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40 posts from April 2013

April 23, 2013

Frozen Fish: Marlins set for wintry doubleheader with Twins

    [UPDATE: The Marlins just announced they're flip-flopping today's starters, with Jose Fernandez in the first game and Ricky Nolasco starting the second. Also, the Game 1 lineup is posted: 1. Pierre, lf; 2. Polanco, 3b; 3. Stanton, rf; 4. Dobbs DH; 5. Ruggiano, cf; 6. Mahoney, 1b; 7. Olivo, c; 8. Green, ss; 9. Solano, 2b -- Fernandez - P]

    MINNEAPOLIS -- Workers are busy clearing Target Field of snow and ice left from the storm that blew through Minnesota and forced the postponement of last night's Marlins/Twins game. But it doesn't look like there will be any delays, and the first game should start on time at 2:10 p.m. (EST). The second game is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. (EST) but, unlike the first game, will not be televised.

     The field is relatively clear, save for patches of snow in right field that should be gone by game time.

     Still waiting for lineups but, just to give you some idea of how things look, here are a couple of photos I took on the way in:

     The top photo shows a worker clearning snow from the seats in right while the bottom photo is the icy backstop screen.

      2013-04-23 09.28.10
2013-04-23 09.33.59

April 22, 2013

Marlins postponed; DH Tuesday

     MINNEAPOLIS -- An approaching winter storm that could dump as much as eight inches of snow has led to the postponement of tonight's game between the Marlins and Twins at Target Field.

     The two teams will now meet Tuesday in a split, day-night doubleheader, with the first game scheduled for 1:10 p.m. (2:10 EST) and 7:10 p.m. (8:10 p.m.).

     Ricky Nolasco and Jose Fernandez are expected to start for the Marlins, but the order remains unclear for now. 

April 21, 2013

Giancarlo Stanton on 1st RBI: "Hallelujah" (w/photo)

    CINCINNATI -- It took him 13 games and 48 at bats, but Giancarlo Stanton on Sunday finally drove in his first run of the season with an otherwise meaningless single in the ninth inning of a 10-6 win by the Reds. The slugger's response, which dripped with sarcasm: "Oh my gosh. Hallelujah."

    It's been a horrific April for Stanton. Not only is he hitting just .188 with no home runs, but was charged with three fielding errors in the Cincinnati series, including one on Sunday.

    "I probably could have batted left-handed and done the equivalent of what I've done so far this year until my last at-bat," Stanton said. "I could not play worse if I tried."

    ___________________

    His ego bruised after being lifted for a pinch-runner on Saturday, Miguel Olivo challenged Rob Brantly to a foot race before Sunday's game -- and won. Brantly was sent in to run for Olivo the day before.

    "It surprised me a little bit," Olivo said of being replaced by Brantly after he singled in Saturday's 10th inning.

    On Sunday, Olivo challenged Brantly to a race on the field at Great American Ball Park.

    "I told him if he beat me, I'd give him $1,000," Olivo said. "But I beat you, you take care of all the luggage for everybody in the hotel. And he will. He will carry the luggage for the whole team."

    Olivo didn't just beat Brantly once in a race that was about 90 feet in distance. He beat him once more for good measure. The result: Brantly will have to carry each player's suitcase to his room when the team gets to Minneapolis later tonight.

    [UPDATED: Brantly paid up on the wager. And here's the photo to prove it]

Brantly

April 20, 2013

Juan Pierre: "Ugliest day of the season"

     CINCINNATI -- Juan Pierre was blunt about his performance Saturday.
     
     "The ugliest day of the season," Pierre said after going 0 for 6, striking out three time for the second straight day, missing a fly ball in left, and failing to drop down a critical bunt in the fourth.
 
     Manager Mike Redmond said he would sit the slumping veteran on Sunday.
     "I'm not sure what's going on," Redmond said of his slumping leadoff hitter. "He's just in one of those funks."
     Pierre went down looking in all three of his whiffs Saturday. It marked only the third time in his career that he struck out at least twice in consecutive games. Perhaps even more troubling to the Marlins: Pierre's .225 on-base percentage is the worst in the majors among leadoff men with at least 50 plate appearances.
     "It's been ugly," Pierre said. "It's been ugly throughout the whole season, and this capped it off right there. It's one you've got to have amnesia on, for sure."
     On the season, Pierre has struck out 10 times but drawn only one walk.

April 19, 2013

John Maine out, Tom Koehler in for Marlins

    CINCINNATI -- John Maine whiffed the last two Cincinnati Reds hitters he faced Thursday night with called third strikes. In the end, it did him little good. Maine was designated for assignment on Friday as the 31-year-old's comeback bid didn't pan out, at least not with the Marlins, who called up right-hander Tom Koehler from Triple A New Orleans to take his place.

    Taking over for Jose Fernandez in Thursday's 11-1 drubbing, Maine gave up six runs on four hits and five walks in only two innings of mop-up work. That further bloated his unsightly WHIP figure in four games this season to 2.727.

     Koehler takes Maine's roster spot, and it's unclear for now what plans the Marlins have for him. Most likely he'll start out in the bullpen. But, given the fact he's been starting for the Zephyrs and made his last start on Sunday, he could be in line to take Wade LeBlanc's spot in the Marlins' rotation if the left-hander continues to flounder. LeBlanc is scheduled to start Saturday here in Cincinnati.

      _________________

      Joe Mahoney, fresh off the DL, will make his first start for the Marlins tonight and bat cleanup behind Giancarlo Stanton.

      Here's the lineup: 1. Pierre, lf; 2. Polanco, 3b; 3. Stanton, rf; 4. Mahoney, 1b; 5. Ruggiano, cf; 6. Brantly, c; 7. Green, ss; 8. Solano, 2b; 9. Slowey.

April 18, 2013

Hechavarria heads to DL; Green called up; Eovaldi transferred to 60-day DL

Not a good day for the Marlins so far.

Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who injured his right elbow making a throw before the game Wednesday, has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. The Marlins have called up veteran Nick Green, 34, to replace him. Green was hitting .293 with a home run and four RBI in 11 games at Triple A New Orleans.

The Marlins also announced that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, the center piece in their trade that sent Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers, has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Eovaldi had a pretty good spring before saying he felt pain in his right bicep area. When we talked to him during the Marlins home opener he seemed optimistic he might be cleared to begin throwing soon. This is an obvious setback.

April 17, 2013

Hechavarria may not make road trip with Marlins

Just when Mike Redmond thought his team was getting healthy it appears more health concerns have reached the forefront.

Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who hit the lone home run during the home stand and injured himself Wednesday making a throw during batting practice, may not make the trip with the team Thursday.

Redmond said the Marlins could opt to use Chris Valaika at shortstop or move second baseman Donovan Solano to short if needed. Valaika was charged with a fielding error Wednesday night. 

“We got some options there,” Redmond said. “Obviously we can't afford another injury. It seems like we get a guy back and lose another guy. It's tough right now.”

Redmond said Hechavarria is set to be evaluated Thursday.

"I think he made a throw and had some discomfort in his elbow," Redmond said. "That's why we took him out. We should know more tomorrow hopefully."

Redmond hopes to establish some lineup stability when Stanton returns Thursday

Since he's managed the Marlins Mike Redmond hasn't been able to put the same lineup on the field on back-to-back nights yet this season. In fact, he's put 14 different lineups on the field in the team's first 15 games.

Redmond hopes that begins to change Thursday in Cincinnati when All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton is expected to be back in the lineup.

Stanton, who is out of the lineup for the sixth straight day Wednesday with a bruised left shoulder, took batting practice early on Wednesday and told Redmond he feels good enough to get back in there once the Marlins take off on a five-game road trip. There's a chance Stanton could pinch-hit late in the game Wednesday, Redmond said, if the Marlins need him. But the preference is to give him the night off.

"It's huge," Redmond said of getting his No. 3-hitter back. "We've kept battling. Obviously we know he's such a big part of our lineup. But at the same time too these games don't stop. You keep playing, keep grinding. Guys have to fill that spot until he gets back. We've battled, had scrappy at-bats, guys piecing it together. It will be good to get him back in the lineup with that consistency.

"I don't want to have all these different lineups. I'd love to write a lineup down and say this is our right-handed lineup and this is our left-handed lineup. We just haven't had that yet. Tomorrow is a start in that process of having a little more stable lineup."

> UPDATE... And just when Redmond spends 10 minutes speaking of lineup stability, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria gets scratched from Wednesday's lineup with a sore right elbow. 

> Outfielder Austin Kearns, making his first start since he was hospitalized for a night on Sunday with an irregular heartbeat, said Wednesday his heartbeat is something he will have to monitor the rest of the season. Kearns, who turns 33 on May 20th, said it took medication to get his heart back to normal.

"I was a little nervous, never had anything like that before," Kearns said. "Stuff kind of in my family -- my dad's side, heart problems run on that side. That was kind of the red flag for me."

Kearns said several Marlins teammates came to visit him Sunday night to cheer him up. He was released on Monday and cleared for baseball activities before the game Tuesday.

"I really appreciated that," Kearns said of his teammates' hospital visit. "They kind of hung out. Some good dudes here."

> Center fielder Justin Ruggiano said if the Marlins' offense continues to produce as it did Tuesday he's going to find a way to bring the five-foot, 50-pound bat he brought out for batting practice before the game on the road trip. Ruggiano referred to the bat, a gift to video coaching coordinator Cullen McRae for his 40th birthday, as the teams' rally bat.

"If we score eight runs tonight and win I'm bringing it on the airplane with me, putting it on the seat right next to me," Ruggiano said.

> Redmond was happy to see backup first baseman Joe Mahoney taking swings with the team on Wednesday. The big 6-6, 245-pounder left-handed hitter took his first cuts with the Marlins since coming off the disabled list with an intercostal strain. During batting practice Wednesday against Redmond, Mahoney crushed nine home runs including six into the upper deck in right field -- the kind of power rarely seen from a left-handed hitter with the Marlins.

"Trying to gage it a little bit," Mahoney said of his big blasts during BP. "Felt good. I was feeling good down there [in Jupiter]. They have a need and that's what I'm here for -- to help these guys win any way I can."

With the Marlins facing a left-hander Wednesday and Thursday it's likely Mahoney won't get his first start until Friday when the team takes on right-hander Mat Latos in Cincinnati. But even then, Redmond said, he probably won't put Mahoney into the cleanup spot behind Stanton. 

"Right now [Greg] Dobbs has given us good at-bats. Him and Polanco have given us consistent at-bats in that three, four hole. I don't know that I would take them out of there," Redmond said. "Like I said, we're going to figure out where and when we can get him in the game and see what we've got. He's had how many at-bats in the minor leagues? 15, 16 at-bats in A-ball. We just have to get them in there and see where he's at with his timing and all that stuff. It's different pitching in the big leagues than in A-ball."

Mahoney, a first baseman by trade, could play an outfield corner spot in a pinch, too.

> Right-hander Henderson Alvarez, on the disabled list since March 27th with right-shoulder inflammation, threw 35 pitches during a bullpen session Wednesday and is scheduled to throw 45 on Saturday. Redmond said Alvarez, slated to be the team's No. 4 starter before getting hurt, would then likely pitch in a simulated game next week.

> Marlins closer Steve Cishek, a native of Falmouth, Mass. and a huge Red Sox fan growing up, said he was happily surprised by the fact Sweet Caroline was played during the eighth inning of Tuesday's game in honor of the victims in Boston. The song is a fixture at Fenway Park and Red Sox games.

"I knew we were going to have a moment of silence, but when they brought out Sweet Caroline I thought it was pretty awesome," Cishek said. "I saw the Yankees did it too. That was classy. It's cool to see that even with the rivalry. Everyone is aware of what's happened and just showing their respect to the people who suffered. It's been cool to see."

Cishek said his friend's girlfriend, who was injured in the bombings, had surgery Tuesday for burns on her body and could have surgery again Friday. "My family and friends and I just keep praying for her and anybody affected," he said.

WEDNESDAY'S LINEUP

> Marlins (3-11): 1. Juan Pierre LF, 2. Donovan Solano 2B, 3. Placido Polanco 3B, 4. Justin Ruggiano CF, 5. Greg Dobbs 1B, 6. Austin Kearns RF, 7. Miguel Olivo C, 8. Chris Valaika SS, 9. Ricky Nolasco RHP.

April 16, 2013

Giancarlo Stanton takes batting practice; return still uncertain

Giancarlo Stanton was not in the lineup for the fifth consecutive game Tuesday, but took his first batting practice since suffering a bruised shoulder.

Stanton took several swings hitting the ball often to the warning track. Stanton also did some throwing and catching pregame.

Redmond did not give an exact timetable on when Stanton would return, but said Stanton told him he felt good after swinging the bat.

"We're just going to wait and see how he responds," Redmond said. "He hadn't done anything in five days so we'll see how he feels the rest of the day and look at him tomorrow and go from there. I'm hoping he shows up tomorrow and feel even better."

Redmond said he wasn't leaning toward automatically giving Stanton another day off if he felt a lot better Wednesday.

"We don't want to push him. We want to make sure everything is good."

KEARNS CLEARED

Outfielder Austin Kearns underwent his follow-up medical tests, and was cleared to play Tuesday night. Kearns was hospitalized Sunday after complaining of an irregular heartbeat.

LINEUP SWITCH

The Marlins made a tweak to the top of their lineup Tuesday putting Chris Coghlan in the leadoff spot with Juan Pierre batting second.

LINEUPS

Marlins: Coghlan rf, Pierre lf, Polanco 3b, Dobbs 1b, Ruggiano cf, Brantly c, Hechavarria ss, Solano 2b, Sanabia rhp

Nationals: Werth rf, Bernadina cf, R. Zimmerman 3b, LaRoche 1b, Desmond ss, Moore lf, Lombardozzi 2b, Suzuki c, Haren rhp

April 15, 2013

Stanton will attempt to loosen his aching left shoulder up, take BP before Tuesday's game

Marlins All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who has missed the team’s last four games with a sore left shoulder, will try to loosen up and take batting practice Tuesday.

Stanton said he’s still experiencing a “pinching” pain when he tries to raise his arm, but will try to give it a go Tuesday if he's able to take batting practice pain-free.

“It's gotten significantly better,” said Stanton, who injured the shoulder making a diving catch against the Mets two weekends ago. “Before I couldn't even lift my arm up at all. It's one of those dead arm, dead shoulder type deals.

"It's where the bone connects. That's where the bruise is."

Stanton, who took an MRI over the weekend, received a doctor's checkup in the Marlins clubhouse Monday.

"I told him where I was at. It's gotten better. But it's still there," Stanton said "The plan is to warm up tomorrow and swing and see where its at. To bring [my left arm] up, forward [my shoulder] doesn't like that. It feels like its being compressed. It hurts putting a shirt on. We'll see."

Stanton said it stinks having to watch his teammates struggle.

"I don't like it," he said. "To sit there knowing I can't do anything at this point and I didn't even do much [before] when I was there. At least I could give something to them [before]. It's not fun to watch. I'd rather be participating."

> Marlins closer Steve Cishek, who comes from Falmouth, Mass., spent most of the day Monday checking up on friends back home who may have been injured in the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

He told The Miami Herald after Monday's 10-3 loss to the Nationals that a girlfriend of an acquaintance was injured in the blast and was going to have surgery, but it was not believed to be life-threatening.

Cishek said he never attended the Boston Marathon when he lived in New England, but obviously has a lot of friends and family back home who have in the past.