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44 posts from March 2014

March 25, 2014

Dan Marino to throw out ceremonial first pitch for Marlins on Opening Night

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday night when the Marlins open the season against the Colorado Rockies.

Marino, who passed on baseball after being selected by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round of the 1979 First-Year Player Draft, spent 17 years with the Dolphins and was recently let go by CBS after serving as a football analyst.

In addition to Marino throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, Opening Night festivities include KC from KC and the Sunshine Band singing the national anthem, a special celebrity Opening Night video and an in-game celebration honoring Henderson Alvarez’s no-hitter, the fifth in team history. A free fireworks show presented by Pepsi will follow the game.

“We are honored to welcome back Dan Marino to the site where he began his hall-of-fame professional career,” Marlins President David Samson said in a statement released by the team. “There is no better way to start a season at Marlins Park than with a pass from this South Florida sports icon.”

Caminero, Capps among trio of Marlins pitchers sent down; Wigginton released

Despite pitching his tail off this spring, Arquimedes Caminero was among a trio of pitchers informed Tuesday morning they will be starting the season in the minors.

Caminero posted a 2.00 ERA and two saves over seven appearances and nine innings of work. He had a 0.44 WHIP (9 strikeouts, 1 walk, 3 hits) and opponents hit just .100 against him. But he'll be starting the season down in Triple A New Orleans along with right-handers Carter Capps and Chaz Roe, who also received notice Tuesday they were being reassigned to the minors.

"It's just the way things worked out," a disappointed Caminero said. "It's the business."

Mike Hill, President of Baseball Operations, said it was a tough decision to make and even tougher to deliver.

"Extremely tough calls, but I think what we discussed internally is that it's a good thing for us -- that we have these type of decisions," Hill said. "Sending all three of them down we feel like we're sending down major league capable pitching -- in the case of all three of them. Caminero came through our system, made tremendous strides, had a tremendous spring training. To look him in the eye and tell him he's going down was a difficult conversation."

Caminero is in his final option year and can obviously be brought up whenever the Marlins need him. He made 13 appearances toward the end of the 2013 season and posted a 2.77 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He'll likely serve as the closer or pitch in late innings in Triple A. That's a role that the Marlins eventually see Caminero doing down the road, and something he wouldn't be doing if he made this year's big league team out of the gate.

"When the need rises we know we have a major league ready reliever to come back," Hill said. "He's definitely going to pitch meaningful innings down there and get him experience with that. He has a well above average fastball with a split finger that has made tremendous strides. So it will be an opportunity for him to pitch in the back end, which he wouldn't necessarily be doing here. So that's another part of it."

Capps, acquired in the trade with Seattle for Logan Morrison, was less of a surprise demotion than Caminero. He struggled a bit this spring -- he's been working on his mechanics -- and posted a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings of work and a 1.00 WHIP. 

"[Pitching coach] Chuck [Hernandez has] worked hard on his mechanics, trying to get him consistent," manager Mike Redmond said. "This guy just hasn't been pitching that long. He's got a big arm and this guy too can pitch late in games. It's just a matter of him finding the consistency in his mechanics which enables him to throw more strikes."

Roe had an awful 12.38 ERA and opponents hit .385 off him.

The moves mean there is now space in the bullpen for hard-throwing right-hander and non-roster invitee Henry Rodriguez (1-0, 6.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 14 Ks) or maybe a combination of left-hander Brad Hand and right-hander Kevin Slowey, who could serve as long relievers. There are 14 pitchers left in camp. The Marlins are taking a dozen into the season with them.

Redmond looks like he's pegged Slowey for the long reliever role and now it's just a matter of who else -- Hand or Rodriguez -- will be joining Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, Carlos Marmol and Dan Jennings in the bullpen.

"Slowey's consistent. We know what we're getting with him," Redmond said. "He's the perfect long guy. He really is. He can go out there throw four, five innings. He can throw one inning. He can do a lot of different things. He's been around long enough he's a guy you can sit down there for a few days and not pitch him and put him into any situation. He's definitely equipped for that role."

> It looks like veteran outfielder Reed Johnson is going to have a spot on the roster when the Marlins break camp. Johnson had a deadline of Tuesday at noon to make the team or be released. He's been sensational this spring (.410, 1 HR, 6 RBI in 39 at-bats).

"It should be just a formality at this point," Hill said. "He's had a great spring. Just along the same thing of bringing in specific veterans who have that championship pedigree, championship experience. He's come as advertised -- a great teammate. You see him on the bench. That's where I think the veterans make a huge impact -- when the game is going on and they can pick out moments and grab a guy like Yelich, Ozuna and Marisnick and tell them did you see that? Did you see this? That's where those guys gain valuable experience and that's where his knowledge has been great for us."

> The Marlins released non-roster invitee Ty Wigginton. He hit .147 this spring in 23 at-bats. The Marlins are now down to 34 players in big league camp overall.

"He's a pro," Hill said of Wigginton. "When you have a conversation with him you tell him we were hopeful something might open up for you, but to this point we stayed fairly healthy and there's not going to be an opportunity. But you're a pro and the professionalism you've brought to our clubhouse is the type of change we wanted to bring. We wanted to bring the qualities you embodied. We thanked him for the time he's been with us and what he's done for our young players in what it means to be a pro and approach your job day in and day out."


> Marlins: 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Garrett Jones 1B, 5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Casey McGehee 3B, 8. Ed Lucas SS, 9. Jose Fernandez RHP. Other scheduled pitchers: RHP Kevin Slowey, RHP Steve Cishek, RHP A.J. Ramos, RHP Chris Hatcher, LHP Dan Jennings.

> Cardinals: 1. Kolten Wong 2B, 2. Daniel Descalso 3B,  3. Matt Holliday LF, 4. Matt Adams 1B, 5. Yadier Molina C, 6. Shane Robinson RF, 7. Peter Bourjos CF, 8. Pete Kozma SS, 9. Lance Lynn RHP.

March 24, 2014

Rafael Furcal says DL is a possibility

JUPITER -- Second baseman and projected leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal said that if his injured left hamstring isn't 100 percent within a couple of days, he feels it would be wiser to start the season on the disabled list and not risk making matters even worse.

If the Marlins decide to place Furcal on the DL, they could make the move retroactive to March 21, which would enable him to come off the injury list on April 5 and miss only the first five days of the season.

"I would prefer to lose five or 10 games and not lose a month or the whole season," Furcal said. "I want to be healthy. That's the only way I can help the team, play every day. They know it. I don't want to play one day and take five days off."

Furcal had a pair of hits in four at bats as a designated hitter in an intra-squad game Monday, but did not go all out when he scored from second on a hit. He said he was simply following instructions to go easy and "felt good" in general.

If Furcal is to go on the DL, his potential replacement in the lineup -- Derek Dietrich -- played in the same intra-squad game while wearing a protective mask for the first time. Dietrich had his nose broken last week by a ground ball. Dietrich could be on the field Tuesday for the Marlins when they face the Cardinals.


The Marlins on Monday whittled the roster by one player, reassigning catcher Kyle Skipworth to minor-league camp. The roster now stands at 38 players, and more cuts are expected in the coming days, as the Marlins get down to their 25-man roster for Opening Day.

March 22, 2014

Derek Dietrich going with the LeBron James' look

JUPITER -- Derek Dietrich had a surprise waiting for him at his locker when he showed up for work Saturday. Someone decided to poke fun at the second baseman with the broken nose by placing a catcher's mask on his stool.

Dietrich won't be wearing any such device when he begins taking ground balls again, perhaps within a day or two. But he will be wearing a protective face mask similar to the one worn by LeBron James after the Miami Heat star had his nose broken.

"It's going to be clear, but maybe not as extreme, because he's playing in the paint and taking it to the rim, and I'm pretty much contract-free unless the ball takes a bad hop again," Dietrich said. "That's all we're trying to protect."

Call it a coincidence but Dietrich, like James, hails from Cleveland. In fact, Dietrich played both baseball and basketball at St. Ignatius High School, which frequently plays James' alma mater, St. Vincent/St. Mary's. Dietrich, though, was a shooting guard in his prep days and nowhere near the star that James was.

Dietrich said the same person who made James' mask is making his, as well.

Could there be a poster on the horizon featuring the two Miami professional athletes with broken noses?

"I've been telling (Marlins media relations director) Matt Roebuck that we need to get something (going) on that," Dietrich said. "Miami Marlins. Miami Heat. Cleveland guys. Both had to wear masks recently...."

Dietrich was to receive the mask sometime later on the day Saturday and begin wearing it during infield practice, perhaps as early as Sunday. He said his nose felt significantly better on Saturday than it did on Thursday when a sharp ground ball took a wicked hop and struck him in the face.


Jake Marisnick is having the best spring of any Marlin. But that might not be enough to earn him an Opening Day roster spot, as the Marlins are continuing to evaluate their outfield options.

Marisnick had three hits Friday against the Astros to raise his average to .429. He's also stolen four bases, which equals Adeiny Hechavarria for the team lead.

"I think the spring training (numbers) is a tough one," Redmond said of spring training statistics in general, "because it does factor in. And some guys you go by (past) track record."

As Marcell Ozuna (.171) continues to struggle, the outfield battle is one of the most intriguing ones heading into the final week of spring training. Giancarlo Stanton has right field locked up, and Christian Yelich is beginning to see regualr time in center, which was to have been the position belonging to Ozuna. It suggests strongly that the Marlins are leaning toward Yelich as their Opening Day center fielder, which is Marisnick's natural position.

Marisnick did not hit well with the Marlins after being called up last season, and the feeling could be that he might benefit from additional at bats in the minors. The Marlins would prefer Marisnick play every day as opposed to a part-time role, which is yet another reason why he could start out in the minors, perhaps with Ozuna as his teammate. The Marlins could opt to platoon in left with Reed Johnson, Brian Bogusevic and Jeff Baker seeing time there.

But that all remains to be seen, as final roster decisions will be made over the coming days.

"He's in the middle of these tough decisions," Redmond said of Marisnick. "He's definitely made a case for himself, and that's one of those where we have to decide, does he need more at bats in the minor leagues? Or is he ready to play in the big leagues? He needs to play everyday."


-- Rafael Furcal was to take part in base running deals on Saturday and could play in a minor-league game as early as Monday depending on how his injured hamstring reacts.

-- Ed Lucas (hamstring) homered Friday in a minor league game while being used as a designated hitter. Following a day off Saturday, he'll make the trip to Lakeland on Sunday and play first against the Tigers.

-- Greg Dobbs (quad) is scheduled to play in a minor league game Saturday.

March 21, 2014

Hard-luck OF Alfredo Silverio still dreams of big leagues

KISSIMMEE -- Alfredo Silverio felt a wave of joy when he stepped onto the field for the Marlins in a Grapefruit League game earlier this spring. And why not? Silverio, a 26-year-old outfielder the Marlins selected in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft, wondered if he would ever play baseball again last June after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm for the second time since suffering serious injuries in an automobile accident.

"I was excited like a little kid," Silverio said. "I feel happy I'm back to normal."

Silverio and the Marlins can only hope. If Silverio returns to previous form when he was an up-and-coming, five-tool outfielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system, he could provide the Marlins with a payoff on their Rule 5 investment of more than a year ago. Silverio hit .306 with 76 extra-base hits (42 doubles, 18 triples and 16 home runs) for Double A Chattanooga in 2011. But injuries sustained in a car accident caused Silverio to miss the 2012 season, the Dodgers' left him off their 40-man roster, and the Marlins plucked the unprotected Silverio out of the Rule 5 Draft.

The gamble didn't pay off, at least not initially. Silverio re-injured his surgically repaired arm last spring, and in June, doctors performed Tommy John a second time, which caused him to miss his second straight season. By rule, the Marlins were required to offer Silverio back to the Dodgers. But the Dodgers declined, Silverio remained in the system, and now he's attempting yet another comeback.

On Friday, he made the trip to Kissimmee with the Marlins for their game against the Astros. Silverio is expected to start the season at Double A Jacksonville, and those within the organization feel he can move quickly up the ladder. Silverio said he has four doubles and a home run in minor league games so far this spring, and his arm is no longer an issue.

"I remember when we picked him in the Rule 5 draft, guys talked a lot about how good he was," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "I think we all feel fortunate we were able to keep him in the system. I think a lot of people are curious to see what this guy can do in the minors and -- who knows -- this guy becomes an option down the road for us."

-- Derek Dietrich was to be fitted for a protective face mask on Friday, one day after having his nose broken on a bad-hop grounder. Redmond said Dietrich is day-to-day. "I don't know if I've ever seen a guy with a facemask taking a grounder," Redmond said. "It'll just be (for) fielding, just to protect it from another bad-hop situation."

-- Ed Lucas (hamstring) was scheduled to DH in a minor league game Friday for the second straight day. Redmond said plans are for Lucas, after a day off Saturday, to play first base on Sunday when the Marlins are in Lakeland to play the Tigers.

-- Rafael Furcal (hamstring) is "still about the same," Redmond said. "We've had him out there a couple of times and he's gotten hurt, felt the hamstring when he ran. We're going to try to get him out there running in the next couple of days, trying to test that hamstring a little bit, make sure it's good to go before we get him back out there in a game."

-- Greg Dobbs (quad) could be ready to play in a minor league game by Sunday. "I'm not too worried about Dobber," Redmond said. "He knows how to prepare himself for the season."

March 20, 2014

Source: Marlins are not shopping Jacob Turner

JUPITER -- The Marlins have more starting pitchers than their are spots in the rotation in which to slot them. But that doesn't mean they're actively shopping any of them to ease the logjam. And one pitcher in particular -- Jacob Turner -- is not being dangled despite a report to the contrary.

A source said that while other teams have been calling the Marlins about their surplus of pitching to see if there are any trade fits, the Marlins aren't actively shopping Turner or anyone else. In fact, the source said, the Marlins are content to open the season with six starters, even if it means one -- Tom Koehler or Brad Hand -- is used out of the bullpen as a long reliever.

Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported via Twitter on Thursday that the Mariners and Diamondbacks "are possible fits for Marlins starter Jacob Turner; Marlins having active trade talks because of quality pitching depth."

Injury updates: Furcal, Lucas and Dobbs; Hand to start Saturday

JUPITER -- Rafael Furcal says he thinks he'll be ready for Opening Day. But if his injured left hamstring continues to balk, the Marlins will turn to Plan B, which would be handing the starting duties at second to either Derek Dietrich or Donovan Solano.

Furcal said Thursday the leg is feeling better but still doesn't know when he'll be able to return to game action. He said it's possible he'll play in a minor league game by the weekend and leadoff every inning as a designated hitter.

But that remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Ed Lucas (hamstring) is scheduled to play in a minor league game this afternoon up in Port St. Lucie and could be ready for Grapefruit League action by the weekend, as well.

And Greg Dobbs says his quad injury has improved. Dobbs will take part in the normal pre-game activities today and could be back in the lineup within a couple of days.

"I'll be ready to play (Opening Day)," Dobbs said.


Brad Hand will start one of the Marlins' two split-squad games on Saturday and throw 75 pitches. But that doesn't mean he'll be in the Marlins' starting rotation to start the season. Not necessarily.

Tom Koehler is also lined up to make the fifth start of the season. The Marlins may simply be continuing to keep Hand on that same path and build up his innings as a precaution in case one of the other starters goes down with an injury, as happened last year when Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi fell by the wayside at the end of spring.

Hand will start in Jupiter on Saturday when the Marlins face the Mets while Alvarez will get the ball in the other split-squad game when the Marlins face the Nationals in Viera. Kevin Slowey will follow Alvarez to the mound.

March 19, 2014

Koehler takes liner off his backside, tosses 4 1/3 scoreless against Cardinals Triple A team Wednesday

While most of his Marlins teammates enjoyed their first day off of the spring, Tom Koehler spent his afternoon Wednesday pitching in a Triple A game on a backfield behind Roger Dean Stadium as his quest for a job in the starting rotation continued. 

Facing a lineup which featured Cardinals' top prospects Oscar Taveras and James Ramsey, Koehler tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up four hits and one walk while striking out four before his pitch count got too high.  

"I would have liked to have gone a little deeper especially coming off five [scoreless] innings the other day [against the Mets]," said Koehler, who threw 74 pitches, 54 for strikes.

"But considering the circumstances where my pitch count got up with some foul [balls], some good at-bats, I'm still happy where I'm at right now." 

Koehler, who in 12 Grapefruit League innings has given up just one earned run and seven hits while striking out 11 and walking two, had a bit of a scary moment in the fourth inning when Cardinals minor leaguer Chris Swauger smacked a line drive back to the mound. 

Luckily, the ball struck Koehler right below his buttocks, high up along his right thigh. He recovered, picked up the ball and tossed it to first base for the put out. Koehler then waved a trainer off saying he felt fine. 

"I'll tell you if that's one place it's going to get me that's the best spot," Koehler said. "Those are the type of plays people tend to panic on. That's the one that if I was thinking too much I would have picked it up and thrown it down the right field line and allowed the run. I found it, threw it. It didn't hurt."

After going 5-10 with a 4.41 ERA and making 23 starts for the Marlins last season, Koehler came into camp expecting to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation with left-hander Brad Hand and veteran right-hander Kevin Slowey.

Hand has been equal to the task, going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA, nine hits, 15 strikeouts and two walks over 12 innings. But it looks like the Marlins could be leaning toward Koehler especially since Hand was only asked to pitch an inning of work in another minor league game on Wednesday. 

What's been the difference for Koehler this spring?

"It's honestly just knowing what I'm capable of doing," said Koehler, who went 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in five starts last September. "I showed myself a lot in September of last season. I'm kind of trying to build off that. 

"I belong here and I know that. It's never been about stuff with me. It's always been about minimizing the damage and trying to stay within yourself and not try to do too much. I'm really focusing more on relying on my ability, throwing strikes and letting stuff play out. As soon as it comes out of my hand -- they hit a double or a home run -- so be it. Onto the next pitch. As of right now it's working and it's something I think is going to do a nice job of carrying over into the season."

With second pick in June draft, Marlins in prime position to add another star pitching prospect

JUPITER -- Already armed with some of the best young pitching prospects in baseball, the Marlins appear to be in prime position to land another can't miss arm heading into the June draft.

Now it's just a matter of who the Houston Astros want with the first pick and who will fall to the Marlins with the second. Either way, it looks like a can't lose situation for the Fish.

North Carolina State left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon, who led the nation in strike outs last season (184), has long been considered a lock to be the No. 1 overall pick. Big bodied at 6-3, 234 pounds, Rodon owns a mid 90s fastball and a plus-plus slider in the high 80s.

But there's an intriguing prospect in the Astros' backyard -- 6-5, 250-pound high school right-hander Tyler Kolek -- who is being dubbed the next great right-handed high school pitching prospect to come out of Texas. He's probably going to be the next Josh Beckett, Roger Clemens or Kerry Wood. Could Houston pass on such a talented kid only an hour drive north of the city?

According to a recent Yahoo Sports article, Kolek has recorded 35 strikeouts and just one walk over 15 innings in three starts for Shepherd High School. The more impressive statistic? Nobody's gotten a hit off him yet. Kolek's fastball has topped out at 99 miles per hour and he's got a mid 70s power breaking ball.

The Houston Astros, who visited Roger Dean Stadium on Tuesday and got crushed by the Marlins 8-1, would love it if they had the first two picks. But they're only going to be able to take one of these guys. The Marlins will probably take the other.

Here's a look at both top notch pitching prospects.

March 18, 2014

Koehler appears to have slight edge over Hand for fifth starter's spot

JUPITER -- If you look at the way the Marlins are lining up their starting rotation as we head toward the final stretch of Grapefruit League play it appears Tom Koehler owns a slight edge over Brad Hand to win the fifth starter job.

When manager Mike Redmond released the team's pitching rotation Tuesday morning for the next few days he indicated Koehler would get the start -- and six innings of work -- in Wednesday's minor league game on a backfield here in Jupiter. Hand, who tossed five innings in a no-hitter Saturday, is also pitching Wednesday. But he'll only throw one inning in that minor league game.

Both pitchers have been stellar this spring, posting nearly identical numbers. Koehler, a 27-year old right-hander, is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA, seven hits allowed, two walks and 11 strikeouts over 12 innings. Hand, a 23-year old left-hander, is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA, nine hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts over 12 innings.

It's anticipated at this point both players will find a spot among the 12 pitchers the Marlins plan on taking into the regular season with them with the loser for the starting job serving as the team's long reliever. 

Asked how close the Marlins are to finalizing their rotation, Redmond said Tuesday: "I think we're close, but pitching always come down to the last couple days."

"There's going to be some tough decisions out there. We have guys battling. But I think we feel pretty good with what guys can do," Redmond continued. "It just feels like most times those decisions are made for you. I think it's going to be interesting these next couple weeks to see how these guys do with a little bit of pressure. As a catcher I like to see that. I like to see those guys with a lot at stake to go out there and pitch and see how they handle it."

> Redmond said Opening Day starter Jose Fernandez will make his next start Thursday in Jupiter against the Cardinals. Nathan Eovaldi will pitch Friday in Kissimmee against the Astros. In Saturday's split squad double-header, Henderson Alvarez is slotted to pitch at home Saturday against the Mets with Kevin Slowey pitching on the road at the Nationals. 

> Right-hander Jacob Turner, slotted to be the Marlins' fourth starter, had another encouraging start Tuesday against the Astros. He walked three, struckout three and gave up only two hits and one earned run over five innings.

The first-inning run he allowed was aided by yet another bad throw by Turner on a pickoff attempt at first base. He did the same against the Tigers in his previous start, when he gave up four hits, two runs (one earned) over four innings.

"He looks stronger this spring definitely," Redmond said before Turner's start Tuesday. "I think he's throwing the ball harder. I know velocity wise we've seen some mid 90s fastballs out of him, which we didn't see last year. I think he came into spring training in shape. He was ready to go. We're definitely seeing the results of that."

> Redmond said it looks like utility man Ed Lucas will play in a minor league game Thursday.

"He'll get some at-bats, start moving around," Redmond said. "He'll probably be the first one out of that [injured] group to start playing. I wouldn't expect [Greg] Dobbs to be that much longer... I would expect Ralfy [Furcal] to be [next] after Lucas."