Marlins will give rookies Nicolino, Urena a good look before finalizing rotation

The Marlins are planning on setting their starting five-man rotation soon, and when they do, Jarred Cosart and Jose Fernandez will be rejoining it “in a permanent way,” manager Dan Jennings said Thursday.

But before anything is finalized, rookies Justin Nicolino and Jose Urena will get at least one more good look in the big leagues. Jennings revealed Thursday that Urena – and not veteran David Phelps -- will be making Sunday’s start against the Dodgers.

Urena tossed five innings and received a no decision in Tuesday’s loss to the Cardinals, but he’s gone at least six innings in four of his last five starts and has posted a 2.66 ERA over the stretch.

Nicolino, who tossed seven scoreless innings in his debut last Saturday in Cincinnati, will take the mound in the series opener Friday.

Could one rookie – or possibly both -- stay in the rotation moving forward? It certainly appears there’s a chance.

Saturday starter Tom Koehler was already sent to the bullpen once this season, and the Marlins are well aware of Koehler's struggles the second time through an opposing lineup. So they could opt to send Koehler to the bullpen and keep either Urena or Nicolino in the rotation.

Then, if Mat Latos or Dan Haren are traded (both have expiring contracts at the end of this season) it could open up another spot for a young arm to continue to develop on a team that clearly faces long odds of reaching the playoffs.

“It would be huge,” Jennings responded when asked if he would like to have a left-hander in the rotation. “I think some of the teams you see – especially these teams like the Cardinals with [Jason] Heyward and [Kolton] Wong [who homered Wednesday] night – if you've got that lefty starter, it can certainly neutralize a lot of things.”

Nicolino said he was nervous before his start in Cincinnati, but the butterflies quickly faded. He’s expecting to feel the same way in his first start at Marlins Park Friday.

“It’s the same game,” said Nicolino, who is 42-17 with a 2.67 ERA over five seasons and 102 starts in the minors. “After I got the first pitch out of the way [Saturday], that’s what it seemed like – the same game just with a lot more fans.”

FERNANDEZ SET FOR FINAL REHAB START

The next time Jose Fernandez returns to Marlins Park, he’ll be preparing for his next big league start against the Giants on July 2. Fernandez is set to fly out to Double A Jacksonville Friday afternoon where he’ll make his final rehab start following Tommy John surgery.

For Fernandez, who has never pitched above Single A Jupiter when he was in the minors, it will be his first trip to Jacksonville.

“Obviously it’s my last [rehab start], but it feels like it’s just another start, another step,” Fernandez said Thursday. “I’m just looking forward to getting out of it healthy, hopefully get to 95 pitches or higher. I thought I was going to be a little more like, ‘I can’t wait!’ I guess because I probably haven't realized yet that I’m that close [to returning to the big leagues I haven’t felt that way].”

MINOR LEAGUERS TOSS PERFECT GAME

Three Marlins minor leaguers -- including recent second round pick Brett Lilek -- combined to toss a perfect game Wednesday for the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League.

It’s only the third perfect game in league history according to Marty Scott, the Marlins vice president of player development who was there and watched the game.

“The leadoff hitter in the ninth hit a shot between first base and second,” Scott said. “Our first baseman dove, but it went his off glove and caromed to the second baseman, who got it and fired to [closer Steven] Farnsworth who covered first. It was a hell of a play. I was worried going into the ninth, not about the perfect game because of a lucky hit, but because we could lose the game up only 1-0. But when that first play happened to lead off the ninth, I knew fate was with us.”

Lilek struckout the side in the eighth inning after starter Gabriel Castellanos whiffed 12 over the first seven innings in the 1-0 win over the Mahoning Valley Scrapers. Farnsworth pitched the ninth to pick up the save.

The win improved the Muckdogs, who play a short-season of rookie ball, to 1-5. They lost their first five games and gave up 66 runs combined, Scott said.

Castellanos, a 21-year-old Dominican left-hander, was 7-21 with a 5.15 ERA in his career prior to Wednesday's start. For Lilek, a 21-year old lefty out of Arizona State, it was his first minor league appearance for the Marlins. Farnsworth, a 23rd-round pick in 2014, was 1-3 with a 4.70 ERA in 22 appearances before Wednesday.

“For the kids, it was special to see,” Scott said. “For a lot of them it was their first team win. Thirteen of the guys on the team, it’s their first year on that club. The team we played the first three games only had three 2015 draft picks. The team we played last two nights had four. So we're going to take our lumps once in a while. So if we get a couple more perfect games it will balance out.”

June 23, 2010

Samson, Beinfest weigh in on Fredi firing, future

BALTIMORE -- Marlins President David Samson and President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest spoke with reporters for 20 minutes before the game here at Camden Yards. For the complete press conference, click on our audio link.

Samson's opening statement: "Today was a difficult day. I want to say from the outset that today's decision made by this organization, a decision that was made with me, Larry, [general manager] Mike [Hill] and [owner] Jeffrey [Loria], was based on nothing having to do with Hanley Ramirez and the situation that took place with Hanley earlier this season. As a management team we were completely supportive in terms with how that situation was handled. In addition, it had nothing to do with any lineup card issues that happened at all. This decision was made in an effort for this team to accomplish what we want it to accomplish going forward and our continued desire to become one of eight [playoff teams]. Any time a change like this is made, it's an adjustment for the players and the staff."

Samson on Fredi Gonzalez and why the Marlins decided to fire him today: "Fredi is a very, very good man and a good manager. We felt today was the right day to do it. There is no perfect day to do this. Whether you've won three of four lost eight of ten. Today was just the day we decided to do it."

Samson on the plan moving forward: "As far as going forward, Edwin [Rodriguez] is the interim manager. We are beginning and have begun today a search for the next manager. There will be internal candidates, there will be external candidates. Before any speculation goes forward, Bobby Valentine is a candidate for this position. He was spoken to by me today. I called him today and told him that Fredi had been dismissed and we were interested -- Larry, Mike and I -- in the very near future about opening in a managerial capacity".

"In addition, there are a list of candidates. The reason I addressed Bobby by name is because of the speculation that has been out there for so long. As president of this team, the search in our minds commenced today and the first contact I had with Bobby had today. The relationship Bobby and Jeffrey have had as friends is not relevant in our managerial search at all."

"As far as our expectations for the rest of this year, on the field and off the field, they do not change. We stood by our thought of making the playoffs and there's no question I feel very responsible today. That's why it's not a good day for me personally. Because I feel I've failed completely to date, on the field, off the field and it's something I take very seriously. It is a job that we all have to make this team better as we get ready to move into the new ballpark that's being built and when the performance isn't what our evaluators tell us it should be, then I take that responsibility along with Larry and Mike."

Samson was asked why firing Fredi was the answer: "We felt at this time, this was the proper move was to get a different voice. As far as our timeline, we are definitely active and we do not expect the interim tag to last very long. We will go through the search, we will have candidates, we will follow the commissioner's rules on interviewing 100 percent and we hope to have the interim situation resolved in the very near future.

"There is no perfect day, you just a get feeling that builds over time and just decide when you are trying to compete for a playoff spot and the clock turns to mid to late June, it's time to do it."

Samson on when was the decision made: "The final decision was made within the last couple of days and Larry and Mike were able to present a plan to me and Jeffrey that makes absolute sense. As far as Edwin, he's an important person in our organization, a baseball man that come in here and be seemless, knows the players and it would be a way for us not skip a beat.

Samson on what the Marlins are looking for in their next manager: "You want a manager who has the ability to lead our team. How do you react in certain situations? How do you interact with the front office? How do you lead 25 guys to where we want them to be?"

Samson on reaching out to Bobby Valentine: "He's an external candidate, one of the external candidates I had to reach out to. There will be more. We've been around enough and know enough people in this game. It will not have the deliberate pace maybe other managerial searches have had. We'd really like to have a permanent situation in place as soon as possible. We're confident in list we've put together, it has the type of people we're looking at."

Samson on the timetable for finding a permanent replacement: "We are being careful, but expedient. Before the All-Star break is a very fair thing to say."

LARRY BEINFEST

Opening statement: "On our personal note, all of us a little bit, earned a warm relationship with Fredi and it made this extremely difficult decision. We also recognize there are some personnel challenges on this team. I'll echo what David said. We feel like we failed.

"It's not a reflection or Fredi or Carlos [Tosca] or Jim Presley if we did not give them the right personnel. We share that burden and it's been a difficult day for me. On the flip side of that, though, this team seems to be stuck in neutral and our competitors are on the accelerator. The Phillies, Mets and Braves are on the accelerator and we seem to be a little bit stuck. So we are looking at our personnel and a leadership change to hopefully get us on the accelerator and that's a big part of what we did today."

Beinfest on Fredi: "As far as Fredi's managerial skills and what he meant to this organization, he did a terrific job here. He will manage again in the big leagues and he deserves to manage in the big leagues. It's been a very difficult day. As we told the players it's time to move on and play baseball. We're going to do our job in the office to find the right mix of personnel and continue down that path. Edwin will lead us in this interim position, win ballgames and help us stay in this race."

Beinfest on whether Fredi is to blame for the bullpen woes: "There's no question I'm going to take responsibility for the bullpen. I don't think its a reflection on Fredi at all. It's definitely a personnel issue. This was just an overall decision to see if we can get this team clicking. We recognize the issues we have. We've been in the market looking for relievers and we'll continue to do so. We are fully aware with our eyes open of the challenges with personnel."

Beinfest on whether the change was made to save the season: "We want to try and get it going. We're a couple games under. I really got concerned and started speaking to David and Jeffrey after the Rangers series. Something was missing. We're at the ballpark every day and in tune with the team and you could just tell there was something missing there. Maybe we weren't going to get the engine going the way we needed to. That's really when we had concerns about pushing things along.

Beinfest on if previous MLB managerial experience will be important in the hiring process: "It's not [required] at all. We're looking for somebody to put it together and get these guys moving forward and playing at a level we think they're capable of playing at. We've moved very quickly already to put together a list and we're going to move very quickly in the next couple days.

Beinfest on how Fredi took the news: "He was very professional, very appreciative. Fredi sometimes is more concerned with everybody else. It was a very difficult meeting. He was very professional, gracious."

Beinfest on why hitting coach Jim Presley was also fired: "With these type of changes it's an opportunity to have a different voice. We have a different team, a few young guys who have a relationship with John Mallee. We thought where he could up and maybe move those relationships along quickly, the Stantons, the Gaby Sanchezes, people he's worked with in the minor leagues. We thought it was an opportunity to make a change."

June 15, 2010

Baker won't return until mid-August at earliest

Marlins catcher John Baker doesn't need to have surgery on his strained right arm flexor muscle, but will still be out until "mid-August at the earliest" according to manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Baker, who went to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. last week, was told he needs four weeks of rest before being reevaluated. "It's better than getting snipped, cut on you know," Gonzalez said before Tuesday night's game against the Rangers.

That means Ronny Paulino will continue to see the bulk of the heavy lifting behind the plate for Florida. Paulino is fourth among major league catchers with .303 batting average. His 25 RBI rank 12th among backstops.

Baker has been on the disabled list since May 12th. He hit .218 with six RBI in his first 23 games.

NEW ROLE FOR PINTO: Reliever Renyel Pinto, used primarily as a situational left-hander for the Marlins late in games for most of his career, will be now be used primarily as a long reliever according to Gonzalez.

Pinto, who came off the disabled list Monday, was 0-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 15 2/3 innings with eight walks and 16 strikeouts before he strained his hip and groin in a 7-3 loss to the Braves on May 26th. 

ONCE A SOCCER STAR: Nobody has been hotter for the Marlins in June than Chris Coghlan, who received a congratulatory hug from special assistant Jeff Conine in the clubhouse before Tuesday's game.

Conine didn't let the hug last long, pretending for a second Coghlan was so hot he was burning him. So far this month, Coghlan is hitting .489 (22 for 45) with four RBI, six walks and 12 Ks.

Of course, had things been different, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year could be in South Africa right now. According to Coghlan, he was quite the soccer star growing up and played the sport until he gave it up at age 13 for baseball and football. He led his AAU team, the Countryside Lightning, to a third place finish in the state at age 13.

"It was my favorite sport growing up," Coghlan said. "I was a forward when I was younger, but I moved to midfielder when I got older because I could kick with both feet. I played center-mid a lot. I was also a place kicker in football. But I don't like thinking of myself as a kicker. I was more of a receiver and safety."

Coghlan claims his longest field goal in a game came from 43 yards. "I could kick it farther. But we didn't kick many field goals," Coghlan said. "We usually went for it on fourth down."

June 06, 2010

Will Mike Stanton be in the big leagues Tuesday?

NEW YORK -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez joked Saturday that the only reason top propsect Mike Stanton hadn't been called up to the big leagues yet was because he fell a double shy of hitting for the cycle Friday night for Double A Jacksonville.

Mike Stanton "That's the missing piece we were waiting for," Gonzalez said.

Stanton got his double Saturday and drew two walks in a 1-for-3 effort against the Montgomery Biscuits. Sunday, though, he was conspicuously out of the Suns lineup, raising speculation he could be on his way up to the big leagues very soon.

According to a radio broadcaster in Montgomery who spoke to our Clark Spencer moments ago, Stanton was in uniform in the Suns dugout.

While no call-up date has been set, speculation is it will happen this week, perhaps when the Marlins open a three-game series in Philadelphia Tuesday. But indications are it is more likely to happen later in the week in Tampa when Stanton could be eased in as a designated hitter.

Gonzalez said Saturday that whenever Stanton is called-up, he wants to make sure the 20-year old doesn't feel like he has to save the season.

"That's going to be one of my biggest jobs -- to not make him sound like he's going to be Roy Hobbs," Gonzalez said of the Stanton, who through Saturday was hitting .311 with 21 homers, 52 RBI for the Suns.

"We're going to let him go out and have fun. Is he's going to make us better? Let's see what happens. But it's really not good expectations to put on a young man. ‘Hey, you're the guy, take us to the playoffs.' No. No. We have established guys who could take care of [that]."

Hanley Ramirez back in leadoff spot

NEW YORK -- Fredi Gonzalez said after Saturday's 6-1 loss to the Mets he was going to tinker with his lineup. He sure did.

Hanley Ramirez Hanley Ramirez is back in the leadoff spot for the first time since the final game of the 2008 season. Gonzalez said the move isn't permanent, but Ramirez, who is struggling to produce with runners in scoring position in the No. 3 hole, could still be hitting in the top spot when the Marlins open their next series in Philadelphia Tuesday.

"It's nothing permanent," Gonzalez said. "Usually what I've done in the past is give him the day off, give him a little breather. But with a day off tomorrow [why?] We'll see how it goes today."

Ramirez, a career .313 hitter in the leadoff spot, is hitting .286 with 8 home runs, 29 RBI, 25 walks and 29 strikeouts through 56 games. Last season through 56 games, he was .332 with 7 HRs, 19 RBI, 19 walks and 33 strikeouts. The biggest difference between this year's Ramirez and last year's is batting average with runners in scoring position. A year ago, he was one of the best in the game, hitting .373 for the season in those situations. So far in the two games in New York, he's gone 0-for-4 in those situations to drop his season average with runners in scoring position to .236 (13 for 55).

"I don't think its the pitchers pitching him any different," Gonzalez said. "The pitch selection might be different."

No reporters were able to nab Ramirez before the game to ask him about being moved up in the lineup. But Gonzalez said he had no problem with it. He said he also spoke with Chris Coghlan, who was moved down No. 2 in the order after turning up his play in the leadoff spot. Gonzalez said he told Coghlan not to change his approach at all.

"He's a big part of that middle of the lineup," Gonzalez said of Ramirez, who won the batting title a year ago with a .342 average in his first full season as the team's No. 3 hitter. "He knows he's scuffling a little bit right now. He wants to stay in the lineup, which is a good sign... It's one of those things we talk about that happens. But at the end of the year, the water always reaches its level. I think that's what we'll see with him."

MARLINS LINEUP: 1. Hanley Ramirez SS, 2. Chris Coghlan LF, 3. Dan Uggla 2B, 4. Jorge Cantu 3B, 5. Ronny Paulino C, 6. Cody Ross RF, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. Cameron Maybin CF, 9. Ricky Nolasco RHP.

> Couple more tidbits: Catcher John Baker (on the disabled list with a strained right flexor muscle) went 2 for 2 with 2 walks as a designated hitter in Jupiter Saturday night. Gonzalez said he expects Baker to catch a few innings on Thursday. 

Left-hander Renyel Pinto (on the disabled list with a strained left hip) pitched 2/3 of an inning, walked two and struck out two. He'll pitch two more innings and likely rejoin the team when he comes of the disabled list June 11th when the Marlins are in Tampa.

June 05, 2010

Wooden's wisdom reached Marlins clubhouse

NEW YORK -- Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez never got to meet famed UCLA men's basketball coach John Wooden. But Gonzalez read all his books and said there are plenty of lessons he learned and tries to pass along from the late coach, who passed away Friday night at age 99.

John_wooden "I think anybody -- no matter what sport, baseball, basketball, football -- has used his stuff," Gonzalez said.

"He never talked about winning in any of his books. He always talked about preparation and playing the game the right way. I remember somebody asked him why he doesn't watch film of the opposing team. He said 'If we do things the way we're supposed to do them, it doesn't matter what the other team does... there were lessons you could use throughout life."

Gonzalez said he read Wooden's final book last spring and asked former Marlins pitcher Mark Hendrickson back in 2008 to try and get Wooden's autograph on one of his books when Hendrickson, a Washington State grad, returned home for a special Pac-10 event during spring training. Hendrickson never got Wooden's autograph.

Marlins utility man Mike Lamb, a Cal-State Fullerton grad who was born and raised in California, said Wooden's teachings made an impact on him at an early age.

"Growing up I had a baseball coach print out his pyramid of success and put it on t-shirts for the whole team," Lamb said. "One of his quotes was actually in the clubhouse in Milwaukee. 'Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.' 

"Some of his one liners just make you step back and reflect on things."

STANTON WATCH CONTINUES... Mike Stanton's big night for Double A Jacksonville -- he finished a double shy of the cycle Friday -- wasn't lost on Gonzalez, who continues to be asked daily about the Marlins prized prospect and when he might be arriving.

Gonzalez had a funny retort Saturday before the game in the Marlins clubhouse: "If he would have hit that double, he would have been up here. That's the missing piece we were waiting for."

Gonzalez said what him impressed him most about Stanton's big night, which included a home run, triple, single and four runs scored, were the two walks the 20-year old drew. 

May 18, 2010

Ramirez's replacement at SS playing on bad ankle

With Hanley Ramirez out of the Marlins lineup indefinitely, Brian Barden should get the majority of action at shortstop. But if he were to need to a break, manager Fredi Gonzalez said Tuesday Wes Helms or backup catcher Brett Hayes could play shortstop for a few innings if needed.

"If the game is on the line and we need to pinch hit for him, we could run Wes Helms for him. You can get at-bats with him and you don't know if the ball is going to get hit there," Gonzalez said ."We were almost there last night, but it never materialized. One old coach said you can guarantee a hitter four at-bats, you can't guarantee a ball being hit there for a few innings."

Helms, a veteran corner infielder, has never played shortstop in the majors. Hayes, who also has never played shortstop in the pros, supposedly played the position some in high school.

For what it is worth, Barden is playing shortstop with a bum left ankle. He said he sprained it making attempting to make sliding catch in the series final against the Mets.

"Once you get out there honestly and get that adrenaline going you don't really feel it," Barden said before getting the start Tuesday. "It was kind hard to push off and go side to side on defense. Luckily they didn't hit any ground balls, just the first one [Justin] Upton had when I first went into the game."

"I'm excited to be out there. Obviously it's just bad timing. Hopefully, I could get some knocks today."

Fredi says Hanley needs to talk to his teammates

Hanley Ramirez will not be starting at shorstop today against the Arizona Diamondbacks. And manager Fredi Gonzalez said he didn't know if Ramirez, who was benched Monday for not hustling after a ball he booted in the outfield, would play at all he works out his issues.

For the complete interview, check out our Marlins audio section. Here is part of Gonzalez's transcript from moments ago...

Is his injury why he isn't in the lineup?

No. I think he's fine. I'm sure he's a little bruised up or banged up. But he's not in the lineup.

And the reason for that is...

I think he needs to take care of some problems. I think he needs to take care of the situation and when he handles that the right way, we'll be fine. It's one of those things that could be good. It could be good. 

Will he pinch hit?

I don't know.

What do you think he needs to do?

I think he needs to talk to his teammates a little bit. You know what I mean? I think whatever feelings he has with me or not has with me, it's fine and dandy. We don't need to get along. But I think he needs to get along with the 24 other guys in his team and when that happens, we'll run him back in there. I think if he sets his ego aside, this could be good.

Does he need to apologize to his teammates?

I think he needs to talk to his teammates.

Did you speak with him?

I've spoken to him, yes. Within the last 10 minutes. 

Is he suspended?

No. 

How was he in the discussion? He was pretty angry.

OK.

Did he seem like he was going to heed your advice?

Not sure.

We asked him if he was going to and his first words were 'For what?'

Well, what are we going to do then?

You don't want this distraction do you?

If it's handled the right way I think it could be good. If not, it could be a distraction. It could grow into some ugly stuff. Let's wait and see what happens. Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill just yet. 

Handled by him?

I think so. There's not a date or an hour or the third inning of today's game. We'll wait and kind of let this thing work itself out a little bit. I think sometimes when the ego gets in the way and the ego kind of deflates a little bit and you see the forest and the trees, I think it would be good.

He said some said unflattering things about you not playing in the majors...

He's right. But I know how to play the game. I played six years in the minor leagues and I know what it takes to play this game and I know the effort it takes to play this game and I know it's hard to play this game. Believe me, I know it's hard. That's it.

He said 'It's your team, you can do whatever the f--- you want.'

It's our team. I'm just a guy who makes the lineup. It's our team. 

How disappointed are you with his comments?

I'm not disappointed. Sometimes it takes a little time. But that's what you want to hear. You want this to turn around and be a positive. And that's all it takes. It takes a little bit of responsibility and we could take off. It's not the first time it's been done in the major leagues, not the first time I've done this in the major leagues. We'll see how this develops. My job as the manager -- as the f---ing manager is to make sure 25 guys play together and the effort is there. I can't control everybody going 4 for 4. But you can control the effort. 

Hanley Ramirez blasts Fredi Gonzalez for benching

Hanley Ramirez is not a happy Marlin. And he made his feelings pretty clear about it Tuesday morning in the team's clubhouse, ripping manager Fredi Gonzalez for pulling him from Monday's game for "a lack of hustle."

The Marlins haven't posted a lineup yet. But it will be very interesting to see if Ramirez's name appears on it. Here is what Ramirez told reporters moments ago (click on this link for the raw audio). We also have sound bites from teammates Cody Ross and Wes Helms. Helms said he thought Ramirez needed to apologize. Doesn't look like it is going to happen.

Did you give less than 100 percent effort?
Ramirez: I don't know. It looked like it. The example starts with me. If you don't hustle, hopefully, he does it with everybody. That's OK. He doesn't understand that. He never played in the big leagues. That's OK. That's fine. That's an example and it starts with me and let's see how far it can go.

Did the foul ball off your shin affect your running?
Ramirez: A little bit. Yeah. I had a little bit of tightness.

Did you think you could keep playing?
Ramirez: For him, I don't think so.

How much pain were you in?
Ramirez: A lot. I was trying to stay in the game. I wasn't trying to get out of the game.

What was reaction when he said he was taking you out of the game?
Ramirez: I just said 'I'm going to go home. I just wanted to go home. It's brutal. It's fine. It's OK.

Did you want to stay in the game?
Ramirez: Yeah. I could've. But I think I would have been in a little bit of pain. It's his team. He do whatever the he [f---ing] wants. There's nothing I could do about it.

Could your bat help the team?
Ramirez: Not right now. I think that's why I got kicked out of the game.

Are you angry?
Ramirez: It's brutal like I said. I'm just going to play the game and he's just going to have to leave me alone.

Did you lose respect for Gonzalez?
Ramirez: A little bit. We got 24 more guys out there, hopefully they can do the same things I do. That are wearing the Marlins uniform. There's nothing I can say.

Are you going to apologize to your team for dogging it?
Ramirez: For what? Do what? We have a lot of people dogging it after ground balls. They never pull guys.

Are you going to talk to Fredi today?
Ramirez: I don't think so and I won't. I don't know when I'm going to be back on the field.

Do you feel you're healthy enough to play?
Ramirez: No [mentally and physically].

Have you ever been this angry?
Ramirez: It's happened a couple times, but it's happened underneath the table. So, I know why I'm angry.

You aren't the first All-Star shortstop to get benched...
Ramirez: It can happen to anybody. 162 games.

Do you want to play for Fredi?
Ramirez: It's over. I'm done. No more [questions].

Was it the shin or ankle?
Ramirez: The shin.

Do you hold yourself accountable for not running?
Ramirez: That was as hard as I could go right there. I wasn't trying like I gave up. That was the hardest I could go after the ball.

Did you see the replay?
Ramirez: No. Everybody has a different mind. I can't control what you think about that. I can only control what I do on the field, off the field. I know some people are going to think I gave up or was a little bit hurt. It's going to be fine.

Do you respect Fredi?
Ramirez: I respect everybody. But I don't know if I get the same respect back. That's why sometimes you sit down and think about it. Why respect someone who isn't going to respect you back?

How much did it hurt you to hear some of the things he said?
Ramirez: I haven't heard anything, but I had a couple people who told me. I don't want to hear what he said. That's fine. I just want to sit down because I'm so mad right now, I don't want to do something stupid. Hopefully, I can talk to my kids so they can keep me down and forget this and go forward.

How many games do you think you'll miss?
Ramirez: I don't know. I haven't talked to him. I just got here. Let's see what they bring on the table.

Do you want to see your name in the lineup?
Ramirez: Everyday.

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."

May 11, 2010

Steal of home was "roll of the dice"

CHICAGO -- Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't one to reveal many trade secrets. So when asked about the Marlins' double steal in the seventh inning of Monday's come-from-behind win against the Cubs on Tuesday afternoon, Gonzalez made sure his answer was short and sweet.

"We rolled the dice," Gonzalez said with a chuckle. 

Truth is there obviously was more game-planning put into Cody Ross' game-changing steal of home and the Marlins simply don't want to tip their hand. Either way, the play was rare and provided a huge lift for the club. Nobody seemed to be more relieved about it a day later than rookie first baseman Gaby Sanchez.

The former University of Miami standout was responsible for the routine pop-up turned basehit off the bat of Aramis Ramirez which fell right behind the mound in the sixth inning and the Cubs used to retake the lead.

Sanchez, who had never played at Wrigley before Monday, said he felt terrible about the gaff. "It was just one of those situations where once it started drifting, I didn't want to keep going after it just in case there was somebody there -- in case they were trying to catch it," Sanchez said. "It was just a tough ball."

"I think all of us in the infield in that situation were thinking the same thing, we shouldn't have let it happen. Thankfully, we were lucky enough to come back, score a couple runs and win that ball game."

Sanchez then started to talk about how the Marlins had been practicing the double steal since spring training. But before he got into the good stuff, Ross, a few lockers away, made sure to shush the rookie up. "Don't be giving our plays away man," Ross said with a smile.

MARLINS STEALS RARE THESE DAYS... Monday's four stolen bases marked the first time since a 10-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 15, 2007 that the Marlins stole more than three bases in a game.

The Fish swiped five against the Rockies on that day, but have since managed to steal three bases only three times in each of the past two seasons.

"I just think that's not the nature of our club," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We are not built to steal bases, which I like to do at times. You look through our lineup we probably have two legit stolen base guys. [Cameron] Maybin, [Hanley] Ramirez and [Chris] Coghlan."

The Marlins entered the Cubs series with only 10 steals on the season, tied with the Phillies for fewest in the National League. Last season, they swiped 75 as a team one fewer than in 2008. The last time they stole more than 100 was in 2007 when Ramirez had 51 of the team's 105 steals.

Ramirez, who moved to the No. 3 spot in the order last season, has been the Marlins primary base stealer in each of the past five season. But as he's become a more dangerous hitter, his stolen base attempts have gone down. And that's fine with Gonzalez.

"I'd rather him win the batting title every year than be the stolen base king," he said ."I want him to win the batting title and drive in 100."

Gonzalez said he thinks stolen bases are a misleading stat. He said he prefers to flash the green light when a steal is needed.

"Some guys steal 40, 45 bases and 25 are meaningless," Gonzalez said. "For me, steal the bag when you have to steal a bag. Two outs in the ninth inning or in a tie game or one out in the ninth inning of a tie game, to me that's when stolen bases count more."