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2 posts from March 11, 2014

March 11, 2014

Flynn regains rhythm, tosses three scoreless innings in first spring start for Marlins against Red Sox

FORT MYERS -- Matt Flynn's first two outings this spring weren't exactly smooth.

He looked a lot better Tuesday against the reigning World Champions.

The 6-7, 240-pound left-hander tossed three scoreless innings, retiring the first eight batters he faced before third baseman Jonathan Herrera singled to left. Herrera never advanced, though, getting thrown out at second on a pinpoint throw by catcher Rob Brantly moments later.

For Flynn, acquired along with Brantly and Jacob Turner in a 2012 trade with the Tigers, it was the kind of day he was hoping to have once someone in the bullpen began reading him the Red Sox lineup. In his first two outings out of the bullpen this spring, Flynn got banged up by the Nationals (2 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 HR in 2 IP) and Cardinals (3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks). Coming out as the starter Tuesday helped, Flynn said.

"It's the first time it's really felt good," said Flynn, who three 33 pitches, 22 for strikes.

"I threw a lot of fastballs, kind of worked downhill, got a rhythm going out of the windup. I was looking forward to [starting]. It definitely paid off today having that comfortable time, getting on the mound, coming out of the dugout. The routine was really comfortable. At the same time if I would have brought the same stuff from the last two outings to today it would have turned out just the same."

Flynn, a darkhorse candidate to win the fifth starter's job, said he's been focused on improving his mechanics. He said his arm had been dragging behind him in his previous appearances. That wasn't the case Tuesday.

"Today was good for me -- I could feel it," he said. "I just wanted to make them quick [innings], didn't want to be on the field for a long time. Whether they were three liners at someone's face, I just wanted to get smooth innings, get some rhythm going."

MARLINS RALLY PAST RED SOX

Leading 3-1 before most of the starters were pulled in the sixth, the Marlins rallied to beat the Red Sox 5-4 Wednesday thanks a two-run home run off the bat of Kyle Jensen in the ninth.

Boston plated two runs off reliever Marlins reliever Josh Spence in the seventh and took the lead in the eighth against Chaz Roe.

Jensen's towering home run to left came off Boston left-handed reliever Drake Britton.

And he absolutely drilled it. The line drive shot cleared the Green Monster in left field at jetBlue Park.

"It felt good to come into the game, see one pitch and close it out," Jensen said. "I was just looking for a pitch to drive. Saw it early."

Chris Hatcher retired the final three Red Sox hitters to pick up the save.

Mr. Versatility Ed Lucas makes way around Marlins infield as utility job competition heats up

FORT MYERS -- During his 10 years in the minors, Marlins utility man Ed Lucas made his way around to every position except catcher.

"In the minor leagues I always tried to talk my manager into one of those nine innings, nine position things," Lucas said. "We were in a pennant race so there was never a real good opportunity for me to do that."

In Monday's 11-1 win over the Mets, the 31-year old former Dartmouth standout did get to pull off something pretty cool -- albeit in a spring training game. He went around the horn for the Marlins, playing third, shortstop, second and first base over the final four innings. It's the first time in his career, Lucas said, that he's played more than three positions in the same game. It might also be the first time a Marlin has ever done it.

According to baseballreference.com, only four players since 1914 have played all four infield positions in the same regular season game. And those four players actually played all nine positions in the same game. No player has ever played just the four infield positions in the same game, in other words.

The players who lined up at all nine positions in the same game: Shane Halter, 2000 (Detroit); Scott Sheldon, 2000 (Texas); Cesar Tovar, 1968 (Minnesota); Bert Campaneris, 1965 (Kansas City).

"[Ty] Wigginton told me he played five [positions] in one game," said Lucas, who usually carries four gloves with him to games (middle infield, third base, first base and outfield). "I have a catchers glove but hopefully I wont use that."

There were times in the minors Lucas said he considered "shutting it down." But last year he got his call-up with the Marlins and is making the most of it now.

Although manager Mike Redmond expects Lucas and Donovan Solano to be in a dog fight for the Marlins' utility job through the end of the spring, it's pretty evident Lucas' ability to both play first base and be the team's emergency catcher gives him a bit of a leg up in the competition. Redmond joked Tuesday that Lucas could even pitch if needed.

Both Lucas and Solano came into Tuesday's game against the Red Sox swinging hot bats this spring. Solano is hitting .375 (6 for 16, 3 doubles, 2 RBI). Lucas is hitting .353 (6 for 17, 1 HR, 4 RBI).

"That's going to be a long, tough [decision] at the end," Redmond said. "But that's good. Those are the kind of decisions we want to have to make. We want guys to come in and make the most of their opportunities and make it tough on us to make a decision. I think every manager would say that."

Redmond said the Marlins know Lucas can play short and wanted to get a better look at Solano there this spring.Lucas played short in six games last year for the Marlins, starting three. He saw most of his action at third base (61 games, 56 starts).

Solano played at short in five games back in 2012. He spent most of last year at second (93 games, 92 starts). Solano said shortstop is his natural position and it's where he spent the majority of his nine minor league seasons (387 games, .951 fielding percentage).

"When [Rafael Furcal] signed the organization told me what they think about me," Solano said. "I've just come to camp this spring with the attitude I had in 2012 when nobody knew about me. I just want to play hard, put my [jersey] number on and play good."

> Redmond said Monday's injuries to Furcal (hamstring) and infielder Jeff Baker (upper quad) aren't bad. 

"I think they both came in [Tuesday] feeling better than anticipated so that's good for us," Redmond said. "They're going to be day-to-day. We'll get them the out there moving around the next couple days. We'll see how they progress.

"This is the time of spring training, those first couple weeks, that two-to-three week period where guys start getting banged up a little bit. We want to monitor that, keep all our guys healthy. We have time to get these guys at-bats and do what we need to do to get them ready for Opening Day. We don't want to push them until they are physically ready to go out there and play."

Neither player was scheduled to head to Panama this coming weekend to face the Yankees. So it's likely they'll be playing in Jupiter if they're healthy. 

"We got a lot of games coming up this weekend with us going to Panama and everything," Redmond said. "It would be nice to see them back out there and playing. We'll just wait and see. We're not going to push them."

TUESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (7-3-2): 1. Donovan Solano SS, 2. Christian Yelich LF, 3. Marcell Ozuna CF, 4. Derek Dietrich 2B, 5. Casey McGehee 3B, 6. Brian Bogusevic RF, 7. Ed Lucas 1B, 8. Greg Dobbs DH, 9. Rob Brantly C. LHP Brian Flynn

> Red Sox (4-7-1): 1. Grady Sizemore CF, 2. Dustin Pedroia 2B, 3. David Ortiz DH, 4. Mike Napoli 1B, 5. Jonny Gomes LF, 6. Xander Bogarts SS, 7. David Ross C, 8. Bryce Brentz RF, 9. Jonathan Herrera 3B. RHP John Lackey.