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40 posts from April 2013

April 15, 2013

Kearns dischaged from hospital, but Stanton still not ready as Marlins remain in limbo

The good news: Austin Kearns has been discharged from the hospital.

The bad news: The Marlins remain in a state of short-handed limbo because neither Giancarlo Stanton (left shoulder) nor Kearns has been cleared to play or placed on the disabled list.

Kearns, taken to a local hospital Sunday morning after showing up to Marlins Park complaining of an irregular heartbeat, was on his way over to the ballpark Monday afternoon but still has has a couple tests to do Tuesday according to manager Mike Redmond.

Stanton, who hasn't played since last Wednesday, told Redmond his shoulder is "still pinching him" and was seeing a doctor again on Monday. Redmond said he hopes to have a better idea on how long both players will be out soon.

"Like I talked about [Sunday] we're playing short-handed," the skipper said. "We can't play short-handed for too long. It's too tough. That's something we have to figure out and try to evaluate -- how long these things are going to be.

"We don't want to put guys on the DL if we don't have to -- if we feel its just going to be a couple days and we can overcome it. That's just kind of where we're at."

> Backup first baseman Joe Mahoney, recovering from an intercostal strain, is still working down in Single A Jupiter. He's played in two games thus far and is 5-for-8 with a home run and an RBI. Redmond said he would be playing again Monday night against Bradenton.

MONDAY'S LINEUPS

> Nationals (7-5): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Jayson Werth RF, 3. Bryce Harper LF, 4. Ryan Zimmerman 3B, 5. Ian Desmond SS, 6. Tyler Moore 1B, 7. Steve Lombardozzi 2B, 8. Kurt Suzuki C, 9. Jordan Zimmerman RHP.

> Marlins (2-10): 1. Juan Pierre LF, 2. Chris Coghlan CF, 3. Placido Polanco 3B, 4. Greg Dobbs 1B, 5. Justin Ruggiano RF, 6. Rob Brantly C, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Donovan Solano 2B, 9. Wade LeBlanc LHP.

April 14, 2013

Marlins power drought reaches 8 games, one short of team record

          If and when the Marlins trade Giancarlo Stanton, it might serve them well to find someone else capable of putting the ball over the fence, at least once in a while. By coming up short again on Sunday, the Marlins have now gone eight straight games without a home run, making it the second-longest power drought in franchise history -- by one game. The 1993 expansion Marlins hold the mark with a nine-game homer-less streak.

          The last Marlin to homer was Greg Dobbs on April 5 at Citi Field in New York. The team's two homers puts them last in the majors. The Home Run Sculpture is supposed to light up and whirl, spouting water and so forth. But the gigantic contraption has remained lifeless this season.

          "I've heard it's great," manager Mike Redmond said following Sunday's loss. "I've heard it's quite a sight. I just haven't seen it yet."

          Stanton has not only failed to homer or drive in a run, he remains sidelined with a shoulder bruise. Stanton said he doubts he'll play Monday when the Washington Nationals send out Jordan Zimmermann to start the three-game series. Stanton has three career homers against Zimmermann.

          On top of that, ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Texas Rangers are starting to pay closer attention to Stanton. Wrote Olney: "The Rangers are poking around and doing some early reconnaissance on how they could put together some kind of deal for Giancarlo Stanton."

Austin Kearns taken to hospital with irregular heartbeat

       For the second straight day, the Marlins have made a late lineup change due to an unexpected development. Manager Mike Redmond said reserve outfielder Austin Kearns was taken to a local hospital this morning after showing up to Marlins Park complaining of an irregular heartbeat.

       "He came in with a speeding heart rate, so he went immediately to the hospital," Redmond said, adding that Kearns was accompanied by one of the Marlins' trainers. "He's over there being evaulated."

       Kearns started Saturday and struck out in the ninth inning the batter before Chris Coghlan won the game with an infield hit. Kearns struggled in spring training and is hitless in 10 at bats this season.

       "They just told me he came in this morning complaining that his heart was beating fast," Redmond said. "You don't mess around with those things."

       Justin Ruggiano, who was a late scratch from Saturday's game due to tightness in his groin, took Kearns' spot in the lineup for today's game. The Marlins are also playing without Giancarlo Stanton, who is sidelined with a bruised left shoulder. Stanton said it may be a few days before he's able to return to the lineup.

        "With Stanton out, we're very thin," Redmond said. "We're running out of options out there. So he's (Ruggiano) got to play. That's where we're at. It's crazy. We've had a lot of stuff, starting from the last week of spring training when we lost a couple of starters (pitchers), losing a first baseman, Stanton's out, Kearns is out, Ruggiano has tightened up....My first two weeks managing a major league baseball team has been an adventure. But we're still piecing it together."

        Given the depleted state of the roster, the Marlins might be forced to make moves in order to bring in reinforcements.

        "We can't play down two or three guys for very long," Redmond said. "There's too may unknowns right now. We've got to wait to see how Kearnsy is and see how Ruggiano does in the game today."

        Today's lineup:

        1. Pierre, lf; 2. Coghlan, cf; 3. Polanco, 3b; 4. Dobbs, 1b; 5. Ruggiano, rf; 6. Brantly, c; 7. Valaika, 2b; 8. Hechavarria, ss; 9. Slowey, p.

April 13, 2013

Stanton has bruised shoulder; Aardsma signs minor-league deal

    A rare bit of good news for the Marlins to begin this Saturday. Giancarlo Stanton has a bruised left shoulder and is listed as day-to-day. Stanton had a MRI, which didn't reveal any structural damage. Stanton, who has yet to homer or drive in a run, could be back in the lineup within a few days.

    In other news, veteran reliever David Aardsma has signed a minor-league deal with the Marlins and will report to Triple A New Orleans. Aardsma announced the deal on his Twitter account.

    The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, made one relief appearance in 2012 with the Yankees, and was released by New York on April 4. He appeared in eight spring training games, finishing with a 3.52 ERA in 7 2/3 innings.

    Aardsma totaled 69 saves with the Seattle Mariners in 2009-10.

    Today's lineup:

    1. Pierre, lf; 2. Solano, 2b; 3. Polanco, 3b; 4. Kearns, rf; 5. Dobbs, 1b; 6. Ruggiano, cf; 7. Brantly, c; 8. Hechavarria, ss; Fernandez, p.

April 12, 2013

Stanton to have MRI on left shoulder, likely to miss rest of weekend

The Marlins, who fell to 1-9 and remain on pace with the 1998 team for the worst start in franchise history (1-11), could potentially be in even bigger trouble if the pain in slugger Giancarlo Stanton's left shoulder turns out to be worse than expected.

The All-Star right fielder was scratched from the lineup an hour before the start of the game Friday -- a pain he says has been escalating since he made a diving catch last weekend in New York. He's scheduled to have an MRI on Saturday and will at the very least sit out a few days.

"I wasn't too sure if it was the weather or the dive or what not," said Stanton, who took batting practice before the game. "I felt it [during batting practice] and I didn't like it."

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said the Marlins are in a wait-and-see approach for now.

"I would say it's fair to say he's not going to play tomorrow," Redmond said. "We're going to reevaluate him tomorrow."

Latin Band provides soundtrack at Marlins Park

Who says Marlins games are sleep inducing?

The Marlins Park "Pachanga Band" makes sure that doesn't happen -- at least when they're hired to come work. The band performed during Friday's game against the Phillies. 

Last season the Marlins hired them to perform 26 times and then a few more during the World Baseball Classic. I went downstairs to record one of their performances tonight as they sat in left field near the foul pole. 

Stanton scratched from Friday's lineup with sore left shoulder

Marlins All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton was scratched from Friday night's lineup with a sore left shoulder about an hour before first pitch.

It's the first time this season Stanton hasn't been in the lineup. Stanton, who took batting practice with his teammates, was replaced in right field by Austin Kearns. 

Manager Mike Redmond moved his 4-5-6 hitters -- Placido Polanco, Justin Ruggiano and Greg Dobbs -- up a spot in the batting order and slotted Kearns sixth. 

Marlins watch '42', Fernandez little nervous for home debut and a lot of injury updates (minors included)

Baseball will continue its tradition Monday of honoring the 66th year anniversary of Hall of Fame Dodger Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947 by having all its players wear Robinson's retired number of '42.'

Thursday night a couple of Marlins -- utility infielder Chris Valaika, rookie catcher Kyle Skipworth and general manager Mike Hill -- attended a special screening of the new movie '42' chronicling Robinson's story over at Dolphin Mall in west Miami-Dade.

Hill, along with several local dignitaries, presented a check for $4,200 to the Jackie Robinson foundation, which provides comprehensive scholarships and support services to minority students enrolled at institutions of higher education.

As for the movie, Hill said he enjoyed it.

"You know the story about him breaking through the barrier, but I didn't know it was like that," Valaika said. "Those scenes with him getting heckled by the [Phillies] manager [Ben Chapman] were pretty intense and then when he went in the tunnel and broke down like that. It's unbelievable what he had to do. It took a special person like they said in the movie not to fight back."

FERNANDEZ A LITTLE NERVOUS ABOUT FIRST HOME START

Marlins rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez said he expects to have a few more butterflies in his stomach -- and a few more friends and family in the seats -- Saturday when he makes his Marlins Park debut against Cole Hamels and the Phillies.

"I got a lot of family coming that couldn't come to New York," said Fernandez, who became the youngest pitcher in 30 years to register eight or more strikeouts in his MLB debut last Sunday against the Mets.

"Two or three of my cousins and a lot of friends and people I knew in Tampa will be coming. It will be fun."

Not only is Fernandez going to have more friends and family in the crowd, but pitching in a city with so many Cuban-Americans is also something he admits is weighing on his mind. It took the 20-year old four attempts and the near drowning of his mother to flee from Cuba five years ago. His story of defection resonates with many here.

"The kids and fans -- they know everytime I go out I'm going to give 100 percent for me and the fans," Fernandez said when asked if he thinks he can serve as a role model for Cuban-Americans in South Florida. "I love to compete. They're going to enjoy every time I go out there.

"I wasn't nervous last Sunday at all. I don't know, maybe Saturday, first start in Miami, maybe I'll be a little nervous. But it's not a big deal. After I throw the first pitch, I'll be doing what I do. At the end of the day it's pitching and time to get outs."

Manager Mike Redmond said Friday he isn't worried about Fernandez psyching himself out.

"I hope he just continues to do what he did, build off what he did his last start. He was totally under control," said Redmond, who saw Fernandez give up just three hits, one walk and one earned run over five innings.

"I'm sure all those things will go through his mind. Will he be more amped up? I'm sure he probably will. But I think he understands his emotions and what he has to do. As a young kid I think that's why we're all impressed with him. I feel confident after that first pitch or first couple pitches he'll gather himself."

INJURY UPDATES

The Marlins endured quite a few injuries this spring. A few guys finally appear to be getting healthy.

> Right-hander Henderson Alvarez threw his first bullpen on Friday since going on the disabled list March 27 with right shoulder inflammation. Alvarez threw 15 pitches and said he felt fine afterward.

"He'll ramp up the pitches probably with some change ups in there [next time]," Redmond said. "He'll start a progression, building his arm strength back up."

> Backup first baseman Joe Mahoney (intercostal strain) on the DL since March 22nd has played in a few extended spring training games and will play his first rehab game with Single A Jupiter Friday night.

Marlins vice president of player development Marty Scott had a few updates for our Clark Spencer on some of the franchise's top minor league talents.

> Outfielder Christian Yelich (heel/foot) did full sale running "with absolutely no pain" on Friday. He will see a doctor on Monday and will likely get cleared to play in extended spring games before he is moved up to Double A Jacksonville.

> Outfielder Jake Marisnick (broken bone left hand) will serve as a designated hitter Saturday in extended spring training. He's probably four to six days away from being shipped up to Jacksonville.

> Marcell Ozuna (broken bone left hand) has been cleared to take batting practice and is probably four to five days away from playing in a rehab game.

> Left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney (lat injury) will throw a 25-pitch bullpen Saturday. Heaney, the team's 2012 first round pick, has been playing long toss.

FRIDAY'S LINEUPS

> Phillies (4-5): 1. Ben Revere CF, 2. Jimmy Rollins SS, 3. Chase Utley 2B, 4. Ryan Howard 1B, 5. Michael Young 3B, 6. Domonic Brown LF, 7. Laynce Nix RF, 8. Erik Kratz C, 9. LHP John Lannan.

> Marlins (1-8): 1. Juan Pierre LF, 2. Donovan Solano 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Placido Polanco 3B, 5. Greg Dobbs 1B, 6. Justin Ruggiano CF, 7. Rob Brantly C, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. RHP Ricky Nolasco.

Too Awful to Watch: Marlins TV Ratings Take a Dive

It used to be that no matter how mediocre the Marlins were, TV ratings pretty much held their own. Bad baseball is still baseball, after all. But that isn't the case with this year's team, which fans have figured out rather quickly is both bad and boring. Attendance is down. Way down. And so are the ratings

From our own Barry Jackson:

    Marlins TV ratings have been dreadful, with the first two home games this week generating a 1.8 and 1.5 – numbers comparable to daytime game shows – followed by Wednesday’s embarrassing 0.8 – equaling .8 percent of Dade/Broward homes with TV sets. Conversely, opposing Heat games on Tuesday and Wednesday drew a 9.4 and 6.7...

Watching grass grow is more interesting than watching the Marlins' anemic lineup hang up zeroes, inning after inning. If the Marilns are shut out again tonight, they'll set a major league record for most blankings -- five -- in a team's first 10 games (at least since 1916, according to baseballreference.com).

My guess is rookie sensation Jose Fernandez, who takes the mound again on Saturday for his second big-league start, will nudge the ratings meter up a hair every five days. But if the hitless wonders continue flailing the way they have been, there could be a lot of empty screens in South Florida homes this summer whenever the Marlins are playing.        

April 10, 2013

VIDEO: Redmond says offense has to start taking the pressure off the pitchers

Here is what manager Mike Redmond had to say after the Marlins fell to 1-8 and were swept by the visiting Braves on Wednesday.

MARLINS POST GAME NOTES

> Alex Sanabia became the first Marlins starter to give up more than three runs in an outing this season. The staff entered Wednesday's game with the fourth-best ERA in the majors (2.56).

> Placido Polanco finished 2-for-4 with a double and is now 9 for 22 (.409) with two doubles and three RBI over his last five games.

> Chris Valaika made his first career start at first base and finished 1-for-3 at the plate with a double and a walk. He was charged with an error on his first fielding opportunity, but rebounded and finished with five putouts and two assists.

> Kyle Skipworth made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter and bounced into a double play in the seventh inning.