August 03, 2014

Dunn The Vulture; Valdespin Hot; Saltalamacchia Out

Marlins reliever Mike Dunn has a new nickname: The Vulture.

Bullpen buddy A.J. Ramos was flapping his arms Sunday morning, a day after Dunn tied a team record with nine wins as a reliever. Saturday night, Dunn swooped in to get the final two outs in the top of the 10th inning, earning the ‘W’ when Christian Yelich hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the inning.

“At this point in the season as long as the W’s are going to someone on our team, that’s all that matters.” Dunn said. “They all make fun of me … They all came in last night flapping their wings.”

Edward Mujica was the last reliever to earn nine wins in 2011, and Robb Nen did it in 1997. Dunn is now fourth in Marlins history with 17 career wins as a reliever. He is a win away from doubling his career high for a season, which he set in 2011 with five.

After earning Saturday’s victory, Dunn said others joked that he was only 11 games away from being a 20-game winner, but he said he’d be fine staying at nine.

“I prefer to get holds and let the starters collect the wins,” Dunn said.

Dunn earned Saturday’s win by striking out both Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce, stranding an inherited runner at third.

“Coming into the game in that situation, I had a one-track mind,” Dunn said. “With Billy Hamilton, I couldn’t let him put the ball in play … I was able to get ahead of him — execute my first two pitches and then I had a little room to make a couple pitches outside the strike zone and get him to chase.

“With Bruce … I ultimately got ahead of him and felt pretty good and was able to get him to chase a pitch out of the zone too.”

Dunn has now logged five appearances without surrendering an earned run, lowering his ERA to 3.79 on the year. Four of his wins have come in July.

Henderson Alvarez is second on the team with eight wins.

VALDESPIN TRYING TO STAY HOT

By going 2-for-4 for a second straight game Saturday, second baseman Jordany Valdespin raised his average to .289 through his first 14 games with Miami. That ranks third among Marlins position players, behind only Casey McGehee and Giancarlo Stanton.

Valdespin has a hit in four of his last five games and seven of his last 18 at-bats.

Less than a month ago, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said the team was in the market for a second baseman. Last week Hill said he liked how Valdespin had fit into the lineup and the former Met remained the starter following last week’s trade deadline.

With that date passed, Valdespin can look forward and focus on continuing to help the team.

“Everything is good right now so I hope to keep doing well and keep playing everyday,” Valdespin said. “We have a good team and we can make the playoffs so we need to keep playing like this … playing with emotion.”

SALTALAMACCHIA OUT AGAIN

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was not in the starting lineup for a second straight game Sunday. Saturday, manager Mike Redmond said the backstop was dealing with a sore back, but Saltalamacchia said he feels fine. 

“I don’t know what that’s about,” Saltalamacchia said before Sunday’s game.  “My back feels great.”

He added that Redmond told him Saturday night that Mathis would be starting Sunday without giving a specific reason.

Asked if he was antsy to return to the starting lineup, Saltalamacchia said he was.

“Yea, of course,” he said. “I’m watching our team play great right now and it’s fun to be a part of.”

Saltalamacchia had not missed two straight games since June 19 after he was struck by a foul ball. 

In his last 10 games, Saltalamacchia has hit .250. He was 0-for-4 in his last appearance Friday.

Backup Jeff Mathis has hit .097 in his last 10 times out.

SUNDAY’S LINEUPS

> Reds (55-55): 1. Billy Hamilton CF, 2. Jay Bruce RF, 3. Todd Frazier 1B, 4. Devin Mesoraco C, 5. Ryan Ludwick 1B, 6. Skip Schumaker 2B, 8. Kris Negron 3B, 8. Zack Cozart SS, 9. Mike Leake RHP.

> Marlins (54-56): 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. Jacob Turner RHP.

COMING UP

  • Monday: OFF
  • Tuesday: Marlins LHP Brad Hand (2-3, 4.15 ERA) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates TBA, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park

August 02, 2014

Henderson Alvarez hoping to be back in two weeks to face Diamondbacks

Henderson Alvarez said the MRI performed on his right shoulder Friday showed nothing more than inflammation and he's hoping to be back on the mound for the Marlins when he's scheduled to come off the 15-day disabled list during the team's next home stand.

Alvarez said he's aiming to pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who play a four game series at Marlins Park from Aug. 14-17.

"I'm good. It's just inflammation," Alvarez said Saturday after the Marlins took batting practice. "There's nothing there. I'm just going to do treatment to bring down the inflammation and go from there."

Alvarez, 24, said he first began to feel discomfort in his shoulder since he pitched last week in Atlanta.

"The day before it started to hurt, but I kept pitching and doing my treatment to see if it went away. But it didn't get better. I pitched against Washington and it bothered me, but I kept pitching," he said. "I talked with the Marlins pitching coach and the trainers so we could avoid something worse."

Shoulder inflammation shelved Alvarez last season for the first three months of the season. Asked if it was the same type of injury, Alvarez said it wasn't.

"Dr. Kaplan, he just told me to rest my arm for a few days and in like five or six days I could throw to see how it felt," Alvarez said. "For me I'm sad that I have to be out. At the same time, it's good because I can avoid whatever bigger issue, and just rest so that inflammation goes away quickly."

The Marlins have gone 14-3 with Alvarez (8-5, 2.48 ERA) on the mound over his last 17 starts. He's thrown 137 2/3 innings and made 22 starts total in 2014, the second-most of his career. Two years ago Alvarez threw 187 1/3 innings for Toronto and made 31 starts. 

"Like any pitcher some guys go through a period of time where they get sore and they need a little bit of a breather and that's where he's at," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's pitched a lot of innings. Last year had the first two months off. This year, he hasn't had that time off like he had last year. The good news is that it's hopefully a short term deal, he'll be able to work through it and be fine."

TURNER READY TO STEP UP

With Alvarez on the disabled list, Jacob Turner is getting a chance to step into his spot and stay in the rotation. After falling out of the rotation in mid-June because of struggles and being reinserted into it after the All-Star Break, Turner (4-6, 5.69) was going to be the odd man out after the Marlins acquired Jarred Cosart from the Astros Thursday.

"It's an opportunity," said Turner, who is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA over his last two starts. "Henderson's been our most consistent pitcher. As a rotation, everyone's going to have to do their part a little bit and we're getting to the point where these are must-win games. It's crucial we go out and pitch deep into the games and give our team a chance to win."

Said Redmond: "His job is to take advantage of the starts he gets and put pressure on us to get him more starts. He understands that. We've made it very clear. We just want him to keep building off the momentum he's had."

STANTON ALTERS ROUTINE

After struggling through a rough July (.226, 4 HRs, 13 RBI), Giancarlo Stanton has started to swing his way out of it. Entering Saturday, he had homered in each of his last three games.

What's changed? His routine. Instead of taking batting practice with the team on the field he's spent that time indoors hitting off the machine.

"Just getting back to the basics," Stanton said. "That's it really. You don't have to do the same thing everyday but make sure you're prepared."

> Redmond said he's giving Jeff Mathis more playing time of late because Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been battling some stiffness in his back.

"We want to keep these guys as fresh as we can -- especially the catcher position," Redmond said. "These guys get banged up. These next two months are wear and tear for catchers for sure."

SATURDAY'S LINEUPS

> Reds (55-54): 1. Billy Hamilton CF, 2. Jay Bruce RF, 3. Todd Frazier 3B, 4. Devin Mesoraco C, 5. Brayan Pena 1B, 6. Skip Schumaker LF, 8. Ramon Santiago 2B, 8. Zack Cosart SS, 9. Homer Bailey RHP.

> Marlins (53-56): 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. Nathan Eovaldi RHP.

August 01, 2014

Marlins place All-Star Henderson Alvarez on disabled list with shoulder inflammation; Turner to take spot in rotation

The big blows keep coming for the Marlins -- and this one could end up hurting more than Thursday's.

A day after a controversial, eighth-inning overturned call at the plate helped wipe out a chance at getting back to .500, the Marlins sent their best pitcher -- All-Star Henderson Alvarez -- to the 15-day disabled list on Friday with shoulder inflammation. 

"I don't know if it's in the same spot or the same type of pain he had last year, but we're going to get him checked out and make sure we get him healthy," manager Mike Redmond said. "Hopefully we caught it early enough where it's not a huge deal. Just 15 days on the DL hopefully. That's the hope."

Redmond said Alvarez, who tossed seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 win over the Nationals on Tuesday, came into the clubhouse Thursday complaining of soreness. 

"He felt it last night when he was sleeping so he came in and told [pitching coach] Chuck[Hernandez]," Redmond said. "How it works with those pitchers is you shut those guys down, let it calm down and let them get healthy. So Jacob Turner will go into the rotation. We plan on him pitching Sunday." 

Left-handed reliever Dan Jennings, sent down to Triple A New Orleans after Thursday's 3-1 loss to Cincinnati to make room for newly acquired starter Jarred Cosart, will return and take Alvarez's spot on the 25-man roster.  

Losing Alvarez couldn't have come at a worse time for the Marlins considering they had won nine of their last 12 games entering Friday to get back into the playoff race. The Marlins have won 14 of the last 17 games Alvarez has started. He's 8-5 with a 2.48 ERA, the fourth lowest among starters in the National League.

"We're in a situation where we're in must-win mode almost," Redmond said. "So to lose your best starter for a couple weeks is another blow. But hopefully Jake can step up and with Cosart [going Friday] he can fill in and give us a chance to win some games."

Before Alvarez's injury, Turner (4-6, 5.69 ERA) was going to be the odd man out in the Marlins' rotation with the addition of Cosart. Now, he's right back in there after having won each of his last two starts. Turner had fallen out of the rotation back in mid-June and was reinserted right after the All-Star break.

"I've got confidence in myself and I think that's the most important thing for any player," Turner said Friday. "I've been feeling good out there for a little while now, so that's a positive."

President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill said Thursday veteran Brad Penny could  be available for the Marlins if they need him in the rotation soon.

Penny, who has pitched in the majors since he was with the Giants for 22 games in 2012 (0-1, 6.11 ERA), made his fourth start for Triple A New Orleans on Wednesday and went six innings, giving up only two earned runs. He's gone 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in those four starts for the Zephyrs.

MLB releases statement regarding Thursday night's call at the plate

Major League Baseball issued the following statement today regarding the play at home plate in the top of the eighth inning of last night's Cincinnati Reds-Miami Marlins game at Marlins Park and the replay judgment that resulted in overturning the initial 'out' call, allowing the run to score because of a violation of Official Baseball Rule 7.13:

"The Replay Official judged that the catcher did not provide a lane to the runner and hindered his path to the plate without possession of the ball. The throw also did not force the catcher into the runner's pathway. As a result, in accordance with Rule 7.13, the ruling on the field was overturned and the run was allowed to score.

"We realize that people may reasonably have different opinions regarding the application of Rule 7.13 in any particular instance because it is a judgment call. We are continuously evaluating the application of the new rule, and we anticipate a full review with all appropriate parties in the off-season in order to determine whether any changes should be made. We also recognize that the exorbitant length of last night's review, which was more than three times the season average, must be avoided in the future.

"That said, the most important goal of this rule has been to eliminate dangerous collisions at home plate, and it cannot be disputed that the rule has been very effective toward achieving this purpose."

AUDIO: Redmond, Samson, McGehee, Koehler, Mathis, Morris talk controversial call in Thursday's loss

Click on the link to listen to the post-game reactions of the Marlins after Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Reds ended in controversy. (WARNING: It is unedited and there is foul language)

MANAGER MIKE REDMOND

THIRD BASEMAN CASEY MCGEHEE

PITCHER TOM KOEHLER

PITCHER BRYAN MORRIS

CATCHER JEFF MATHIS

PRESIDENT DAVID SAMSON

July 31, 2014

Redmond: "To look at them in the face and say we lost the game on a technicality is BS"

Needless to say the Marlins were fit to be tied after losing Thursday's game against the Reds because of rule 7.13 

Manager Mike Redmond got himself tossed and didn't hold back afterward.

"I'll tell you as a former catcher in this league for 13 seasons, as a grinder who loved this game and respect this game so much, this game has been a part of my life forever. To lose a ballgame tonight on that play is a joke," he said. "It's an absolute joke. I don't think anybody who plays this game should feel good about winning that game. And I would say that if had been reversed.

"That guy was out by 15 feet. It was a great baseball play. [Giancarlo Stanton] threw a strike to [catcher Jeff Mathis]. He was out by 15 feet. He didn't slide because he couldn't slide because he was out by so far. And yet those guys in New York decided the outcome of that game. I don't blame [plate umpire] Mike Winters. He was on it. He knew the call on the field was right and he told me that when I was out there.

"So as a manager you sit there and look your players in the face and my job is to pump these guys up and keep those guys going every single day. No doubt we have some grinders out there in this clubhouse. To look at them in the face and say we lost the game on a technicality is bull---. Absolute bull---. I'm so pissed. Like I said I played this game for so long. I've given this game everything I've had as a player and a manager. What a joke. What a [expletive] joke. That's ridiculous.

"Like I said, I don't blame the umpires here. Mike Winters -- lot of respect for these guys. We made a mistake today. Not just in this game, but for the game of baseball. You can look back on this game, whatever man. A couple guys get runover at the plate, get hurt. I caught a long time. I never got hurt back there getting run over. For this rule to evolve into this. I mean what is it going to become a force play at home? Jeff Mathis, this guy grinds it out every single day. He's going to go home tonight devastated thinking he cost our club the game because he did his job. Because he caught a ball and tagged a guy on the hip. Really? Really? We're going to go home tonight and he's going to grind it out saying I cost our ball club the game because G made perfect strike at home. That wasn't good enough? I lost the game. Did my job. What a joke.

"I sat there at the winter meetings and said to myself when I heard this rule I sure hope it doesn't take this call. I knew it would be us. I knew it. What a joke."

What did the plate umpire say to Redmond? "He said 'You're right,'" Redmond said. "He knew I was right."

How did the 6 1/2 minute delay affect the outcome?

"I don't know how it took 6 1/2 minutes," Redmond said. "I don't know why it took so long. It was clear to me he was out. I'm not sure anybody can justify him being safe. I don't know how you do that. Sorry, but I don't know how."

How do you move on?

"We move on," Redmond said. "We've moved on from a lot of tough losses. We will. These guys are pros. They get it. That's a tough one. But we'll pick up the pieces tomorrow and move on."

Instead of defining the rule does it make more confusing?

"I don't know," Redmond said. "I would love for somebody in New York to come down here and sit with my catchers. I only played for 13 years. I guess my knowledge is limited on this rule. I would love for somebody to come down here and explain to my guys how exactly to block the plate. Because apparently I don't know how to teach it. I don't know if anybody knows how to teach it because we really don't know what the rule is."

Here's everything Mike Hill talked about after the Marlins' trade on Thursday

On how the trade evolved: "I think as we approached the deadline our goal was always to add a controllable starting pitcher -- at least one starting pitcher to the mix to help this ballclub. We were fortunate to acquire Jarred Cosart. We were also able to aquire Kike Hernandez, the infield-outfielder and Triple A outfielder Austin Wates in the deal."

Did this come down to the wire? "There was a number of deals we were working on today. Some of them got legs. This one got legs. This was the only one that got legs. There were some others we came up a little short on. But in the end we were happy to add a starting pitcher to the fold."

What stood out about Cosart? "Just the ceiling and the power to the stuff. Kind of fits who we are. He's a one-plus (one-plus year of MLB experience), young starting pitcher. He's 24 years old. Three-plus pitches. And we think he'll fit in nicely with our existing inventory as someone we can grow with."

What about Hernandez? "Versatile piece. I think for Red and his staff it's very valuable to have a versatile piece. We know Kike played center field against us. He can play short. He can play second. He can play left. Versatile piece. And as we got into this knowing we were going to give up a lot in the deal we wanted to try to get something valuable to us in return."

Did you look at rentals? "We totally gave that consideration. You guys all read the rumors. We had been in on a lot of those discussions. But ultimately when you're talking about the cost to acquire those type of players we wanted something we could hold onto. For us and our situation, our market we wanted a piece we could move forward with that could help us in the near term and the long term."

How tough was it to get ride of Jake Marisnick and Colin Moran? "Like I told you, it's a tough market to shop in. We knew that going into the starting pitcher market that it was going to be costly, expensive and we definitely paid a lot to get these players. But we spoke to all our people -- Stan Meek, Albert Gonzalez -- they know it's their jobs to go out there and give us the ammunition to go out there and help this major league club and this organization and that's what we were able to do."

How much of it was about making the playoffs this year? "I think we've always said we're just trying to get better. We know believe in this club and this clubhouse and we believe in what they're capable of doing. Jarred Cosart will help us win more games and to be a better ballclub and hopefully that winds up with a playoff spot. "

Was it important to send a signal to the clubhouse? "I think we were just trying to make the best deal for us. As I told you yesterday if we had not made a deal I don't think we would have thought any less of the ballclub. Just meant it didn't work out. But we were very happy with the pieces we were able to add."

Was this trade something that developed over time? "This has been ongoing. There were probably other things we had been working on longer. This one was one we had been discussing and really as you get closer to the deadline it just intensifies. This one, as we got into it, we just had to make the pieces work. Ultimately we did and we were very happy with the return we were able to get."

What did you see from Cosart when he started against you Saturday? "Just power stuff. Fastball in the upper 90s. Power slider. I think he'll fit nicely into our rotation. Definitely in this ballpark. He's a one-plus, controllable starting pitcher that can grow with us."

You mentioned you gave up a lot... "[Trades are] all difficult and this one was definitely difficult because we gave up three pieces we really like. Moran, obviously our first round pick from last year. Jake Marisnick, a very dynamic outfielder who is growing into his ability. And then the young piece. Francis Martez is a very interesting Dominican arm. On top of that, the Comp pick. We did give a lot. But as we told you guys the starting pitching market is very expensive and we're very happy to have acquired Jarred Cosart."

Were there any other trades that came close? "There were some really cool ones that just didn't happen. You guys would have been pretty surprised had they happened. But they didn't. Nothing to talk about. It's always a fun time."

Any names outside of the ones mentioned by the media you were in on? "We were in on all of those guys. The only one that wasn't accurate was John Danks. I don't know where that came from."

Were you surprised by all the deals the Red Sox made? "I'm not because Boston was a seller. Everything they did made a lot of sense for what they were this year, acquiring pieces that will help them in the future. Given that fact, it made a lot of sense. If they're competitive, and they're winning, those trades probably don't happen."

Is Hernandez going to be your future second baseman? "I think we love the bat. He was leading the PCL in hitting before he got called up with Houston. We'd seen a lot of him through the Puerto Rican Winter League, and Triple-A and the big leagues. It's a very good bat. What you're seeing offensively is not a surprise by our evaluation. I know I had talked about the pitcher and the second baseman. But the focus was always the pitcher. Once you got into discussions with Houston, and they did have a second baseman that you liked. You wanted to try to steer things towards getting what you wanted, especially at the cost of the players that were being discussed. Hernandez is a 22-year-old zero (service time). We have full control over him. We love the offense and the versatility. So this is another piece that we can grow with, moving forward."

Does his defense need work? "No. He's a solid defender wherever you put him. We saw him make the play in center field, sure. But we've seen his defense and we're confident wherever he plays."

Was his speed intriguing? "It was more of the bat element that was more impressive for us. He's an average, to a tick above average runner. He's not a speed merchant by any stretch of the imagination. But this is an above average offensive player, in our estimation. That's what was attractive to us, as we got deeper into discussions with the Astros."

How did the trade develop? "It started with Cosart and as Marisnick and Moran came up in discussions. When you're talking about two huge pieces, at least in our estimation in Marisnick and Moran, we said let's really get some value back. We all recognize the cost of starting pitching, but you're talking about two, if not two, close-to-Major-League-ready bats in those two players. So we wanted to make sure we got value back. Hernandez and then Wates came into the discussion."

When did you begin targeting Cosart? "We had a laundry list of controllable starting pitchers we liked and he was right in the think of it. So we were obviously paying attention when he pitched against us. You know how deadline's work. It was important for us [to see him] because we got to see him first hand and how he competed and what our guys thought of him and facing him. We left that outing pleasantly encouraged with what he represented. It became a serious consideration for us after that fact."

How tough was it to trade the competitive balance pick? "It's a valuable piece. I said it when we traded for Bryan Morris. I've said, if it's not something that is helping us, it's something we're going to hold onto because it's the 34th or 35th overall pick in the Draft, and it has significant value. We saw what it turned into, Bryan Morris and Kevin Gregg for us this year. I think as you look at the starting pitcher market. There weren't a lot of starting pitchers moved. The starting pitchers that were moved, they came at a heavy, heavy, heavy price. I think you're seeing what it costs to acquire starting pitching."

How close did the trade come to the 4 p.m. deadline? "It might be the all-time closest for us. Conine was running around saying his was the closest back in '03. His was like 45 seconds before the deadline. This one was under that. You agree before the timing on the players and then you have to get the medical approved. So the doctors are working and you get the call and that's when it's good. We were under a minute and by the time I got the call by MLB it was close to say the least."

What can you say about Wates? "In giving up Jake we wanted to try to protect ourselves as bes we could with an above average defender which Wates is. A base stealer. And a player who might be a special for us in the long run just because of what he represents. He's a premium position base stealer. An defensive center fielder with base stealing ability. We're excited he was the third piece. They're all valuable to us in the deal. But to get Hernandez for a team like us with his versatility and then to replace Marisnick, our call-up."

July 30, 2014

Mike Hill: "We're going to do our best to try to upgrade, but we're not going to be foolish."

The Marlins' quest to upgrade their starting pitching figures to lead all the way up to Thursday's 4 p.m. trade deadline. But just because they want to be buyers doesn't mean the Marlins are willing to be foolish.

Mike Hill, whose phone began ringing at 8:37 a.m. Wednesday with trade offers (less than seven hours after he received his last call Tuesday night), made it clear if an opportunity presents itself to upgrade the rotation the Marlins plan on pouncing on it. They've even "dipped their toes in" on potential one-year rentals.

But one thing Hill said he's made clear to other clubs is "we’re not trying to take off our major league club, not key components." 

"We’re trying to add," Hill said Wednesday morning about an hour and half before the Marlins were set to close out their three-game series against the division-leading Nationals at Marlins Park. "But to re-shuffle or rob Peter to pay Paul doesn’t really accomplish what we’re trying to do.”

The Red Sox, shopping left-handed All-Star pitcher Jon Lester, reportedly wanted left fielder Christian Yelich from the Marlins. The Marlins wanted no part of that. So the search for a pitcher continues.

Hill said a rental "is not ideal." But it is something the Marlins haven't ruled out.

"It's something that we've entertained and have dipped our toe in the water," Hill said. "It all depends on the cost to acquire a rental and if it sidetracks what we're trying to do in the long term."

Second base remains an area the Marlins would like to address, but that probably will get tabled to the offseason. With Jordany Valdespin being a solid producer since being called up on July 19 (he came into the day Wednesday hitting .267, 1 HR, 3 RBI) Hill said the Marlins are content with Valdespin splitting the job the rest of the way with Donovan Solano. So upgrading the pitching staff remains the top focus.

"It’s always our pitching and we go as our pitching goes," Hill said. "We made a concerted effort to improve our offense and have been able to put a consistent offensive team on the field and now we go as our pitching goes. The early bullpen questions have settled. Guys have gotten into more consistent roles and performed better. It’s no secret that as we’ve played better, we’ve pitched better. Plain and simple, we pitch, we know we’re giving ourselves a chance every day to win a ballgame.”

Hill said owner Jeffrey Loria remains supportive and connected to every decision the front office makes.

"He's obviously part of the process," Hill said. "We update him on where things are. But he wants to win as badly as anybody. He knows where we're at, and what we're trying to do."

Does Loria want to win badly enough to add payroll? "I would say we're looking at everything," Hill said. "Money deals. Prospects deals. We're looking at everything."

How important is it to make a move to show fans and the team the front office is really going for it?

"I think these guys know we believe in them and believe in the talent in this room," Hill said. "Whether we're able to make a move or not I think they know we have their back and supportive of what they're trying to do. We're going to do our best to try to upgrade, but we're not going to be foolish. We're not going to be short sighted. I think we understand where we're at as an organization but we're also understand where we're trying to go. 

"I think that's the balance you strike at this time of year. We'll see what happens these next two days. But there's been a lot going on and we're trying to work through it and seeing if what we're trying to do makes sense not only the near term but the long term."

> Utility man Ed Lucas, back with the team after being sent down to the minors on July 20 so the team could add an extra arm for a road trip to Houston, had a funny line Wednesday about how the Marlins went 9-1 without him.

"It's awesome to watch. I'm happy. But at the same time I'm thinking, 'Man I must be a pretty bad teammate if as soon as I leave they rattle off 9 of 10.' It kind of makes you question yourself a little bit."

> Former Marlins catcher John Baker, 33, pulled off a rare feat for the Cubs in Tuesday night's 16-inning win over the Rockies. He scored the winning run and picked up the victory as a relief pitcher. That's the first time that's happened for the Cubs, who have been around since 1876.

"That's definitely cooler than picking up seven saves in 10 days," said closer Steve Cishek, one of the few pitchers left on the Marlins staff who worked with Baker. "Now, if I could drive in a run and get the win that would be cooler. I think [Burke] Badenhop did that a couple years ago. I'd take that."

WEDNESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Nationals (57-47): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, 3. Jayson Werth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Ian Desmond SS, 6. Bryce Harper LF, 7. Wilson Ramos C, 8. Danny Espinosa 2B, 9. Tanner Roark RHP.

> Marlins (53-53): 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. Brad Hand LHP.

July 29, 2014

Marlins super utility man Ed Lucas on his way back up from Triple A

Marlins super utility man Ed Lucas is on his way back up from the minors, the team announced after Tuesday' 3-0 win over the Nationals.

Lucas, 32, was sent down back down Triple A New Orleans on July 20 so the Marlins could add an arm right before they went off on a team-record 6-1 road trip.

The Marlins sent outfielder Jake Marisnick back down to New Orleans to make room.

Lucas was hitting .239 with one homer and seven RBI in 51 games for the Marlins this season. He's played  every position in the infield this season except catcher and both corner outfield spots.

For Redmond Monday night's rally evokes memories of last time Marlins mounted similar comeback in '03

Monday night's thrilling come-from-behind win against the division-leading Nationals wasn't the first time Mike Redmond was on the bench for a big Marlins comeback. 

In fact, the last time the Marlins rallied from a six-run deficit in the seventh inning or later and won prior to Monday was back on June 28, 2003 when Redmond was on the bench cheering his teammates on as they rallied from a 9-2 deficit in the eighth to stun the Red Sox at Fenway Park. 

Pudge Rodriguez had a pair of clutch RBI singles in the eighth and ninth innings before Mike Lowell's three-run home run on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth put the Marlins in front 10-9.

"Thinking back on that it was an amazing night especially after the night before we got hammered 25-8," Redmond said. "I was in that game in the fourth inning because Pudge was done."

Those Marlins -- the last to win a World Series -- improved to 41-41 with that win and climbed to within 11 games of the division-leading Braves that night before going 50-30 the rest of the way to earn the National League's lone wild card berth. 

These Marlins (52-53) climbed to within six games of the division-leading Nationals and 4.5 games back in the wild card race after Monday's thriller. 

So what can a win like Monday's do for a team? 

"It can really be a catapult for your team and definitely something where if it all works out you can look back and say 'Man I remember that game we came back in.' But I just think overall it just shows the character of this ballclub that these guys don't quit," Redmond said. "I know I've said that a lot. But it's the truth. We're playing a first place team and some times you need a big comeback like that to get you going and reinforce the fact we can play with these guys."

Redmond, though, made one thing clear to his players -- they can't stop pushing forward. 

"They're all big," Redmond said. "When you get to this stage of the season and when you have ground to make up -- or even if you're in first place and teams are chasing you -- every game is important. That's what it's all about. That's the beauty of it. 

"What you find out about your team is how you do in pressure situations that are must-win. We just need to continue to focus on trying to win ball games and trying to win series. That's what our focus is right now. Last night was a huge win, huge momentum builder. But we have to go out there tonight and answer the bell as well."

Even after winning eight of their last nine games and a season-high five in a row, the Marlins still remain longshots to make the playoffs. According to ESPN's playoff predictor, the Mets (51-55) actually have a better shot at making the playoffs (13.4 percent) than the Marlins do at 8.5.

STRUGGLING STANTON MAY GET A DAY OFF

Redmond said there's a chance he may give the struggling Giancarlo Stanton a day off soon. Although he hit a pair of home runs in back-to-back games right after the All-Star Break, Stanton has been in a funk at the plate in July.

He came in hitting .316 and has seen his average dip 26 points. He came into Tuesday's game hitting just .205 (17 for 83) with two homers, nine RBI and 32 strikeouts this month. He's whiffed eight times over his last three games.

"I haven't been swinging the way I want to for a month," Stanton said Monday. "[Hitting in the derby] did make me feel better. But I'm still not where I want to be. I'm just out of rhythm out of sync." 

Said Redmond: "He's been hot for so long you're bound to go through a rough patch and maybe this is his rough patch. Now it's just a matter of him getting through it and working through it. We know that he'll get through it. It's just a matter of when. I think we've seen glimpses of him starting to get through it and then these last couple of games in Houston we're struggles for him, swinging at some balls out of the zone. You just got to keep running him out there. A day off, that could happen too here in the next couple days. We'll kind of see that and play it by ear because we need him."

Stanton has played in all 105 games this season and started 104 of them. The only game he didn't start was May 18th at the Giants. he still came into that game in the eighth inning.

HECHAVARRIA TALKS CLUTCH PLAYS

When it comes to big hits with runners in scoring position the only Marlins regular who has had more struggles than shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria this season (.194) is catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.164).

But on Monday night, Hechavarria delivered big, battling through an 11-pitch at-bat against closer Rafael Soriano and delivering the game-tying triple. Hechavarria then came into score the game-winner moments later on Jeff Baker's line-drive shot off the left field wall.

Still, it was Hechavarria's at-bat most Marlins were talking about on Monday and Tuesday. After starting off with a 2-2 count, Hechavarria fouled off five of the next six pitches offered by Soriano before crushing the 11th pitch into the gap for a triple.

"When it was my turn to get up in the ninth inning with Ozuna at first, I kind of just went up there thinking it was my moment, my turn to provide for the team," Hechavarria said. "When Ozuna got to second base [on the wild pitch], I kind of closed my stance a little bit, concentrated of working the middle of the field. I just sat through all those fouls, kept myself closed and composed at the plate and then I got the pitch and drove it to right for the triple."

Hechavarria said he believes he's a better hitter with two strikes "because I concentrate more on driving the ball up the middle or to the opposite field." But the the numbers don't back it up. In 142 at-bats this season in which he's had two strikes, Hechavarria is hitting only .218 with six RBI. He's been a .329 hitter (85 at-bats) when he's been ahead in the count. 

As big as hit was Tuesday, Redmond said nobody on the team forgot his eighth inning diving stop which helped prevent the Natonals from scoring a 7th run. With one out and Bryce Harper on third, Hechavarria dove to his left, caught the ball, stared Harper down before throwing a perfect strike to first for a big out.

It more than made up for his sixth inning error when he made a great play to stop a ball on a bad bounce, but had the ball slip out of his hands as he tried to rush a flip to second base for an out.

"There's more to one way to win ball games and maybe he did it two ways last night with the big hit and the big defensive play," Redmond said. "He's getting better. He's improving. He's a much better hitter this year than he was last year. I think we talked about that -- how much room offensively he had to grow. And he still does. He would he admit he can eliminate some strikeouts, be more selective in the zone. But he's still a young guy and that comes. I remember Alex Gonzalez kind of had the same stuff when he came to the big leagues too. It does take some time. But he's a huge part of our team and a huge part of our defense and it's fun to see him go out there and get better."

> According to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB network, the Marlins are among a group of teams who have expressed interest in Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester.

TUESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Nationals (57-46): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, 3. Adam LaRoche 1B, 4. Wilson Ramos C, 5. Bryce Harper LF, 6. Ian Desmond SS, 7. Danny Espinosa 2B, 8. Nate McLouth RF, 9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

> Marlins (52-53): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Marcell Ozuna CF, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Jeff Baker 2B, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP