Marlins ace Jose Fernandez likely a month away from facing hitters

KISSIMMEE -- Jose Fernandez's return from Tommy John surgery hasn't hit any speed bumps yet and if things continue to progress as they have he'll likely begin facing live hitters in about a month.

"There are X amount of bullpens to throw and I think he has like eight left [before he faces live hitters]," Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said Friday shortly before the Marlins and Astros were rained out.

"We're doing two a week, so that's a month," Hernandez continued. "Once he gets past batting practice and stuff, then you could have road bumps because you've repped up a lot, pounded  [the arm], the intensity goes up. That's why it's not an exact science to it [as far as any exact date when he'll be back with the team]. But we have a general plan, that's big, formulated."

The Marlins have said all along the earliest Fernandez could be back is mid-June. But they're obviously going to be smart. Hernandez said Fernandez has been smart with his rehab to this point.

"Overall, he's doing it well," Hernandez said of Fernandez's rehab. "He's not overdoing it. He's getting to the point, we're getting at that stage of rehab you have to start stressing it and moving it a little bit. It's part of the way it works. The build up to this point he's done it perfectly. I watch him throw and I get amazed because I see how different they come back compared to 15, 20 years ago. Now there's such a success rate the kid's think 'It's fixed, now I'm supposed to throw two miles an hour harder.

"But he's doing great."

 

August 21, 2010

Nolasco scratched from Sunday start with torn meniscus

Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco will be scratched from his scheduled start Sunday afternoon against the Houston Astros.

Nolasco suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee during conditioning Thursday in Pittsburgh. Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said that Nolasco will not be put on the disabled list and will be monitored over the next few days.

The Marlins already lost outfielder Chris Coghlan for the season due to a torn meniscus.

Nolasco, who was scheduled to face right-hander Nelson Figueroa in Sunday's series finale, was seen wearing a soft brace on his right knee while walking around the clubhouse before Saturday's game.

LHP Andrew Miller, who was recalled Wednesday from New Orleans, will start Sunday in his place.

Nolasco is 14-8 this season with a 4.22 ERA and just pitched six shutout innings in each of his last two starts against the Pirates (Aug. 17) and Nationals (Aug. 12). He is 9-2 in his past 11 starts, and has pitched 155 2/3 innings this season.

August 18, 2010

Andrew Miller on his way back up to the bigs

PITTSBURGH -- The Marlins announced more than a few eye-opening moves after their 3-2 win over the Pirates Wednesday night.

Andrew Miller The biggest shocker though is that they're recalling struggling left-hander Andrew Miller from Double A Jacksonville to pitch in the bullpen. Miller, who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since Sept. 22, 2009, has struggled all season in the minors. He's 2-9 with a 5.35 ERA over 21 starts between Single A Jupiter and Jacksonville.

To make room in the bullpen, the Marlins optioned left-handed specialist Taylor Tankersley to Triple A New Orleans. Tankersley was pounded in Monday's loss has a 7.50 ERA in 27 appearances this season. 

We had heard earlier in the night that left-hander Sean West might not start Thursday. It turned out to be true. The Marlins placed West (0-2, 7.71 ERA) on the disabled list with right knee inflammation and recalled right-hander Alex Sanabia (1-1, 4.63 ERA) from Triple A New Orleans to start in his place. Sanabia was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA over 14 innings for the Zephyrs in two starts since being sent down July 31.

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said West hurt his knee running poles on Monday at PNC Park. 

The last bit of news: Veteran third baseman Wes Helms was signed to a one-year, $1 million extension through the 2011 season. The Marlins don't usually sign guys to extensions in the middle of the season. But Helms said it was something the club had been working on for weeks.

"I love it here, have a great relationship with the front office. I didn't want to test the market and have to start over somewhere else," Helms said. "Now, I'm going to go into spring training knowing where I'll be."

Helms, 35, has always had aspirations of coaching in the system once his career is over. It looks like this move was made to prepare him for that down the road. Listen to Helms talk about his plans for next year.

Here is what manager Edwin Rodriguez had to say about Josh Johnson's night.

November 24, 2009

Talkin' Turkey with Jeffrey Loria

  Caught up with Jeffrey Loria, who was on hand this afternoon at the team's turkey giveaway near the new ballpark construction site, and the owner of the Marlins touched on everyone from Bobby Valentine to Joe Girardi, and from Josh Johnson to Hanley Ramirez. He was far from effusive on any particular topic, but he touched briefly on a few burning issues, such as what his thoughts were on the pronouncement last week by Johnson's agent that there would be no multiyear contract for the pitcher after negotiations hit a brick wall over the length of the contract.

Said Loria: "You know our organization. We don't negotiate anywhere else except in the office (not in the press, in other words). I don't have any comments on any of the process. We're going to do what we have to do, and they're going to do what they have to do. We do love Josh. We'll see what happens."

Asked if the organization has an internal policy against awarding contracts to pitchers that are greater than three years in length, Loria replied: "We don't have any organizational situation about any of that. We just don't. But you have to look at numbers, and statistics, and innings, and injuries, and all the variables. That's a decision that Larry (Beinfest) is going to make with Michael (Hill) and the rest of our team. Everything is always case by case. Hanley was his own case. Now it's Josh's time to protect his family."

Loria was asked about the end-of-season reports that he was considering Bobby Valentine to replace Fredi Gonzalez. Loria's response: "I don't want to get into that. I've known him (Valentine) for 20 plus years. It had nothing to do with reality. I don't want to say anymore. Fredi's the manager and he has a contract. He's the manager, period."Loria

Loria said he was on hand at Yankee Stadium during the World Series, after which he wrote to Girardi and members of the Steinbrenner family, offering his congratulations. Loria fired Girardi as Marlins manager after the 2006 season, his first and only one with the Marlins.

"I congratulated them all," Loria said. "They did a great job, and they deserve what they got."

Loria said he was pleased with the outcome of the NL MVP vote, in which Ramirez finished second to Albert Pujols. It was the best MVP finish ever by a Marlins player.

"Somebody just texted me that. Hanley had a great year. Won the batting title, and a great young man."

Loria said he was the one to notify Chris Coghlan when the outfielder won the NL Rookie of the Year award last week.

"I said, 'Chris, I've got bad news and good news.' And I heard a slight 'oh' on the other end of the telephone. He said, 'All right, let's get the bad news out of the way first.' I said, 'The bad news is you're going to have to keep your standards up, and you're going to have to improve on what you've done. The good news is you won Rookie of the Year and I couldn't be prouder.'"

July 29, 2009

Andrew Miller gets hurt after another poor outing

    According to Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, pitcher Andrew Miller rolled his right ankle Wednesday afternoon during his second minor league start with Triple-A New Orleans.

     Gonzalez said the play happened while Miller was chasing down a bunt down one of the base lines. Prior to the injury, however, Miller had another poor outing.

In one inning, Miller gave up four earned runs, while walking two and hitting a batter. In two starts, Miller has now gone 0-2 with 10 earned runs and 11 walks, six hits and eight strikeouts.

The development raises the question of who will be the Marlins' 5th starter for the near future? And do they now feel added urgency to make a trade for a starting pitcher?

There's of course Sean West, who pitched will earlier this season, but he may not be ready. Anibal Sanchez needs more time to recover. And even if Burke Badenhop starts Saturday, is he ready to be a part of the rotation?

Gonzalez said the team is having discussions on ways to improve the team, but did not elaborate. And he has yet to officially name a starter for Saturday's game against the Cubs, which is a day after the MLB trade deadline.

Here is tonight's lineup for the Marlins: 1. Coghlan lf; 2. Bonifacio 3b; 3. Ramirez ss; 4. Cantu 3b; 5. Hermida rf; 6. Uggla 2b; 7. Ross cf; 8. Baker c; 9. Johnson p.

June 11, 2009

Marlins bracing for Halladay & more

Another day, another Cy Young winner to try and take down.

Roy Halladay That’s the way the Marlins are approaching the task of facing Roy Halladay in Toronto Friday night, the fifth Cy Young winner Florida will try and beat in a week.

Halladay, however, might be the toughest of any the Marlins have encountered. The 32-year old right hander is 10-1, leads baseball in wins, is second in complete games (3) and ranks third in the AL in strikeouts with 88.

The Marlins aren’t exactly familiar with Halladay either. Only seven players have faced him before. First baseman Jorge Cantu (2 for 11, .182 vs. Halladay) is the only player with more than three at-bats.

“The way I look at it is he’s got the same scouting report on us that we do on him,” said outfielder Cody Ross, who went 1 for 3 against Halladay in 2006. “His is thin and ours is thin.”

At least the Marlins have history on their side, having beat Halladay the only time they faced him in 2006. The Marlins actually hit him pretty well, scoring four earned runs on eight hits over six innings. Not counting utility man Alfredo Amezaga, who is out with a knee injury, the seven healthy Marlins who have a history against Halladay combined to go 10 for 27 off him (.370).

“What makes him tough is that he throws strikes,” catcher John Baker said.

“He has a lot of different pitches, keeps guys in and out and off balance. He’s probably the best pitcher in baseball. It will be a test for us, but no greater test than I think some of the arms we’ve seen. Lincecum, Randy Johnson. We’ve seen a lot of Cy Young award winners. It’s just another one to try and beat.”

The Marlins have fared well against Cy Young winners this season. After losing to San Francisco’s Barry Zito 2-1 last Friday, they’ve won three straight over Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson and Chris Carpenter.

TALES FROM A BEATUP CATCHER: Baker sat out his second straight game Thursday, the fallout of being struck with a bat over his left temple Tuesday night by St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols.

Baker is hoping to be in the lineup Friday in Toronto. But there’s a good chance he could he miss his third straight game. Thursday, he woke up with more swelling and yet another headache.

Baker said he won’t take any medication for the pain. “I don’t want to mask anything,” Baker said. “I prefer to know what I can and can’t do. With pain medication sometimes you think you can do something and then you go out and do something stupid. I wasn’t raised by my parents taking a lot of medicine for things. If it hurts and you can play with it, then that’s what you do.”

“Hopefully the swelling will start going down. But I took a pretty wicked impact.”

Baker tried catching a few balls in the bullpen with a hockey mask Wednesday but has ordered a different one he hopes to use in Toronto. He said once the stitches are removed (possibly by the time the Marlins in Boston), he’ll go back to using his regular catcher’s mask.

Baker, who was as a pitcher and first baseman in high school, didn’t start catching until he was handed the equipment upon arrival at the University of California. He’s taken his fare share of blows over the years since putting on the gear.

“I took one in the head earlier this year that knocked a nice little golf ball in the side of my head,” Baker said. “In 2005, we were in Omaha and I took an elbow to the artery in my neck. I had trouble swallowing for a while. Another time, we were playing against West Michigan in Single A and I got hit with an elbow in the jaw, got knocked out at home plate cold.

“There’s a reason we wear the catcher’s gear. I’ve deal with it before, but not like this with stitches. This one is the worst residual effect, keeping me out for a few games.”

> Chris Volstad, who had the worst outing of his career Wednesday (6 ER, 10 H), said the reason his sinker was not dipping against the Cardinals was because he wasn’t following through on all his pitches.

“My mechanics were definitely a little off,” Volstad said. “It was just one of those things where I’d do it right one time and then wrong the next. I’ll have it fixed for Boston.”

Volstad’s next scheduled start is Tuesday night against former Marlin Josh Beckett at Fenway Park. Volstad and Andrew Miller are the only Marlins pitchers who will face both the Red Sox and Yankees.

> Manager Fredi Gonzalez gave his No. 3 and No. 4 hitters the day off Thursday – first baseman Jorge Cantu because of dizziness and shortstop Hanley Ramirez because of a sore right groin.

Gonzalez said Ramirez tweaked his back Wednesday night beating out a double play ball. Gonzalez said he entertained the idea of pulling Ramirez, but his shortstop refused to be taken out – much like he has with just about every other injury this season.

“He’s played 11 games in a row [coming back from the groin]. He’s dealt with it pretty good,” Gonzalez said. “There were some days where you thought he wasn’t going to make it. My hats off to him.”

May 16, 2009

Marlins sparkle in win over Dodgers

There's a really good chance Saturday night was the last time the Marlins are going to have Pom Pom giveaway night. In case you weren't at Land Shark Stadium you probably missed the silver lining in the Marlins 6-3 win over the Dodgers.

It was all over the field -- silver strands from the 15,000 pompoms given away before the game. Fans spent most of the night tossing those strands in the air, which eventually landed on the field. Players weren't happy. Dan Uggla called the situation "brutal." John Baker, who hit a two-run home run to break a 2-2 tie in the fifth, got deeper.

"Absolutely brutlal,'' Baker said. "The thing that was really frustrating is you look up and see people shaking them like its a joke. Its frustrating when stuff is flying all over the field and they're shiny and they hit the lights... I think you focus for the moment and your OK. But seeing stuff all over the baseball field... baseball is obviously America's past time and to see like that all over the field is very frustrating for a player."

Of course, at least they won and they were plenty of encouraging signs.

Andrew Miller's five innings in his first start since he went on the DL April 20th with an oblique strain wasn't glorious. But he picked up the win and got stronger as the game progressed.

"His final two and half innings were outstanding," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "His breaking ball was good, his fastball outstanding. That was a good start for Andrew."

Baker agreed. "I felt he did great. I think he made a breakthrough in the middle of the game. Anybody could see it watching on the velocity from the third inning on. [Pitching coach] Mark [Wiley] told him if your going to miss, miss throwing your good stuff. All of a sudden, you see 93, 94, 95 and it turned around for him. You have to give him credit battling through a shaky start. That's a tough lineup even without Manny Ramirez in it."

> After the game we learned utility man Alfredo Amezaga injured his left knee rounding third base in the eighth. Gonzalez said Amezaga would get reevaluated before Sunday's game. It's the same knee Amezaga hurt while playing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

April 26, 2009

Maybin moves up to leadoff spot Sunday

Manager Fredi Gonzalez unveiled a few changes to his Sunday afternoon lineup against the Phillies and Marlins killer Jamie Moyer.

Cameron Maybin will bat leadoff for only the second time this season on Sunday when the Marlins face nemesis Jamie Moyer. Emilio Bonifacio is going to get the day off (just the second time he hasn't been in the lineup) and in his place Cameron Maybin will get to enjoy batting leadoff for only the second time this season. Bonifacio, who has been struggling at the plate lately, could probably use the break. He’s 3 for his last 35. Then again, he’s had some pretty good success against lefties this year (batting .409). And the Marlins could use all the help they can get against Moyer, who is 11-1 against Florida in his career.

Maybin has batted in front of the pitcher 10 of the 16 times he’s been in the lineup for the Marlins this season, hitting .194. In his one leadoff appearance, he went 1 for 4 with a walk and two strike outs.

The Phillies by the way will be giving ice cold Jimmy Rollins the day off. The 2007 NL MVP is hitting .162 this season in 16 games. He’s 1-for-9 in this series against the Marlins.

> Phillies: 1. Shane Victorino, CF; 2. Eric Bruntlett, SS; 3. Chase Utley, 2B; 4. Ryan Howard, 1B; 5. Jaysen Werth, RF; 6. Raul Ibanez, LF; 7. Pedro Feliz, 3B; 8. Chris Coste, C; 9. Jamie Moyer, P.
> Marlins: 1. Cameron Maybin, CF; 2. Jeremy Hermida, LF; 3. Hanley Ramirez, SS; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1B; 5. Dan Uggla, 2B; 6. Wes Helms, 3B; 7. Ronnie Paulino, C; 8. Cody Ross, RF; 9. Graham Taylor, P.

MAKING MOVES: Marlins relief pitcher Logan Kensing got more than the loss Saturday. He got his walking papers, too.

The 26-year old right-handed reliever was designated for assignment after the game to make room for Sunday starter Graham Taylor, who was called up from Double A Jacksonville to pitch in place of the injured Andrew Miller.

Kensing was 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA in six games with Florida and has spent parts of the past six seasons with Florida. When asked after Saturday’s loss why it was Kensing being sent down, Gonzalez said, “I don’t know. We had to make a move.”

No matter how Taylor pitches Sunday against the Phillies, expect the 24-year old to stick around for at least one more start – at least until Miller gets healthy. Gonzalez said Miller began long tossing on Saturday. The left-hander suffered an oblique strain and went on the disabled list on April 20.

As for Taylor, Gonzalez said it was time to give the young junk-ball pitcher a shot.

“It’s been a couple years now and his numbers in the minor leagues are the numbers you want. He’s a guy who will give you a lot of innings, lot of strikeouts, not very many base on balls. Those are the type of guys you want. And we’re going to give him an opportunity to come up here and pitch in the big leagues.”

CANTU BANGS INJURED WRIST: During the Marlins failed 10th inning, 2-out rally Saturday night, first baseman Jorge Cantu needed a moment to deal with the pain of his deeply bruised left hand and wrist.

Cantu, who started the rally with a double, said he banged his injured hand on second base when he reached back for the bag to avoid sliding past it. Gonzalez and several trainers came out to check on Cantu, who remained in the game.

After the loss, Cantu told us in the locker room he was fine and was expecting to make his second straight start Sunday after missing three consecutive games.

“I felt it a little when I swung. It’s just a little stinger is all it is, nothing big,” Cantu said. “It’s going to be like this for another three, four weeks. It’s very tender. That’s why I’m putting a ton of ice on it after every game. It’s a deep bone bruise. All I can do is ice it, give it time.”

April 21, 2009

It's the Hopper.

The Marlins recalled Burke Badenhop from Triple A New Orleans son Tuesday to replace Andrew Miller, who went on the 15-day disabled list after Monday’s start with a strained right oblique.
Badenhop will pitch out of the bullpen and may or may not be the guy who replaces Miller in the rotation when Miller’s turn comes up on Sunday.
“We have someone in mind (for the Sunday start),’’ said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins president of baseball operations. “But we probably won’t make that move (until later in the week).’’
Beinfest said he wasn’t working the phones to find a starter, and that the pitcher would come from within the organization.
The Marlins have few options for a spot starter, but Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Tuesday whoever the pitcher is will probably make two or three starts until Miller returns. Gonzalez all but ruled out Hayden Penn, because Penn “hasn’t gone more then four innings since spring training,’’ Gonzalez said.
Miller was examined by a doctor Tuesday, and Gonzalez said it was “minor,’’ and he expected Miller to return after 15 days.
Badenhop broke camp last season as the No. 5 starter, and also pitched in relief last season for the Marlins. He went 2-3 with a 6.08 ERA in 13 games, including eight as a starter. He was much better in relief last season, going 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in five relief stints.
Badenhop had a 4.09 ERA this spring and was a starter at New Orleans, where he made went 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts covering 9 2/3 innings.
“I’m going to be in the bullpen (Tuesday night) and from there who knows,’’ said Badenhop, who was scheduled to start for New Orleans Tuesday.
“I was all packed for the trip to Round Rock (Texas),’’ he said. “Hopefully, I’ll never have to go to Round Rock.’’
He knows what is expected.
“To throw strikes, and being on top of the ball,’’ Badenhop said. “Just being simple.’’
Badenhop lives on his sinker, which induces groundballs.
“My sinker has been all right,’’ he said. “I like the big league balls better than the minor league balls. They are different. The have a different feel and the seams are smaller. And they tend to be in better condition. You don’t know where those minor league balls have been.’’

June 06, 2008

A mighty blow for Miller

Nice job by Andrew Miller in the second inning Friday. Miller is up with the bases loaded and one out, and you are just hoping he doesn't hit into a double play (even Miller pokes fun of his swing at the plate). But he chopped one to short, and brought in a run. He's hitting .095 but he now has two RBI -- and that makes him the RBI leader among the pitchers. 

May 17, 2008

Don't blame Miller for being a Heel

It took Andrew Miller about an hour to drive from his home in Weston to Coral Gables, but he made the drive Saturday so he could see his alma mater North Carolina play Miami in a showdown between the top two teams in the country.

He even signed a few baseballs at Mark Light, where Miller watched the first two innings of the game before heading to Dolphin Stadium.

“Nobody said anything awful. They honored my allegiance,’’ said Miller, who wore a Tar Heel blue colored polo shirt.

“It took forever for them to play that game,’’ he said of the 12-11 North Carolina victory.  “But you have the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, so both teams have real good lineups and they (have aluminum bats). That’s college baseball – ding!’’