July 26, 2014

Marlins winning the replay game; Jeff Baker's unique hitting streak & more

HOUSTON -- When it comes to overturning calls using baseball's new replay rules, no team is doing it better than the Marlins. The Marlins have been successful on 17 of their 21 challenges this season, giving them an 80 percent success rate that is tops in the majors.

[The folks at baseballsavant.com have all it broken down here.]

So far this season, 657 calls have been challenged in the majors, with 345 -- or 52.5 percent -- getting overturned. The Marlins, clearly, are doing much better than the average. Their 17 overturns are also tied for first with the Royals and Giants. By contrast, the Cardinals have had only two correct challenges (out of 13 attempts) while the Reds are just three for nine.

If one assumes that the number of close plays from one team to the next equals out over the course of a 162-game season, it's clear some teams are doing a much better job of it than others. In the name of Don Denkinger, how in the world have the Cardinals only managed to get two calls overturned this season when the league average is 11.5?

"I think it's become a big weapon," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of the new review system.

In Pat Shine, the Marlins have someone who is focused on the job. And it's not an easy one. During games, Shine sits inside the clubhouse carefully scrutinizing not just every single play, but anywhere from 12 to 15 camera angles on each and every one. Whenever there's a close play, Shine doesn't have a lot of time to a) examine the replay, oftentimes more than once; b) determine whether a challenge is in order and c) call the information up to the dugout.

"He's done a great job of seeing those plays and making a 15-second judgment," Redmond said. "It's not easy. He's been a huge weapon for us, for sure. We buy him as much time as we possibly can. But, still, he's got to be in on every play, and he's got 10 or 15 seconds to make a judgment, safe or out."

One night after getting a call at first overturned in Atlanta, the Marlins challenged a safe call on Jose Altuve's stolen base in Houston. Replays showed Donovan Solano had made a swipe tag on Altuve, who was ultimately ruled to be out.

"He's been all over it and really become a big part of the team," Redmond said of Shine. "When he gets them right, it fires everybody up, too. You think back to the one in San Francisco when (Brandon Hicks) missed first base, that was all him."

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Jeff Baker has a 10-game hitting streak, which might not sound like a big deal. But not only is it the longest hitting streak of Baker's career, he's done it the hard way.

Baker came through with pinch-hits in four of those games, which puts him one away from matching the Marlins' franchise record for consecutive pinch-hits, shared by Wes Helms (2008) and Greg Briley (1993).

"Obviously, the first month of the season for me was extremely rough," Baker said. "But just staying with my approach, not trying to change and do too much because the stats aren't exactly where you wnted them..."

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Though he's worked in five of the past six games, earning saves in each, Steve Cishek said he'll be available again Saturday.

"You doubting me?" Cishek asked.

After a rough patch, Cishek said he's made a couple of minor adjustments to get back on track.

"It's just one little adjustment that I had to make, which was driving the ball down in the zone," he said. "Everything I threw in those other games were bad pitches, especially against Oakland. Everything was up. It wasn't so much the approach as much as it was the location and execution of the pitch. Just battled to get that feel back. I'm sure it won't be the last time I struggle."

Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett leads the charge in benches-clearing, baseball-throwing brawl

HOUSTON -- For your viewing pleasure, a video of last night's brawl in Jacksonville between the Suns and Birmingham Barons. It's a good one. Suns manager Andy Barkett turned in a top performance, going into a baseball-throwing tizzy after being ejected by umpires.

Check it out for yourself:

July 25, 2014

Casey McGehee dealing with first "slump"; Salty stinks as DH

HOUSTON -- Players generally aren't grilled after they've gone three games without a hit. Three-game drought? No big deal. It's not uncommon and happens to the best of them.

But Casey McGehee opened up about his first such "slump" as the Marlins prepared to open a weekend interleague series against the Houston Astros.

"It's going to happen," said McGehee of his mini drought, which covered the final three games of the Marlins' series in Atlanta. "I'm a little frustrated the last couple of days because I feel like I haven't been swinging the bat like I've wanted to. But I think maybe I was just a little overanxious."

McGehee finds his name atop two disparate statistical categories. He leads the National League in hitting with runners in scoring position (a .382 average) and grounding into double plays (19). McGehee grounded into three double plays in the Atlanta series to increase his major league lead in that category. Next on the list is Kansas City's Billy Butler with 17.

Part of the reason McGehee has been so successful at driving in runs is that he often finds himself at the plate when the Marlins have runners in scoring position. But base runners also create more opportunities for grounding into double plays, and McGehee has had more than his share of those. Being a ground ball hitter doesn't help. Nor does his lack of speed.

"I've always hit into my fair share of double plays," McGehee said. "It's something I don't like to do, obviously. But, yeah, I think it's a combination of getting guys on base and using the middle of the field. It's not like I'm beating out the medium ground ball either, so there's a couple of things that play into it."

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Due to the use of the designated hitter in the Houston series, the Marlins on Friday called up catcher J.T. Realmuto from Triple A New Orleans to give them an extra bat. Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani was optioned back to New Orleans.

DH honors for the first game of the series go to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who asked me to "write about how awful I am as a DH."

The reason? After I wrote about his defensive woes for this morning's paper, a story that was filed before last night's game, Saltalamacchia had his best game in quite a while when he went 3 for 4, drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, and threw out a base runner. Salty figured if I wrote about his poor numbers as a DH, the effect would be the same.

So here they are: Saltalamacchia has gone 16 for 69 (.232) with only one homer in his career as a DH.

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Tyler Kolek, the Marlins' first round draft pick, came out of Wednesday's outing with the GCL Marlins after facing only four batters due to a sore back. Kolek, the second overall pick in the draft, was diagnosed with a lower back sprain, and the Marlins don't feel it's serious.

Kolek is on "no-throw" status until next week when he has another precautionary X-ray to make sure everything's okay.

"It's been improvement and less pain since that time," said Marlins general manager Dan Jennings.

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According to STATS LLC, last night's win in Atlanta marked only the second time in Marlins history that the game-winning run came as a result of a strikeout/wild pitch. Marcell Ozuna reached -- and eventually scored the deciding run -- after Craig Kimbrel struck him out in the ninth, but the ball got away from the catcher.

The other time it happened for the Marlins: the second inning on May 3, 1994, when Ron Tingley scored on a bases-loaded walk by Gary Sheffield to score the first run in an eventual 6-3 win over the Braves.

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Tonight's lineups:

Marlins: 1. Christian Yelich 7; 2. Donovan Solano 4; 3. Giancarlo Stanton 9; 4. Casey McGehee 5; 5. Jeff Baker 3; 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia dh; 7. Marcell Ozuna 8; Adeiny Hechavarria 6; 9. Jeff Mathis 2. Pitching: Brad Hand (1-2, 4.86).

Astros: 1. Jose Altuve 4; 2. Kike Hernandez 8; 3. Chris Carter dh; 4. Matt Dominguez 5; 5. Jesus Guzman 3; 6. Jason Castro 2; 7. Robbie Grossman 9; 8. L.J. Hoes 7; 9. Gregorio Petit 6. Pitching: Dallas Keuchel (9-6, 3.29). 

July 24, 2014

Errors eating at Jarrod Saltalamacchia

ATLANTA -- The season has turned into anything but a pleasant homecoming for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is struggling at the plate and behind it for the Marlins. When the Palm Beach County native skipped a throw into the outfield on Wednesday, he equaled Miguel Olivo's team record for most errors in a season by a catcher with 12. And there are still 62 games left to go.

"Definitely something I'm not proud of," Saltalamacchia said. "I don't like to make excuses for anything. It's something I've been working on, got to continue to work on."

Saltalamacchia is tied with Cleveland's Yan Gomes for most errors by a catcher, and if matters don't improve for him defensively, he could pile up the most errors by a catcher since Paul Lo Duca was charged with 15 in 2003 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While defense has never been Saltalamacchia's calling card, the Marlins surely couldn't have imagined him to struggle this badly when they gave him a 3-year, $21 million deal over the winter. He was their most significant offseason acquisition in terms of a dollar commitment. He's already made twice as many errors as he did all last season with the Boston Red Sox, and has never made more than nine in any one season.

Using advanced metrics, he is the only catcher in the majors with a negative defensive WAR.

"The game's different in the National League," Saltalmacchia said of the transition moving from A.L. to N.L. "A lot of things are moving. A lot of different pieces. A lot more strategy. Things I've got to adjust to. Little by little, I feel I am."

Saltalamacchia said it hasn't been just one thing, but pointed out "rushed throws" as one of his downfalls.

"Just slowing the game down, that aspect has been the biggest transition I've had to make," he said. "Sometimes you try to get too big too quick, and that's when errors can occur. For me, I think it's more of a comfort level. You've been in one league for most of your career. You get comfortable. You get used to how guys play the game and you kind of anticipate certain things. The National League is a little different. I'm not used to these guys, so anticipating is a little tougher."

Manager Mike Redmond hinted that backup Jeff Mathis could see more playing time. Mathis caught Brad Hand on Sunday and Jacob Turner on Tuesday. The two pitchers, who have struggled, turned in strong outings to post wins.

"It's hot out there and we're getting late in the season," Redmond said. "(I'm) trying to keep Salty as fresh as we can. So I'll try to get Mathis in there a little bit more to keep those guys fresh as we can for the rest of the season."

July 23, 2014

Marlins win the lottery

ATLANTA -- The Marlins came out winners on Wednesday without ever stepping on the field, as their name was the first drawn in the Competitive Balance Lottery for the 2015 Major League Draft.

As a result, they’ll have the first selection in Competitive Balance Round A, which immediately follows the first round of the draft.

Compensatory picks are the only draft picks that can be traded, and the Marlins did exactly that earlier this year when they dealt one of their two picks to Pittsburgh for reliever Bryan Morris.

Only franchises that are located in one of the 10 smallest major league markets or have one of the 10 smallest revenue pools are eligible to participate in the lottery to determine the order for those compensatory picks.

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Steve Cishek doesn’t have the quickest delivery. And he isn’t one to overly concern himself with base runners, preferring instead to focus most of his attention on the hitter.

But when the Braves put the tying run aboard with no outs in Tuesday’s ninth inning and sent in speedy Jordan Schafer as a pinch-runner, Cishek became especially attentive.

In an effort to hold the runner close, Cishek threw over to first four times. When Cishek finally delivered to the plate, Schafer took off and was thrown out by Jeff Mathis. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria assisted, picking Mathis’ one-hopper and tagging Schafer just before his hand could get to the bag. Cishek then retired the next two batters to preserve a 6-5 win.

“We knew he was running,” said manager Mike Redmond. “So we at least bought ourselves a half a step (by holding Schafer with repeated throws), which night have been enough to get him.”

Braves fans booed as Cishek kept throwing to first.

“I think it’s kind of comical,” Cishek said of the booing. “It’s like, ‘Boo, how dare you hold the runner.’ (And I’m supposed to think) oh, you booed me. I better throw it home now?”

-- For the first time in his career, Cishek posted a save in three consecutive games.
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Donovan Solano stepped to the plate in the eighth inning Tuesday with a chance to become only the 15th player in Marlins history to register a 5-hit game. But he ended up walking on five pitches.

Asked if he thought the pitcher was trying to pitch around him, Solano laughed, noting that Giancarlo Stanton was on deck.

“I don’t think so,” Solano said, rolling his eyes.

The last Marlin to tally five hits in a game was Stanton in August of 2010.
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Henderson Alvarez is good to go for Thursday's scheduled start after being struck in the leg by a batted ball in his previous outing.

Though Alvarez doesn't throw bullpens between his starts like most pitchers, Redmond said he is certain Alvarez is feeling just fine. The reason?

"I saw him out there trying to rob homers during batting practice, so I took that as full green. He's good to go," Redmond said.

Alvarez has had a number of injuries over the course of the season that seemed bigger at the time but always turned out to be not-so-bad.

"I remember Brad Penny back in the day always had something wrong with him, too," Redmond said. "Those were the days you were always excited because you said, 'Man, he's going to have a big day today.' He was either throwing up, or sick as he's ever been. But he always went out and pitched well."

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Speaking of Penny, he was hit around pretty good earlier today in Iowa, giving up eight runs (only three earned) on eight hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. Penny had pitched well in his two previous starts for Triple A New Orleans.

July 22, 2014

Marlins again interested in A's reliever Jim Johnson?

ATLANTA -- Though they failed to pull the trigger on an earlier deal for A's reliever Jim Johnson, it appears the the Marlins continue to remain interested in Oakland's struggling former closer, according to sources. One player the A's have discussed with the Marlins as a possible trade return: Marlins minor league pitching prospect Adam Conley.

After posting 50-save seasons each of the previous two years for Baltimore, Johnson (see stats here) hasn't come close to matching his success in Oakland, which landed him in a trade with the Orioles in December but would now like to trade him before the July 31 deadline. Johnson has a 6.25 ERA and only two saves in 37 relief appearances for the A's, eventually losing the closer's role to Sean Doolittle.

Conley, the Marlins' second-round pick in 2011, has struggled this season at Triple A New Orleans. The left-hander has gone 3-5 with a 6.00 ERA in 12 games (11 starts). Conley missed some time earlier this season with elbow tendinitis.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com, the Marlins and A's nearly had a deal in place early last month for Johnson. The Marlins would have sent their Competitive Balance pick in the draft (No. 39 overall) to the A's for Johnson, according to Rosenthal, before shifting gears and sending that pick to Pittsburgh for Bryan Morris, instead. The Marlins used the money the saved on that pick to sign Kevin Gregg.

Johnson is making $10 million this season, after which he becomes eligible for free agency.

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It's looking less and less likely that Gregg will come off the disabled list after his 15 days are up. Manager Mike Redmond said Tuesday that Gregg has yet to resume throwing.

Gregg was placed on the disabled list retroactive to July 14 with right elbow inflammation. But given the fact he hasn't thrown, it would appear unlikely he'll be ready to return next Tuesday when the Marlins are home facing the Nationals.

-- Derek Dietrich (right wrist strain) and Rafael Furcal (groin) also continue to mend on the DL. Neither has resumed baseball activities, Redmond said.

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Freddie Freeman says he has no explanation for it. Either do Marlins pitchers.

Freeman, the Braves' first baseman, went 0 for 5 on Monday and is now 2 for 41 this season against Marlins pitching.

"They're just catching me at the right time I guess," Freeman said. "Sooner or later I'll come out of it, but I guess they're just catching me when I'm terrible."

Said Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler, who started Monday's game for the Marlins: "The league has the same scouting report (on Freeman) as we do. I don't think we're doing anything that other teams aren't trying to do. We know he's going to get hot at some point."

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Tonight's lineups:

Marlins: 1. Christian Yelich 7; 2. Donovan Solano 4; 3. Giancarlo Stanton 9; 4. Casey McGehee 5; 5. Marcell Ozuna 8; 6. Jeff Baker 3; 7. Adeiny Hechavarria 6; 8. Jeff Mathis 2; 9. Jacob Turner 1.

Braves: 1. B.J. Upton 8; 2. Tommy La Stella 4; 3. Freddie Freeman 3; 4. Justin Upton 7; 5. Jason Heyward 9; 6. Evan Gattis 2; 7. Chris Johnson 5; 8. Andrelton Simmons 6; 9. Mike Minor 1.

July 21, 2014

Source: Marlins could risk alienating Stanton by trading Cishek

ATLANTA -- After watching the Marlins trade teammates simply to unload salary during his time in the organization, All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has made it known that he wants to see the team start showing franchise stability and a commitment to winning. As in now.

Trading closer Steve Cishek, according to a major league source, might send the wrong message to Stanton, especially if the return is a haul of prospects, which is what the Padres received from the Angels in their trade for closer Huston Street a few days ago.

"I don't think there's much chance Stanton ends up staying (long-term) with the Marlins, anyway," the source said. "But if they do move Cishek, what's that telling him (Stanton)? If they traded Cishek, they could pretty much kiss him (Stanton) goodbye."

The Cishek trade rumors are beginning to heat up. But, so far, the Marlins are telling teams they haven't made a decision on which direction they intend to go -- with Cishek or with anyone else -- as the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline approaches, the source said. The Marlins could be waiting on the outcome of their four-game series with the Braves before making up their minds.

Cishek is making $3.8 million this season and will command much more than that next season through salary arbitration, making him an obvious trade candidate for the payroll-challenged Marlins. Cishek's trade value is enhanced by the fact that any team that obtains him would control him for three years beyond this one, as he's not eligible for free agency until 2018.

The Marlins intend to offer Stanton a contract extension after the season. The actions they take in the days leading up to July 31 could greatly influence those discussions.

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All systems are go for Henderson Alvarez to make his next scheduled start in Houston on Thursday. Alvarez left Saturday's game early being struck in the leg by a sharp one-hopper.

Manager Mike Redmond said Monday, though, that Alvarez had recovered nicely and should be good to start Thursday.

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Tonight's lineups:

Marlins: 1. Yelich 7, 2. Valdespin 4; 3. Stanton 9; 4. McGehee 5; 5. Jones 3; 6. Ozuna 8; 7. Saltalamacchia 2; Hechavarria 6; Koehler 1.

Braves: 1. B.J. Upton 8; 2. La Stella 4; 3. Freeman 3; 4. Justin Upton 7; 5. Heyward 9; 6. Gattis 2; 7. Johnson 5; 8. Simmons 6; 9. Teheran 1.

July 20, 2014

DeSclafani Called Up; Valdespin Starts Again; Turner Discusses Rotation Return

The Marlins promoted right-hander Anthony DeSclafani Sunday, less than 12 hours after Miami manager Mike Redmond hinted at brining up an extra arm to help a “thin bullpen.”

The 24-year-old had started five games for Miami before a June demotion, posting a 1-2 record with a 7.40 ERA. He had given up four runs in 17 innings across three appearances for Triple A New Orleans since then.

President of baseball operations Mike Hill had previously said the organization preferred to let DeSclafani get “more seasoning” in the minors should he need it.

But with Brad Hand on the mound Sunday and Jacob Turner slated to start Tuesday, Redmond said he wanted a pitcher capable of logging a long relief outing in case one or both of those starters cannot go deep. He added that Sam Dyson would likely not be available for a couple games after throwing 70 pitches in Saturday’s 5-3 loss.

Infielder Ed Lucas was optioned down to New Orleans to make room for DeSclafani, leaving Redmond a position player short on the bench. Lucas was batting .239.

“It’s not perfect; it’s not ideal,” Redmond said. “We’re going to play short a position player which is not a perfect scenario either, but we need a pitcher.”

Redmond has called on seven relievers in the Marlins' two games since the All-Star Break. Dan Jennings and Chris Hatcher pitched in each game. The bullpen has been called frequently because Nathan Eovaldi only lasted four innings Friday and Henderson Alvarez was hurt midway through the third inning Saturday.

Before Sunday’s game, Redmond said he expects Alvarez to make his next start but will know more in the coming days.

So far, the bullpen has largely been up to the task, surrendering four runs in over 11 innings of work. A.J. Ramos, Mike Dunn, Bryan Morris, and Hatcher have all logged perfect innings against the Giants heading into Sunday’s series finale.

VALDESPIN IN LINEUP AGAIN

For the second straight game since being promoted Saturday morning, Jordany Valdespin started at second base and hit second Sunday.

The 26-year-old started 25 games for the Mets last year before being signed by Miami this offseason. He singled in his first Marlins at-bat.

“I’m happy for me and my family,” Valdespin said of his promotion. “I want to do my job everyday in the lineup or as a pinch-hitter and help this team.”

TURNER DISCUSSES STARTING

Jacob Turner said he was excited about returning to the rotation following nine starts earlier in the season, during which he posted a 6.38 ERA.

“I obviously had some struggles in the beginning of the year in the rotation so I’m looking forward to getting back out there,” he said Sunday, talking for the first time since Redmond announced Turner would start Tuesday. “Though my numbers don’t always reflect it, there have been times when I’ve thrown the ball really well.”

Turner appeared eight times as a reliever, logging a 5.74 ERA. He said he’s been working on attacking the strike zone and limiting walks since his last start June 11.

“Going after hitters is the biggest thing,” he said.

SUNDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (44-52): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Brand Hand LHP.

> Giants (54-43): 1. Hunter Pence RF, 2. Marco Scutaro 2B, 3. Buster Posey 1B, 4. Pablo Sandoval 3B, 5. Michael Morse LF, 6. Hector Sanchez C, 7. Joaquin Arias SS, 8. Gregor Blanco CF, 9. Tim Lincecum RHP.

COMING UP

•  Monday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (6-7, 3.99 ERA) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Julio Teheran (9-6, 2.71), 7:10 p.m., Turner Field.

•  Tuesday: Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (2-6, 6.22 ERA) vs. Atlanta Braves LHP Mike Minor (3-5, 4.86, 7:10 p.m., Turner Field.

 --JACOB FELDMAN

July 19, 2014

Valdespin Promoted; Penny Sharp; Draftees Signed

Hoping to add a spark to the lineup and find reliability at second base, the Marlins called up 26-year-old Jordany Valdespin and had him hit second in the lineup Saturday against the Giants.

“Our offense has been slow and sluggish so we are looking for a guy that can hit at the top of the order…and get us going a little bit,” manager Mike Redmond said before Saturday’s game.

Valdespin was hitting .277 for Triple A New Orleans this year and had posted a .288 average thus far in July. He logged 160 major league appearances with the Mets over the course of 2012 and 2013, where he hit .219.

Valdespin also comes to Miami with some off-the-field baggage.

He was suspended 50 games last August as part of Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis investigation. Valdespin had previously run into trouble with the New York organization for starting an altercation by showboating after a home run, making a clubhouse scene after being demoted to the minors, and failing to run out ground balls.

“He’s a talented guy and this is a great opportunity for him to get himself back in the big leagues,” Redmond said.

“He has to prove himself and come out here and show the type of player that we’ve all seen glimpses of.”

Valdespin’s opportunity comes at the cost of demoting Justin Bour.

The 26-year-old infielder had been used as a pinch hitter but was hitless in his last nine plate attempts dating back to June 24.

“Bour is not used to coming off the bench, and initially we thought he would be a guy to give us some power off the bench,” Redmond said, “But one thing you keep in mind when you bring in young guys from the minor leagues and put them in a role they are not used to doing, it is tough, and we saw that with him.”

The Marlins also announced Saturday that they were placing Rafael Furcal on the 60-day disabled list.

Penny Sharp in Minors

After 36-year-old Brad Penny logged a quality start for Triple A New Orleans Friday, Redmond was asked about the possibility of calling up the veteran right-hander.

“At this point, we have not ruled anybody out,” he said. “We need quality starts.”

Friday, Redmond announced that Jacob Turner would regain a spot in the rotation after going 2-4 with a 6.38 ERA in nine starts earlier this year.

The Marlins have sent 10 different starters to the mound this season. Miami’s weekend competition, San Francisco, has used just six starters this year.

“We’ve tried a lot of different guys and we’re hoping that the guys we have up here right now step up and take advantage of these starts,” Redmond said.

33 Draftees Signed

By the time of Friday’s signing deadline, the Marlins inked 33 of their 42 selections from the 2014 draft, including their top 22 picks, as well as two undrafted free agents.

“You can call this draft a success in terms of just the amount of players we signed, with the top-20, but I think we also got some athletic players," Vice President of Scouting Stan Meek said in a statement. "We got some athletic players up the middle that really addressed a need for us. Also, in addition to the second overall pick in Tyler Kolek, a big right-hander, we also got a good group of college left-handed pitchers that we feel add a lot of depth to the system.”

SATURDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (44-51): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP.

> Giants (53-43): 1. Hunter Pence RF, 2. Joe Panik 2B, 3. Buster Posey C, 4. Pablo Sandoval 3B, 5. Michael Morse LF, 6. Brandon Belt 1B, 7. Brandon Crawford SS, 8. Gregor Blanco CF, 9. Tim Hudson RHP.

COMING UP

•  Sunday: Marlins LHP Brad Hand (0-2, 5.26 ERA) vs. San Francisco Giants RHP Tim Lincecum (9-5, 3.66), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

•  Monday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (6-7, 3.99 ERA) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Julio Teheran (9-6, 2.71), 7:10 p.m., Turner Field.

 --JACOB FELDMAN

July 18, 2014

Marlins "not looking to trade key pieces"; Gregg to DL; Turner returns to rotation

Whether the Marlins are able to dig themselves out of their current hole in the standings remains to be seen. But even if they're unsuccessful in doing so, don't expect them to start unloading players in a massive mid-season sell-off, ala 2012.

"We aren't looking to trade any of our key pieces," said Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill.

Hill did not distinguish "key" players from those who aren't considered as such. But you can be sure the hands-off list includes Giancarlo Stanton, whose name is constantly thrown around in trade rumors around this time every year. Christian Yelich, Casey McGehee, Adeiny Hechavarria and Marcell Ozuna likely fall into the same cartegory as Stanton.

And given the starting pitching issues that now confront the Marlins, it's hard to imagine Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Tom Koehler being traded before the July 31 deadline, either.

Though no one on the Marlins has said so specifically, it's realistic to think the Marlins will do anything NOT to finish last for a fourth straight season, which is why I believe Steve Cishek isn't going anywhere, either.

For now, the front office is holding out hope the team can make a run.

“This [trade] market has been interesting because there are no real sellers,” Hill said. “I don't know if it will truly be defined until we get closer to the deadline. I would not say we are aggressively in ‘buy’ mode. But we’re aggressive in trying to find deals that will help us in the short term and the long term."

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Kevin Gregg and A.J. Ramos swapped placed on the disabled list on Friday. Gregg was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to July 14, with right elbow inflammation while Ramos was brought off the DL to fill his spot.

Gregg had been dealing with elbow soreness heading into the All-Star break, according to manager Mike Redmond, and notified team personnel on Thursday that the condition hadn't improved.

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Redmond announced Friday that Jacob Turner would return to the rotation after being banished to the bullpen. Turner will get the start Tuesday in Atlanta.

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The Braves released Dan Uggla on Friday, but don't expect the Marlins to seek a reunion with their former second baseman. Uggla's numbers have taken a nosedive over the past 1 1/2 seasons, forcing him out of his starting job.

After Uggla clears waivers and becomes a free agent, any acquiring team would only be responsible to pay him the league minimum. The Braves would be on the hook for the rest of the $18 million still owed to him  through 2015.

The Marlins have stated an interest in obtaining a fast second baseman, and Uggla is not that.