Stanton, Gordon earn All-Star starting nods from the fans

They've put a lot of smash and flash into a Marlins lineup that often hasn't backed them enough.

Sunday night, though, Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon were rewarded for their work. Both earned starting jobs for the 86th All-Star Game in Cincinnati, joining Gary Sheffield (1993) and Hanley Ramirez (2008-10) as the only Marlins to get voted into the game by the fans.

Stanton, who leads baseball with 27 home runs and ranks second with 67 RBI, went on the disabled list after he broke the hamate bone in his left hand swinging a bat June 26 and won't get to play in the game.

But Gordon, who leads the majors with 116 hits and 17 three-hit games and ranks second in stolen bases (29), will get to start in the Midsummer Classic for the first time in his career if he can get through the next week unscathed.

“It’s a huge honor," Gordon said Sunday in Chicago after the Marlins fell to 35-48, 11 games back in the division race. "I’m definitely blessed. I thank God for the opportunity. But I thank my teammates and my coaches for going out there and battling every day. This is more for them.”

Stanton, not expected back until August, took to social media to thank the fans for the 7,036,537 votes he received, second only among outfielders to Washington's Bryce Harper, the National League's overall leader in votes with 13,864,950.

It's the first time in Stanton's career he was voted in by the fans. In 2012, he was selected as a reserve but didn't play because he had surgery on his right knee. Last year in Minneapolis, Stanton started as the designated hitter for the NL when he earned his second selection.

"I just wanted to thank my fans and fans of the game that voted for me to start in the All-Star Game this year," Stanton wrote on his Instagram account. "I work the way I do for a reason, and it's times like this that I can appreciate why. So I THANK each and every one of you!"

In all, ten of the 17 players elected by the fans (nine American League; eight National League) are first-time starters -- the most since there were 11 in 2005.

The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL – will be announced on ESPN at 7 p.m. Monday. They are determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – NL skipper Bruce Bochy of the defending World Series Champion Giants and AL manager Ned Yost of the Kansas City Royals.

Blue Jays third baseman Donaldson, who collected 14,090,188 total votes, set a new all-time single-season voting record, surpassing Josh Hamilton’s 2012 total of 11,073,744 tallies.

But it was the Royals and their fans who really stole the show. Four were elected: outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, shortstop Alcides Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez. Kansas City became the 10th team in AL history have four players win starting job

The Marlins have twice had four players selected to the All-Star Game back in 2004 and 2005 -- when Gordon was a teenager following his father, Tom, around.

Now, it's dad, a three-time All-Star relief pitcher, who will be on his son's guest list. There are only 13 father son combinations who have played in the All-Star Game.

“In 2004 I was kicked off the field for trying to rob home run derby homers," said Gordon, who said one of his favorite All-Star moments was meeting Muhammad Ali in 2004. 

"The ’06 [game] I had just graduated from high school and I thought I was a cool kid. So I didn’t want to go on the field. But ’04 was the most fun.”

Gordon, a reserve at the All-Star Game last year with the Dodgers, said earning the start is something he's very proud of.

His first half has been one of the best in Marlins history. He's hitting .343 with 16 doubles, four triples, 21 RBI and 43 runs scored. His 100th hit of the season came in the Marlins' 65th game on June 19, making the fastest player to 100 hits in club history -- five games faster than three-time All-Star and Marlins all-time hits leader Luis Castillo.

He's also played Gold Glove caliber defense.

“He’s having a dynamic year," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He has a great energy about him. He’s a very good defender also, he’s a difference maker. He is truly one of the catalytic leadoff hitters in the game right now. He has been really impressive.”

March 29, 2012

Rowand released, may retire; Petersen to minors

   JUPITER -- A couple of major moves just announced by the Marlins: outfielder Aaron Rowand has been released while outfielder Bryan Petersen was optioned to Triple A New Orleans -- indications that the team is confident Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton will be ready to go for Opening Night.

    It's also a sign that Chris Coghlan and Austin Kearns have won roster spots as backup outfielders.

    Rowand struggled throughout spring training, hitting just .133 (6 for 45) while Austin Kearns, another non-roster invitee, hit .364 (12 for 33) with three home runs.

     "I'll either go somewhere else if another team needs an outfielder or, if not, probably take it to the house, call it a career," Rowand said outside the clubhouse after being told the news. "Not everybody gets to decide when they're going to hang 'em up. I feel like I have some left. But, if the opportunity doesn't present itself, then I'm happy with the things I've accomplished and looking forward to the next chapter."

     No matter where he ends up, Rowand will be paid $12 million by the Giants in what is the final year of his contract with them.

      In addition, the Marlins re-assigned pitcher J.D. Martin and infielder Nick Green to minor league camp, bringing the spring training roster down to 33 players.

February 21, 2012

Hanley takes ground balls at 3B, discusses move (w/videos)

     JUPITER -- Welcome from Roger Dean Stadium, where Marlins pitchers and catchers are reporting and we just finished watching Hanley Ramirez take ground balls at third base on one of the back fields. He didn't make any diving stops behind the bag or long throws to first. On the other hand, the Marlins have instructed Ramirez -- who is coming off surgery on his left shoulder -- not to dive after anything. "We want to keep him on his feet this spring," said Larry Beinfest, president of baseball operations.

     "I'm not going to go into my list of worries, but I wouldn't say it's at or near the top of the list," Beinfest said of the transition Ramirez is making from shortstop to third. "You just don't go sign Jose Reyes unless you are completely comfortable he is going to play third base and play it well. So I don't think there's a lot of concern there."

      Beinfest said he has no doubt that Ramirez will succeed defenively at third.

      "I think he can play just about anywhere on the field," Beinfest said. "There's only so many talents like him, and he'll be fine. He'll do it whether it's a slow roller, or going to his backhand. He's got the arm. He's got all the thing he needs to do to be successful over there. I don't think mechanically, at least in my mind, that will be super-challenging for him."

      As for Ramirez's off year at the plate last season, Beinfest said: "Never thought I'd see it. Really it's a blip. I'm confident that's all it was, a blip. That's just not who he is, and we do not forsee that happening (again)."

      As for Ramirez, we just finished speaking with him and I'll get his remarks up later. Nothing major. He said that, mentally, he's prepared to play third and doesn't have any issues with the move.

      For now, check out the video:

And here's what Hanley had to say about moving to third base:

September 06, 2010

Masterful Big League Debut for Adalberto Mendez Ends With Injury -- UPDATED


                The injury to Adalberto Mendez was not as serious as first thought and manager Edwin Rodriguez said he is confident the 28-year-old rookie will make his next start in five days. If so, that would be a huge boost for the Marlins, who are short on starters, especially with suspensions coming up for Chris Volstad and Alex Sanabia. Rodriguez said Mendez suffered a leg cramp while running to first on a base hit in the seventh. It was initially reported as a right quad strain.

                Adalberto Mendez was having a fairytale kind of afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. In what was his major league debut, the 28-year-old Dominican was shutting down the vaunted Philadelphia Phillies, holding them to one hit and no runs through six innings, when suddenly it all came crashing down in a freak injury in the top of the 7th.

                Mendez singled to right for his first big league hit but pulled up lame as he was approaching the bag at first. He had to be assisted off the field. The Marlins just announced that he suffered a right quad strain.

                Mendez, who has toiled in the minors for eight seasons before finally getting his chance, was excited about the opportunity. He sure didn't look nervous before the crowd of 45,848, largest of the season at Citizens Bank Park. He struck out All-Stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the first, gave up only one hit (to Brian Schneider in the 2nd), dropped down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, and was cruising along until the unlucky seventh.

                Assuming Mendez will be out for awhile, if not for the rest of the season, the Marlins will have some serious starting pitching issues to deal with in the coming week. Chris Volstad, who starts on Tuesday, will likely begin serving his six-game suspension following a hearing on his appeal on Friday. Alex Sanabia, who sucker-punched Adam Dunn in the brawl with the Nationals, is also looking at a five-game suspension before he takes the mound again.

                With Ricky Nolasco out for the season and Sean West on the shelf, the Marlins are down to Josh Johnson, Andrew Miller and Anibal Sanchez -- and nothing else at the major league level.