April 30, 2015

Dee Gordon's April was one for the record books

Ichiro Suzuki grabbed the spotlight on Wednesday with his late-inning homer, which he said nearly reduced him to tears due to the emotion from fans and teammates that surrounded it. Without a doubt, it was a spine-tingling moment given the 41-year-old Suzuki's stature and the respect he commands from fans and players alike.

Not to be forgotten in the haze of Suzuki's feel-good moment, though, was the April completed by Dee Gordon, who merely turned in one of the best months ever by a Marlin. Gordon collected two more hits on Wednesday, bringing his total for the month to 38. Only Mike Lowell in 2002 had more hits in April -- 40.

While not to diminish Lowell's achievement, it's worth nothing that the season that year began on April 2. The Marlins didn't play their first game this year until April 6, giving Lowell a 4-day head start.

Perhaps more impressive about Gordon's April is this: he finished the month with a .409 average, thus becoming only the fourth Marlin ever to hit .400 or better in a single month (minimum 50 at bats). Take a look at the select list:

Player                            Year/Month                           Avg.

Preston Wilson                1999/ July                            .431

Hanley Ramirez               2007/July                            .424

Dee Gordon                    2015/April                            .409

Justin Ruggiano              2012/June                            .400

All of the news wasn't good for the Marlins in their 7-3 win over the Mets. Mat Latos came out of the game in the fifth with a left hamstring strain after reaching on a single. Latos said he would undergo a MRI on Thursday.

While Latos remains winless and hasn't lived up to expectations for the Marlins, losing him for any length of time would place further stress on a rotation that is already without Henderson Alvarez (15-day DL, shoulder inflammation) and awaits the return of Jose Fernandez in six weeks to two months.

April 27, 2015

Miami Marlins throw in the towel on Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The Marlins are about to take a bath on Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and not because they failed to close the ballpark roof during a pop-up rain shower. On Monday, the Marlins cut ties with the catcher, designating him for assignment and deciding the liability he brought to the club wasn't worth the more than $14 million still owed to him on the remainder of his contract.

But given how poorly Salty has been at the plate and behind it, it was a sacrifice they were clearly ready to make.

The Marlins have 10 days in which to either trade or release Saltalamacchia. Either way, the Marlins figure to absorb the bulk -- if not all -- of the remaining $14.23 million still owed to him.

"I don't have a disappointment list of poor signings, but it's one, unfortunately, that didn't work out," said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. "It took deep, long hard consideration if this was the direction we wanted to go, because he still has almost two years left on his deal."

Saltalamacchia has been a major disappointment for the Marlins since they signed him to a 3-year, $21 million deal before last season. He hit .220 and led the team in errors last season, and was off to another poor start with a .069 average and a team-leading two errors.

He surely ranks -- along with Heath Bell -- as one of the biggest free agent signing busts in Marlins history.

With rookie J.T. Realmuto proving he belongs at the major league level, Saltalamacchia became expendable.

"The emergence of J.T. definitely made it easier," Hill said.

With Realmuto showing he can perform at the big-league level and backup Jeff Mathis due back in about a month from a broken finger, the Marlins decided it was time to move on. With Saltalamacchia gone and Mathis on the disabled list, the Marlins have Jhonatan Solano serving in a backup role to Realmuto. Solano is out of options.

April 25, 2015

Fernandez to face live hitters Thursday; MRI reveals Yelich has 'slight bulge' in disc

Jose Fernandez is ready to take the next step in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.

The National League 2013 Rookie of the Year will face live hitters for the first time on Thursday when he throws 15 pitches during batting practice, manager Mike Redmond said. 

Is this a sign Fernandez could be back before July -- the initial anticipated return date? 

"Way too early [for that]," Redmond said. "Let's let him get through the 15 pitches first."

> Opening Day starter Henderson Alvarez (shoulder inflammation) is expected to throw his first bullpen since going on the disabled on Wednesday. Alvarez will likely be out at least another two weeks.

YELICH HAS SLIGHT BULGE IN DISC

An MRI performed on left fielder Christian Yelich Friday revealed what he said trainers thought he had -- a slight bulging disc in his lower back.

Yelich said the pain is similar to the kind he had last year when he went to the disabled list for 15 days in mid-June.

"It should be alright after a few days if I just stay on it and take care of it," Yelich said. "We didn't really know what it was last year, what was causing it. We kind of had an idea. The MRI kind of confirmed what everybody was thinking.

"It's pretty much the same thing, slightly less [pain] this time compared to last year. It's not nearly as bad, but there's still discomfort, not a whole lot of range of motion. It just takes time. This is about day five or six now. It's starting to get a little bit looser, feel a little bit better. I have to go through all the progression stuff that will get me back on the field."

Yelich said the only remedy and preventative measure for future back pain is strengthening his Gluteal muscles and lower back. He said the best-case scenario right now is he'll be able to come off the disabled list on time -- when the Marlins head off on their next road trip May 4. 

"I think it's something attainable," he said. "I'll just go to go day-to-day with it and see how it feels. It's feeling better everyday and it's encouraging."

CISHEK PICKS UP FIRST SAVE

The Marlins became the last team in the majors to pick up a save Friday night. The 17-game wait matched the franchise's longest set twice before in 2005 and 2013.

Closer Steve Cishek said it's nice to get the first one out of the way. He ended up with 34 saves the last time this happened in 2013.

"The first one is always the toughest I feel like," Cishek said. "[The diving stop Prado made for the first out in the ninth Friday] was an unbelievable play. I hung a slider and it kind of backed up on me. [Yunel] Escobar put a good swing on it. I turned around and saw the ball sitting on the ground after [Prado] stopped it. He picked it up and threw him out. That fires you up."

ICHIRO TIES JAPANESE RECORD

Ichiro Suzuki said he had no idea he had set a record when he scored the 1,967th run in his professional career Friday, tying him with Sadaharu Oh for the most ever by a Japanese player.

Ichiro, who played for Oh on Japan's World Baseball Classic team in 2006, said he found out when he started reading emails from fans.

Ichiro said he's maintained a friendship with Oh over the years and visits him at least once a year.

"Mr. Oh's records in Japan are very special," Ichiro said. "So I'm very honored."

April 24, 2015

Marlins send Yelich to disabled list with lower back strain; Bour recalled

Christian Yelich's strained lower back hasn't been getting better sitting on the bench.

So on Friday the Marlins sent their starting left fielder to the disabled list and called up first baseman Justin Bour, a power-hitting left-handed bat, from Triple A New Orleans to replace him.

How bad Yelich's back really is remains to be seen.

"We're not sure what's going on there," manager Mike Redmond said. "We'll get him checked out and see what's going on. Hopefully it will be just a short term thing."

For Yelich, who signed a seven-year, $49.5 million deal in spring training, its the second time in his career he's gone to the disabled list with a strained lower back. He spent 15 days there in the middle of last June.

After hitting .304 during the team's opening six-game homestand, Yelich began complaining of back tightness after making a diving catch in left field on the first night of the team's recent 10-game, 11-day road trip back.

He finished 0-for-4 that night and was 2-for-22 with nine strikeouts (seven in his last nine at-bats) before he was finally was yanked from the lineup last Sunday. Now, he will not be eligible to come off the disabled list until the team's next three-city road trip gets underway in Washington May 4.

Veteran Ichiro Suzuki, 41, will continue to take the majority of Yelich's starts while he is out. Suzuki came into Friday's game hitting .257 with one RBI in 16 games.

"I was thinking about this today -- all the times in spring training when I was asked how I was going to get Ichiro into the game, and he's played every game," Redmond said with a smile. "I'll never get that time back."

Redmond said utility man Reid Brignac, who has just 4 2/3 innings of career outfield experience, would likely be the first guy off the bench to provide depth in the outfield if needed. Donovan Solano (10 games, two starts, 63 innings all in left field) and Jeff Baker (101 games, 76 starts, 591 1/3 innings) have outfield experience as well.

STANTON'S BLASTOLOGY

Giancarlo Stanton's line drive home run against the Phillies Thursday reached a height of only 46-feet of the ground, the lowest of any of his 158 career homers according to HitTrackerOnline. It came off the barrel at 113.6 miles per hour.

Yet, the one he hit last June off Cubs starter Jason Hammel, which zipped over the wall in right field was still more impressive to Stanton because he went opposite field. That ball came off the bat at 110.7 miles per our and had an apex of 48 feet.

"I don't know if he can hit it any harder [than he did Thursday]," Redmond said. "But he probably could."

> Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who lost his starting job to rookie J.T. Realmuto on the road trip, was placed on the paternity list Friday. Saltalamacchia is expected to miss a few days, Redmond said.

Jhonathan Solano was called up from the minors to serve as the backup catcher. To make room on the 40-man roster for Solano, left-handed reliever Grant Dayton (0-0, 4.05 ERA in five relief appearances in Triple A) was designated for assignment. 

April 23, 2015

Miami Marlins hold odd distinction -- for now

PHILADELPHIA -- In their error-filled 6-1 victory on Wednesday, the Marlins became the first team in 40 years to score as many as six runs while registering one RBI or less. But they're out to change a key scoring ruling, thereby avoiding the distinction.

The Marlins are appealing the official scorer's decision in which Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera was charged with an error on Dee Gordon's bases-loaded fly ball in the eighth. After making a long run with his back turned to the plate, Herrera turned and tried to make the catch. The ball grazed his glove and fell to the ground. Three runs scored and Gordon ended up at third.

The Marlins are trying to get the call changed to a triple, which would credit Gordon with three RBI. (Click here to see the play for yourself).

For now, the Marlins' only RBI belongs to Martin Prado, who drove in Gordon with a single. The last time a team scored as many as six runs with one RBI or less was the New York Mets, who on June 15, 1975, did it in a 6-0 victory over the Padres. 

April 21, 2015

Loria on Redmond speculation: "I'm not interested in palace intrigue. We've got games to win."

PHILADELPHIA -- After meeting briefly with Mike Redmond in the visiting manager's office at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, owner Jeffrey Loria neither publicly endorsed Redmond nor give any indication that his job was in jeopardy.

Instead, when asked to address speculation concerning Redmond, Loria responded: "I've got one thing to say. I'm not interested in palace intrigue. We've got to win games. That doesn't have anything to do with anything."

And that was it.

Sources told the Herald on Sunday that Loria was unhappy with the team's poor start and that Redmond was on the hot seat, fueling speculation that if the team doesn't win -- and win soon -- he could be out of a job. With that as a backdrop, the Marlins open what would appear to be a crucial three-game series tonight against the Phillies.

Redmond's job could hinge on how the Marlins fare in the coming days.

But it was hard to tell based on Loria's brief comments what the owner was thinking.

And Redmond was no more illuminating when asked to address the situation.

"First of all, nobody is more disappointed in the way that we've started that I am," Redmond said. "We were expecting to get off to a hot start. It hasn't happened."

Asked specifically about the Herald's report, Redmond replied: "I can't control stuff that people write. All I can do is come out and be consistent. I think I've showed that the last couple years. I think the guys know where I am or where I'm coming from. We've got to win some ballgames."

When asked about his private, closed-door meeting with Loria and general manager Dan Jennings, and whether them being there put his mind at ease, Redmond replied: 

"Those guys are here almost every series," Redmond said. "My focus is on what I can control and that’s trying to prepare this ball club to win a ball game. I can’t control anything else. That’s all I’m focused on."

 

 

April 19, 2015

Is Mike Redmond on the hot seat?

NEW YORK -- Reeling from a four-game sweep to the New York Mets that left the Marlins with the second-worst record in the majors at 3-10, manager Mike Redmond's job may be in jeopardy as the team heads to Philadelphia for a series with the Phillies that could dictate his fate.

According to sources who have heard rumblings, Redmond is on the hot seat and the the organization is already bouncing around possible replacements. One possibility: Wally Backman, the Mets' Triple A manager.

History has shown that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria isn't shy about making managerial changes, as he canned Jeff Torborg in May of 2003, replacing him with Jack McKeon, after that eventual World Series team got off to a poor start. He also dumped Fredi Gonzalez in June of 2010 for Edwin Rodriguez when that team was struggling. He fired both Joe Girardi and Ozzie Guillen after just one season.

But would Loria go so far as to fire a manager less than 20 games into the season?

Sources said Loria is not happy with the team's play, and Giancarlo Stanton's post-game comments Friday suggesting the team lacked "fire," while in no way directed at the more laid-back style of Redmond, might have had the unintended effect of creating that impression. Loria has always had a strong preference for fiery managers. McKeon fit that bill, and Loria courted the demonstrative Bobby Valentine, as well as hiring Guillen, for those reasons.

So we'll see.

Following an offseason in which the front office revamped the roster with trades and free agent signings, many projected the Marlins to contend for a playoff spot. Now that they're off to a terrible start, everything is on the table, including Redmond's job. Even though Redmond was given a contract extension at the end of last season that takes him through 2017, it doesn't mean his job is secure. Guillen was fired after only one year of a four-year contract. The Marlins are still paying him.

Dropping the upcoming series to the Phillies -- a team that pretty much everyone has pegged for last in the N.L. East -- could carry major ramifications. Whether those involve Redmond remains to be seen.

Dee Gordon's 5-hit game puts him in select company

NEW YORK -- With five hits on Saturday, Dee Gordon became only the 10th player in Marlins history to record five hits in a game going nine innings or less. While it wasn't Gordon's first 5-hit performance -- he had five hits against the Marlins last season -- it was the first by a Marlin since Giancarlo Stanton went 5 for 5 on Aug. 11, 2010.

Here's the complete list of 5-hit efforts by Marlins players in 9-inning games:

1. Dee Gordon -- 4/18/2014

2. Giancarlo Stanton -- 8/11/2010

3. Miguel Olivo -- 6/16/2007

4. Miguel Cabrera -- 4/21/2007

5. Dan Uggla -- 9/11/2006

6. Juan Pierre -- 5/8/2005

7. Gary Sheffield -- 9/17/97

8. Terry Pendleton -- 5/29/95

9. Gary Sheffield -- 7/24/94

10. Chuck Carr -- 5/23/94

On the flip side of Gordon's outstanding performance Saturday was Christian Yelich's night at the plate. Yelich wore the "Golden Sombrero" for the first time in his major league career, whiffing four times in five at bats. He singled his other time up.