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23 posts from September 2013

September 11, 2013

Jose Fernandez apologizes profusely for hot-dogging first career home run against Braves

Jose Fernandez saved his first home run for his final at-bat of his rookie season.

But in the end Wednesday, the hit was the last thing anybody was talking about. It was the first three steps he took out of the batter's box, the flip of his bat and the hot-dogging he did before rounding the bases, an immature, rookie mistake his manager said and one the Braves took exception to.

"I took the first two steps and right away my reaction was 'Man I got to run,'" Fernandez said. "It was just not good. I walked the first three steps and I said 'What I'm doing? I'm not in high school no more. Run.' I have to respect the game a lot more than I did there."

"I feel embarrassed. I feel like I don't deserve to be here. This isn't high school no more. This is a professional game and professional players doing what they're supposed to do. I don't think this was supposed to happen. And I'm embarrassed. Hopefully it won't happen again. I made a mistake and I'm going to learn from it."

The Braves obviously weren't happy. Benches and bullpens cleared as the teams came face-to-face at the plate. But no punches were ever thrown.

Fernandez said Braves catcher Brian McCann, an All-Star teammate, defused the situation.

"He and I are really close. Freddie Freeman too. He told me 'Buddy you can't do that.' [I said] 'I know man. The game got the best of me," Fernandez said. "If at any moment if there was going to be a fight, he was talking to me like a friend. I wouldn't say as a friend, I would say as a Dad teaching a kid. That's how it felt. I don't think it was a fight kind of stuff. It was a friend type of thing."

Fernandez came over to the Braves locker room and spoke to McCann and pitcher Mike Minor outside after the game, apologizing for his actions.

"He took exception to Gattis' home run [the half inning prior," McCann said. "You could tell that walking off the field. He happened to hit a home run and stood there. I just told him you can't do that. You're going to get someone hurt. It's just something that didn't need to happen. I think he realized that he messed up. I think the emotions got the best of him tonight."

That being said, Redmond wasn't happy. Neither were his teammates. Fernandez several teammates took him into the walkway near the clubhouse and talked to him about his mistake. A pitcher who has always used his emotions to fuel him, it's obvious they finally caught up to Fernandez Wednesday.

"When you watch him pitch, he's got a lot of things he does on the field you could do without," McCann said.

"It's one of those things, probably immaturity a little bit," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's a playful guy on the mound, and he likes to have fun, and we like to have fun too. If he's going to play that game, which is fine, he shouldn't get upset when we hit a home run and have fun ourselves. It was boys being boys after that. I'm going to chalk it up to a young kid that's really talented, and he's going to be around in the big leagues for a lot of years."

Redmond said the antics ruined the night for him. Fernandez gave up just five hits and one earned run over seven innings.

"I think tonight showed some immaturity on Jose's part and his youth -- not to make excuses for it," Redmond said. "Showing the other team up with a home run, that's not what we're doing here. That's not what we're trying to do. I know he got caught up in emotion, but I'm not happy. It really ruined the night for me. I know that will never happen again.

"In this game you have to control everything. Your emotions are just as big a part of the game as your physical skills. You have to be able to emotionally slow the game down and all the things tonight brough -- his last start, the Braves, big crowd -- sometimes that shows he's 21 and he's human. He's an emotional guy and that's the part of the game he's going to have to learn and get a hold of. You got to realize your going to give up a hit, you're going to give up a home run. But like I said those are those some of the aspects of the game he's going to have to continue to learn."

Redmond said the Marlins just aren't a team that deserves to hot dog it.

"We're 30 something games under .500. We don't have the right to be flashy or show anybody up," he said. "We haven't earned that. I think it's a learning experience for him. I think he understands that. I think he'll learn from it and like I said I don't think he'll ever make that mistake again."

For Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler, September 11th "still hits home pretty good" a dozen years later

Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler was only a sophomore in high school when the attacks of September 11th took place at the World Trade Center, but the day's events remain fresh in his mind a dozen years later.

Koehler's father, Rolf, a 21-year veteran with the New York Police Department, was one of the first responders on the scene. Rolf is alive today even though he was close by when the second tower came crashing down, Koehler said, taking the lives of many of his friends and colleagues among the thousands who perished.

"He wasn't directly in the impact zone, but he was close enough," Koehler said. "You could see the smoke from the towers from my high school [New Rochelle High]. There was a two, three--hour period where I knew my Dad was heading down there but the cell phones weren't working. So I couldn't get in contact with him. He finally reached out to my mom and told her he was going to be down there a few days. Anybody who has a family member in the [New York Fire Department] or the NYPD knows all the work they put in."

Koehler said his father, still deeply affected by the days' events, stepped down from his post as sargeant a year after the attacks.

"Every year on 9-11 they read the names of everybody who died and today was a little tougher for my dad because one of the guys he went to the police academy with and was friends with, it was his daughter who was reading the names on TV," Koehler said. "He happened to lose his life that day. So it was a little bit of a tougher one for Dad."

"Talking about it I kind of get a little emotional. I realize how big of a day that was. It really impacted my life a lot. I'm very fortunate he's still here. There were a lot of people who lost their lives. We really have to remember all those heroes that lost their lives -- people that didn't know anybody in those buildings but ran into those buildings trying to save as many lives as they did. It makes what we do for a living, puts things in perspective a little bit."

Koehler said the images shown on TV of 9-11 on the anniversary every year are hard for him and other New Yorkers to take.

"They think showing highlights and tributes of what happened that day are a good thing. But for the people that were there, it hits them different," Koehler said. "I know last year he went to the memorial and couldn't even make it through, all teary-eyed and stuff. Thousands of people lost their lives. Twelve years later it still hits home pretty good."

> Manager Mike Redmond said it's unlikely pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will make his scheduled start in Thursday's series finale against the Braves. Eovaldi showed up to the ballpark Wednesday with a tight back Redmond said. The Marlins will move left-hander Brian Flynn up a day to start in Eovaldi's place if he doesn't recover overnight. Redmond said he doesn't expect Eovaldi's health to improve. 

> Catcher Jeff Mathis badly wanted to catch Jose Fernandez's final start of the season Wednesday but his badly bruised right thumb wouldn't let him Redmond said. It's likely Mathis will undergo another x-ray soon -- once the swelling has gone down -- to see if the finger is fractured. 

"He said it felt better today," Redmond said. "If everything is fine... it's a day-to-day situation."

> With Fernandez making his last start Wednesday, the Marlins will turn their focus to the rest of their starting rotation for the remainder of the season.

Asked if anyone has really earned a spot in it for next year, Redmond said: "I think that's the thing with young guys -- it takes time and see exactly what you got. I think this year the good thing is we got a lot of young guys and once we got them healthy we were able to get them consistent innings. I think we saw what guys are capable of. What you always look for in pitching is the consistency. That's where you start solidifying roles.

"I've never been big into like this guy is a No. 3 starter or No. 4 or 5. I know in baseball that's how you evaluate. Honestly after Opening Day I don't think it really matters. I think the good thing is we've gotten to see guys. Eovaldi, [Henderson] Alvarez, [Jacob] Turner, Koehler have gotten a lot of opportunities to start. The key is going to be what do these guys turn into next year. Do they carry it over? Do they pitch even better? You're always going to have that kind of uncertainty. What is Tom Koehler going to be like next year? What is Alvarez going to be like next year? That's kind of the unknown. The good thing is we've been able to see these guys and we like a lot of them. I think a guy like Tom Koehler it's been great he's had a lot of opportunities to start. Whether he's a starter down the road or a bullpen guy that's kind of left to be said. We'll kind of figure it out as we go. But it's kind of nice to know he's an option as a starter and can give us a chance to win a ball game."


> Braves (87-57): 1. Jordan Schafer CF, 2. Justin Upton RF, 3. Freddie Freeman 1B, 4. Evan Gattis LF, 5. Brian McCann C, 6. Chris Johnson 3B, 7. Andrelton Simmons SS, 8. Elliot Johnson 2B, 9. Mike Minor LHP.

> Marlins (53-90): 1. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 2. Placido Polanco 3B, 3. Christian Yelich LF, 4. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Ed Lucas 2B, 7. Logan Morrison 1B, 8. Koyie Hill C, 9. Jose Fernandez RHP.

September 10, 2013

Jose Fernandez on final start: "Already?"; Chris Coghlan says losing 100 games would be "embarrassing"; and more

Like a kid on a carnival ride, rookie Jose Fernandez doesn’t want his first season in the majors to stop, doesn’t want to step off the ride. But stop it will after he makes one final start Wednesday at Marlins Park.

“It’s almost done,” Fernandez said on the eve of his last trip to the mound. “I’m looking at it, like, already? I’ve got to go home already? It flew by, and I don’t want to go home. I want to play another month.”

The Marlins, not wanting to take any chances with their talented 21-year-old, are shutting Fernandez down for the season. They vowed at the start of the year they would not let him throw more than 170 innings, and they’re sticking to that edict.

One way or other, Fernandez said the season has turned out a whole lot better than he could have ever imagined.

“What were my expectations?” Fernandez replied to a question. “Start in Double A. Play half of the year there. And get to the big leagues after the All-Star game. But it came out a little better than that.”

Did it ever.

Fernandez was picked to the All-Star team and continued to turn it on after that, emerging into a leading contender -- if not the favorite -- to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. He’ll likely end up finishing among the top vote-getters for the Cy Young Award, too.

“I’ve got one more start, and then I’ve got a lot of time to think about stuff,” he said of any postseason honors that might be bestowed upon him.

Fernandez hopes to put a exclamation point on his outstanding rookie campaign with a win over the Braves. He put his perfect home record on the line (he’s 8-0 in 14 starts at Marlins Park), and then spend the rest of the season in the dugout, watching his teammates.

“It hasn’t really kicked in that it’s my last start,” said Fernandez, who expects more than 30 friends and family members to drive over from Tampa for the game. “It’s not like I’m going to hold back. Normally I never do that. But tomorrow I’m going to give everything I’ve got.”


One of Fernandez's mischievous teammates pulled a prank on him before batting practice Tuesday, coating the inside of his hat brim with eye black. When Fernandez placed the hat squarely on his head, his forehead was smudged in black.

"This one was a pretty good one," Fernandez said. "Everybody was looking at me and laughing, and I was, like, 'What's wrong? What's wrong? What's wrong?' And then someone told me. That's fine. I get it."


Chris Coghlan is the first Marlin to openly admit that the prospect of losing 100 games would be, to say the least, "embarrassing." The Marlins must go 10-10 or better over their final 20 games (including tonight's) to avoid a 100-loss season.

"You don't want to lose 100 as a team, so you're doing everything you can not to lose 100," Coghlan said. "It's embarrassing when you lose 100. I think we (need) 10 more wins to make sure we're not at 100, so that's the goal for the team."

Coghlan was also candid in his self-assessment, saying the final 20 games are more or less a "tryout" for him, at least in the eyes of the Marlins, who are trying to decide how he'll figure into the equation in 2014. Coghlan will still have minor-league options remaining after this season, so the Marlins won't be forced into making a decision. But they'd like to see if he can play third base, or as someone who can float from one position to another.

"For me individually, every game they're evaluating me, so I don't take any game lightly," Coghlan said. "I'm not counting the days down, even as bad as it's been here for me. It's a tryout everyday. It's a tryout at a new position. I'm excited to just finish this year strong and see where we're at next year."

With a 4 for 4 night at the plate on Monday, Coghlan raised his average on the season to .283. He's clearly swinging the bat with more authority and acknowledged that his confidence is much higher now than it was when he was struggling after two injury-riddled seasons.

"There's no doubt, when you suck, your confidence goes down, I don't care who you are," Coghlan said. "You're human. There's doubt that comes in. I'm getting back to playing consistently. It's like it used to be. I feel like now I'll be even better because I've learned stuff. I've gotten older. I've seen different pitchers more often. I think it's only going to be up (from now on).

"Every game matters up here. Everybody's trying to take bread off your table, and everybody's trying to shove it down your throat. So it's either you shove it down their's, or they've going to shove it down yours. I hope that we can take that tenacity out on the field and be consistent."


As expected, the Marlins juggled the rotation a bit to buy a bit of extra rest for struggling starter Jacob Turner. He'll now make his next start on Sunday in New York. Brian Flynn will make his second big league start on Friday at Citi Field. Henderson Alvarez and Brad Hand will pitch the two games of the doubleheader on Saturday.

Manager Mike Redmond said the plan now is for Flynn to take Fernandez's spot in the rotation, but didn't rule out Hand as a possibility, either.



Marlins to host Colorado in 2014 season opener

If you're already in "next year" mode with the Marlins, here's a little something to whet your appetite. The Marlins will host the Colorado Rockies in the 2014 season opener at Marlins Park on March 31. It'll mark the first time the two 1993 expansion clubs square off in a season opener.

In addition to the usual slate of N.L. matchups, the Marlins will also be hosting three A.L. West teams, as well as their traditional interleague partner, the Tampa Bay Rays. Making their Marlins Park debuts in 2014 will be the Seattle Mariners (April 18-20), Oakland A's (June 27-29) and Texas Rangers (Aug. 19-20). The Rays are in town on June 2 and 3.

The Marlins will hit the road for interleague games against the Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros, Rangers and Rays.

Game times for the Marlins' home schedule in 2014 will be announced Wednesday.

See the entire schedule by clicking here.

September 09, 2013

Marlins bullpen unit closing in on MLB mark; Polanco pockets extra $125k

It's not exactly the sexiest baseball milestone in baseball's record books. But the Marlins have a solid chance of becoming only the fifth team in major league history to feature five different relievers with at least 65 relief appearances each.

"It's definitely plausible," said Chad Qualls, who has 59 relief appearances with 21 games left to go on the schedule. "It just shows we've been a pretty solid unit."

It shows the Marlins' five-man gang -- which also includes Mike Dunn (67 games), A.J. Ramos (61), Steve Cishek (61) and Ryan Webb (59) -- have not only remained healthy, but have also pitched well enough to avoid a trip to the minors.

"It's rare for an entire (bullpen) to stay healthy throughout the year," Cishek said. "And, for the most part, everybody's pitched well enough to stay here, too, so that's another rare thing."

Dunn said the Marlins coaching staff also deserves credit, too, for sticking with relievers even when some of them have been in ruts.

"We've all struggled at some point, but they've shown the trust in the players to work it out," Dunn said.

The four previous teams to have five relievers with at least 65 appearances: the 1992 Cardinals, 2006 Cubs, 2006 Astros and 2008 Mets. Qualls was a part of the '06 Astros bullpen that accomplished the feat.

The only member of the bullpen to land on the disabled list this season has been long man/starter Kevin Slowey.


Placido Polanco, whose $2.75 million salary already made him the highest-paid Marlin (not counting the $4 million paid Heath Bell to go away), just got a little wealthier. By playing in his 100th game on Sunday, Polanco qualified for a $125,000 performance bonus that was built into his contract. There are not enough games left on the schedule for him to qualify for an additional $125k by playing in 125 games.


Manager Mike Redmond said he and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez are exploring ways to build in extra rest for struggling starter Jacob Turner over his final starts by pushing his starts back by a day or two...Redmond said Brad Hand would start the second game of Saturday's doubleheader in New York....Brian Flynn will also get another start, Redmond said....Giancarlo Stanton said his injured ankle is improving, and he was able to take batting practice on it Monday. But he was not in the lineup as the Marlins opened a four-game series against Atlanta.

September 08, 2013

Marlins roll out red carpet for two diehard fans

Donna Glendenning, 66, and her 91-year old mother Eloise Card, a pair of diehard Marlins fans who have spent the last four years watching every game together on TV while talking over the phone, lived out a dream Sunday morning as special guests of the team.

MEETING JOSE: Donna Glendenning (right) and her 91-year old mother Eloise Card (middle) got a chance to meet Marlins All-Star pitcher Jose Fernandez before Sunday's game. Card and Glendenning have watched every game together on TV while talking over the phone for the last four years.
The Marlins went to their homes -- Card lives in Southwest Miami-Dade and her daughter in Fort Lauderdale -- and picked them up in a limo. Then they took them to the ballpark, treated them to lunch and gave them personalized jerseys with their last names and ages on it and tickets in the Diamond Level section, two rows behind home plate.

The best part? "I got to meet Jose Fernandez," Card said. "And that made my day. He's such a nice young man. Jose is nothing like [Bryce] Harper and [Yasiel] Puig. They're low class acts. He's really top notch."

Card also bragged about getting a hug from Fernandez, the Marlins' 21-year old All-Star and National League Rookie of the Year favorite. Her and her daughter later got to present the lineup card to the umpire before the game alongside Marlins skipper Mike Redmond.

"We also got to holler 'Play ball'," said Glendenning, whose brother Jack Card was an All-American linebacker Coral Gables High and then a teammate of Steve Spurrier's at the University of Florida.

"All the players we met filled the bill. Steve Cishek, I just love him. My mother has a thing for Jose. She calls him the Tim Tebow of baseball."

Sunday's game was the first time mother and daughter actually got to watch a game together at Marlins Park. Since Saturday night's game wasn't televised, Card said she sat by her computer and watched the game online while providing updates over the phone to her daughter.

Friday, both watched intently on TV from their respective homes and spoke over the phone as Fernandez spun another gem in a win over the Nationals.

"I talk to my mom almost everyday," said Lauren Glendenning, who accompanied her mother and grandma to the game after flying in from Vail, Colo. for the weekend.

"If I call her she'll say I'm 'On the other line with grandma because the Marlins game is on. Over the years I said, 'You guys really are watching all these games together.' I just thought it was amazing."

Lauren, a graduate of Hollywood Hills High, sent the Marlins a link to a story The Miami Herald had written about her grandmother and mother's commitment to the Marlins last month. The team followed up with a phone call and invite to the park.

"I thought, 'Oh maybe they'll invite them to a game.' But I had no idea they were going to roll out the red carpet," Lauren said. "It's just been great. They're really, really generous and we've just been kind of been blown away by everything they've done for them today. They created a really special memory they'll have for the rest of their lives. I'm so happy, so grateful."

September 06, 2013

Watch LoMo hit the longest HR in Marlins Park history

Logan Morrison launched a home run into the second deck in right center in tonight's third inning that was the longest ever recorded at Marlins Park -- no matter who is doing the calculating.

The folks at Marlins Park say it went 484 feet.

ESPN Stats and Information, which calculates home run distances for all ballparks, has it at 467, which equals the 8th longest home run of the season in the majors on their comprehensive list.

According to ESPN, here are the longest HR's hit at Marlins Park.

Friday           Logan Morrison          467

May 21, 2012     Giancarlo Stanton       462

August 18, 2013  Hunter Pence            459

April 10, 2013   Juan Francisco          459

Check out Morrison's blast for yourself:

September 04, 2013

Jose Fernandez is NL Rookie of the Month for August

CHICAGO -- Jose Fernandez was named the National League Rookie of the Month for August, making it the second straight month he's won the award.

Fernandez went 3-1 with a 1.15 ERA in his six starts last month. He struck out 49 in 39 innings.

Fernandez is scheduled to make his next-to-last start of the season on Friday when the Marlins open a 3-game series against the Nationals at Marlins Park. Fernandez has yet to lose (7-0) in his home park. Both of his two remaining starts will be played at Marlins Park.

Braves pitcher Alex Wood was second to Fernandez for top N.L rookie in August.

Fernandez and the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig are considered the two frontrunners for N.L. Rookie of the Year honors, which will be announced after the postseason. 

Humble Pierre reflects on hits, stolen bases

CHICAGO -- With a pinch-hit single and pair of steals on Tuesday, Juan Pierre continued his march up the ladder on a couple of baseball's all-time lists. Pierre tied  Willie Randolph and Carlos Beltran with 2,210 hits -- one behind Willie McCovey and four in back of Joe DiMaggio -- while inching closer to Otis Nixon on on the stolen base leaderboard. Pierre, the majors' active leader with 613 steals, ranks 13th all-time, seven steals behind Nixon.

"The names that you start getting on the list to, it's hard for me to fathom," Pierre said. "I almost feel like I don't deserve to be on that list. It's still hard for me to grasp the names I'm associated with on the hits list. I just wanted to get to the big leagues, let alone think about hits. I never really played the game to set out to do this and do that. Just to be in the same company with these guys is crazy. I bet you could ask these big league players now and tell them how many hits I have, and they would be like, 'No way.' I always flew under the radar."

Pierre is quick to acknowlege that his high hits total is due primarily to a combination of longevity (he's in his 14th season) and low walk totals. Due to his lack of power, pitchers were ever afraid to go after Pierre and didn't nibble.

"Being a guy that didn't walk a lot, I had to get hits to get on," Pierre said.

But Pierre is proud of the fact he piled up stolen bases in an era when the home run was king.

"To have the running game during the steroids era -- because I was right in the bulk of it -- and most teams didn't want to run," Pierre answered when asked whether he was more in awe of his hits or stolen base totals. "I was fortunate to play here with Jack (McKeon). He was an old-school manager. He would be like, 'Go! What are you waiting on? Run!' So I think it helped in an era where it was 3-run home runs and 'Don't move. Don't run us out of an inning.'"

As a result, Pierre has been able to pass some of the greatest base stealers the game has known.

"When I passed Davey Lopes and Maury Wills on that list, I was like, man, those cats there, they were the best of their generation," Pierre said. "To pass them. That's crazy. Kenny Lofton (622 stolen bases) was one of the guys I really tried to pattern my game after, and I'm close to him."

Coghlan has "blast" at the hot corner

CHICAGO -- Chris Coghlan looked like a natural on Tuesday in what was his first major league game at third base, fielding a ball off the leg of pitcher Tom Koehler before making a diving stop to save a run on a hard one-hopper by the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo.

"I had a blast," Coghlan said. "I felt like I was in college again. It was fun."

The former Rookie of the Year not only returned to the starting lineup for the first time since early June when an injury landed him on the disabled list, but led off for the Marlins and made his first major league appearance at third base since his days in the minors, before the Marlins turned him into an outfielder.

"For me, it was an excited feeling to go out there," Coghlan said. "Not like a scared feeling. (It was) just like you make your debut. You're not scared to hit, but you're excited. Once you make that first at bat or first play, it's like, 'Ah, this is just like riding a bike.'"

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said he would continue to use Coghlan at third, as well as the outfield.

"Going into it, we didn't really know what to expect," Redmond said. "And I know it's only one game. But it's the time of year for us...we have a chance to get to see some guys at different positions and see what we have, and see what might work for next year. And to have him be able to be an option at third base, that's big. We'll keep plugging him in there and see how he does."

Coghlan said he appreciated the chance to return to the infield.

"I'm just grateful they gave me an opportunity to not only play, but play third," he said. "Hopefully they continue to have more trust and let me play there. This has been a long road for me. It was a lot of work to get to where I was."