April 26, 2016

Marlins send Jarred Cosart to minors; Justin Nicolino expected to step into rotation

LOS ANGELES -- The same troubling pitching signs that caused Jarred Cosart to spend most of last season in the minors prompted his return.

The Marlins on Tuesday optioned Cosart to Triple A New Orleans.

Cosart has battled wildness while going 0-1 with a 7.98 ERA in his three starts. He's walked 15 with two wild pitches in 14 2/3 innings, and issued six walks in each of his past two starts, including Friday's outing in San Francisco.

Last season, Cosart's issues were attributed to vertigo. But that problem was corrected, supposedly, and there's been no indication that he's dealing with it once again.

The Marlins are expected to call up Justin Nicolino from New Orleans in time to make the start Wednesday against the Dodgers.

As for Cosart's roster spot, the Marlins reinstated third baseman Martin Prado from the paternity list. The Marlins also announced that left-hander Chris Narveson, who had been designated for assignment, was outrighted to New Orleans.

April 23, 2016

Mattingly after ejection: Marlins getting robbed

SAN FRANCISCO -- That didn't take long.

Don Mattingly wasted little time in receiving his first ejection as Marlins manager, tossed in Friday's fourth inning only 15 games into his short tenure with Miami.

But here's what made it interesting: Mattingly complained that the Marlins are getting robbed because they're, well, the Marlins.

"It's just 15 games now, and I know these guys don't mean to, but it just feels like any kind of close call or big situation, there's never a call that goes the Marlins' way," Mattingly said after being tossed by home plate umpire Brian Gorman for arguing balls and strikes.

“I’ve seen it at home and I’ve seen it on the road and I saw it tonight,” Mattingly said. “We see Pagan had a 1-2 or 2-2 pitch is right there and he doesn’t call it. Then, we see [during] Dietrich’s at-bat which was big because we had first and second and one out and he called the same pitch for a strike.

“I think my frustration is more over just what’s going on with the Marlins. I know the umpires don’t do that on purpose, but it just seems like subconsciously that it’s ok to screw the Marlins.”

It was the 21st ejection of Mattingly's managerial career.

Here's the breakdown of Marlins' managerial ejections, courtesy of Retrosheet.org

Fredi Gonzalez -- 11

Mike Redmond -- 7

Jim Leyland -- 6

John Boles -- 5

Rene Lachemann -- 4

Edwin Rodriguez -- 4

Jack McKeon -- 4

Jeff Torborg -- 3

Dan Jennings -- 3

Joe Girardi -- 2

Ozzie Guillen -- 2

Tony Perez -- 1

Don Mattingly -- 1

April 20, 2016

Bling by Bling: Jeffrey Loria Through the Years

When you make Jeffrey Loria happy, a big hunk of jewelry is often the reward. Just ask the 2003 World Series champion Marlins, Hanley Ramirez and, now, Dee Gordon.

On Tuesday, Loria presented Gordon with a jeweled-out neck pendant for winning the batting and stolen base titles last season. We are not talking small. The disc-shaped pendant is so large that Marlins manager Don Mattingly was heard to say: "Is that a chain or a belt buckle?" Gordon was almost at a loss for words.

Check out this bad boy:

IMG_2026

Gordon isn't the first Marlin to find himself in possession of some big bling, courtesy of the Marlins' owner. After Ramirez won the batting title in 2009, Loria gave him a diamond-studded pendant:

Ramirez

 But it was in 2003 when Loria went all out, ordering World Series rings that were the size of small golf balls, dwarfing all other championship rings before or since:

World series

 

April 13, 2016

Giancarlo Stanton: "That game doesn't get won last year"

NEW YORK -- Dee Gordon's 16-pitch at bat. Martin Prado's pinch-hit sacrifice fly. Derek Dietrich's two-out RBI single. The bullpen's four scoreless innings.

Add it all up, and the Marlins played arguably their most complete game in recent memory when they squeaked out a close win over the Mets on Tuesday.

"That game doesn't get won last year," Giancarlo Stanton said. "I feel like there was a lot of games last year where we just waited to lose rather than try to win. Something went wrong."

That wasn't the case Tuesday.

On a bitter cold night at Citi Field, a night when the Mets' Noah Syndergaard was dealing, the Marlins somehow prevailed in a 2-1 victory. It wasn't one Marlins player who made the difference. It was darn near every one of the 16 whose name showed up in the box score.

Take Jose Fernandez. His first two innings were a struggle. He gave up a run in the first and had totaled 51 pitches in the first two innings. But he worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and retired the final 10 batters he faced -- striking out the last four -- to keep the Marlins in the game.

"It was hard to get a grip on the ball," Fernandez said of the frigid conditions. ""I was trying to make a good pitch and trying to keep the boys in the game. The weather was rough, but you've got to battle."

Here are some of the other highlights:

-- After Justin Bour kept the fourth inning alive by beating the shift, grounding a single through the vacated left side of the infield, Dietrich singled off Syndergaard to drive in the Marlins' first run and tie the score.

-- In the eighth, when Jim Henderson took over for Syndergaard, Gordon worked a Marlins record 16-pitch at bat in which he ended it with a leadoff single. Gordon stole second. One out later, Henderson walked Christian Yelich and Stanton, loading the bases.

-- Prado, who didn't start Tuesday, was "running and jumping up and down" in the clubhouse, trying to get warm. Prado knew he would go in to pinch-hit for Bour if the Mets brought in a lefty, which they did when Terry Collins called on Jerry Blevins. Prado lofted a fly ball to right that was deep enough to score Gordon from third with the go-ahead run.

-- David Phelps came out of the bullpen for the Marlins and delivered two scoreless innings.

-- A.J. Ramos closed out the victory in the ninth.

"It wasn't one through nine," Stanton said of the individual contributions. "It was one through 15 or 16. That's huge. That's what it's going to need to be."

 

April 12, 2016

Bonds: A-Rod won't break HR record in 2 years

NEW YORK -- I'm not really sure why this is being portrayed as some great pronouncement, but Barry Bonds was quoted as saying he didn't think Alex Rodriguez would break his home record before the end of the 2017 season.

Rodriguez needs 74 more homers to tie -- and 75 to break -- Bonds' all-time mark of 762.

"No, not in two years," Bonds told the New York Daily News. (Here's the link: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/barry-bonds-alex-rodriguez-won-catch-home-run-record-article-1.2596993)

Let me take this a step further by saying I strongly doubt A-Rod will break the record even if he plays beyond 2017, the year his contract expires. And that's a big if.

Rodriguez turns 41 in July. He hit 33 home runs last year for the Yankees, but hasn't hit as many as 37 home runs in a season since 2007. The math doesn't add up for A-Rod.

Something else to consider: according to baseballreference.com, the Major League record for most home runs hit by a player over the age of 40 (going by a player's age on June 30) is 72, and it belongs to Carlton Fisk. The most home runs for a player over the age of 41 belongs to Bonds himself: 54.

April 01, 2016

Giancarlo Stanton takes on team of Little Leaguers...in tug of war!

       Pitchers don't like facing Giancarlo Stanton.

       But how about an entire team of Little League players?

       In a Major League Baseball promotional ad, Stanton takes one end of the rope while a team of youngsters from West Palm Beach grab hold of the other in a game of tug of war.

       The ad doesn't show which side ends up winning. But it appears the Little Leaguers are gaining the advantage -- albeit with Stanton holding on to the rope with one hand.

       

March 29, 2016

Justin Maxwell, Don Kelly granted releases, roster trimmed to 35

JUPITER -- With a week remaining to Opening Day, the Marlins on Tuesday trimmed four players from the roster to bring the number left in camp to 35.

Outfielder Justin Maxwell and infielder Don Kelly were granted their releases while right-handed pitchers Jose Urena and Nefi Ogando were optioned to Triple A New Orleans.

Though Maxwell and Kelly are now free to explore the market, there's a chance both could return to the organization if they can't find any takers.

"(President of baseball operations) Mike Hill left that possibility open, that if I can't find a job, they'd be more than happy to come back and wear a Marlins uniform," Maxwell said.

The same is true of Kelly, who spent almost all of last season on the disabled list and later underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm.

The most intriguing names remaining in camp are outfielder Cole Gillespie and pitcher Brad Hand. Gillespie is out of minor-league options and, with no room on the roster for an outfielder, would have to clear waivers -- an unlikely event -- if the Marlins decide not to keep him. Likewise, Hand is also out of options. The Marlins would prefer not to lose either. Those decision must be made within the coming days.

March 23, 2016

Giancarlo Stanton blasts his first spring training home run

JUPITER -- It took him most of spring training, but Giancarlo Stanton finally connected on his first home run, a solo shot to center off the Cardinals' Trevor Rosenthal.

"It's good to get on top of one," Stanton said.

Not only was it Stanton's first homer this spring, it was his first since June of last season -- before he broke the hamate bone in his left hand.

It's not like Stanton has had a ton of chances in spring training. He missed some time with a sore knee, and his at bat in the seventh inning was only his 17th this spring.

"I'm roughly where I'm at," he said of his progress so far this spring. "I don't necessarily need a certain amount of at bats, rather than a feel in spring."

Stanton has been experimenting with an Axe bat, which has a tapered handle to relieve pressure on his hand. But he's also continuing to use his Marcucci bat, which is what he used Wednesday when he hit the homer.

 

March 22, 2016

Fernandez, Jackson, Breslow, Ramos combine to one-hit the Red Sox

Fernandez

Jose Fernandez began his Tuesday by talking to a throng of reporters about the Rays’ exhibition game in his native Cuba.

Three hours later, the Marlins’ ace was busy keeping the Boston Red Sox scoreless and hitless.

Fernandez’s third start of the spring began a combined one-hitter by him, Edwin Jackson, Craig Breslow and A.J. Ramos.

Fernandez walked one batter in the first inning in which he threw 19 pitches. He became increasingly efficient as the outing went on, retiring the final 13 batters he faced and striking out four.

“We’re just following the game plan and [catcher Jeff] Mathis called the game perfect,” Fernandez said. “The result was there so I’m pretty happy. I feel like I accomplished something today.”

Fernandez threw 60 pitches, 41 of which were strikes and only threw seven pitches for balls from the second inning on.

It was a sharper outing for Fernandez in terms of results than his previous spring start March 17 against the Mets when he gave up six earned runs on five hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings.

“Last start the result wasn’t there, but I felt the location was good and the pitches were good. Today I was trying to keep the same level and not to get too up or down too much.”

Fernandez, who is slated to make his first start of the regular season April 6 at Marlins Park where he is 17-0 for his career, has been working on improving his changeup’s effectiveness this spring.

“It’s a pitch that will help me a lot and the team a lot,” Fernandez said. “It keeps hitters guessing a little more. I didn’t use it more in high school and in the minor leagues I didn’t use it much. It’s something that takes away from breaking balls and lets me mix more and take care of my arm and body more.”

EDWIN JACKSON SHARP AS WELL

Edwinjackson

Edwin Jackson looked sharper as well in two hitless innings of his own.

Jackson, who has thrown mostly on the back fields of Roger Dean Stadium this spring while working closely with new Marlins pitching coaches Juan Nieves and Jim Benedict, struck out two batters as he faced the minimum amount of batters.

            “Edwin’s messing around with a cutter now and it looks like it will be a good pitch for him,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Sometimes you throw the ball good and you don’t get a good result, but the ball was coming out good and hitters were taking swings that were not very good, so that was good to see.”

Marlins send nine to minors including Barraclough, Nicolino and Ellington

The Marlins optioned nine players to the minors Tuesday including starter Justin Nicolino and relievers Kyle Barraclough and Brian Ellington.

The three pitchers, along with catcher Tomas Telis, were optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

The Marlins reassigned outfielders Isaac Galloway and Destin Hood, right-handed pitchers Paul Clemens and Andre Rienzo and catcher Francisco Arcia to minor-league camp.

Barraclough and Ellington, both hard-throwing righties, were being considered as potential middle relief or set-up options in the wake of reliever Carter Capps’ season-ending injury.

In 2015, Barraclough,went 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 25 relief appearances last season, allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 24 1/3 innings and posted 30 strikeouts and 18 walks. This spring, Barraclough made six appearances and went 4 2/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run in his first four outings, but gave up a combined three in his last two and walked three batters, striking out only two.

Ellington had similar numbers in 2015, going 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 23 appearances and 25 innings. He allowed 10 runs (eight earned), struck out 18 and walked 13. This spring, he made five appearances against major league teams, and went four innings, allowing six runs (four earned), six walks and had four strikeouts.

"Those two are guys we feel like through the course of this summer will be big for us," Mattingly said. "Both of those guys’ fastball command was an issue in spring training. In terms of power stuff, Barraclough probably has the best slider coming out of our bullpen. But you have to get to that pitch. As a power arm, you want him to get ahead in the counts and puts the hitter on defense."

 

Nicolino had been competing for a spot in the team’s rotation to start the season. Last year, he also began the year at Triple-A before being called up after injuries to starters.

Nicolino made 12 starts at the big-league level in 2015 and went 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 74 innings pitched, making two starts in June following an injury to Tom Koehler. He was then sent back down to the minors and recalled in August following an injury to Jose Fernandez and pitched in the rotation for the remainder of the season.

With a mostly pitch to contact style so far in his career, Nicolino had only 23 strikeouts and 20 walks. This spring, he made two starts and three appearances overall this spring, and went 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 8 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and no walks. He retired 22 of the 31 batters he faced either by ground outs (12) or fly ball outs (10).

"For us with Nicolino it was a matter of getting him ready," Mattingly said. "We know we’re going to need him during the course of the season. Nico is definitely a starting pitcher and a guy we think will pitch in the majors for a long time."