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2 posts from April 4, 2013

April 04, 2013

Casey Kotchman to go on DL as first base woes continue for Marlins

     WASHINGTON -- It's the 75th anniversary of Abbott and Costello's famous "Who's on First?" comedy skit.

     But the first base situation for the Marlins is no laughing matter. Manager Mike Redmond said Casey Kotchman, who strained his left hamstring while running out a ground ball on Wednesday, will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

      The Marlins now have three first basemen on the DL -- Kotchman, Logan Morrison and Joe Mahoney -- and have no other first basemen on their 40-man roster they can bring up to fill in. Greg Dobbs is starting at first for the Marlins in today's game, and Austin Kearns could play there in a pinch. Redmond said Chris Valaika and even backup catcher Miguel Olivo could man the position if necessary, too.

       But it's not a good situation for the Marlins at the moment. They signed Kotchman as insurance knowing Morrison wouldn't be ready until May at the earliest. Mahoney is trying to work his way back from an oblique injury and is swinging off a tee. But he's 7-10 days away from getting back on the field.

       "We are currently trying to figure out a roster move, what we're going to do," Redmond said. "Right now Dobber is going to play quite a bit of first base."

       Redmond said the Marlins might not necessarily replace Kotchman on the 25-man roster with another primary first baseman. It could be another position player. While not ruling out the possibility, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said he is also reluctant to add a non-roster player because it would mean exposing another member of the 40-man to waivers. The Marlins lost reliever Evan Reed on a waiver claim earlier this week when they designated him for assignment in order to create room on the roster for other additions.

        "Usually first base, it doesn't seem like it's a tough position to fill," Redmond said. "You think of all the positions, you usually have a ton of first basemen. I don't know if I've ever been around a team that hasn't had multiple first basemen. So it's odd that we're sitting here talking about three injured first baseman already this spring. It's definitely been a challenge."

        Kotchman said it's the first time in his career he has suffered a hamstring injury.

        "I heard a pop probably two to three strides before the bag, and kept running, and when I got to the bag I went down," Kotchman said.

        Redmond said the Marlins would wait until Friday to place Kotchman on the DL, at which time they'll make a corresponding move.

Miami Marlins on cusp of baseball history for ineptitude

     WASHINGTON -- The Marlins wake up this morning on the brink of baseball history. They haven't just lost their first two games. They've been blanked in both. And, according to Baseballreference.com, no team since 1916 has started a season by coming up completely empty in its first three games. EVER.

      As it now stands, the Marlins are one of only 11 teams to suffer shutout losses in their first two games. They've played 18 innings and the closest they've come to crossing home plate was when Giancarlo Stanton was tagged out about 10 feet shy of the dish in Monday's 2-0 setback.

      Believe it or not, there actually exists a silver lining -- a tiny thread of hope -- in their early struggles. The St. Louis Cardinals of 1943 also hung up all zeroes in their first two games but managed to finish with 105 victories and a trip to the World Series.

      More often than not, though, putting up a pair of doughnuts to start the season is a sign of things to come. The 1963 Mets would go on to lose 111 games. The 1974 Padres lost 102. And so on and so forth. It's not a pretty picture.

      In reverse chronological order, here are thumbnail sketches of the 10 teams that stumbled out of the starting gate as anemically as the Marlins have:

      2002 San Diego Padres -- The Padres were done in by the Arizona pitching one-two punch of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling before breaking through in the first inning of their third game when Ron Gant's sacrifice fly plated his team's first run. Scoreless innings to start season: 18. Final record: 66-96.

       1994 Pittsburgh Pirates -- Barry Bonds bolted the Steel City following the '92 season, which also happens to be the last time the Bucs posted a winning record. In '94, the Pirates failed to score their first two games against the Giants' John Burkett and Bill Swift. Not until Andy Van Slyde homered off Mark Portugal in the fifth inning of the third game did they end the drought. Scoreless innings to start season: 23. Final record: 53-61.

       1980 Atlanta Braves -- The Braves fired blanks in their first two games, losing to Cincinnati's Frank Pastore and Mike LaCoss, though the second of those two shutouts was called after six due to rain. Not until Biff Pocoroba drove in Chris Chambliss with a RBI single in the 7th inning of the third game could the Braves breathe a bit easier. Scoreless innings to start season: 21. Final record: 81-80.

       1977 Seattle Mariners -- The Mariners came up all goose eggs to the Angels' Frank Tanana and Nolan Ryan to start the season before Dan Meyers drove in Dave Collins with a RBI double in the third inning of the season's third game. Scoreless innings to start season: 21. Final record: 64-98.

       1974 San Diego Padres -- Hey, it's the Padres again. The Dodgers' Don Sutton and Tommy John shackled the Padres' lineup to start the season, and Andy Messersmith kept the scoreless run going before Willie McCovey ended the drought with his RBI single to score Bobby Tolan in the 6th inning of the third game. Scoreless innings to start season: 23. Final record: 60-102.

       1968 Los Angeles Dodgers -- The Dodgers came up short against the Phillies' Chris Short in the season opener before falling to the Mets' Jerry Koosman in the second game. Thanks to Don Drysdale, the Dodgers eked out a 1-0 victory in the third game, scoring their only run in the second inning on Ron Fairly's solo home run off Don Cardwell. Scoreless innings to start season: 19. Final record: 76-86.

        Time out for a trivia question: Ron Fairly hit his first major league home run at the age of 19 and his last when he was 39. Only two players (CORRECTION: three players) in major league history have hit homers as teenagers and in their 40s. Who are they? (Spoiler alert: "Answer Man" has produced the correct answer, and even corrected the original question, down below.)

      1963 New York Mets -- This team was awful, so taking shutout losses in their first two games came as no great surprise. The Cardinals' Ernie Broglio did them in in the season opener while Ray Washburn took care of them in the second game. Duke Snider homered in the second inning of the third game -- off Warren Spahn, no less -- to get the Mets on the board for the first time. Scoreless innings to start season: 19. Final record: 51-111.

        1947 Cleveland Indians -- The Indians opened with shutout losses to the White Sox and Eddie Lopat and the Tigers and Virgil Trucks (who just died a couple of weeks ago) before scoring their first run in the first inning of the third game. Lou Boudreau was the first to touch the plate for the Tribe. Scoreless innings to start season: 18. Final record: 80-74.

        1943 St. Louis Cardinals -- The '43 Cards opened the season with a couple of tough 1-0 losses, losing in 11 innings to the Reds and Johnny Vander Meer in the opener and in 10 innings the following day. Ray Starr started for the Reds. Stan Musial scored the Cardinals' first run in the sixth inning of the third game. Scoreless innings to start season: 26. Final record: 105-49-3.

        1940 Washington Senators -- The Senators were blanked by Boston's Lefty Grove and Jim Bagby in the first two games before scoring off the Yankees' Lefty Gomez in the second inning of the third game. Scoreless innings to start season: 19. Final record: 64-90.

        So pull up a chair later today and see if the Marlins can do what no team has ever done before. Jordan Zimmermann is on the mound for the Nationals.