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34 posts from February 2013

February 17, 2013

Mike Redmond pictures Jon Rauch in set-up role

    JUPITER -- Though the bullpen is largely unsettled, with perhaps three or four openings up for grabs, two roles appear certain: Steve Cishek as closer and Jon Rauch as the primary eighth-inning reliever.

     "We signed Rauch to be that set-up guy, that veteran guy, who's been around," said manager Mike Redmond. "He's closed games. He's been a set-up guy. He's obviously going to take some of the pressure off some of those young guys, behind that he's been in that role and done that."

     Rauch was the Mets' 8th-inning reliever last season, making 49 of his 73 relief appearances in that frame.

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      The Marlins have scheduled a "B" game against the Mets at 11 a.m. on March 5 in Jupiter. Later that day at 7 p.m., the Marlins will face Team Venezuela at Roger Dean Stadium. Redmond said the team is trying to schedule one or two more "B" games in order to take a look at all of their players in camp this spring.

 

February 15, 2013

Marlins sign 1B Casey Kotchman

   JUPITER -- The Marlins have signed first baseman Casey Kotchman to a minor-league contract and invitation to spring training, a move that highlights the increasing uncertainty surrounding Logan Morrison.

   "I don't know if you want to call it insurance but, yeah, we have some concern that Lomo's not going to be ready," said Marlins president of baseball operations, Larry Beinfest.

 Kotchman Kotchman is good with the glove as evidenced by his career fielding percentage of .998, best among active first basemen. But his bat has been a notch below average for the position. He is a career .262 hitter with 71 home runs.

    "The well-traveled Kotchman has played for six different teams -- the Angels, Braves, Red Sox, Mariners, Rays and Indians -- over the past five seasons. He hit .229 with 12 home runs and an OPS of .612 in 463 at bats for Cleveland last season.

    Morrison has scheduled a doctor's visit in Colorado on Tuesday to have his surgically repaired right knee examined. He could receive the go-ahead at that time to begin jogging, but has said all along he's unsure if he'll be ready for Opening Day.

 

Giancarlo Stanton says he won't pout; Jose Reyes rips Loria

    JUPITER -- The media waited all week for Giancarlo Stanton to talk about his feelings in the wake of the Marlins' offseason moves, which angered him initially. Given Stanton's mostly muted reponses to almost every question, let's put it this way: I would have much rather been up in Dunedin this morning listening to Jose Reyes.

     Reyes, speaking to the media for the first time at spring training, said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria encouraged him to buy a home in Miami just days before he was traded to Toronto. Asked what he'd advise any future free agents who might be interested in playing for the Marlins, Reyes replied: "I don't have to tell them nothing. They can see what happened."

     Reyes also told reporters he felt sorry for Stanton.

     Reyes, who signed a 6-year deal with the Marlins and was traded after only one season, said he was surprised when he learned he had been traded.

     "I was shocked because Jeffrey Loria, he always told me he's never going to trade me," Reyes said. "He always called my agent and said, 'Tell Jose to get a good place here to live,' and stuff like that."

     Reyes said he had dinner with Loria only a few days before the trade and, even then, 'he was still talking about 'get a nice house in Miami.' That was kind of crazy I mean, how can you want me to spend some money in Miami when I have my house in New York, and you're going to trade me in two days?"

     Future free agents won't be receiving any ringing endorsements from Reyes about the Marlins.

     "I signed there for like six years," he said. "I played there for one year. So I don't have to explain anything. But I feel sorry for the fan base there in Miami because they had a great fan base there. To let them down like that, I mean, that's going to be tough for them."

     As for Stanton, Reyes said, "I feel sorry for him."

     Informed of that comment, Stanton said Friday in his "State of the Stanton" address that nobody should feel sorry for him.

     "What is there to feel sorry for me about?," he said. "I'm in the big leagues. I play a game for a living."

     In general, Stanton's comments were tempered from what they were in November when he expressed his displeasure over the drastic offseason moves that pretty much gutted the roster. Stanton, remember, sent out a tweet in which he wrote: "Alright I'm pissed off!!! Plain & simple." And in an MLB.com article written by Peter Gammons, Stanton expounded, saying: "I do not like this at all. This is the 'winning philosophy?' Then to say it's not about money? What is the motivation? There comes a breaking point. I know how I feel. I can't imagine how the city and fans feel."

     Stanton said nothing of the sort Friday, though he was asked repeatedly about his feelings.

     "People who know me know how I am," he said. "It's not going to be any pouting, or any of that stuff."

     And...

     "I got what little words were out there to let it be known, and that was that," Stanton said of his earlier comments. "We're here now, and turn the page."

     And....

     "You're not going to linger on something and cry about it all day. So you let it be known how you feel and push forward."

     Asked if he would sign a long-term deal, Stanton responded: "I haven't been offered one, so that decisio isn't ready yet."

     Asked if he can see any way it can end well for Stanton as a Marlin, his reponse was: "There's always ways to look past things. It's not like you (have a) fallout once and there's never anything to come from it. It can be rebuilt. There's time."

      About the only time Stanton sounded forceful was when he was asked about this team's chances.

      "Everyone thinks we're going to be the doormats now and that's not going to happen, and that's what we need to make known. It's not going to be easy, I'll tell you that. I'm not going to lay over and let everybody stomp on us. That's where I'm at."

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      The Marlins have made no official announcement, but it appears the spring roster is now down to 72 players. Left-handed pitcher Grant Dayton had his left arm in a sling on Friday one day after he said he had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow.

February 14, 2013

Catching up with Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle in their Blue Jays uniforms

DUNEDIN -- Got a chance to talk to both Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle on Thursday as they get ready for the 2013 season with the Blue Jays. 

They discussed the trade from the Marlins and said they aren't sure how to say 'Lo Viste' in French.

Here's a video segment I produced with both of them. 

Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell to make Jupiter returns this spring

    JUPITER -- The last time anyone saw Luis Castillo and Mike Lowell in these parts was 2005 when they participated in their final spring training with the Marlins. Both were traded after the '05 season: Lowell to Boston and Castillo to Minnesota.

    New manager Mike Redmond plans on bringing both back for a couple of days this spring to act as goodwill ambassadors and sounding boards to the current group of players.

     "Those two guys meant so much to our team, this franchise," Redmond said of the two Gold Glove infielders. "I want to bring these guys back and have them out on the field, even if it's just for a couple of days, just to be around, maybe tell a couple of stories."

      Redmond has remained friends with Lowell throughout the years and was Castillo's teammate on the Twins after their playing days with the Marlins ended.

      "It's important to bring back good guys, that that I played with and were great players with the Marlins," Redmond said.

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      Thursday's workouts were forced indoors due to rain. The Marlins have scheduled their first full-squad workout Friday at 1 p.m. once all players have completed their physicals.

 

Giancarlo Stanton, Ricky Nolasco are nobodies in Europe

         JUPITER -- They may be the two most identifiable players remaining on the Marlins. But Giancarlo Stanton and Ricky Nolasco are nobodies in Europe, where they claim not one soul recognized them during their trip there in October.

          "Nobody," Nolasco said.

          "Nope," said Stanton.

          Which was perfectly fine with them. Nolasco and Stanton toured Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London and Barcelona just after the season ended. They joined up with Ozzie Guillen in Madrid shortly before he received a pink slip immediately upon his return.

           The two Marlins marveled at the mania surrounding soccer while attending a Barcelona-Real Madrid game in Barcelona.

            "I've never seen a crowd so into it," Nolasco said. "That country is so dedicated to a sport. It's unbelievable. Football doesn't compare to that as far as superstars and stuff."

            Said Stanton: "Something like I've never seen before. You always hear about that stuff. but it was cool to be able to experience it live. Watching it on TV, it doesn't give the justice of how crazy it is in the stadium."

            Stanton and Nolasco said soccer stars such as Messi and Ronaldo are idolized like no athletes they've ever seen.

            "I don't think any baseball players are to their status," Nolasco said.

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            Manny Navarro is up in Dunedin this morning and took this photo. Recognize any faces?

Mark

February 13, 2013

Marlins don't want Henderson Alvarez pitching in WBC

     JUPITER -- The Marlins would prefer that Henderson Alvarez not pitch in the World Baseball Classic, but their request is apparently falling on deaf ears. Sources said Alvarez intends to represent Venezuela in the upcoming tournament.

      The Marlins acquired Alvarez from the Blue Jays in their monster trade with Toronto and are counting on him for the starting rotation. According to sources, Alvarez was approached recently by manager Mike Redmond, pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and a member of the front office, to express their concerns about his participation in the tournament, which starts next month.

       But Alvarez is intent on representing his country.

       As a compromise, the Marlins have asked that Alvarez pitch at Roger Dean Stadium on March 5 when the Marlins take on Venezuela in an exhibition. Whether Alvarez suits up for Miami or Venezuela doesn't matter to the Marlins.

       The Marlins have no issues with closer Steve Cishek and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton taking part in the tournament. Cishek and Stanton are on Team USA.

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February 12, 2013

Marlins roster tidbits -- players out of options and a retirement

      JUPITER -- A handful of Marlins on the 40-man roster now are out of options, meaning they can't be assigned to the minors without first clearing waivers. The ones most worthy of attention are outfielders Gorkys Hernandez and Justin Ruggiano, along with left-handed pitchers Wade LeBlanc and Mike Dunn.

      (Outfielder Chris Coghlan, believe it or not, still has one option year remaining.)

      It's a factor worth noting not only as roster decisions are being made during spring training, but also after the season starts.

      -- Catcher Craig Tatum, a 29-year-old non-roster inviteeinformed the Marlins he was retiring. The spring roster now stands at 73 players.

      -- It's been weeks since the Marlins heard from former Dolphins quarterback Pat White, an indication he might not accept their invitation to minor-league camp, which starts soon. White was a standout in high school but -- save for four at bats in an instructional league contest -- has not played in an organized game since.

 

"Big year" for Ricky Nolasco

     JUPITER -- It was only two months ago that Ricky Nolasco sent word through his agent that, in the aftermath of the Marlins' roster purge, he wished to be traded. But Nolasco didn't go anywhere and is no longer discussing the matter.

      "I'm moving forward," Nolasco said this morning. "Anything that's happened in the past isn't going to be talked about anymore."

      The Marlins have no intention of trading Nolasco now. But given that Nolasco is making $11.5 million this season and is in the final year of his contract, he's a prime candidate to be moved before the July 31 trade deadline. And because Nolasco is pitching for his next contract, you can be certain he'll be giving it his all for the Marlins even if he would prefer to be somewhere else.

       "This is a big year," Nolasco acknowledged. "Obviously, every year is a big year. But this is a big year."

       It's all but official that the Marlins' all-time wins leader will take the mound for them on Opening Day in Washington, facing Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals. But don't count on him being around in September for the season finale.

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        Juan Pierre was aghast when Rob Brantly couldn't remember the name of the pitcher he collected his first major league hit against. After all, it was only last August when it happened. What player doesn't remember the details -- pitcher, ballpark, date, etc. -- from his first hit?

        Well, Brantly is the odd bird who didn't, and Pierre sent him home Monday with a "homework assignment": identifying the pitcher. Brantly did his homework, showing up Tuesday with the pitcher's name: Rockies hurler Adam Ottavino.

February 11, 2013

Good morning from Jupiter -- pitchers, catchers and Giancarlo Stanton report to spring training

      JUPITER -- While it was only necessary for Marlins pitchers and catchers to report to spring training Monday, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton sauntered in with Ricky Nolasco at 9:45 a.m., walked past several autograph seekers without stopping, and ducked inside the clubhouse for his mandatory physical. He didn't stop to talk to reporters, either -- not that there are many of those lurking about.

       Unlike last spring, when the national media descended on Roger Dean Stadium like locusts to document the new-look Marlins, the atmosphere was considerably more subdued this time around. There were no reporters, for example, from The New Yorker and The New York Times magazine. Also missing was the production crew for "The Franchise." Only one South Florida TV station was represented. So there you go.

       New manager (isn't there always a new manager for the Marlins this time of year?) Mike Redmond said he showed up at the ballpark at 5 a.m., even arriving ahead of habitual early-riser Juan Pierre.

       "All I care is I beat J.P. here," Redmond said jokingly of his former Marlins teammate, as well as the team's new-old left fielder. "I blew him out. We didn't even talk about it. It's more of a mental thing for me than anything. I got here a little after 5. (John) Silverman, our clubhouse guy, was here, but I'm going to beat him tomorrow."

        Redmond was a backup catcher for the Marlins when they moved their spring training headquarters from Viera-Melbourne in 2003 to Jupiter. He said when he walked through the clubhouse Monday morning, he looked over at the locker he once used.

         "I know for all of us who were in Viera for so long, it was such a refreshing change for us," he said. "There's some great restaurants here, whereas up there in Melbourne, it was a little dicey -- when I was there. Now it's great because it's all built up. But, when I was there, there was nothing around."

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         With what is believed to be a franchise-record 74 players in camp, Redmond said he'll probably incorporate a number of "B" games and intrasquad games into the Grapefruit League schedule in order to evaluate everyone.

         "I feel confident that we'll be able to work these guys into games and get a good look and identify what we have out there," Redmond said.

         One player in particular that Redmond says he's anxious to see is Jose Fernandez, the Marlins' top pitching prospect.

         "He's definitely a guy we want to get to see," Redmond said. "He's part of the future of the Marlins and going to be a big part of it when that day comes. I have never seen him pitch, and neither has our pitching coach. From what I've heard, it's going to be impressive. You know I like pitchers. From what I've heard he's a tremendous competitor, confident and has unbelievable stuff, so I'm really excited to see him."

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