February 20, 2015

Dan Haren "committed" to Marlins; Jose Fernandez anxious to pitch

JUPITER -- The uncertain status of Dan Haren was put to rest Friday when the veteran hurler said he was "committed" to pitching for the Marlins.

Haren, who had threatened to retire before being traded to the Marlins in December, said he intended to continue his career in Miami despite reservations after the deal was completed.

"I'm happy to be here," Haren told reporters as pitchers and catchers reported Friday. "I had a good talk with (manager) Mike Redmond earlier this morning, so I'm ready to get going. I'll do my thing.  I never had any conversations with the front office, trade me or else. Maybe they got the feeling after a while because there wasn’t that much commnication at the beginning."

Haren acknowledged that while the trade came as a "shock" and he took his time making up his mind about whether or not to retire, he eventually concluded to continue after discussing the situation with his family.

Haren also said he never demanded the Marlins trade him to a West Coast team, where he had always preferred to play.

"I think a lot of things were probably overblown," Haren said. "I never really said anything directly to anyone, to media at all. A lot of it was just reports. I wanted to make sure I was going to be 100 percent committed, into it. I didn’t want to put any less effort. Once I was committed in the offseason into putting in the work, I was ready to go."

Haren, who underwent off-season surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, figures to hold down the fifth spot in the rotation.

"I had surgery in the non-throwing shoulder earlier in the offseason," Haren said. "I really wouldn’t have done that if I wasn’t committed to playing. When the trade happened, my family had a tough time with it. I talked to (Marlins president of baseball operations) Mike Hill, and he gave me time. And I had to talk to the family to make sure they were going to do it again. And I wanted to make sure I was 100 percent into it because I didn’t want to say, 'Ok, I’ll go to Miami.' I didn’t want to give a half-hearted effort."

But Haren said the trade gave him pause for a while.

"The trade, it surprised me for sure," he said. "It was out there saying I would retire if I got traded. But not having a no-trade clause, you have to use other methods as leverage. So I definitely considered retiring."

Haren said he also had about an hour-long phone conversation with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria in January about his decision.

"I felt like I was kind of portrayed as being snobby or stuck up," Haren said. "It was really kind of the opposite. Sometime after the holidays, I let them know I was ready to go."

Haren told ESPN.com in November -- before the trade -- that he would rather retire than pitch anywhere else than on the West Coast.

"My signing with the Dodgers last year and my decision to exercise my player option were based on my desire to play in Southern California near my family," Haren told ESPN in an email in November. "I had other opportunities, but at this point in my career, I have no interest in playing in a city away from my family."

VIDEO

CAUTION: It was windy! So the audio is not great. You have to turn it up to hear it.

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Jose Fernandez said he is practicing patience with his surgically repaired arm, but acknowledged he is itching to get back on the mound.

“I want to pitch tomorrow in the big leagues. Are you kidding me?," Fernandez said. "That’s who I am. But I think you’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to take care of your arm. It’s not only about you. It’s about your teammates. They’re counting on me, and I think you’ve got to be responsible enough to take the proper care of your arm.”

Fernandez, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May, is projected to return to the mound for the Marlins in mid-summer (he said doctors have given him a target date of July 16), and begin throwing off a mound in spring training the first week of March.

"Honestly, who knows when I'm going to come back?" Fernandez said. "I think that goes on how I feel. I'm really not going to have a date until five days before that start."

Fernandez has been throwing off flat ground from a distance of 150 feet and began throwing a breaking ball for the first time earlier this week.

He said he has not experienced any setbacks during his recovery.

"So far there hasn't been any discomfort, any setbacks," he said. "I haven’t felt anything in my arm, at all. It’s funny, because it feels like I never had a surgery. The strike zone is there. The location is there. I’m throwing everyday. 150 feet. I started throwing breaking balls this week. No pain. Nothing weird." 

February 18, 2015

Marlins closer Steve Cishek talks fatherhood, recycling and baseball

On Tuesday I got a chance to catch up with Marlins closer Steve Cishek, who was filming a commercial and public service announcement on recycling at the local waste management center in Pembroke Pines. Billy the Marlin was on hand for the commercial, too.

Cishek, signed to a one-year, $6.65 million deal for 2015 and with two years of team control left, said this off-season felt a lot like the one in 2012 when the Marlins went bonkers spending money to upgrade the roster before the opening of the new stadium.

This year, though, feels different Cishek said because the Marlins went after the right kind of guys, and they signed the cornerstone of the franchise, All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, to a record 13-year, $325 million deal. Cishek, who has made Jupiter his off-season home, said he's excited and ready for the official start of camp on Friday when pitchers and catchers report. 

 "This off season I really wanted to rest up," said Cishek, who finished 4-5 with a 3.17 ERA and a career-high 39 saves in 2014. "I always usually take the first three weeks off and then get right in to the weight room. Last year was a grind for me. I started off throwing a lot in the beginning to middle of the year and got into a rut, kind of ran out of gas for a second. Then, I picked it back up. This off-season I wanted to make sure I got in the proper work to handle the workload and be able to perform well from start to finish."

Although the Marlins could end up adding more arms to the bullpen before the start of the season, Cishek said Tuesday "our bullpen is great as it is."

"I watching some of the guys throw bullpens today and I was like 'Man, you got some strong arms,'" Cishek said. "Sam Dyson came in today and was throwing cheddar. There are some guys who are sleepers. Dyson is one of them. He's got tremendous stuff. Obviously, [Bryan] Morris, just watching them throw bullpens has been ridiculous. Dunn just signed a two-year deal. He's been phenomenal for us. He throws gas, is a lefty. I'm like the underhand pitcher in that bullpen. You've got guys throwing heat and I'm just flipping it in there."

Cishek family photo from JanuaryCishek, who turns 29 on June 18th, became a father shortly after the season when his wife Marissa gave birth to daughter Emmie. 

"She's been an absolute blessing in our life," Cishek said. "I've learned a lot about myself through her -- like how selfish I can be. A baby is very demanding of your time and energy. And not that I didn't appreciate her before, but it gave me a huge appreciation for my wife who during the season is going to have to take care of her on her own when we [the Marlins] are on the road. Not only is it going to be tough for me to leave her and my baby it's going to be tough on her."

Cishek said he's become an expert at changing diapers. "I had to jump in there early on and just went right at it," he said. "Basically I was picking the nurses brain as soon as the baby was delivered."

February 12, 2015

MLB set to make 2017 All-Star Game announcement Friday at Marlins Park

New baseball commissioner Rob Manfred will be at Marlins Park Friday to make "a major announcement" according to a press release sent out by Major League Baseball on Thursday.

Of course, we already know what it is. As our Clark Spencer first reported Tuesday, the Marlins are getting the 2017 All-Star Game. 

Friday at 2 p.m. inside Marlins Park all the big wigs are coming out to participate in the announcement: owner Jeffrey Loria, president David Samson, Florida governor Rick Scott, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami Beach mayor Phillip Levine.

We'll be there to cover it. 

February 08, 2015

Mike Dunn gets 2-year contract from Marlins, avoids arbitration

Left-handed reliever Mike Dunn avoided salary arbitration Sunday by signing a two-year contract with the Marlins for $5.8 million.

The deal calls for Dunn to receive $2.35 million in 2015 and $3.45 million in 2016.

With the deal, the Marlins bought out Dunn's final two arbitration years. The earliest he is eligible for free agency is after the '16 season.

Dunn, 29, the Marlins' lefty workhorse out of the bullpen, has appeared in 282 games for them since coming over from in the 2010 trade with Atlanta for Dan Uggla. Dunn has made 75 relief appearances in each of the past two seasons.

Last season, he went 10-6 with a 3.16 ERA.

Dunn had filed for a 2015 salary figure of $2.6 million while the Marlins had countered with $2.355 million, or close to the figure he'll receive this coming season with his new contract.

With Dunn and Mat Latos out of the way, the Marlins have only one remaining arbitration case. That is with pitcher David Phelps.

Dunn becomes the first player under this ownership regime to work out a deal after both sides had exchanged arbitration figures. The Marlins have a long-standing policy in the arbitration process, refusing to cut deals with players after both sides have exchanged figures -- but not unless the player agrees to their figure. Since Dunn's 2015 salary is $50,000 below the Marlins' filing figure, the two sides ironed out the two-year contract.

Dunn is represented by agent Tom O'Connell of O'Connell Sports Management.

February 05, 2015

Marlins end losing streak, win arbitration case w/Latos; not a major player in James Shields sweepstakes

Arbitrators have ruled in favor of the Marlins in their arbitration case with pitching newcomer Mat Latos, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, ending Miami's long losing streak in salary hearings. It was the first win for the Marlins in a salary arbitration case since 2007 (scorecard). They had lost their previous four cases.

Latos was seeking $10.4 million. But arbitrators ruled in favor of the Marlins' $9.4 figure.

Two other arbitration cases involving Marlins have yet to be argued. Hearings will also be held for pitchers Mike Dunn and David Phelps.

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While the Marlins have closely monitored the James Shields situation, multiple sources have told me they don't expect to sign the free agent pitcher, with one assessing the team's chances at "zero percent."

With Dan Haren expected to report to spring training (the Marlins have been unsuccessful in fulfilling his request for a trade to a West Coast team), the team's 2015 payroll will exceed the projected budget figure of $65 million. Acquiring Shields would push it well past $80 million.

Shields is expected to announce a decision within the coming days.

January 27, 2015

Marlins announce Ichiro deal; will introduce him in Tokyo press conference

The Marlins late Tuesday night formally announced their one-year deal with 10-time All-Star and 41-year old veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

Team representatives including owner Jeffrey Loria have traveled to Japan for a press conference, scheduled to take place at noon Wednesday.

"He is the ultimate professional on and off the field and will make an excellent addition to our ball club," Loria said in a statement.

Ichiro is the first Japanese player to sign with the Marlins. He is just 156 shy of 3,000.

The news of the deal was first reported last Friday. Suzuki will serve as the team's fourth outfielder.

January 23, 2015

Ichiro agrees to become Marlins fourth outfielder, first-ever Japanese player on club's MLB roster

The Marlins on Friday agreed to a one-year contract with 10-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki to become the team’s fourth outfielder, a source with direct knowledge said.

The contract, pending a physical, will pay Ichiro, who turned 41 back in October, in the $2 million range.

A 10-time Gold Glove winner, Ichiro hit a respectable .284 for the Yankees last season and stole 15 bases in 385 plate appearances. A career .317 hitter, he was 11 for 25 (.440) as a pinch-hitter for the Yankees the last two seasons.

Tied with former Marlins catcher Ivan Rodriguez for 48th all-time in MLB history for hits with 2,844, Suzuki is just 156 away from becoming the 29th player to reach the 3,000 mark in his career. With 4,122 professional hits between Japan and the U.S., Suzuki is also only 134 short of Pete Rose's MLB record of 4,256.

Odds are, though, Suzuki won’t reach either mark in 2015 unless the Marlins lose one of their young, talented starters to injury.

As it stands, though, Ichiro’s veteran presence could be a great influence on left fielder Christian Yelich, 23, a fellow left-handed, top-of-the-order hitter who batted .284 and stole 21 bases in his first full major league season last year.

Friday’s news was already being warmly received by Suzuki’s new teammates.

“Big props to the Marlins on adding Ichiro, Japan hit king [and] my homie,” new Marlins first baseman Mike Morse wrote on Twitter.

Morse, who signed a two-year $16 million deal with the Marlins last month, spent four seasons with Suzuki in Seattle.

A former star in Japan, Ichiro began his Major League Baseball career with the Mariners in 2001 and played there until joining the Yankees in 2012. He won American League batting titles twice (2001, 2004) and the MVP award the same season he won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2001.

After hitting .262 with seven homers and 35 RBI in 128 starts in 2013 for the Yankees, he batted .284 with one homer and 22 RBI in 95 starts last season in New York.

Ichiro’s addition is just another move by the Marlins in beefing up the roster around right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who signed a 13-year, $325 million deal back in November with the promise the organization would build around him.

The Marlins made trades to acquire third baseman Martin Prado from the Yankees, second baseman Dee Gordon and pitcher Dan Haren from Dodgers, pitcher Mat Latos from the Reds and then signed Morse to a free agent contract.

The club’s payroll was nearly $65 million prior to the Ichiro deal. That doesn’t include portions of contracts that will be paid by the Dodgers and Yankees in trades for Haren, Gordon and Prado.

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Adding Ichiro to the team also gives the Marlins their first Japanese player ever on the big league roster. Here's a look at other Japanese players to make the majors and the teams they played for prior to Friday's news.

NL East
> Mets 12 (Pitchers Hideo Nomo, Takashi Kashiwada, Masato Yoshii, Satoru Komiyama, Kzuhisa Ishii, Shingo Takatsu, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ken Takahashi, Hisanori Takahashi, Ryota Igarashi, infielder Kazuo Matsui, outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo)
> Nationals/Expos 3 (Pitchers Tomokazu Ohka, Hideki Irabu, Masato Yoshii)
> Braves 2 (Pitchers Takashi Saito, Kenshin Kawakami)
> Phillies 2 (Outfielder So Taguchi, infielder Tadahito Iguchi)
> Marlins 0

NL Central
> Brewers 7 (Outfielder Nori Aoki, pitchers Hideo Nomo, Mac Suzuki, Tomokazu Ohka, Takahito Nomura, Takashi Saito)
> Cubs 5 (Pitchers Kyuji Fujikawa, Tsuyoshi Wada, Hisanori Takahashi, outfielders So Taguchi, Kosuke Fukudome)
> Pirates 3 (Infielder Akinori Iwamura, pitchers Masumi Kuwata and Hisanori Takahashi)
> Cardinals 1 (Outfielder So Taguchi)
> Reds 0

NL West
> Dodgers 6 (Pitchers Hideo Nomo, Masao Kida, Kazuhisa Ishii, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, infielder Norihiro Nakamura)
> Giants 5 (Pitchers Masanori Murakami, Keiichi Yabu, outfielders Nori Aoki, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kensuke Tanaka)
> Rockies 3 (Pitchers Mac Suzuki, Masato Yoshii, infielder Kazuo Matsui)
> Padres 2 (Pitcher Akinori Otsuka, infielder Tadahito Iguchi)
> Diamondbacks 1 (Pitcher Takashi Saito)

AL East
> Yankees 7 (Pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa, Hiroki Kuroda, Ryota Igarashi, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui)
> Red Sox 7 (Pitchers Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Hideo Nomo, Tomokazu Ohka, Takashi Saito, Hideki Okajima, Daisuke Matsuzaka)
> Blue Jays 4 (Pitchers Tomokazu Ohka, Micheal Nakamura, Ryota Igarashi, infielder Munenori Kawasaki)
> Rays 3 (Pitcher Hideo Nomo, outfielder Hideki Matsui, infielder Akinori Iwamura)
> Orioles 1 (Pitcher Koji Uehara)

AL Central
> Indians 4 (Pitchers Tomokazu Ohka, Kazuhito Tadano, Masahide Kobayashi, outfielder Kosuke Fukudome)
> White Sox 3 (Pitcher Shingo Takatsu, infielder Tadahito Iguchi, outfielder Kosuke Fukudome)
> Royals 3 (Outfielder Nori Aoki, pitchers Hideo Nomo, Mac Suzuki, Yasuhiko Yabuta)
> Tigers 2 (Pitchers Hideo Nomo, Masao Kida)
> Twins 2 (Pitcher Michael Nakamura, infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka)

AL West
> Mariners 8 (Pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma, Mac Suzuki, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Masao Kida, Kazuhiro Sasaki, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, catcher Kenji Johjima, infielder Munenori Kawasaki)
> Rangers 7 (Pitchers Koji Uehara, Yu Darvish, Kyuji Fujikawa, Hideki Irabu, Akinori Otsuka, Kazuo Fukumori, Yoshinori Tateyama)
> Athletics 4 (Outfielder Hideki Matsui, pitchers Keiichi Yabu, Hideki Okajima, infielder Akinori Iwamura)
> Angels 3 (Pitchers Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Hisanori Takahashi, outfielder Hideki Matsui)
> Astros 1 (Infielder Kazuo Matsui)

January 21, 2015

A look at the Marlins 25 non-roster spring training invitees

The Marlins announced Wednesday they have Spring Training invitations to 25 non-roster players including 15 minor league free agents.

Those are: 

> Right-handed pitchers Ryan Chaffee (4-2, 4.62 ERA, 44 relief appearances in Double A, Triple A with Angels in 2014), Nick Masset (2-0, 5.80 ERA, 51 appearances with Rockies in 2014), Vin Mazzaro (8-2, 2.81 ERA in 57 relief appearances with Pirates in 2013) and Ryan Reid (5-2, 4.91 ERA, 48 relief appearances in Triple A for Mets in 2014).

> Left-handed pitchers Pat Misch (3-7, 5.07 ERA in 13 starts for Tigers Triple A team in 2013), Chris Narveson (4-7, 5.14 ERA in 15 starts for Cardinals Triple A team in 2013), and Pat Urckfitz (1-2, 2.68 ERA in 47 relief appearances for Astros in Double A, Triple A in 2014).

> Catchers Vinny Rottino (.306, 2 HR, 22 RBI for Nexen of Korean Baseball Organization in 2014) and Jhonatan Solano (.251, 10 HR, 53 RBI for Nationals Triple A team in 2014)

> Infielders Reid Brignac (.222, 1 HR, 10 RBI in 37 games for Phillies in 2014), Don Kelly (.245, 7 RBI, 6 SBs in 95 games with Tigers in 2014), and Scott Sizemore (.266, 7 HR, 41 RBI for Yankees Triple A team in 2014)

> Outfielders Tyler Colvin (.223, 2 HR, 18 RBI in 57 games with Giants in 2014), Cole Gillespie (.243, 1 HR, 5 RBI in 35 games between Mariners-Blue Jays in 2014) and Kenny Wilson (.246, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 31 SBs in 117 games between Double A, Triple A for Blue Jays, Athletics, Twins in 2014).

The following 10 organizational players were extended Spring Training invitations:

> Right-handed pitchers Brian Ellington (2-2, 4.75 ERA, 35 relief apperances in Single A Jupiter in 2014), Trevor Williams (8-7, 3.12 ERA in 26 starts between Single A and Double A in 2014) and Nick Wittgren (5-5, 3.55 ERA, 20 saves for Double A Jacksonville in 2014)

> Catcher Sharif Othman (.172, 5 HR, 17 RBI between Single A Greensboro and Jupiter in 2014)

> Infielders Justin Bohn (.295, 6 HR, 59 RBI, 11 SBs in 111 games between Single A Jupiter and Greensboro in 2014), Austin Nola (.259, 1 HR, 53 RBI for Double A Jacksonville in 2014), Avery Romero (.320, 5 HR, 56 RBI, 10 SBs between Single A Jupiter and Greensboro in 2014), Viosergy Rosa (.292, 15 HR, 95 RBI between Single A Jupiter and Double A Jacksonville in 2014) and Jordany Valdespin (.280, 3 HR, 10 RBI in 52 games with Marlins in 2014)

> Outfielder Austin Wates (.286, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 37 SBs for Astros and Marlins in Triple A in 2014).

Pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on Feb. 20 in Jupiter, and the first full-squad workout will be Feb. 24.

As of today's announcement, the Marlins will have 65 players in Major League Spring Training camp.

January 16, 2015

Miami Marlins avoid arbitration with Cishek, Alvarez, Gordon and Crow

The Marlins avoided arbitration with four players -- Steve Cishek, Henderson Alvarez, Dee Gordon and Aaron Crow -- but failed to reach agreement with three of their other arbitration-eligible players before Friday's 1 p.m. deadline.

Because no deals were worked out with Mat Latos, Mike Dunn and David Phelps before the deadline, the Marlins will go to arbitration hearings with those players. The Marlins don't negotiate with players once the deadline has passed.

Cishek agreed to a contract that will pay him $6,650,000 next season. Alvarez ($4 million), Gordon ($2.5 million) and Crow (1,975,000 plus performance-based incentives) also completed deals.