiano said. "He said the back looked good but just needed the muscles to calm down. For a strengthening regimen, he recommended pilates. I've never done it. You can put out I'm looking for a good pilates instructor in the area, someone who can come meet me at 5:30 in the morning in the gym, give me a routine."

       Ruggiano said he hopes to begin running in the next day or so.

       "I'm hoping to swing in two or three days and from then we'll slowly progress to hitting," he said. "I'm thinking a week to 10 days to be in a game. Those are my thoughts. That's my goal. I'm really encouraged, especially after seeing the doc yesterday."


       Jose Fernandez is scheduled to start a "B" game against the Cardinals at 10 a.m. Fernandez has reportedly signed on with agent Scott Boras to represent him in future dealings. The Marlins haven't had a major Boras client since Ivan Rodriguez was with them.


February 26, 2013

Loria-palooza Day 3: Marlins are "not a Triple A club"

     JUPITER -- On Day 3 of a public relations blitz to address the uproar over the stripping of the roster, Marlins owner Jeffery Loria addressed the media at the team's spring training headquarters. Here's his latest Q & A with media:

     Loria: "I fulfilled my promise in the new ballpark last year. We had a $100 million payroll. It didn't work. So what do you do? Go back again and lose more games? I can only tell you that we can't win without good players in the organization. We needed to do something to beef up the organization. It's as simple as that.

     (Didn't you) promise fans there would be competitive payroll?

     Loria: Yeah, except last year was a disaster and we had to push the restart button. Fans didn't come last year after the team started losing. I can't make them win or lose, but I can set the parameters, and we put a team out there that we thought was good, and it actually continued what was going on the year before. Do you want to spend every year in front of you, looking and watching and seeing losing baseball. I'm not here to be involved in losing baseball.

     Couldn't you have hit the restart button and kept some of the pieces?

     Loria: It wouldn't have worked. If you know anything about the game, you know that down the road, you have your ideas of what your payroll is going to be and who the players are going to be. It doesn't add up.

     So it was about payroll?

     Loria: No, it' snot about paryoll. It's about players. It's about people. I said the same thing in 2003. For me, it's never been about payroll. You guys can keep repeating those words. We have some very exciting young players here, and we need to bring them along and bring in what you would call the "stars" while we develop our own stars, or else we're going to be a last-place team forever, and I don't want to live with that. I don't think any of the fans accept losing. If you accept losing, you don't come to the ballpark. And that's not what we bought the ballpark for.

     Fans are upset because they feel like you're asking them to come out this season, support a Triple A ballclub. What do you tell them?

     Loria: "It's not a Triple A ballclub. I don't know whose words those are. They may be your words, but they're not mine. It's not a Triple A ballclub. It's a ballclub with some pretty impressive players. I wouldn't call (Placido) Polanco a Triple A player. I wouldn't call the new shortstop a Triple A player. I wouldn't call our second baseman a Triple A player. I certainly wouldn't call Rob Brantly that. These are exciting young players. Giancarlo Stanton is not that. Juan Pierre, Mr. Energy who sets the tone for how you play and the standard for excellence....these are not Triple A ballplayers. If you want to use those terms, I can't prevent it. I can't stop you from saying what you want to say. But I will tell the fans we have now the core -- 16 or 17 terrrific young players -- and they're going to be here very quickly. Some of them are going to be here this year. We're hoping that Yelich and Fernandez will start the ball rolling."

     ....about Miami being a baseball town. What does that tell you?

     Loria: "Miami is a baseball town. Miami is a wonderful baseball town. It has a great baseball heritage, going way back long before there was major league baseball here.

     The letter you put out Sunday said the buck stops with you, that you can accept some of the blame. But it was followed up with a lot of buts. Where does the blame fall on you in all of this?

     Loria: Where does it fall on me? I don't know. Maybe from last year and the year before my thinking we could do it with what we had, and it didn't work? And adding to it. I didn't hesitate when it came to putting a $100 million payroll out there. But when you have that happen and nothing good happens on the field, I don't know where the buck stops there because I can't hit, I can't run and I can't throw anymore. But, you know, I'm responsible overall, so I guess the buck stops with me. However, it's time to look ahead. My father used to say to me, 'Jeffrey, you know why the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror? Because the future is a lot brighter than the past." That's what we have. We have a bright future, and I would like us to rally around that.

      Why did you take so long to come out and basically explain this?

      Loria: "It's kind of hard to stop a runaway train. The season ended and I decided it was time to decompress and let all that was going to be said, said. I felt the time was right recently just before spring training started.

       Do you understand the sense of betrayal the fans are voicing?

       Loria: I understand the disappointment. I really do understand the disappointment. I'm disappointed. I didn't enjoy last year. We had kind of a perfect storm. Everything collapsed right at the beginning. The team didn't play well. Other things happened, which you all know. But it's a new year, and I would like us to look in front of us instead of behind us. And we have the core and makings of a championship caliber team now. Didn't work. It didn't work. We stunk. We had to fix it. We had to change it. We had to do it quickly. And that's what I wanted to do.

        You think the fans are not buying this because we've been through already? We had a World Series championship already and we didn't have one the next year.

        Loria: "Well, we didn't have one the following year and there aren't many teams that repeat....

        Not repeat, but keep those guys who won the World Series together for at least a couple more tries.

        Loria: "Well, you're looking at 2003 now. I'm trying to focus on the future."

        Aren't those what the last eight years were, prospects, trading away key guys, to build toward the future for when the ballpark came?

        Loria: "We had prospecrs over the last eight years and if you really want to focus on it, many of those prospects didn't work out. We didn't have the players. We should have had the players. We drafted players and paid first-round players bonuses to perform. Jeremy Hermida. Sinkbeil. Allison. Taylor Tankersley. But guys didn't develop, and you have to have these guys develop."

        Why should we have faith that these new guys are going to develop when they haven't the previous eight years?

        Loria: "I have faith in my baseball people....

        Even after that?

        Loria: "Yeah."

        So you see where fans are coming from? You're putting the future of the franchise on the hope your baseball people will find this young talent when you promised them you'd have established talent?

        Loria: "Well, the established talent didn't work. We had it last year. We had players that we thought were top players and they were paid and didn't perform."

        Jose Reyes didn't perform?

        Loria: "Listen, I love Jose. There's no discussion about that. But when you put together a baseball team, you have to look in front of you about where you're going to be, one year, two years, three years down the road. There's certain players here we want to keep. There's certain players that are going to come along. And we have to have that flexibility to bring in young players to go with the core. It just isn't like I'll sign this star and this star and this star. We did that last year and it didn't work."

         So where do you see the Marlins eight years from now?

         Loria: "Eight years? I can't tell you where I see them eight years from now. I see us putting together all of the pieces that we have, and all of the talent -- championship caliber talent -- which I see inside that clubhouse and out on that field, selecting and working and getting them to the major leagues quickly, and then we'll find out who we need to augment that. That's just the way you build a club. I did not want to be like some other teams in major league baseball. They make one or two changes each year and they never have winning seasons. We've had a lot of winning seasons through this decade. It's been not so great these last two years. We thought going into the new ballpark it would be terrific. So that's why I said let's go out and produce this $100 million payroll. It didn't work. If it doesn't work, you've got to fix it. I said yesterday, no gain without a little bit of pain."

         How do you expect fans to show up when they don't know half the starting lineup?

         Loria: "If they like baseball, they'll come."

         They didn't come last year with names that they knew...

         Loria: "Yeah, because they were losing."

         If the same thing happens this year and they don't show up, what happens next?

         Loria: "You're jumping the gun. You've got to watch to see how these guys develop. You probably don't even know half of the names of some of these guys we have. Spend a little time and look into that, see who they are. When we made the trade with Toronto, it was very interesting. We had the 28th worst farm system in baseball. You don't win baseball games without guys you can call on. Last year we had injuries. There was nobody to call up. We were bringing up Triple A kids who were 6-year free agents. They did their best, and we were grateful they were there. But that's not what you want for a championship caliber team."

         With all due respect, why should fans believe anything that you're saying, given the history?

         Loria: "You've said that question in four different ways, and my response to you is we have put together a championship caliber of young players, a large group of them. We're going to field an excellent team in the next two or three years that you're going to be proud of. I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe what I think."

         Did you repair the image with the taxpayers, that it was kind of a con job with the stadium?

         Loria: "Con job? I'm not even going to answer that question. Sorry."

         Did you encourage Jose to buy a house?

         Loria: "I never encouraged him to buy a house. I spoke to Jose when he was here and he was looking for a house. He was going to wait until the end of the season and -- I'm glad you asked that question because it's been reported inaccurately."

          He said you talked to him about four days before he was traded. That's not accurate?

          Loria: "First of all, four days before he was traded, he was on a plane to Dubai. I never spoke to him. I saw him at a dinner that I invited him to come to. I had no idea we were putting together any trade  that was going to happen while he was away. First of all, he sat two people away from me, so I had very little opportunity to speak with him. My wife sat inbetween us. I asked him if he had been to Miami. He said he was looking at houses, his wife was down there. He said he was going to Dubai. Three or four days later, Larry (Beinfest) called me with what he wanted to do. I immediately called his agent, Peter Greenberg, and I said we're going to be making a trade. I want you to call Jose. Just make sure he doesn't buy a house. That's the essence of it all."

          On the use of taxpayer money to build the new ballpark....

          Loria: "First of all, the money is not local taxpayer money. The money is tourists' dollars. You keep reporting this inaccurately."

          The perception by the general public who doesn't understand the taxation that the money isn't public money, how do you get beyond that?

          Loria: "It's public money that's supposed to be used for facilities. If you want to be a major league city and have a major league baseball team, you need a major league facility."                    


February 25, 2013

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria discusses Stanton, trades, franchise's future (with audio)

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria met with about a dozen sports writers Monday night inside the Diamond Club at Marlins Park in his first interview since the dismantling of the 2012 roster.

Among the many topics covered, Loria discussed the future with All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, why the team traded Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes, and his vision for the franchise moving forward.

Video cameras were not permitted for the interview. But here is the 25-minute audio interview below.


After Loria finished the interview and exited, Marlins President David Samson spoke for roughly another half hour about the fiscal state of the team and why the 2012 season was a failure.



- Why not speak earlier... "There is a simple answer to that. It's hard to stop a runaway train. I wanted to decompress, sit back and see what we needed to be doing and I thought the time was finally appropriate to talk and get my message across to the fans, which is what we did Sunday."

- Do you have a grasp of the public anger... "I have a sense of it. I'm sorry we built this amazing ballpark and fans are feeling the way they do. But we did this for a reason. We weren't going anywhere. And I think anybody that is a baseball guy or a baseball person will realize that after two years we had we had to do something. And we had to do something swiftly, quickly and bold. I'd like to turn the clock ahead two years from now and look back at what we did because we had three or four prospects really in our system. We didn't have people we could call up last year. We had no good young players to any great numbers and I will invite any of you and all of you to be in touch with us, me, Larry [Beinfest] and Michael [Hill] to talk about who is one our system. We didn't break up the 1927 Yankees. We broke up a losing ball club that was going nowhere for two straight years. I'm about winning. I like to win. I love winning. I love Miami. I love this ballclub and I love what we've done now. Little painful for a lot of people. But no pain no gain."

- Reyes and Buehrle had just signed long term deals and fans can't understand why they were traded... "We had a pretty bad year last year and signing these free agents didn't work and I decided along with my baseball people -- in spite of what some of you think I don't make unilateral decisions -- I made two or three unilateral decisions in all these years. One to sign Pudge, which the nay-sayers said was going to be a disaster. That didn't turn out so bad. And I made a unilateral decision to see if we can get the best closer in the game at the time last year which was Heath [Bell], who had three straight successive years. I thought that would be great for us in our new ballpark. Didn't turn out so well because he had problems on the field and off the field, his father was dying. It didn't work out for him or the club. I made it my business to really pursue Jose [Reyes]. I love Jose. To this day I love Jose and I think he's one of the great young players. But when I tell you when you see what we've done here, the shortstop we've brought in for the long haul -- Hanley Ramirez called us and told us what an incredible shortstop he is. When Hanley Ramirez calls you and tells you he's a better shortstop than I am you've got a great guy on your hands. It's amusing to listen to. That's what we want to be thinking about. We wanted good defensive players. I've brought in some coaches. I asked Perry Hill to come back. Perry had his surgery and came back. We had nobody teaching anybody anything in the infield last year. But the overall picture and I wish you could all grasp this is that we had nothing going forward. We had another opportunity to have losing seasons for the next couple years. Three, four years it could have been the same stuff because we had nobody to mature and nobody to bring up. We had Jose Fernandez who I encouraged our guys to draft when they did. He was a young Cuban player that we all liked. And when he gets here he will be a household name. We don't have any household names tomorrow. But there will be. You don't win in this business and you aren't successful as a baseball club unless you have an organization of young players that you can call upon. We didn't have that. Larry, Michael talked to me during the year that they can't believe we have all these guys hitting well before their averages. Frankly we stunk. It was a disaster. I talked to our guys and these were the suggestions I got. We got to start again. Want to give me the hits? Give me the hits. The buck stops here. I'm interested in making this successful. We didn't build this building for 10 years to have what's probably going to be this year fewer fans coming. It's a spectacular place. But the baseball people told me we aren't going anywhere. So we had to do something."

- Why include Buehrle and Reyes in the trade... "Buehrle is a very interesting guy. He’s in this mid-30s. Where is he to join us? In this business you have to look ahead. You have to look three, four five years down the road. You make a team four years from now, Buerhle doesn’t fit in. He’s at the end of his career earning $17 million, 18 million, and frankly that doesn’t work down here at that point for us because there are other players we're going to want to keep, want to sign. We have good young pitching, we have really good young pitching."

- Sounds like you are taking a shot at Larry Beinfest's work... "It's not an indictment on Larry. We haven't had great luck from 2002 to 2008 or 2009 with the exception of Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Johnson along and a couple of other guys. But I can give you names of players that just never made it. You draft players. Some of them work out and some of them don't. Hermida didn't work out. Jeff Allison didn't work out. Sinkbeil didn't work out. Volstad didn't work out. Wonderful kid..."

- Is your intention to resign Giancarlo Stanton... "We're hoping that moment will come, absolutely hoping that moment will come. But Giancarlo needs to play this year. He is here for certainly the foreseeable future and we will cross that bridge at the appropriate moment."

- What was your reaction to Stanton's reaction on Twitter... "I love Giancarlo. He's a great young talent and I wish him nothing, but the best. I have nothing but fond admiration for him. He's a young man. If you really look at it, you go to your workplace and suddenly three or four guys are gone, it's a little disturbing. I understand that. But I'm going to wish him a great season. My wife and I saw him in France. I asked him what he was doing last summer. I told him meet me in Paris and we'll have dinner in the Eiffel Tower. We had a great time together. I love him. He's a great talent. I hope he has a successful year.

- Some people believe Stanton will only be here for one more year... "I don't have any comments on that. He'll be here this year and I'm hopeful he'll come here the next year and when we have our opportunity to talk to him, we'll cross that bridge. We will cross that bridge. He's a Marlin. You're jumping the gun. I would love to see him be the young centerpiece on this ballclub. He'd be the young giant on the ballclub. But you can't make promises in this game because strange things happen all the time. I can tell you he is 23 years old now. He's just beginning his career."

- Do you know what the spending for the team will be going forward... "Last year we had a payroll of close to $95-$100 million and lost tens of millions of dollars. We had to turn back the clock for the moment and push the restart button and get these young players in here and look at where we are in another year or so."

- What do you envision in terms of spending... "Well its going to be a function of the revenues we have. We built this ballpark because we thought there would be a lot of fans coming in here down the road. I understand they're disappointed. That's a natural reaction. I'm not going to give you a budget down the road. We didn't do this for fun. We did this because we think we have something special here."

- Will you get back to the point where you were last season, spending a $100 million... "No. We'll never get to $100 million. We don't have the TV contract yet to do that. We will one day."

- Weren't season ticket sales going well in 2012... "Season ticket sales were going in the right direction and then the season started. We all know the perfect storm that came."

- What did this first season at Marlins Park tell you about Miami's loyalty to baseball... "I'm a firm believer Miami loves its baseball, but nobody wants to watch losing baseball. It's a community that has a background and a history of loving baseball. The latin community loves it, all over the world, wherever there are baseball players whether they are dominican, puerto rican or cuban. It's why we spent 10 years building this beautiful building. We'll get back to where we want to get to. And it was very hard last year. You come into a ballgame and Heath's blowing ballgames day after day, kind of depressing. Other things happened and we needed to fix the chemistry and we needed to fix the core of this team. I know you don't understand it some of you. You can't win in this game if you don't have good young players around you."

- Why did you sign Buehrle and Reyes... "We signed them because we thought it was going to work. I saw him as being here for five years as I saw Jose. I also saw us drawing more people and we didn't draw more people because the team was losing. There was a reaction so early in the season about some comments made. All of it was the perfect storm."

- What about the message sent to free agents. Buehrle and Reyes had either bought homes or where in the process of that... "They didn't buy homes down here. Jose didn't buy a home down here. Let me set the record straight. What you were told is inaccurate, is inaccurate. Never told him to buy a house. He was looking for a house. He came to an ALS dinner which I invited him to. He sat two people away from me, came late. I asked him what he was doing the next week. He said he was going to Dubai. I said 'Has your wife been to Miami?' He said 'Yes. She's looking for a home.' Didn't say anything after that except I know subsequent to that three or four days later Larry came to me with a trade he wanted to do and I immediately called Jose's agent out of respect for him and said 'Jose is going to be traded and I want you to call him before he reads about it. He hasn't bought a house yet has he?' He said 'No. He's contemplating.' So I said 'Just call him and let him know."

- Do you understand fans anger that they were beyond firesale... "It's not a fire sale. You can call it a fire sale. It's called hit the restart button. because it didn't damn work. I understand the feeling. I have no interest in endless losing. We had two years of that. I want to see us get back to our winning ways. We had a number of years during the last decade where we had lots of successful season with low payrolls. Now we're in a position in a new building where the payrolls should be able to go up. We envision that. And I certainly kept my promise and said in this first year we're going in, let's get our shorstop, Mr. Energy. Let's get a closer. Then we had no closer."

- What has the reception to you been from public... "I will tell you that on Saturday night I was at the food and wine festival. I was approached by maybe 20 or 30 people. All of them congratulated me, said you had to do what you did. To a person. Everybody, fans still want photographs with you, happy. I haven't seen anything. I got a few silly phone calls. That was in November and it stopped. The only stuff is what happens daily here. I'm hoping we can call a halt to it all and try to get behind the home team here."

- Poll in Greg Cote's blog, 98 percent want you to sell the team... "Well, the team is not for sale. Of course I care. That means people are disappointed. But I know what we're doing. I just know we need to get a little bit down the road here to see what we've brought in. You probably don't even know the names of three or four of the players we have, that we've brought in. We have tried. We have energized this franchise. Does it matter? I can't believe fans want to come to a ballpark and watch you lose every night. We had to do something so it wouldn't be like that. We're going to have a little bit of a rough year because we have young guys."

- Should you have foreseen this 2 years ago... "I couldn't have foreseen any of this two years ago. I'm not that good."

- What about the negative things said about you... "I don't pay any attention to it frankly. I feel for them because they identified with Jose. I'm sure nobody loved Heath and his games that he lost and I'm sure Buehrle nobody really focused on him. Jose brought a lot of energy here. When Larry and Michael focused on the major league club with the best young talent in baseball they came up with the Toronto Blue Jays. And we absolutely raided their young player development system. Last year we had the 28th worst record for minor league development. We didn't have the players."

- What about trading your stars for minor leaguers... "You want to talk about it. We traded Josh Johnson who was going to leave this year. John Buck who wasn't helping us any. Bonifacio, I adored. But it's about Reyes. And for that I'm sorry. But in order to get us the five or six players we got from Toronto. In order to get you got to give."

- The Dolphins obviously took up issue with the Marlins... "That smear campaign. I'm sure it's just an effort to get a deal done. I hope the Dolphins get their deal. I want every team to thrive in South Florida."

- Why call it a smear campaign... "Using us for what? It has nothing to do with us. They want some funds, that's their business. We should have not been included."

- What's been the reaction to your letter... "I haven't gotten 98 percent of people wanting me to sell. I've had a bunch of phone calls from season ticket holders calling me and said 'Good for you. You finally said something.' Something needed to be said. And I know you follow what your editors want you to do. And I'm okay with that. And you can write as you see fit and I'm okay with that. But I think if we can take a little time out here and go up to Jupiter and I invite you to see who some of these players are. We got some spectacular young players. I got a text this afternoon from someone who said we lost a 7-6 game but all the young players were banging the crap out of the ball. Wait until you see Yelich and Fernandez and Marisnick and even the Hechavarria kid, and that's going to play well here too because he's a little Mr. Energy himself, too. Like Jose. Climb on the bandwagon and be positive about some of this that's going on here because in two years you're going to say 'What were we doing two years ago?'"

- Will you have to give into the no trade clause... "Who knows where we will be down the road. There are some free agents who may need it, but we have to wait and see."

- Will you have a salary ceiling... "There is no ceiling. This is a market. We have to worst TV revenue in baseball and we still have a few years before we can negotiate that. That will be very helpful. We're tied up until 2020 but the negotiations for that always start up before that."

- Will you go to Stanton with a no trade clause... "I don't think this is the year to go to Giancarlo with an offer. We have to let him play it out, let him feel comfortable. And we got the right guy in there now to manage this team. Mike Redmond knows how we operate and was part of his success here. Have you seen the flavor in our camp?

- Why wait on Stanton. Would send a message otherwise... "I want him to feel comfortable about stability here and what we're doing. We will reach out to him eventually."

It's a 20-year reunion for Mike Redmond, Fredi Gonzalez and Carlos Tosca

    LAKE BUENA VISTA -- There were hugs and handshakes behind the batting cage a moment ago when rookie Marlins manager Mike Redmond had a chance to reunite with two people he said were instrumental in his baseball development: Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca.

    "I'm not here today without those guys," Redmond said.

    Tosca was the manager when Redmond began his pro career in the Marlins' system at Single A Kane County in 1993 and managed him again two years later at Double A Portland. Gonzalez was the catcher's manager in '94 at Single A Brevard County again in '98 at Triple A Charlotte.

     "Those guys have known me since I came out of Gonzaga," Redmond said. "Carlos was like a father to me. He was hard on me when I was younger as a catcher, really taught me to be responsible and to be accountable as a catcher. He was tough. He was really tough on me, old school. But it made me a better player and it made me learn the game."

     It was Gonzalez who broke the news to Redmond that he was being promoted to the majors when the two were at Triple A in 1998. The Marlins needed a catcher after acquiring, and then quickly trading, Mike Piazza. Redmond said Randy Knorr probably would have received the call-up had he not broken his thumb.

     "I was in the weight room and he came and told me I was going to the big leagues," Redmond said. "And I said, 'C'mon Fredi.' I thought he was joking. He said, 'No Red, you're going to the big leagues.'"

     Later this afternoon, the former pupil will be taking on his former coaches when the Marlins face the Braves.

     "It is a little bit weird," Redmond said. "But, at the same time, it's neat. I think it's great."

     Said Gonzalez, smiling: "That makes me feel old. That's not good."


     -- Jose Fernandez was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday in Jupiter and, if everything goes well, will likely make his first spring appearance on Thursday in a "B" game. Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said Fernandez has been dealing with a tight hamstring.


     -- Redmond said he's easing Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco into Grapefruit League action. That's by design. Polanco will make his first spring training appearance on Tuesday in Jupiter while Pierre, who has not played since Saturday's Grapefruit League opener, will also be in the lineup.

     "Those guys have been around a while and, with as many guys as we have in camp I want to see play, those guys are probably the least of my worries," Redmond said. "Those veteran guys, I want to take care of them, especially Polanco havine some back problems over the last couple of years, make sure he eases into it. We need those guys for the long haul. We don't have a ton of depth and we definitely need J.P. and Polanco to be healthy."


February 24, 2013

Jeffrey Loria's "Letter to our Fans"

       VIERA -- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria took out a full-page ad in all three major South Florida daily newspapers on Sunday in which he explained not only the team's decision-making, but appealed to fans to stay the course with the franchise. Loria also plans to speak with the media on Monday.

        Here, word for word, is what Loria wrote. Let's hear it. After reading Loria's letter, tell us what you think:


        It's no secret that last season was not our best -- actually it was one of our worst. In large part, our performance on the field stunk and something needed to be done. As a result of some bold moves, many grabbed hold of our tough yet necessary decision only to unleash a vicious cycle of negativity. As the owner of the ballclub, the buck stops with me and I take my share of the blame where it's due. However, many of the things being said about us are simply not true. I've sat by quietly and allowed this to continue. Now it's time for me to respond to our most important constituents, the fans who love the game of baseball.

        THE ROSTER

        Losing is unacceptable to me. It's incumbant upon us to take swift action and make bold moves when there are glaring problems. The controversial trade we made with the Toronto Blue Jays was approved by Commissioner Bud Selig and has been almost universally celebrated by baseball experts outside of Miami for its value. We hope, with an open mind, our community can reflect on the fact that we had one of the worst records in baseball. Acquiring high-profile players just didn't work, and nearly everyone on our team underperformed as compared to their career numbers. Our plan for the year ahead is to leverage our young talent and create a homegrown roster of long-term players who can win. In fact, objective experts have credited us with going from the 28th ranked Minor League system in baseball to the 5th best during this period. Of the Top 100 Minor Leaguers rated by MLB Network, we have six -- tied for the most of any team in the league. We'll evaluate this roster and possibly bring in additional talent based on our assessment of what we need. The very same naysayers who are currently skeptical once attacked us for bringing Pudge Rodriguez to the Marlins in 2003. More than any other, that move contributed to our World Series Championship.


      The ballpark issue has been repeatedly reported incorrectly and there are some very negative accustations being thrown around. It ain't true, folks. Those who have attacked us are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. The majority of public funding came from hotel taxes, the burden of which is incurred by tourists who are visiting our city, NOT the resident taxpayers. The Marlins organization also agreed to contribute $161.2 million toward the ballpark, plus the cost of the garage complex. In addition, the Marlins receive no operating subsidy from local government funding. The ballpark required that all debt service is paid by existing revenue. Furthermore, many are attacking the County's method of financing for its contribution, but the Marlins had nothing at all to do with that. The fact is, with your help, we built Marlins Park, a crown jewel in our beautiful Miami skyline, which has won over twenty design and architecture awards and will help make us a premiere ballclub moving forward.


      The simple fact is that we don't have unlimited funds, nor does any baseball team or business. Fans didn't turn out last season as much as we'd like, even with the high-profile players the columnists decry us having traded. The main ingredient to a successful ball club is putting together a winning team, including a ncecessary core of young talent. Are we fiscally capable and responsible enough to fill the roster with talented players, invest in the daily demands of running a world-class organization and bring a World Series back to Miami? Absolutely! Is it sound business sense to witness an expensive roster with a terrible record and sit idly by doing nothing? No. I can and will invest in building a winner, but last season wasn't sustainable and we needed to start from scratch quickly to build this team from the ground up.


      An organization is only as good as its connection with the community. We know we can do a better job communicating with our fans. That starts now. From this point forward we can ensure fans and the entire community that we will keep you abreast of our plan, rationale and motivations.

       Amidst the current news coverage, it an be easy to forget how far we went together not so long ago. In 2003, I helped bring a second World Series Title to South Florida. We know how to build a winning team, and have every intention of doing so again. I know you share my passion for great Marlins baseball, my love of MIami and my desire to win again. We're in this together and I humbly ask that we start fresh, watch us mature qjuickly as a ball club, and root for the home team in 2013.


      Jeffrey Loria

February 23, 2013

Foul tip breaks catcher Jeff Mathis' collarbone

    JUPITER -- The Marlins won their first Grapefruit League game on Saturday but suffered a signifcant loss in the process when a foul tip broke the right collarbone of catcher Jeff Mathis.

     Mathis was not only expected to serve as the principle backup for Rob Brantly, but is the only catcher in camp with any major league experience.

     "Obviously a big blow for us," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "Just a freak deal. We don't have a ton of depth behind the plate. We're pretty young back there."

     Redmond said Mathis could be out for six weeks.

     Mathis was injured in the fourth inning when the Cardinals' Matt Holliday fouled a ball off the catcher's padded chest protector. Mathis said he could tell he was seriously hurt when he tried to throw the ball back to the mound.

     "It just got me square," Mathis said. "It hit me in the pad. It's just one of those things, catches you just right. Been hit there a lot of times. It felt like any other foul tip I've taken off the mask, off the shoulder, off the hand. But when I went to throw, I knew something was wrong."

     Mathis said the only good news is that the the fracture is not displaced.

     Mathis left the game immediately and was replaced by Kyle Skipworth.


     Given the lack of catching experience in the organization, the Marlins will almost certainly look around the league for backup help. 



John Maine pleased with first outing (w/video)

    JUPITER -- First spring outings were never John Maine's cup of tea, according to the right-hander. But Maine, who is trying to revive his major league career with the Marlins, passed his first test Saturday with a solid debut against the Cardinals.

     Maine completed his allotted two innings, giving up a wind-aided solo shot to David Freese but little else.

     "I was really really antsy, really excited," Maine said. "It's the first time I think I've ever gotten through two innings in my first start. I got six outs this time. I'm happy about that."

     Here's what Maine had to say:

Will Marlins win Grapefruit League title? Don't laugh.

     JUPITER -- Not that it matters, but don't be surprised if the Marlins look like champions this spring. Teams earmarked for mediocrity often do. With so many roster spots up for grabs, the Grapefruit League games actually matter for many.

      "We don't have a lot of guys who can just breeze through spring training and prepare themselves," said Mike Redmond, who is making his unofficial big-league managing debut this afternoon when the Marlins take on the Cardinals. "Guys are battling for spots. There's a lot at stake for a lot of guys. So, yeah, I'm looking for guys to come out playing with a sense of urgency."

      Remember the 2006 Marlins, the team with a eight million rookies? That team went 19-9-3 to finish with the best record of any Grapefruit League team. Owner Jeffrey Loria rewarded first-year manager Joe Girardi with a bag of grapefruit. The '06 Marlins promptly went 11-31 to start the season before recovering and making a race of it.

      On the other hand, the 2003 Marlins, eventual World Series champs, went 14-16 in the spring.

      "I'm not shooting for the Grapefruit League title," Redmond said. "But I want to win. I just want to win some ballgames and get a good feeling going into the season."


      Due to his participation in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, look for Giancarlo Stanton to receive more playing time than usual this spring.

      "We're going to have to speed up the process with him getting in shape because he's got to be ready to play when he leaves here on (March) 3rd," Redmond said. "We're going to have to ramp it up a big quicker with him. He's going to have to play more. He's got to be at least comfortable enough to go to the WBC and play nine innings. They're not going to yank him out of there after two at bats."

       As such, Redmond said Stanton will often play on back-to-back days, but as DH in one of those games to prevent him from "not having to stand out in the outfield for nine innings." Redmond said Stanton, who is in today's lineup, will get the day off on Sunday but play Monday in Orlando and Tuesday in Jupiter.


       Here's today's lineup for the Marlins:

       1. Juan Pierre, lf; 2. Polacido Polanco, 3b; 3. Giancarlo Stanton, rf; 4. Joe Mahoney, 1b; 5. Donovan Solano, 2b; 6. Alfredo Silverio dh; 7. Jeff Mathis, c; 8. Adeiny Hechavarria, ss; 9. Gorkys Hernandez, cf. Starting: John Maine.


on stanton: i think it's important for everybody to stay healthy. but we're oging to hae to speed up the process with him getitng in shape because he's got to be ready to play when he leaves here on the 3rd. it's not like 3 innings and out. we're going to have to ramp it up a little bit quicker with him. he's going to have to play more. he doesn't have to play the outfield every day. the plan is to for him not....play in orlando and maybe dh the next day to get him back-to-back days where he's not having to stand out in the outfield for nine innings. we'll try to get him as close to 9 inning games as we can....before....he's got to be at least feel comforable enough to go to wbc and be able to play 9 innings. they're not going to yank him out of there after 2 at bats.

February 22, 2013

Redmond ready for Grapefruit League play, says Stanton will hit third Saturday; plus Ruggiano update

JUPITER -- The first phase of Spring Training is officially in the books. The second phase -- game action -- begins Saturday with the Marlins taking on the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Manager Mike Redmond wasn't ready to reveal his batting order just yet, but he did share his lineup: Juan Pierre will start in left field; Gorkys Hernandez in center; Giancarlo Stanton in right; Placido Polanco at third base; Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop; Donovan Solano at second base; Joe Mahoney at first base; Jeff Mathis behind the plate and Rule V pick Alfredo Silverio serving as designated hitter. Veteran right-hander John Maine will start on the mound.

All Redmond would say about his batting order was that Stanton would hit third.

"We got to get him ready for the [World Baseball] Classic," Redmond said. "He needs to get in there and get as many at-bats as he can so he's comfortable when he's ready to leave here. He needs to feel like he's ready to play and play a full game."

Stanton, Redmond said, will be leaving March 3rd to join Team USA in Phoenix.


The news regarding center fielder Justin Ruggiano doesn't look good.

Redmond said Ruggiano has a strained back and he's not sure how long he will be out.

"He's getting treatments," Redmond said. "We're going to have to [list it] as day-to-day, see how that progresses.

"It's always a concern when you get a guy that's banged up early in spring training. Being that it's so early, though, I'd rather have it now than two weeks left in spring training. But at the same time, too, those backs can be touchy. We've got to take a little bit of time, make sure he's healthy and ready to go for the long run, not just spring training games."

In the meantime the Marlins have plenty of options in center, Redmond said.

"[Bryan] Petersen, [Chris] Coghlan, those guys can go in there," Redmond said. "We'll mix guys in, [Christian] Yelich and [Jake] Marisnick. I'm going to get them in some games too. I'd like to see them play. We got some other guys: [Kevin] Mattison. We'll try to mix guys in and out as much as we possibly can and see how it all shakes out."

Redmond said he has no problems getting the Marlins' top prospects starts in center early this spring.

"When I was with the Twins [manager Ron Gardenhire] did a good job of getting a lot young guys into games and when those guys had a chance to come up to the big leagues it wasn't such an 'Ahh moment,'" Redmond said. "They were already prepared, been through it and had a little bit of experience. I think that's huge for young guys. The quicker we get them in a big league game, big league atmosphere the better."