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4 posts from June 11, 2014

June 11, 2014

Door open for Furcal to join Marlins after team options Bour back to minors Wednesday night

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Barring a surprising move or maybe a last second hamstring or groin pull, the Marlins are finally going to get to see what Rafael Furcal looks like again.

After Wednesday’s 6-0 loss to the Rangers, the Marlins optioned first baseman Justin Bour to Triple A New Orleans clearing a spot for Furcal. They will officially announce a corresponding move Friday, manager Mike Redmond said. But it's expected to be Furcal.

Furcal, who is on the 60-day disabled list, has played in 11 minor-league games since May 29 — his latest rehab stint. He picked up two more hits Tuesday night for SingleA Jupiter, raising his average to .341 (14 for 41) with seven runs scored and four stolen bases since his latest return from hamstring and groin injuries.

Redmond said the Marlins moved Furcal back to Jupiter from Double A Jacksonville (where he played five games) for logistical reasons. But it looks a lot more like so he doesn’t have to travel very far when the Marlins finally announce he’s ready to go.

How new Marlins reliever Bryan Morris added a couple ticks to his fastball

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Recently acquired reliever Bryan Morris ended up picking up his first victory in a Marlins uniform Tuesday night by picking up four big outs between the sixth and seventh innings.

Morris, acquired from the Pirates at the beginning of the month for a 2014 draft pick, has been stellar since the Marlins got him. He's pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts, no walks and only three hits allowed.

"You always want to start off with a new team and start off well," Morris said. "It's easier to become part of the team. It's always a different situaton when you come to a new team and you don’t know the guys, so getting off to a good start helps."

A 2006 first round pick of the Dodgers who had Tommy John surgery coming out of college, Morris said he spent a lot of time in the off-season strengthening his shoulder muscles with a specially designed workout first used by tennis players and most recently Blue Jays All-Star reliever Steve Delabar.

Morris said it's helped increase his velocity "a few ticks."

"It was something to make my sholder more stable so I can throw every day," Morris said. "It's based on decelerator muscles in the back of your shoulder -- that and strengthening all the small muscle so they can help the large muscles endure some of the stress that your arm goes through while throwing.

"Last year I probably was really consistent around 94 [miles per hour]. Ive seen a lot more 95s and 96s this year. Last year I would hit 95 every now and then and 96 on occasion. Later in the year I ran it up to 97 a couple times in the playoffs. I've hit 97 a few times this year and I've hit 98 a couple times. 98 is what I used to flirt with before Tommy John in 2006."


Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos, who grew up a Rangers fan and played for Texas Tech, had more than 150 friends and family members in the stands Tuesday night when he made his first pitching appearance in the state of Texas since getting drafted by the Marlins in 2009.

Ramos pitched a clean eighth inning of relief and struckout the first batter he faced.

"Man it was awesome," Ramos said. "If you were out here you heard how many people were out there, especially when they announced my name. It was kind of crazy. I heard it from all around the stadium."

Ramos said he as espeically happy to see his grandmother, Olga, in the stands. He said he lived across from his grandparents in Lubbock, Texas and said Olga and his late grandfather were his biggest fans growing up.

"She hadn't seen me pitch since college," Ramos said. "She’s been taking care of her dad. He’s 107 years old. It’s a 24/7 job and she doesn’t get to leave the house very often. So for her coming out here to Dallas is like a mini vacation to see me pitch."

Ramos said his father organized a group of about 94 people, who all sat in one section to cheer him on. Ramos said his mother has 11 brothers and sisters and thus he has "about 60 cousins." Most made the 5 1/2 hour trek from Lubbock to see him pitch.

"All of the 94 people in the same section were related," Ramos said. "The people in other sectoins were friends. If we were even closer to Lubbock I think the whole town would have come to the game."


Manager Mike Redmond said he hasn't seen a whole lot different in Christian Yelich's approach at the plate. Just better results of late.

After going hitless in four games from June 2nd to June 5th, Yelich has gone 9 for 20 with three doubles, a homer and five RBI over his last four games entering Wednesday.

"I think his approach overall has been pretty good," Redmond said. "He's hit some line drives right at guys, some ground balls. The key to him is to continue to stay within his approach. When he gets good pitches to hit he usually hits them. I think you saw that last night.

"A lot of it is confidence. Sometimes we lose sight -- even though I try to remind everyone -- this is his first full season in the big leagues. Everybody gets caught up in the numbers and the batting average. That stuff for me really doesn't matter. This is his first full go-around in the big leagues. There's a lot of pressure on him to go out and produce. But I've been very happy with what he's been able to go out there and do. He's led off all year in a position where we didn't expect him to be leading off. I think he's done a nice job. I think he's learned a lot. And I think he's continued to improve.

"And you know what he's a gamer. He's a grinder. This is going to be huge for him in the process of him becoming a great player.  He brings it everyday. He never comes into my office and asks for a day off. He wants to be out there to play. I was happy for him to go out there and put together a multi-hit game, a big game. It was fun to see him that. We needed that too."

Roster decisions loom for Marlins as Furcal, Heaney wait in the wings

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With second baseman Rafael Furcal looking healthy and playing well in the minors and top prospect Andrew Heaney appearing primed and ready to go, the Marlins roster figures to see some tinkering soon. And there could be some moves made as early as Friday when they return home to open a 10-game home stand.

The Marlins need to create two vacancies on the 40-man roster to accommodate both players once they call upon them. 

Furcal, currently on the 60-day disabled list, has played in 11 minor league games since May 29 -- his latest rehab stint -- and he has shined. Furcal picked up two more hits Tuesday night for Single A Jupiter, raising his average to .341 (14 for 41) with seven runs scored and four stolen bases since his latest return from hamstring and groin injuries.

Manager Mike Redmond said the Marlins moved Furcal back to Jupiter from Double A Jacksonville (where he played five games) for logistical reasons. But it looks a lot more like so he doesn't have to travel very far when the Marlins finally announce he's ready to go.

Justin Bour, brought up last week to be a left-handed bat off the bench and designated hitter during this seven-game road trip including four stops in American League parks, would be the likely candidate to be sent down since he still has options. But he's been pretty good so far in brief action -- picking up five hits in his first two games and getting another start Wednesday in the designated hitter spot against Rangers ace Yu Darvish.

Donovan Solano is another potential candidate who also has minor league options left.

Redmond said Wednesday when the Marlins return home the only spot to really play Bour is as a pinch-hitter, something he doesn't have a ton of experience doing since he's been an everyday first baseman in the minors.

"It's especially tough for young guys," Redmond said of Bour as a potential pinch-hitter. "But his swing is pretty short. I think he would have the ability to do it. He's patient. He waits to get good pitches to hit and he doesn't try to do too much. Those are all signs that lead me to believe he could be successful in that role."

As for Heaney, when he comes up he'll be moving into the starting rotation. But when exactly that happens and who gets moved out remains to be seen. Redmond said Wednesday left-hander Randy Wolf will start Saturday, a projected landing spot for Heaney since he last pitched June 7 for Triple A New Orleans. But as it stands, Heaney is lined up to start for the Zephyrs Thursday night in El Paso, Texas.

If Heaney pitches Thursday for the Zephyrs, he would be in line to make his next start Tuesday -- either for the Zephyrs again, or at Marlins Park against the visiting Cubs. That's currently the spot where Jacob Turner is supposed to make his next start after facing the Rangers on Wednesday.

"He's still in Triple A pitching as far as I know," Redmond repsonded when asked about Heaney on Wednesday. "I don't know what more to say. I know there's been a lot of speculation of when he's coming to the big leagues and when that's going to happen. I'm not sure when that's going to happen. But I know he's pitched down there, he's done a nice job and when that day comes you guys will be the first to know. But it's not today.

"Like I said, this is an organizational decision. And when the day comes that everybody feels he's ready to be here then he's going to be here. I can't say anything clearer than that."

> Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who resumed baseball activities on Tuesday after being cleared of concussion symptoms, is in line to play his first rehab game Monday in Jupiter, Redmond said. 

> Although Nathan Eovaldi is lined up to pitch Friday against the Pirates, should his wife go into labor Redmond said the Marlins could easily adjust their rotation by moving Wolf (Saturday's starter) and Henderson Alvarez (Sunday's scheduled starter) each up a day because of Thursday's off day. Eovaldi's wife is back home in Texas.

"It shouldn't be an issue," Eovaldi said. "[Pitching coach] Chuck [Hernandz] said, once I get the call, I'm coming out of the game. We're not sure when we're having the baby. If it doesn't happen any day now, it will happen Sunday. I'd probably come to the field and throw a bullpen on Sunday and leave after that, and be back Wednesday."


> Marlins (34-30): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Ed Lucas 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Justin Bour DH, 8. J.T. Realmuto C, 9. Adeiny Hechavarria SS. Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (2-3, 5.93)

> Rangers (31-34): 1. Michael Choice LF, 2. Elvis Andrus SS, 3. Shin-Soo Choo DH, 4. Adrian Beltre 3B, 5. Alex Rios RF, 6. Brad Snyder 1B, 7. Leonys Martin CF, 8. Chris Gimenez C, 9. Rougned Odor 2B. RHP Yu Darvish (6-2, 2.36)

ESPN Stat comparison: Stanton compares favorably to Aaron

Here's an interesting graphical stat comparison between Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Hank Aaron through their first 550 games from ESPN.