NEW YORK -- Thursday's off day for the Marlins provided closer Steve Cishek an opportunity to accomplish two things: get in a round of golf at Bethpage State Park in Long Island (host of two U.S. Opens and 2019 PGA Championship) and to forget about blowing his third save of the season Wednesday against the Diamondbacks.
"That last game in Arizona was probably one of the toughest ones for me to get past just because we had a two-run lead," Cishek said. "I got a chance to get my mind from baseball a little bit and take my frustrations out on a little white golf ball."
Cishek went right back to work early Friday. After breaking down film, he and pitching coach Reid Cornelius were in the bullpen at Citi Field working on pitch location and arm slot for his slider.
Cishek said his arm feels fine. In fact, his fastball velocity has gone up over the past two months -- a result he says of a steady workload and arm strengthening.It's the slider, he said, that hasn't been right over his last three or four appearances. It's forced him to rely on his fastball way too much and given hitters an advantage.
"I'm not driving it like I usually do," he said. "I'm kind off falling off trying to make movement before it's out of my hand -- overdoing it basically instead of trusting it. I'm trying to get back on track with that."
STANTON TALKS LEBRON, DERBY
Even though he's from Los Angeles and grew up a Lakers fan, Giancarlo Stanton has never passed up an opportunity to go watch the Heat since LeBron James has been in town.
So what was Stanton's reaction to Friday's news about James heading back home to Cleveland?
"That's obviously the biggest thing in sports down here in awhile," Stanton said. "It takes a lot of guts to do that. I know he wanted to go home. It means a lot more to do that, to win in a place you grew up rather than just one of the teams you ended up on. The thing is he didn't go with the big press conference like he did last time. He did what he was going to do, stayed quiet and did it the right way."
Although he never personally got to know James, Stanton said he enjoyed going to see James play because he never got to see Michael Jordan in his prime. Stanton said he's always liked to study the greats.
"When you see the best guys on the planet at their particular craft win and lose, be on top of the world and the bottom, and at the same time it helps you as a competitor learn from that," Stanton said. "You pick things up that maybe you won't have to go through yourself because you learned from something like that."
With James leaving one could argue Stanton is now the most exciting professional athlete in town. His tape-measure home runs and raw power have made him a household name in baseball and Monday his talent will be on display for the entire country to see in the Home Run Derby.
Friday, in an early warm-up for the festivities, manager Mike Redmond said Stanton belted several home runs at Citi Field into the second and third decks.
Asked Friday if he wants to win the derby, Stanton smiled and said: "It's a competition man. If I wanted to stand there and look pretty I'd just stand there and take selfies all day and post them up."
> Redmond said reliever A.J. Ramos, on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation since June 28, is scheduled to pitch in his first rehab assignment Monday for Double A Jacksonville. Redmond said the team expects him to be ready to rejoin the team after the All-Star Break.