March 26, 2012

Mujica looks like he's earned setup role with Marlins as Oviedo sits in Dominican

LAKELAND -- Ozzie Guillen said Sunday he was going to lean on pitching coach Randy St. Claire to decide who serves as the setup man for closer Heath Bell. Well, if that's the case, consider Edward Mujica the heavy favorite to be that guy come Opening Day.

Edward Mujica"For me right now, probably Edward is the guy who had the most chances in that role [last season] and did a pretty decent job," St. Claire said Monday. "For me, it's his job to lose."

Mujica, 27, hasn't done anything to lose that job this spring, even though the rest of the Marlins bullpen has pitched really well, too. In five appearances, Mujica has posted a 1.80 ERA, striking out six with no walks. Ryan Webb has done even better -- tossing six scoreless innings of relief in five appearances with three strikeouts and no walks. Steve Cishek has a 1.93 ERA in 4 2/3 innings, with three strikeouts and two walks.

Of course, the Marlins were hoping to have someone else serve as their setup man before spring training began -- former closer Juan Carlos Oviedo. But with the man formerly known as Leo Nunez still on the restricted and sitting in the Dominican Republic, the Marlins have had to move on with their plans and it appears Mujica, Oviedo's close friend, will fill his spot at the start of the season.

St. Claire said aside from Mujica the Marlins could also use left-handed specialist Randy Choate to get tough lefties out in the 8th before inserting Mujica after him.

St. Claire said what separates Mujica from other Marlins relievers in that eight inning role is his ability to get lefties out with his split-fingered fastball. Last season, lefties hit .220 against Mujica in 132 at-bats compared to .245 versus righties in 143 at-bats.

"He's going to throw the ball over the plate, we saw that last year," St. Claire said of Mujica, who walked just 14 of the 297 batters he faced in 2011.

"And that's something you got to have out of your guys in the back end of the pen. When you're in a one-run game, two-run game, you can't be putting guys on base. He doesn't. He makes them hit the ball."

Of his 67 appearances last season, Mujica made 40 in the 8th inning, posting a 2.97 ERA in 33 1/3 innings of work in the frame. He struckout 31 and walked two. He was even better in the 7th, posting a 0.96 ERA in 18 2/3 innings with 15 strikeouts and two walks.

If Mujica were out, St. Claire said: "It would be a mix and match type deal, who you got coming up whether they're righties, lefties, that type of deal. You try to mix and match to get through that inning. But when you have that true eighth inning guy, it's usually 'here's the ball.' Just like the closer. You're not usually worrying about matching up because he gets both out the same."

St. Claire said he's asked the Marlins several times this spring for an update on Oviedo, but has been told repeatedly "there's no news."

> Choate will pitch in Grapefruit League play for the first time today against the Tigers. St. Claire said he wants to get him about 20 pitchers -- or an inning of work.

> St. Claire said the only Marlins starter who won't be allowed to go over the 95-pitch mark at the start of the season is Anibal Sanchez, who was held back a start at the beginning of Grapefruit League play because of shoulder stiffness.

St. Claire said the way the Marlins starting rotation is lined up at the moment, Ricky Nolasco will face the Yankees at Marlins Park Sunday and Carlos Zambrano will start versus New York a day later.

The rotation will then reset with Josh Johnson pitching on Opening Day April 4th against the Cardinals and Mark Buehrle (April 5th), Nolasco (April 7th) and Zambrano (April 8th) lined up to pitch versus the Reds in Cincinnati. That means Sanchez, slated to be the Marlins fifth starter, will make his debut April 9th in Philadelphia.


> Last year at this time, Donnie Murphy was preparing to serve as the Marlins starting third baseman on Opening Day. Now, he's not sure if he'll have a roster spot on the 2012 Marlins.

The 29-year old veteran utility man has struggled this spring at the plate, hitting just .194 (6 for 31) in 13 games and is receiving stiff competition from 24-year old non-roster invitee Donovan Solano (hitting .375 in 17 games) for the job.

Murphy isn't in the starting lineup today against the Tigers, but he will make an appearance off the bench. He hopes to make the best of it and every other opportunity going forward.

"Obviously this is not where I wanted to be at this point," Murphy said Monday. "But I'm not going to worry about it. Whatever happens, happens. Every year there is always competition. Sometimes you're in a position where you're comfortable and sometimes you don't. I can't control that. Hopefully, I'll use this last week to finish up strong and go from there and see what happens."


> Marlins: 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Emilio Bonifacio CF, 3. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 4. Gaby Sanchez, 5. Omar Infante 2B, 6. Chris Coghlan LF, 7. Austin Kearns RF, 8. John Buck C, 9. Mark Buehrle P.

> Tigers: 1. Austin Jackson CF, 2. Brennan Boesch RF, 3. Jhonny Peralta SS, 4. Prince Fielder 1B, 5. Delmon Young LF, 6. Alex Avila C, 7. Ryan Raburn 2B, 8. Brandon Inge DH, 9. Audy Ciriaco 3B. Rick Porcello is pitching.

August 05, 2010

Marlins sign veteran infielder Chad Tracy

Hey fans,

Andre Fernandez filling in for Manny and Clark today. Here's some news on a move the Marlins made today:

   The Marlins signed free agent infielder Chad Tracy Thursday in
the hopes of adding depth at the third base position.

   Tracy, 30, was recently with the New York Yankees' Triple-A
affiliate, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, before being released last
week. Tracy began the season with the Cubs, and hit .250 in 28
games before being sent down to the minors. At Scranton, Tracy
hit .324 with six home runs and 18 RBI in 68 plate appearances.

   Tracy, a left-handed batter, spent six seasons with the
Diamondbacks and is a career .279 hitter.

   "I was sitting at home [in Charlotte] when the Marlins
called,'' Tracy said. "I didn't have any idea they'd call.
There's always possibilities all over the place and different

   Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said before Thursday's game
that Tracy will be used primarily off the bench, and should get
some playing time at third base.

   "This year, [while managing in the minors], I saw him when we
played the Cubs Triple-A team in Iowa,'' Marlins manager Edwin
Rodriguez said. "In that series, he had eight or nine hits. He's
a very good hitter. A good defender, playable at first or

   The move came a day after the Marlins optioned outfielder
Bryan Petersen and catcher Brad Davis to Triple-A New Orleans,
and activated catcher Brett Hayes from the disabled list.

   Tracy said he'd gladly conform to any role the Marlins give

   "It's whatever I can do to help,'' Tracy said. "The reason I
left the Yankees was because I didn't want to play in minors
anymore. I'm happy to be back up.''

July 03, 2010

Is Leo Nunez relying on his change up too much?

ATLANTA -- Marlins closer Leo Nunez said one reason he's blown back-to-back saves is because he's been leaving pitches up in the zone a little too often lately. Manager Edwin Rodriguez, however, has a different take.

Leo Nunez "I think he needs to go back to being a power pitcher, using his fastball and slider more," Rodriguez said Saturday. "He's using his changeup way too much. His changeup is only going to be effective if he uses his fastball. If he keeps throwing changeups after changeups, that's going to become his primary pitch... we're trying to get him to start using that strategy, approach more. He's a power guy, a power pitcher. He should us his fastball and slider."

Nunez, who has now blown five of his 21 save opportunities this season, couldn't get an out in the 11th inning Friday night despite being handed a 3-2 lead. He walked Brian McCann on four pitches to start the inning, then gave a double to Troy Glaus on a changeup before Omar Infante singled them home on a fastball to rally the Braves to a 4-3 win.

"The pitches were good," Nunez said of Friday's blown save. "I think it was just one of those days. There are days when you try to do your job, but things happen. I tried my best."

Nunez, who blew off reporters after the game, said Saturday the use of his changeup has been "normal." According to's pitch tracker, of the 15 pitches Nunez threw Friday, only two were changeups. When he blew a save in the Marlins 7-6 win over the Mets Tuesday, Nunez threw 13 pitches and 10 were changeups.

Pitching coach Randy St. Claire told reporters during the spring Nunez was guilty of tipping his pitches last season based on the way he was holding his glove. Nunez gave up 13 home runs, among the leaders in baseball and blew seven save opportunities in 33 chances. 

Friday's blown save might have been the result of him making the adjustment of using his fastball more and leaving it up in the zone.

UGGLA AN ALL-STAR?: When the All-Star rosters are released at noon Sunday, most expect shortstop Hanley Ramirez and ace Josh Johnson to be on the team. But second baseman Dan Uggla could also earn a trip to Anaheim. 

With the Phillies' Chase Utley (thumb surgery) expected to be on the disabled list for two months, Uggla could potentially earn a spot on the team along with the Braves Martin Prado or Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips. Uggla, who entered the week third in the voting behind Utley and Prado, leads all NL second basemen in homers (15) and ranks second in RBI (46).

"I think Uggla deserves it," Rodriguez said. "He's having a very good year and started very strong for us. Although his average has suffered a little bit, he's still the same power guy, clutch hitter and his defense is there."

The Marlins haven't sent more than two players to the All-Star game since they sent four in 2005: Luis Castillo, Paul Lo Duca, Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. 

PLAN FOR MURPHY: Brian Barden's failure to get down a bunt on a suicide squeeze in the 11th inning Friday likely had nothing to do with why he was designated for assignment after the game.

Donnie Murphy, who was selected from Triple A New Orleans to replace Barden on the Marlins bench, said he was taken out of the Zephyr's game in Nashville Friday in the sixth inning. That was well before Barden failed to lay down a bunt, then struckout with runners on second and third in the 11th inning. 

"I'm looking for more offense than defense in that position. So, that's why we decided to bring Donnie Murphy up, he's more of an offensive player than Brian Barden," Rodriguez said. "It's very unfair to say Barden is not going to be able to do it. He hasn't played in a while. Donnie Murphy was playing down in Triple A every day and I think he can help us more."

Rodriguez said because the team has been using Wes Helms earlier in the game and more often in double switches for Jorge Cantu or Gaby Sanchez, they needed a bat for the late innings. "I think Murphy could do that job," Rodriguez said.

Murphy's primary position is shortstop, but like Barden could play second or third base if needed. "It’s a good feeling to be back up here," said Murphy, who last played in the big leagues with the Oakland A's at the end of the 2008 season. "Hopefully, I can help this team out."

July 02, 2010

Rodriguez wants to put Marlins bench to work

ATLANTA -- It might not happen very often during this weekend's series against the first-place Braves, but Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said Friday he plans to start giving his bench some more playing time so when he calls on them to pinch hit in tough situations, they can deliver. 

Emilio Bonifacio The Marlins, who ranked fifth in baseball last season in pinch hitting batting average (.280), have become one of the worst teams at it this season. They rank 24th overall with a .187 average (20 for 107) and have only 15 pinch-hit RBI. Entering Friday's series-opener at Turner Field, the Marlins are 0 for their last 16 in pinch hit situations. The last pinch hit: a run-scoring triple from Wes Helms in a loss to the Phillies on June 8th.

Wednesday night in San Juan, Rodriguez turned to his bench three times against the Mets, twice with runners in scoring position. Mike Lamb, who is only 5 for 27 in pinch hit situations (.185) this season, grounded out to the pitcher with runners on the corners and the score tied at 4 in the fifth. Wes Helms later flew out to deep center with runners on first and second for the final out in the eighth inning and the Marlins down a run. The Marlins lost 6-5.

"It's very tough to come off the bench and get a clutch hit facing a closer who throws 95 or 96 when you haven't played in a week or 10 days," Rodriguez said. "I'm very aware of that.

"My plan is to put them a little bit more often in the lineup, that way they can get their timing back."

The truth is other than Wes Helms, the Marlins bench has hardly contributed at all this season. Emilio Bonifacio, recalled from Triple A on June 6, has made only one start this season and is 0 for 10 in pinch hit situations. Lamb, sent down to Triple A twice, has made only one start and has only 30 at bats overall. Catcher Brett Hayes hasn't started since June 4th and has had only two at-bats since. Infielder Brian Barden, a defensive specialist, has made only two starts and is actually among the better pinch hitters having gone 2 for 5 with an RBI in those situations.

"It's not easy and it's something I'm still learning and getting adjusted to mentally," said Bonifacio, who had 16 career pinch hit at-bats before this season. "Each day I feel better, have more confidence. But I'm not there yet. I'm used to playing every day."

Last season, the Marlins had one of the best 1-2 punches off the bench with Ross Gload and Helms, who ranked first and second in the National League in pinch hits. Helms, who is hitting .252 overall this season, is only 4 for 26 (.154) in pinch hit situations season.

"If we want to win the division, we have to get those bench players, the extra players in good condition to go out there and be more effective," Rodriguez said. "And I think [playing them] is the best way to do it."

A NEW VERAS: When the Marlins signed Jose Veras to a minor league contract in the offseason, they were hoping the former setup man for Mariano Rivera would turn out to be their next great bullpen find off the scrap heap.

Jose Veras When he was sent down to the minors on April 13 with a 15.43 ERA, it looked like the none of the relievers the Marlins signed in the offseason were going to pay off. But the hard-throwing Dominican right-hander might turn out to be a find just yet. 

Since being recalled from New Orleans on June 25th, Veras has been dominant in four appearances, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out six in five scoreless innings.

The secret to his success: better control and a new pitch, a changeup. Veras, 29, baffled several Mets this past week in San Juan with the changeup, a pitch he said he spent a couple weeks working on to add back to his arsenal down in Triple A. Veras, a starter with the Rays early in his career, used to throw a changeup. But when he was put in the bullpen, he said he was urged to use only his fastball and his slider. 

"I got a good feel for it," Veras said. "I can throw it for a strike, down in the zone. I feel confident when throw it, like my breaking ball. You throw a fastball 95, 96 and throw a change up, that's a 10 mile per hour difference. If you can get them to roll over to pop up, that's what you want."

Rodriguez, who managed Veras in Triple A, said Veras got behind in the count too often and wasn't aggressive enough.

"When you throw 95, 96, you don't have to be painting the corners," Rodriguez said. "He was trying to be too perfect, throwing fastballs 96, 97 miles per hour on the corner.

"I think he threw about three or four of them [in Puerto Rico], which is good enough. Just to show them, just to keep them off balance. It doesn't have to be his main or secondary pitch. His first pitch is his fastball, his second pitch his slider. Against left handed hitters, if he can show that changeup, that's going to be very effective. It will make his primary pitches better."

And it could potentially make the Marlins bullpen a lot better too. With Clay Hensley, the team's setup man returning Friday from a left neck strain, the Marlins may finally have the back end of their pen set.

"If he keep pitching the way he was pitching in Puerto Rico, that's going to be a big help for the bullpen," Rodriguez said. "Having Veras, Clay Hensley and Tim Wood, Tankersley as situational left-hander, the bullpen could shape up in a positive way."

> Catcher Ronny Paulino, who was scheduled to start his 24th game in a row, will get his first day off since June 4th on Sunday.

> Rodriguez said third baseman Jorge Cantu was battling dizziness Wednesday because of the heat in San Juan. Rodriguez said Cantu told him he was fine Friday and no longer feeling any symptoms. "Just overheating," Cantu said. 

May 12, 2010

After Cubbies, Johan Santana awaits Marlins

CHICAGO -- The Marlins will try to leave Wrigley Field this afternoon having accomplished two things they have yet to do this season: sweep an opponent and a three-game winning streak.

If there is a team the Marlins can do it against, it's the Cubs (14-20). Marlins ace Josh Johnson said before Wednesday's game he feels like the team could be on the verge of putting together a bit of a winning streak. If you remember, the Marlins started 11-1 last year before the wheels came off. After losing eight of 11 coming into this series, Johnson feels like the momentum start swinging in the other direction.

"For a couple weeks there, it felt like nothing could go right for us," Johnson said. "You had game-saving catches, big home runs. The last couple games, that has kind of gone away. Before that, we hadn't really been consistent enough as a whole team to get to the point where we could win four, five in a row. But I can definitely see us getting to the point where we could now."

To keep the good times rolling, Johnson will have to do something very few Marlins have -- beat Johan Santana on Thursday. Santana is 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA versus the Marlins in eight career starts. He beat Johnson and the Marlins on Opening Day, becoming the first of four Cy Young winners to beat the Fish this season in four tries.

"I just have to try and get deeper in the game because you know there is a 99.9 percent chance he is going to get six, seven, eight innings in," Johnson said of facing Santana. "That is just how good a pitcher he is. As an opposing starter pitcher you have to go as deep as possible and try to match him."

There aren't many Marlins who have had much success against Santana. Jorge Cantu (7 for 27), Chris Coghlan (1 for 3) and Gaby Sanchez (1 for 2) are the only Marlins who have better than .250 batting averages against him. Hanley Ramirez (.167), Cody Ross (.167), Wes Helms (.176) have just three hits against Santana lifetime. Dan Uggla is just 1 for 19.

LEROUX LEARNING THE HARD WAY... Before the season, Chris Leroux had only five games of major league seasoning coming out of the bullpen for the Marlins. But the 26-year old Canadian-born right-hander is loading up on tough experiences this year.

Tuesday night against the Cubs, he put himself in arguably the most difficult situation of the season -- and survived. With the Marlins up 3-1, Leroux gave up two hits, walked one and had the tying and winning runs standing on second and third base with Aramis Ramirez up and two outs in the eighth inning. After an eight-pitch battle, he finally got Ramirez to swing and miss at a high fastball on a 3-2 count to end the inning.

Leroux, who pumped his first as he bounced off the mound, caught some good-natured heckling from teammates after the game for celebrating like Yankees pitcher Jaba Chamberlain. He also received some compliments from catcher John Baker and manager Fredi Gonzalez for getting out of the mess.

"The other day in Washington we brought him in with first and secodn and he got a big double play to get Sanchez off the hook," Gonzalez said. "We're throwing him in situation, when he's successful, you hope he builds on tht stuf and keeps going forward.

"He's got a big arm, throws 93, 94 miles per hour with a big sinker and a nice changeup."

MAYBIN SAYS WRIST IS FINE... Outfielder Cameron Maybin found out there was a brick wall behind the ivy when he made a running catch against it Tuesday. Maybin jammed his right wrist on the play, but remained in the game. 

After Tuesday's game, he said the wrist was fine. "Nothing a little ice can't fix," Maybin said. 

Gonzalez didn't put Maybin in the lineup Wednesday, but said it wasn't because of the wrist. "As far as I know, he's fine," Gonzalez said. "The trainers didn't mention it at all this morning."

April 17, 2010

Meyer eager to bring down 19.31 ERA

PHILADELPHIA -- Friday night's seventh inning was one to forget for reliever Dan Meyer. With a little more than a dozen family members and friends from right up the road in his hometown of Mickleton, N.J. in attendance, the 28-year old left-hander had his worst outing in a Marlins uniform.

Dan Meyer It started with a bang when Chase Utley drilled a 2-2 change-up from Meyer into the seats in right field for a leadoff home run. Then, Meyer gave up a single to Ryan Howard, an RBI double to Jayson Werth, a walk to Raul Ibanez and a single Juan Castro before manager Fredi Gonzalez came and yanked him. In all, Meyer didn't retire a single batter he faced and saw his ERA shoot up to 19.31 on the season.

"I had a bad day at work and unfortunately it was in front of 40,000 people and who knows how many else on TV," Meyer said. "My family still loves me, though."

His Marlin family still does, too. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Meyer pitched too good for him last year to discard him after a bad week. "We could always talk about somebody negatively whether it's a pitcher, a starter or a coach," Gonzalez said. "Hitters go 0 for 10 or 0 for 20. Sometimes relievers get themselves in a little funk. For me, that's all it is. [We'll] keep running him out there."

In Meyer's first full season in the majors last year, he made 71 appearances and went 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA. He started this season by retiring four of the first six hitters he faced in three appearances, giving up a single in a win over the Dodgers and walking the only batter he was faced Monday against the Reds.

His last two outings have been much rougher. Tuesday, he picked up the loss in the Marlins' 11-inning defeat to the Reds, giving up three hits, two earned runs and two walks in one inning. Friday's implosion followed. Meyer said his cutter was "a little flatter" in both of his last outings. But Saturday, when he threw a bullpen session with pitching coach Randy St. Claire, Meyer said his go-to pitch was working again "like it was last year."

"Everything is there," Meyer said. "It's correlating that to the game. I hope Fredi and those guys still have confidence in me. I'm still going out there giving it all for these guys."

> Right-hander Chris Leroux, who relieved Meyer Friday and promptly got out of the bases loaded jam he was given, got to live out a childhood dream in his second appearance since being called up from Triple A New Orleans on Wednesday. 

Among the six outs in his two scoreless innings of relief, the 25-year old Toronto native was able to strike out former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. Leroux said his mom asked him before Friday's game to get an autograph from Halladay, who spent 11 full seasons with in Toronto and won the Cy Young award in 2003 before being acquired by the Phillies in a multi-team trade last December.

"I've always watched him and somewhat idolized him," Leroux said. "Just seeing him step into the [batter's] box was cool."

As for the autograph, Leroux said he's counting on a clubhouse attendant to get it for him. "Hopefully, he won't take the strikeout personally," Leroux said.

> Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after Friday's 8-6 win he thought Gonzalez wanted umpires to delay the game because of the rainy conditions, which might have meant avoiding Halladay, who would not have come back to pitch if the delay was long enough.

“You’d have to ask Fredi, but I think he wanted to stall and see if they would stop the game before five innings and we wouldn’t get the game in," Manuel told Phillies writers. "But, whatever. I don’t know. You have to ask him.”

When asked about it by Marlins writers before Saturday's game, Gonzalez had a little fun. "Where is he? Let me at him," Gonzalez said before motioning as if he was going to dart off the Marlins bench to chase Manuel down. "I wasn't stalling. I was trying to get the field ready."

> Left fielder Chris Coghlan is back in the lineup after missing three games with sore ribs thanks to a diving catch in the outfield Tuesday. Gonzalez said Coghlan would have been used in a pinch runner situation Friday night had John Baker reached base in the ninth inning. 

Gonzalez said Friday he thinks Coghlan and Cameron Maybin, who hit leadoff when Coghlan was out, are "interchangeable" at the top of the Marlins lineup. 

Maybin is pretty good in the leadoff spot. He's a career .304 hitter in 46 at-bats with three stolen bases, five walks and .373 on-base percentage. Maybin also is a .325 hitter in the No. 2 hole, with nine doubles, 7 RBI and a .367 on-base percentage.

"I think before it's all said and done, he could hit in the middle of the lineup," Gonzalez said of Maybin. "He's got some power that's going to develop late. I don't see him like a [Astros outfielder] Willy Tavares type guy. He's a guy who chops the ball and runs. [Maybin] is a guy that can juice the ball."

April 03, 2010

'Big Worm' wishes Marlins well in 2010

JACKSONVILLE -- Ricky Nolasco has had about as good a spring as any pitcher in baseball. In seven starts, he compiled a 1.94 ERA, went 4-0, struckout 30 batters and walked just one. In other words, he hardly made any mistakes -- and when he did he didn't really pay for them.

Mike Stanton Friday night, though, 20-year old phenom Mike Stanton made sure Nolasco paid for his only mistake, tomahawking a high fastball well over the left field wall on the Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville. The first inning, two-run home run went an estimated 420-feet and landed close to a nearby service road behind the stadium. It drew a standing ovation from the crowd of 10,843 and blew away Nolasco, who couldn't believe Stanton actually caught up to the high fastball.

"As soon as I let it go, I didn't think he was going to swing," said Nolasco, who aside from the two-run homer continued his hot spring by tossing five scoreless innings, striking out seven and walking none. "I was surprised he got that ball. Unbelievable bat speed -- everybody knows that.

"He's a talented guy and we can't wait to have him up here. He's obviously something special. I think a lot of people are really happy to see him developing the way he is. The faster he gets here, the more he's going to help us. He's the exception -- superstar status."

Superstar in the making, yes. But major league superstar in 2010? Probably not. As giddy as Marlins President David Samson and President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest were just listening to Stanton crush balls during batting practice Friday, there certainly appears to be no rush whatsoever to get the "Big Worm" to the big leagues. 

When a Jacksonville reporter asked how long it would be before Stanton got the call-up, Beinfest answered him with a question. "How long would like him to stay?" Beinfest said. "He'll let us know. We like our outfield the way it's set up now with [Cody] Ross, [Cameron] Maybin and [Chris] Coghlan. It's only a matter of time. I don't know when that will be, but he'll show us."

The good news for the Marlins is that Stanton doesn't seem to be very anxious or demanding. Instead, he's rather respectful of the process. Asked if he was bothered by the fact he was sent down even though he was having a hot spring, Stanton said "not really." 

"That wasn't something I really even wanted to think about," Stanton said of making the team out of the spring. "I don't like to predict stuff. As long as it takes, whenever I'm ready, it will show enough. I'm not trying to be like 'In 30 days I better not be here.' The way I see it, anything can happen as long as you do the things you're supposed to."

That patience, humbleness and respect is definitely paying off in the Marlins clubhouse. After Friday's game, Stanton visited the Marlins and wished the club well in 2010. He also stopped by to visit a mentor. 

"He came over to say bye to [Wes] Helms, who kind of took him under his wing and showed him the ropes," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He was with us the entire spring. There was definitely some bonding there."

The bonding didn't just happen with the Marlins. Dolphins boss Bill Parcells fell in love with Stanton too, and refers to him as Wormy. The nickname has stuck. Stanton said he's "cool with it." As long as people refer to him as the "Big Worm."

"He's the whole package," Beinfest said. "The way he handles himself is really impressive."

April 02, 2010

OF Scott Cousins preparing to start in New York

JACKSONVILLE -- With only 72 hours remaining before the start of the season, the Marlins still aren't sure who their starting right fielder will be when they take on the Mets at CitiField Monday night. But Scott Cousins is preparing like he'll be that guy. 

Scott CousinsWith Cody Ross still battling back from a mild calf strain, Cousins, 25, said the Marlins called him Thursday morning and told him to begin mentally preparing himself for his big league debut.

"They told me to come up here and play for Jacksonville, and travel up with them tomorrow to Greensboro to play for Greensboro and if things have been going the way they've been going with Cody, I'll be in New York. If he's feeling better, like he's ready to go, then I'm going back to [Triple A] New Orleans," said Cousins, who was scheduled to start in center Friday night for the Suns, who are hosting the Marlins one the first of the club's two final exhibition games.

"They said it was very likely [I would be in New York]. They didn't give me a percentage or anything like that. They just said to prepare my mind like I'm going to New York."

Ross, sidelined since March 23rd, played in a minor league game Friday afternoon on a back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter. As a designated hitter, he went hitless in five at-bats against the Mets low Single A affiliate. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Ross is scheduled to play twice more this weekend in minor league games where he'll test his calf in the outfield.

"The trainers and coaches said he looked OK," Gonzalez said. "But, we'll always lean on the side of caution.

"He hasn't played the field and you have to play the field and stay out there for nine innings and run around. But today was a good sign. I don't mind losing him for four days and playing it safe than bringing him back too early and all of a sudden it's a month in a half."

If Ross isn't ready for the opener, he will begin the season on the disabled list. In that scenario, the Marlins would place him on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 26. The earliest he would be eligible to return would be April 10, when the Marlins host the Dodgers on the first Saturday night at home of the season.

Cousins is pulling for Ross to be healthy. But he certainly wouldn't mind an opportunity to fulfill his big league dreams, too.

A third round draft choice in 2006 out of the University of San Francisco, Cousins fractured his knee cap crashing into the outfield pole in Single A Jupiter with two months to go in the 2008 seasons. After having surgery, he didn't produce on offense like he was expecting to last season, hitting .263 with 12 home runs, 74 RBI and 27 stolen bases for Double A Jacksonville. But this spring with the Marlins, he showed he could swing a stick against big league pitching, hitting .286 with two home runs, four RBI in 21 at-bats and 11 games.

"They told me it could be four days, 10 days, two weeks -- it all depends on how he's doing," Cousins said. "But for me to fullfill a lifelong goal and dream -- Opening Day in New York, it would be unbelievable."

August 23, 2009

Nick Johnson's hamstring isn't getting better

The Marlins have been patiently waiting for Nick Johnson’s tight right hamstring to loosen up so they could avoid having to put him on the disabled list.

The first baseman, however, still isn’t feeling any better and now he doesn’t think he’ll be back Tuesday when the Marlins open a 10-game homestand starting with the Mets. Sunday morning, Johnson hit off a tee and played catch. But when he tested his hamstring with light running exercises at Turner Field it was not a success.

“It didn’t go well,” Johnson said. “I still feel it. It’s just not 100 percent.’’

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the team still has no plans of putting Johnson on the disabled list. But that could change soon.

Johnson hasn’t played since the first game of a double-header against Colorado Aug. 15. But the longer the Marlins wait, the longer they go short a bench player. Plus, injuries are only retroactive for a maximum of 10 days, meaning after Wednesday, Johnson would still have to wait five days before returning from the disabled list.

> The prognosis for reliever Brendan Donnelly appears to be a little better. Donnelly suffered what Gonzalez described as a mild right calf strain fielding a bunt in the eighth inning Saturday night and was placed on the disabled list.

“I don’t expect it to go past 15 days,” Gonzalez said. “I think when the 15 days are up, he’ll be ready to go.”

If that’s the case, Donnelly could join the team in New York Sept. 8 – a day after he’s eligible to come off the disabled list. Right-hander Cristhian Martinez was recalled for the fifth time this season from Double A Jacksonville to take Donnelly’s spot Sunday morning.


Reliever Burke Badenhop is close to rejoining the team. He threw 44 pitches and 4 2/3 scoreless innings without giving up a hit for Single A Jupiter Saturday.

Gonzalez said if it wasn’t that the right-hander had pitched Saturday, the Marlins could have recalled him. Gonzalez said Badenhop, who went on the disabled list Aug. 2 with a strained right trapezius, is scheduled to pitch again Thursday in Jupiter.

> Andrew Miller (high ankle sprain) was scheduled to pitch Sunday in the Gulf Coast League.

May 18, 2008

No fine for Helms

It was best-laid-plans-of-mice-and-men stuff for the Marlins Saturday night when pinch-hitter Wes Helms missed a sign and attempted to bunt in the seventh inning. After failing to put down a bunt, Helms faced an 0-2 count and hit a three-run homer to lift the Marlins to a 5-3 lead.

"No I'm not going to fine him,'' joked Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Helms said "I would have been glad to pay a fine.''

It was Helms' sixth pinch-hit home of his career.

"The pinch hit home runs mean a lot more to me,'' he said.

Helms met with Marlins third base coach Bo Porter immediately and the innnig to talk about what went wrong.

Gonzalez said Sunday morning that because teams are always trying to steal signs, it forces him to always change the signs.

"Every team does it their way,'' Gonzalez said. "When I was in high school (Southridge High) my coach had a sign for every kid on the team. I was 14 years old and I'm trying to keep up with that,'' he said smiling.

"Yeah, I missed signs when I was 14. I'm 44 and I till miss signs.''