May 26, 2009

Pinto's (elbow) MRI negative

PHILADELPHIA -- Renyel Pinto's stint on the disabled list isn't going to be very long. According to Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, the MRI on the left-handed reliever's elbow didn't reveal anything more than inflammation.

"We’re going to give him a couple days of not throwing and then get him cranked up again," Gonzalez said.

Pinto began his stint on the DL retroactive to May 23. In the meantime, the Marlins will continue to rely most on Dan Meyer and Leo Nunez (whom Gonzalez said negates lefties with his changeup) to handle left-handed hitters late in games.

Meyer, who has pitched in three straight games, will likely face one or two hitters tops Tuesday -- and Nunez will likely rest along with closer Matt Lindstrom. Both have pitched in three straight games. That leaves the Marlins bullpen pretty thin for tonight's game -- especially with Burke Badenhop making the start Wednesday. Look for Kiko Calero and Brian Sanches to see the bulk of the late inning work.

> Gonzalez said the reason he decided to put Emilio Bonifacio back at the top of the lineup Tuesday instead of keeping rookie Chris Coghlan (who went 2 for 5 Monday) there is because he doesn't want to lose Bonifacio's speed. "Boni's speed is his tool," Gonzalez said. "You put him eighth and you kind of negate it." Gonzalez said Coghlan is a good enough hitter to bat anywhere in the lineup.

> The Marlins could potentially tie a club record tonight -- one they set last year -- by hitting another home run. Wes Helms extended Florida's streak to 13 games last night with his fourth-inning blast off Jamie Moyer. The Fish have hit the fourth-most home runs in the majors since 2007.

> Wednesday starter Burke Badenhop will be on a 65-70 pitch limit. "He's hit 45 a couple times," Gonzalez said of Badenhop, who has worked in long relief stints all season. "We don't want to push it more than 65 or 70." Gonzalez said the Marlins will likely need Badenhop or another pitcher to fill in the fifth starter's role for another start until Anibal Sanchez, Rick VandenHurk or Ricky Nolasco are ready to fill the void by June 7th.

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.

Marlins want to give relievers relief

The Marlins haven’t done many things well over the last month – except get good production from their bullpen.

After Friday night’s loss to the Dodgers, they made a move to try and make sure that production doesn’t slip – sending outfielder Brett Carroll down to the minors to make room for Saturday night starter Andrew Miller and keep a total of 13 pitchers on the roster. According to manager Fredi Gonzalez, having the extra arm will help alleviate some of the extra work his relievers have had to do this season.

Entering the weekend series, the Marlins bullpen was fourth in the majors in innings pitcher. Kiko Calero, who pitched a third of an inning and walked two batters Friday, leads the majors in appearances with 21. Left-handers Renyel Pinto and Dan Meyer aren’t far behind.

“You don’t want these guys worn out by the end of June,” Gonzalez said. “So by having the extra arm, it’s going to protect us.

“Now, on the other hand, we’re going to have to wait until late in the game to make a defensive move to improve our defense in the outfield. But I feel like [rookie Chris] Coghlan isn’t that far away… I think the more he’s out there, the more comfortable we’re going to be having him out there in games.”

The Marlins aren’t the only team in baseball who have 13 pitchers on their 25 man roster. The Dodgers are one of a handful of teams that do, too.

As it stands, that leaves the Marlins with 12 position players or four backups – utility man Alfredo Amezaga, catcher Ronny Paulino, third baseman Wes Helms and outfielder Ross Gload. Gonzalez said if the Marlins ever got into a pinch at catcher, they’d have three guys they could turn to – Coghlan (who caught in high school), Helms and Amezaga.

“I’m pretty sure Amezaga could do it. I’ve asked him,” Gonzalez said. “But he told me ‘You don’t want me back there.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said ‘I’ll show all your catchers up. I’ll embarrass them all.’ And you know what, he may. But I’m pretty sure we’d have to get him high school shin guards.”

In the midst of facing the second of three consecutive Dodger lefties, Gonzalez has decided to give catcher John Baker a rare start against a left-hander tonight. “I didn’t want him sitting out for three days,” Gonzalez said.

Baker is hitting .182 this season (2-for-11) vs. southpaws. Ronny Paulino, who went 0 for 2 against Eric Stults Friday, will start Sunday against Clayton Kershaw.

Saturday's Marlins lineup: 1. Bonifacio 3B, 2. Coghlan LF, 3. Ramirez SS, 4. Cantu 1B, 5. Baker C, 6. Uggla 2B, 7. Hermida RF, 8. Ross CF, 9. Miller P.

SOUND BYTES: For those of you who would like to hear complete interviews from the postgame and pregame interviews we conduct, a page has been created here on where we upload the audio we collect. I uploaded interviews from last night's game as well as what Joe Torre had to say about Manny Ramirez's meeting with the team yesterday. Check it out: Marlins audio.

May 15, 2009

Anibal plays catch; JJ says he feels fine

LANDSHARK STADIUM -- Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said he got a bit worried Friday afternoon when he got called off to the side by head athletic trainer Sean Cunningham. Was it going to be more bad news for the pitching staff?

Nope. Cunningham wanted to Gonzalez the best news he's heard in weeks -- that Anibal Sanchez was up and throwing again. The Marlins right-hander, who left his previous start on May 7th against the Braves with a sore shoulder, played catch for about 10 minutes Friday and could be throwing from the mound before the team's 10-game homestand ends on May 24th.

“He came in today, said he felt good," Gonzalez said. "In Colorado, they told me three, four weeks before he picks up a ball. Sean told me his range of motion was good, and strength was good. That is very encouraging."

Sanchez said he still isn't sure when he could pitch. The Marlins have said they think it could be up two months. “I feel good,” Sanchez said. “Depending how I feel in the next couple days, I should know a little more. I don’t know how much time it’s going to be. But I don’t have any pain.”

As for staff ace Josh Johnson, it appears his short outing in Milwaukee was just a scare. Johnson, who told reporters his shoulder just didn't feel right, said Friday it was more like "a one day thing." He said he was given a strength test and passed it. He threw on Friday and said he's on schedule for his regular bullpen session Saturday.

"I don't have any pain at all," Johnson said. "That's good."

The Marlins lineup: 1. Bonifacio 3B, 2. Coghlan LF, 3. Ramirez SS, 4. Cantu 1B, 5. Uggla 2B, 6. Hermida RF, 7. Ross CF, 8. Paulino C, 9. Volstad P.

May 07, 2009

Martinez feels better this time around

The last time Carlos Martinez pitched for the Marlins in August 2007 it turned out to be one of the worst two-game stretches of his career. In two games, he pitched 2 2/3 innings, gave up three home runs and got sent back to the minors before he could blink with a 13.50 ERA.

Two seasons later, he's getting his shot at redemption. The Marlins called up the 6-3, 200-pound hard-throwing, right-handed Dominican reliever Wednesday night from Triple A and there's a good chance he'll see his first action this afternoon against the Braves. Martinez, 26, believes this call-up will be different.

“The last time I was here I didn’t feel great because I had just had my operation,” said Martinez, who was coming off Tommy John surgery in 2007. “I felt like I had the confidence, but my pitches didn’t show it. I feel better this time. I’m ready.”

The Marlins, who have lost 11 of 15, are hoping for any kind of boost. Before his elbow troubles in 2007, Martinez looked good as a 23-year old with 96-mile per hour heat. In his midseason call-up in 2006, he pitched 12 games, 10 1/3 innings and compiled a 1.74 ERA with 11 Ks and six BBs. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Martinez could pitch as many as two innings an outing. Martinez was 0-2 with a 4.09 ERA in 12 games in New Orleans (Triple A) this season.

“He almost made the club in spring training. It was really close,’’ Gonzalez said. “He’s been pretty decently out in Triple A. I figure let’s give him a chance to come out and see what he has.”

With it looking more and more likely Scott Proctor could be done for the season with his own arm troubles, the Marlins could use a guy like Martinez to provide some relief to the pen. 

The Marlins' bullpen rank fourths in baseball in innings pitched with 96 1/3. Calero leads the majors in appearances (16) and lefty specialist Renyel Pinto is right behind him with 15 apperances. Leo Nunez and Dan Meyer each have 13 appearances. The Marlins pen also leads the majors in wins (9) and is tied for the league lead in strikeouts (89).

> THURSDAY'S LINEUP: 1. Bonifacio 3B, 2 Maybin CF, 3. Ramirez SS, 4. Cantu 1B, 5. Hermida LF, 6. Uggla 2B, 7. Ross RF, 8. Paulino C, 9. Sanchez P.

May 02, 2009

Friday notebook: Hanley will play with pain

CHICAGO -- After going four games without Hanley Ramirez in the lineup, the Marlins look like they will be getting him back full-time beginning Saturday -- pain included.

Hanley Ramirez, injured in Monday's loss to the Mets, returned to action Friday. Ramirez, who couldn't take more than 10 swings off a tee Thursday because of the pain in his right wrist, got two at-bats in Friday's 8-6 loss to the Cubs after entering the game in the seventh.

He walked in his first plate appearance, then batted with the tying run on base and with two outs in the ninth. But he missed an 0-2 pitch from former Marlins closer Kevin Gregg and flew out to center field to end the game.

‘‘It pinches each time I swing, but I've got to go with it," said Ramirez, who was unable to persuade manager Fredi Gonzalez before the game to get back into the starting lineup.

‘‘I feel it every time I grab the bat. But I can swing. The swelling is a little bit better. But I've got to take it. I want to be out there."

Had the Marlins been able to hold on to their 5-2 lead, there was a very good chance Ramirez would have waited until Saturday to play. According to Gonzalez, his plan was to give Ramirez another day off. But after the Cubs took the lead, Gonzalez made the move.

‘‘He's good to go," Gonzalez said. "He had two good at-bats, and he'll be good to go tomorrow."

FANCY GLOVE WORK: After making the game-saving catch in the ninth Thursday, Alfredo Amezaga was flashing his leather again Friday.

First, he denied Derrick Derrek Lee of a single in the third by diving deep in the hole -- about three feet into the grass in left field -- and throwing out Lee by a step at first. Then, with runners at the corners in the fourth, he yanked an Alfonso Soriano grounder around the same spot and got the force out at second to end the inning.

All around, it was a good day for the Marlins defensively. Third baseman Emilio Bonifacio made a leaping snag with the bases loaded in the second, and then a diving stab down the third-base line in the seventh.

‘‘They made some gems over there, and [Jorge] Cantu had one, too, at first base," Gonzalez said. "I'm real pleased with the way Boni is developing. It looks like he's real comfortable over there at third base.

‘‘Amezaga, if it wasn't that we got the loss, he would have won the game again. He's amazing.”

SCORING CHANGE: Major League Baseball made an official scoring change in Jeremy Hermida's favor for the April 28 game at New York.

A sixth-inning play that was originally charged an error to David Wright has been changed to credit Hermida with an infield single and RBI.

Not sure why the notebook didn't get online, but this is what ran in Saturday's local newspaper.

May 01, 2009

Hanley could pinch hit today

CHICAGO -- Hanley Ramirez tried to make his case Friday. Three hours before the first pitch here at Wrigley, he walked into manager Fredi Gonzalez's office and asked him why he wasn't in the lineup.

Here's the good news for Fish fans: While Ramirez won't play except maybe in a pinch hitter role Friday, it definitely looks more promising than it did yesterday that could be back in the lineup Saturday.

"He definitely wants to get back in there," Gonzalez said. "He's a competitive guy. He took nine, 10 swings off the tee yesterday and he's feeling good. But I told him he's got to do a little more than that. I don't want him to aggravate the [wrist] injury. I just want to be sure he's alright before I put him back in there."

Ramirez will be substituted by Alfredo Amezaga in the lineup at shortstop for the fourth consecutive game after taking a John Maine fastball to his wrist in the first inning Monday.

Here's who'll start for the Marlins today: 1. Emilio Bonifacio 3B, 2. Cameron Maybin CF, 3. Jeremy Hermida LF, 4. Jorge Cantu 1B, 5. Dan Uggla 2B, 6. John Baker C, 7. Ross Gload RF, 8. Alfredo Amezaga SS, 9. Graham Taylor P

SCOREBOARD WATCHING: Chicago fans weren't the only ones watching the NBA scoreboard updates at Wrigley Thursday night. Gonzalez was keeping an eye on it, too.

"I was trying to see how the Magic were doing," said Gonzalez, who is close friends with former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy. "But the dang scoreboard here didn't flash the complete score. All I saw was Philadelphia's, not Orlando's. I was definitely happy to see Stan and the guys were able to pull it out."

For what it's worth, Gonzalez said he's a Heat fan, too.He says he'll be watching Game 6 of Miami's series against the Hawks closely tonight once the Marlins finish Game 2 today against the Cubs.

April 30, 2009

Marlins writing letter to MLB about Mets delay tactics

The Marlins weren’t happy with the way the Mets took their sweet time Wednesday getting pinch hitter Omir Santos to the plate with the game in the balance in the bottom of the ninth. And now, apparently, they’re doing something about it.

“We will talk to major league baseball about it,” manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters before Thursday’s game at Wrigley Field. “I don’t know if you can do anything, I don’t know if you can get a clock on it. It’s gamesmanship. But Larry [Beinfest] is going to write a letter. We’ll see where it goes from there.”

A few minutes ticked away Wednesday with closer Matt Lindstrom on the mound waiting for someone to step out of the Mets' dugout with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Santos, who was in the bullpen catching, finally made it to the plate and popped out to shortstop to end the game. The Marlins won 4-3.

But apparently, there was more to the story after all. Mets manager Jerry Manuel acknowledged afterward he went with Santos on purpose – because he was indeed trying to throw Lindstrom off his game. According to the New York Times, Santos stopped on the long way in from the Mets bullpen and took six or seven swings in the clubhouse to stretch it out further.

Stay tuned. We'll see if Major League Baseball decides to take action.

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 25, 2009

Lindstrom: "I have to mix my pitches better"

Matt Lindstrom didn't get a good night's sleep Friday and he didn't receive any supportive phone calls from friends around the league after his meltdown against the Phillies. The life of a closer can feel pretty lonely at times.

Matt Lindstrom The 6-4, 210-pound hard throwing right-hander is learning -- among other things in his new role -- that coming into a ninth inning situation can be hard. But the good news for Marlins fans, who unleashed their venom on Lindstrom on the airwaves and on message boards, is that the 29-year old felt like he learned something last night after spending a few extra hours watching himself on video replays. 

"Last night was embarrassing for myself. No excuses. I just didn’t get it done," Lindstrom said from his locker Saturday, making sure to answer every question from reporters (even if all of them pertained to his worst night in baseball). "But I know what I have to do now to have more success -- and that’s mix my pitches better and stop getting behind hitters, giving them a hitter’s count."

"The only real explanation I have [for the wildness] was that is it was tough to harness [the fastball]. I felt good. My release point seemed like it was there. My ball just had an unusual little late life and cut on it. I’d get behind and I’d have to come with strikes. I didn’t utilize my breaking ball enough. I think I started with the four hitter and the first time I threw [the breaking ball] was to the nine guy. I just got to mix my pitches a little better."

For what it's worth, Marlins fans might want to cut Lindstrom a little slack. Friday's outing was just his 13th opportunity in a save situation in his three seasons in the majors. The two home runs he gave up? Before Friday, he'd only surrendered three in 143 appearances. And, this was the Phillies he was pitching against.

The bottomline is his fastball wasn't working and when he tried to throw it for strikes, the Phillies were sitting on it. "There’s probably quite a few pitches I few I wish I could have had back, ones I didn’t throw with quite as much conviction as I would have liked to," Lindstrom said. "The problem was I think I had about six inches of cut on my four seemer. It started in off the middle third and then breaking and [catcher John] Baker would be going like this [extending his arms to catch it]. It was frustrating. Then, I had to kind of ease one in there just to throw a freaking strike. That’s not going to cut it – especially when these guys are timing it."

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he had a talk with Lindstrom before Saturday's game in the weight room. But the talk wasn't about baseball. “This guy has only had 13 opportunities to save games in three years,” Gonzalez said. “You aren’t going to create that ninth inning stuff that goes on in the seventh. The adrenaline, 30,000 people screaming, facing the middle of the lineup. He’s got to feel that and get that.”

Gonzalez said while the option was there Friday to stick with Leo Nunez, who retired the top of the Phillies order 1-2-3 in the eighth, the only thing he was thinking about heading into the ninth was giving Lindstrom (who had five days off between outings) a chance to experience the ninth.

"You can [go with Nunez]," Gonzalez said. "But don’t you want to try and develop your closer? Don't you want to develop a guy whose only had 13 opportunities to save games in three years? You got to develop other pieces. Yeah, you could run Nunez out there. But he’s our guy that we’re going to go to."

Gonzalez said he believes Lindstrom has all the ingredients the Marlins want in a closer. "Stuff wise he's got it. The big arm, 96 miles per hour. His breaking pitch is being developed to be an above average pitch. His two seamer is working," Gonzalez said. "Now, he needs to develop the other stuff that comes with winning games."