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2 posts from June 1, 2013

June 01, 2013

Marcell Ozuna thinking hits, not home runs; Casey Kotchman nearing return from DL

Marcell Ozuna takes a 16-game hitting streak into today's game with the Mets. That's the longest active streak in the majors and the second-longest ever by a Marlins rookie. Edgar Renteria hit in 22 straight for the Marins in 1996.

Before beginning the streak, Ozuna said he fell into a bit of a rut at the plate when he took aim for the fences by trying to pull the ball. It was when he changed his approach by  hitting toward the middle of the field that he said he began having success.

"My mentality right now is keep (my average) at .300," said Ozuna, who began the day hitting .330.

Ozuna has yet to display the kind of power he showed in the minors when he averaged 23 home runs from 2010-12 but expects that to improve with time.

"It'll come later," he said. "I'm just trying to hit the ball right now."

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First baseman Casey Kotchman could be activated from the disabled list on Monday when the Marlins open a six-game road trip to Philadelphia and New York, according to manager Mike Redmond. Kotchman,who has been out since the second game of the season with a hamstring injury, has been serving a rehabilitation assignment at Single A Jupiter and is eligible to come off the 60-day DL on Monday.

"He's close," Redmond said. "He could end up traveling with us on Sunday."

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Redmond has decided to pair veteran catcher Jeff Mathis with the Marlins' young starters, which is why he'll behind the plate later today when Jose Fernandez takes the mound for MIami. Mathis was also in the lineup on Friday for Jacob Turner's start.

"I like him catching a couple of our younger guys," Redmond said. "I just think it's more comforting for our younger pitchers -- not that Brantly can't do it. I thought it was really important last night for Turner, in his first start of the year, to have a veteran guy back there to guide him through it.  The same for Jose."

Redmond said Brantly "is still going to do the majority of the catching."

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Ed Lucas had visions of following in the footsteps of former Dartmouth quarterback Jay Fiedler as a college freshman. But the 31-year-old Lucas, who collected his first major league hit last night, scrapped the plan after his freshman season and turned his attention to baseball.

"He was our knight in shining armor on the football team," Lucas said of Fiedler, who was all-Ivy at Dartmouth from 1991-93, seven years before Lucas arrived on campus. "I went there to play football but I was only on the team my freshman year. Third string. Never got in a game. Got to make the road trips. Carried the clipboard. Had the hat on and the headset."

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TODAY'S LINEUPS:

Marlins: 1. Pierre, lf; 2. Polanco, 3b; 3. Dietrich, 2b; 4. Ozuna, rf; 5. Coghlan, cf; 6. Dobbs, 1b; 7. Hechavarria, ss; 8. Mathis, c; 9. Fernandez, p.

Mets: 1. Quintanilla, ss; 2. Murphy, 2b; 3. Wright, 3b; 4. Duda, lf; 5. Buck, c; 6. Ankiel, cf; 7. Davis, 1b; 8. Valdespin, rf; 9. McHugh, p.

Umpires: HP -- Chad Fairchild; 1B -- Jeff Kellogg; 2B -- Eric Cooper; 3B -- Paul Schrieber 

Jeff Allison: 10 Years Later

Monday marks the 10th anniversary of arguably the Marlins' most frustrating first-round draft pick in franchise history. Not frustrating in the sense of picking a player who failed to make it or didn't live up to initial expectations. There have been plenty of examples of those along the way: Josh Booty (1994) Jaime Jones (1995) Aaron Akin (1997) and Brett Sinkbeil (2006), just to name a few.

But the selection of Peabody, Mass., prep star Jeff Allison with the 16th overall pick in 2003 turned into a different kind of frustrating in the sense that the young pitcher had all the markings of a future star until his chronic bouts with drug addition ruined his baseball career and nearly took his life. Allison never threw a pitch in the majors.

With this year's draft set for Thursday, MLB Network will be taking a look back at the '03 draft when the Marlins picked Allison and then watched helplessly over the ensuing years as the promise belonging to the pitcher began to crumble. MLB Network will be airing a profile of Allison, contrasting his troubled past with the present, at 5 p.m. Sunday. Peter Gammons reports. Here's are some excerpts, as well as a video clip:

Jeff Allison on if he ever finds himself saying “what if?”: All the time. I was a number one pick for a Major League Baseball team. I felt like I could do whatever I wanted.

High school friend Andrew Coppola on opposing players facing Allison in high school: Opposing players would get congratulations on their bench for fouling a pitch off.

Allison on his Draft day experience: Once the middle of the first round hit, 14, 15 and 16, I remember my computer went off…I was never able to hear myself being called up on the Draft board.

Allison on being selected in the first round by the Marlins: Immediately, emotions ran high. It’s probably the one time that I cried and cried a lot, and I wasn’t ashamed to.

Allison on ending up in jail: The most ironic part about being where I was, was about 20 yards across the street was the Greensboro Grasshoppers’ stadium that I played in the year before, and I’m sitting there watching their games on TV at night.

Allison on the moment where he said enough was enough: I was so burnt out. I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I remember sitting there on a tree at 4:30 in the morning. It was raining out. At any given point, I could have given in to [the] temptation of not wanting to be here anymore, and I didn’t. I stood up and I walked 33 miles at 4:30 in the morning to get home. So, that was my bottom. When I got home, my mother sat there with a candle lit on a mantle because she told me, she goes, “Every time you leave, I light a candle for you because I never know if you’re going to come back.”

Allison on being named to the 2008 Florida State League All-Star team: I cried on the bus when they told me. I’ll never forget it. You think of it like, it’s an A-ball All-Star team, but you know what? I went from dying twice to being an All-Star in baseball. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the big leagues. To me, I did it, I made it and I was proud.

Allison on dedicating his life to helping kids fight addiction: In my personal life, I’m still fighting what’s being tossed in these younger kids’ direction. I’ll do anything. I’ll go to war with these kids to fight that disease of addiction. That’s why every single day, I wake up and [if] I get to help at least one person, I did my job. And when I do that right, I don’t wonder “What if?” I don’t have to."