August 13, 2014

Brad Penny looking forward to Miami homecoming

It’s been so long since Brad Penny made a home start for the Marlins that his memory of it is scant.

“I don’t even remember it, it’s been that long,” Penny said.

For the record, when Penny takes the mound Thursday at Marlins Park, it will be his first home start for them since July 28, 2004 -- two days before he was traded to the Dodgers.

That outing against the Phillies did not result in a decision.

But if he couples Saturday’s comeback victory in Cincinnati with another Thursday against the Diamondbacks, he’ll move ahead of A.J. Burnett and into fourth on the team’s all-time wins list with 50.

“It’s been a long time since I pitched in Miami and I’ve got a lot of memories pitching in Miami,” Penny said.

Penny likes what he’s seen of the new ballpark so far.

“It looks like it plays as big (as Sun Life Stadium),” he said. “It’s definitely a pitcher’s park.”
Penny, 36, who recorded his first major league win in three years Saturday against the Reds, said he doesn’t know how much longer his career will last even though he feels he’s “got a lot left.”

“It doesn’t get any easier, and that’s what I like about it,” Penny said. “I’m getting older, so it’s going to get harder and harder every year for me. I’m going to go out there and show I can compete, and when I feel like I can’t, I’m done.”
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Carter Capps is throwing in Jupiter and could be available to the Marlins bullpen in September if he continues to progress.

“He’s throwing bullpens and he’s been feeling great,” said manager Mike Redmond of Capps, who has been on the disabled list since late May with a right elbow sprain. “I think that’s (September) when we’re kind of anticipating him being ready to go. It might be a little bit before.”

Capps, whom the Marlins acquired from Seattle in their offseason trade with the Mariners for Logan Morrison, appeared in only nine games for the Marlins before going on the DL.

-- Redmond said left-handed reliever Dan Jennings, who is on the 7-day concussion list after being struck in the head with a line drive in Pitttsburgh, has been symptom-free for the past two days and has resumed throwing. His return date is uncertain.
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August 12, 2014

Redmond: "For sure [Stanton] should be right up there" in MVP discussion

Marlins skipper Mike Redmond tuned into a sports show Tuesday morning and heard a couple of analysts discussing if Giancarlo Stanton should be mentioned in the National League's MVP race.

"I was like, 'What?' Just mention him?," Redmond said. "I think what he's done is made a statement. For sure, he should be right up there."

Thanks to a power surge at the plate since July 30 (.286, 8 HRs, 11 RBI), Stanton has retaken the league lead in home runs (31) and RBI (82) and entered the day Tuesday with an NL-best 5.8 wins above replacement rating. Stanton's OPS of .961 ranks second only to the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki (1.035).

Stanton said his recent 12-game run is the best he's felt at the plate since the third or fourth week of the season. In Monday's game, Stanton homered twice and made a diving catch in right field that was ranked the top play of the day on ESPN's SportsCenter. His 470-foot solo home run, which landed near the Budweiser Bar area in left field and won fans free beer, was ranked third on the show's Top 10.

Asked if his stellar day Monday should make the MVP talk louder, Stanton said: "You understand what's ahead of you and what the possibilities are. But I'm not typing MVP on Google every night. I've got other things to worry about."

According to BaseballProjection.com, which measures defensive metrics, Stanton ranks second only to the Braves' Jason Heyward among all right fielders in total zone, total fielding runs above average with a plus-16 rating. Last season, Stanton finished 14th among right fielders with a plus-5 rating.

"That’s a big key," Stanton said. "That’s what will set me away from the rest as a complete player. You don’t want to be thought of as a one sided player. You’ve got to be well rounded and contributing on all aspects."

CISHEK BATTLING

Even though he hasn't blown a save since July 9 and is 10 for 10 on his last 10 save opportunities, Marlins closer Steve Cishek admits things "have been to close for comfort" lately.

Cishek has given up runs four times in his last seven appearances and has an ERA of 7.71 over the stretch. So what's wrong? He's not really sure.

"I'm going out there with the same mindset everyday and for some reason I'm in a rut again. I go through these lulls a couple times a year," Cishek said. "The location has been bad and right now the ball is just not coming out my hand like -- even though the velocity is there -- it's just not coming out the same. I just have to find a way to locate my pitches better down in the zone. I'm not going out there fearful or anything. For whatever reason it's just not happening right now."

> Redmond said it was good for the team to see reliever Dan Jennings, who visited the clubhouse Monday for the first time since being struck by a line drive in the head last week in Pittsburgh.

"He seems to be doing well," Redmond said. "He still obviously got some symptoms of a concussion. We're going to make sure he's 100 percent symptom-free before he begins any baseball activities.

"But it was great to see him in there sitting having a sandwich and hanging out. That's such a relief. That was a very scary situation. [Pitching coach] Chuck [Hernandez] and I were just talking how much we'd love to have him this series with all the lefties [the Cardinals] have on their team. To see that ball hit him where it did and for him to be fine is just a huge relief."

Marlins join Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS, auction opportunity for fans to douse Stanton

The Marlins on Tuesday joined the viral phenomenon known as the Ice Bucket Challenge, the social media craze aimed at raising money and awareness for Lou Gehrig's Disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

Mike Hill (left) and David Samson (right) take the Ice Bucket Challenge on Tuesday at Marlins Park.
Mike Hill (left) and David Samson (right) take the Ice Bucket Challenge on Tuesday at Marlins Park.

Closer Steve Cishek took the first ice water bath Tuesday afternoon inside Marlins Park wearing an inflatable duck around his waist.

Club president David Samson and Mike Hill, the President of Baseball Operations took the challenge a couple of hours later right before batting practice. Now, the Marlins are offering fans a chance to bid on being the person to douse All-Star Giancarlo Stanton with ice water when he completes the challenge at a later date. Bidding began at 5 p.m. Tuesday and ends at 3 p.m. Friday.

The winner will get the opportunity to visit the Marlins Clubhouse, four batting practice passes, four Diamond Club seats to an upcoming game on a mutually agreeable date, a photo opportunity with the Stanton and of course the bucket of ice water.

"It was cold," Samson said of his ice bath. "I heard about the challenge just [Monday], and was issued it by [Marlins baseball informations manager Marty Sewell]. Of course we were going to do it. Now, I think you have to be taller than I am [to douse Stanton] otherwise we'll supply the ladder because all I can do is dump it on his legs."

The Ice Bucket Challenge was started by friends and family members of Pete Frates on July 29 and has raised $2.3 million in donations for the ALS Association according to USA Today. Frates, 29, played baseball at Boston College. He was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative condition, back in 2012.

Actors, athletes and even President Obama have either taken the challenge or donated to the cause. Aside from making a donation, the participant gets to nominate another person, who has 24 hours to complete the task.

"We've got Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones who will do it," Samson said. "[Mike Hill] issued the challenge to Mike Redmond, Christian Yelich and Dan Jennings. It's viral right now, which is great. People are doing it all over the country and raising money, and hopefully a cure will come."

For more information on the auction click here

August 11, 2014

Cosart Ready but Cautious; Jennings Returns; Homestand Begins; Stanton Flying Solo

Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart joked Monday that he still thinks he is a good hitter, but he will not be able to show it when he returns to the mound Tuesday.

After suffering an oblique strain in his first start for Miami August 1, Cosart was forced to miss one start and will be limited at the plate in his return Tuesday against St. Louis.

“I’m probably just going to stand there and bunt tomorrow and then we will work on that going forward,” Cosart said. “But there probably won’t be much swinging going on tomorrow. I’m just trying to get through the game healthy.”

Coming from the American League’s Houston Astros, Cosart hit a high bouncer in his first plate appearance in years in his Marlins debut. He then beat out a barehanded throw for an infield single and cracked a smile at first base.

He had one hit in his entire minor league career and had solely been a pitcher since playing in Double A. He had not hit regularly since high school.

After getting his first major league hit, Cosart started feeling some tightness in his lower back and it only got worse during the rest of his outing and the following day. He took the loss in the game after giving up four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Cosart said he is not sure if the at-bat led to his injury, but he has a theory.

“I didn’t really swing at all before I got here and went out there and tried to swing really hard and run hard, so it’s not a good combination for success.”

Still, he said he could have made his last start if the situation was dire, and manager Mike Redmond decided to rest him as a precaution.

Cosart said the rest was actually probably good for his arm, anyway. Now, he has a simple goal for his second start as a Marlin.

“I’m just trying to stay healthy the whole game … and try to get a win,” he said.

JENNINGS RETURNS

Speaking before Monday’s game, Redmond said pitcher Dan Jennings still has a long way to go in recovering from the concussion he sustained when he was hit by a line drive Thursday, but that Jennings would rejoin the team Monday night for an examination by a team doctor.

“He’s still a ways away from doing any baseball activities,” Redmond said. “The good news is that he’s feeling better and is recovering.”

HOME AGAIN

Monday’s game against St. Louis was the first in Miami’s longest remaining homestand this season.

After traveling to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the Marlins continue their stint as honorary NL central members by hosting the Cardinals twice more before the Diamondbacks and Rangers come to Miami for four and two games, respectively.

Redmond said his team should not feel pressure as the season winds down.

“This is the time right now where we should be the most relaxed because we still have a chance,” he said. “We should be having the most fun that we’ve ever had right now … because we are better when we play relaxed and loose.”

FLYING SOLO

Including Sunday’s first-inning blast, nine of Giancarlo Stanton’s last 10 home runs have been solo shots. The stretch comes after Stanton hit 13 of his first 19 home runs with runners on base. 

Combined, 15 of Stanton’s 29 home runs, or 51 percent, have been solo homers. Despite the recent stretch, that is still below the 2013 MLB average of roughly 60 percent.

Stanton’s recent glut of solo home runs can be attributed in part to the .193 average current No. 1 and No. 2 hitters Christian Yelich and Jordany Valdespin have combined for over the last two weeks.

MONDAY’S LINEUPS

> Cardinals (62-54): 1. Matt Carpenter 3B, 2. Kolten Wong 2B, 3. Matt Holliday LF, 4. Matt Adams 1B, 5. Johnny Peralta SS, 6. A.J. Pierzynski C, 7. Jon Jay CF, 8. Oscar Taveras RF, 9. Shelby Miller RHP.

> Marlins (57-60): 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. Tom Koehler RHP.

COMING UP

  • Tuesday: Marlins RHP Jarred Cosart (9-8, 4.51 ERA) vs. St. Louis Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (14-6, 2.28 ERA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park
  • Wednesday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (6-6, 3.99 ERA) vs. St. Louis Cardinals RHP Justin Masterson (5-7, 5.94 ERA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park

August 10, 2014

Jack McKeon: Brad Penny's outing "brought back a lot of memories"

[Update on item below: Mike Redmond announced following today's game that he would use six different starters over the coming six days: Tom Koehler (Monday), Jarred Cosart (Tuesday), Nathan Eovaldi (Wedneday), Brad Penny (Thursday), Brad Hand (Friday) and Henderson Alvarez (Saturday). But there are no plans to stick with a 6-man rotation beyond this first go-around.]

 

CINCINNATI -- Other than Brad Penny himself, perhaps no one was happier with the pitcher’s winning performance Saturday than his former Marlins manager, Jack McKeon.

Mckeon“I was really proud of him,” said McKeon, who watched the telecast of Penny’s first Marlins outing in 10 years from his home in North Carolina. “He was one of my favorite guys.”

Penny, of course, was a key member of the 2003 Marlins, going 14-10 that season and winning two games for them in the World Series.

“It brought back a lot of memories,” McKeon said of Penny’s comeback outing Saturday. “He was like the old Penny. He was a bulldog like he used to be. He knows how to pitch. He doesn’t give in.”
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With both Jarred Cosart and Henderson Alvarez rejoining the rotation this week, the Marlins will have a decision to make with their starting staff, and Penny figures to be the odd man out.

The Marlins will have six starters, and Penny could be moved to the bullpen as a long reliever.

Cosart missed his last start due to an oblique strain but is set to pitch Tuesday in Miami. Alvarez, who is on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, said his bullpen throwing session on Sunday went well. He can come off the DL on Thursday and pitch that night.

The Giants used Penny as a reliever in 2012, his last previous big-league season.

But, Redmond hasn't yet indicated how his rotation will line up, other than to say he would prefer not to go with a six-man rotation.

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Steve Cishek couldn’t have picked a much better spot in which to record his first major league pickoff.

With the Marlins clinging to a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning on Saturday, a runner on first with no outs for the Reds, and a full count on Billy Hamilton, Mike Redmond signaled from the dugout for Cishek to throw over to first.

“In that situation, we knew (Chris Heisey) was going to go, and we hadn’t thrown over at all, and it seemed like the right time to throw over there,” Redmond said. “It was just a perfect time. We fired over there and it worked.”

Heisey was caught leaning when Cishek threw to first, and ended up being tagged out in the ensuing rundown. Cishek promptly retired the next two batters to close out the win.

“Pickoff is probably the last way I think I’d ever get someone out, but it worked out great,” Cishek said. “(Heisey) was going for sure. A 3-2 count with a decent contact hitter up there, he was probably going to go. The dugout picked up on it and it worked out great.”
 

August 09, 2014

10 years later, Brad Penny returns to Marlins

CINCINNATI -- It's one of those Marlins baseball stories that continues to bring smiles to those who remember it. It was early in the 2003 season, the Marlins were at their lowest point record-wise with a 19-29 mark, the team was in Cincinnati, and starting pitcher Brad Penny was throwing-up sick in the team hotel, unable to take the mound that night at Great American Ball Park.

So Jack McKeon turned to Tommy Phelps, with most assuming the Marlins' miserable season would continue. Only that wasn't what happened. Phelps and the Marlins beat the Reds that night -- and from then on, they kept on winning, all the way to the World Series. It was a key turning point in that magical season for the Marlins, and Penny was a big reason why, not only that night, but on a lot of others to follow.

"This is a good place to start a streak," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Friday, reminiscing on that 2003 moment involving Penny. "This is a good place to start a streak. We need to get a streak going. This would be a perfect time. We had one, now we need another one."

And the Marlins are hoping Penny can help them do it again.

Penny, now 36, will be making his major league comeback tonight for the Marlins at Great American. Penny hasn't pitched in the majors in two years. He hasn't started a big-league game in three. And he hasn't pitched for the Marlins in 10.

"I'm excited," Penny said. "It’s been 10 years since I pitched for the Marlins and I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a little weird. But I’ve been with so many teams, it’s also kind of normal.”

Plenty of Marlins players have had return engagements, but none like this. No player has ever gone at least 10 years between his Marlins stints. Until now. Penny

Penny, whose last major league appearance came in 2012 with the Giants, began his career with the Marlins in 2000 and returns as a figure from its glorious past. His 48 wins as a Marlin rank fifth on the team's all-time list -- one behind A.J. Burnett -- and he's the only Marlins pitcher ever to win two World Series games. He won Games 1 and 5 against the Yankees in the '03 Series.

Midway through the 2004 season, Penny was traded to the Dodgers for Paul Lo Duca and others. He was a two-time All-Star in Los Angeles and in 2007 finished third in voting for the Cy Young Award.

But it's been three years, when he was with Detroit, since Penny recorded a major league win. He tried playing baseball in Japan last year, made one start there, and returned home, his career seemingly over. But not as far as Penny was concerned.

"I just took last year off, gave my body a rest," he said. "Everything was kind of aching. I just decided to give everything a rest."

A re-energized Penny signed with the Marlins earlier in the summer and, lo and behold, looked like the Penny of old in his minor-league outings. He went 2-2 with a 2.28 ERA in his five outings for New Orleans. In those starts, he struck out 26 and walked nine in 27 innings. He didn't give up any home runs.

It hasn't been a good year for players trying to resurrect their careers with the Marlins (see Rafael Furcal, Randy Wolf and Kevin Gregg). But the Marlins are counting on Penny to reverse that trend.

"It's been a long road for him coming back," Redmond said. "I don't know what it'll do for the other guys, because most of these guys (all of them, actually) weren't around when Brad was pitching. I know for me, it's going to be fun. I caught a lot of his starts and seeing him out on that mound, and me managing him, it's kind of fitting. I'm excited for him. We need him to come in and have some big starts. Hopefully he'll come in and be a nice spark for us."

August 08, 2014

Marlins trade Jacob Turner to Cubs; Stanton rides a camel; Roster moves galore

CINCINNATI -- With little in the way of leverage to command a greater return, the Marlins settled on a couple of minor-league relievers in order to complete a deal with the Cubs for Jacob Turner. The Marlins acquired right-handers Tyler Bremer, 24, and Jose Arias, 23, for Turner, who was snatched up by the Cubs after being designated for assignment.

Bremer and Arias were at Single A Kane County and both are older than the 23-year-old Turner.

Bremer was 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA and 12 saves in 28 relief appearances for Kane County -- the Cubs' High-A team -- while Arias was 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 25 relief outings. Neither pitcher is ranked among the Cubs' top 30 prospects.

One scout described the two relievers as "up-and-down major leaguers -- at best."

But once they decided to designate Turner, the Marlins didn't have a lot of choice.

"The Cubs were the club awarded with the claim," said Michael Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations. "They had exclusive negotiating rights for his services. You could have pulled him back, but then you wouldn't have been able to trade him to the Cubs. Your only real recourse would have been to go through release waivers."

Asked if the Marlins could have dealt Turner before the July 31 trading deadline and received something better in return, Hill replied: "It was a name we had discussed. Leading up to the trade deadline, if the right deal would have been there, it would have been something we would have considered. The right deal just never came up."

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The roster received a makeover before Friday's game against the Reds, with six players changing places.

First, Jennings was placed on the 7-day concussion list after being struck in the head by a line drive last night in Pittsburgh. The word on Jennings remains good. The pitcher tweeted Friday that he was flying home to be with family.

The Marlins also optioned Brian Flynn and Kike Hernandez to Triple A New Orleans. Hernandez was sent down because the Marlins want him playing every day. Flynn, of course, made Thursday's start in Pittsburgh as an emergency fill-in for Jarred Cosart.

Promoted from NOLA were pitchers Anthony DeSclafani and Edgar Olmos and infielder Ed Lucas.

The Marlins will announce another move following tonight's game, with Brad Penny expected to start Saturday at Great American Ball Park. Even though Penny is in Cincinnati waiting to make his first major league appearance in two years -- and his first with the Marlins in 10 -- the Marlins are waiting to announce the move until after the game.

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Tom Koehler ordered one of the new protective caps designed exclusively for pitchers before spring training, wore it around the house for a day or two, and eventually decided it was too uncomfortable to wear in a game situation. It now sits in his garage.

"Something needs to be done," Koehler said Friday, one day after Marlins teammate Dan Jennings was struck in the head with a line drive. "I think it's going to take a league-mandated rule to get guys to do it (wear a protective cap). With the technology we have today, there's got to be a way to find something. I don't know what it's going to take. But hopefully it doesn't take something more drastic than yesterday for a change to be made."

Koehler has been struck in the head with a line drive. It happened in his very first college game at Stoney Brook.

"I probably had a concussion, but I don't really know," Koehler said. "I was on a plane two days later to pitch against USC in California. The first guy hit a line drive back to me, and I almost pooped in my pants."

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Finally, for your viewing pleasure, Giancarlo Stanton turned into a camel jockey for a MLB special. Check it out:

Line drive to head leaves Dan Jennings with concussion

Marlins reliever Dan Jennings remained overnight in a PIttsburgh hospital after being struck in the head with a line drive. Jennings was diagnosed with a concussion. But it could have been worse, and it was with a great sense of relief that it wasn't.

According to the Marlins, a CT scan was negative.

Jennings was on the mound in the seventh when Jordy Mercer's line drive struck him in the left side of the head. Jennings went down initially, got back on his feet quickly, but then -- clearly dazed -- dropped down to his knees as teammates and medical personnel gathered around the mound.

"That was scary," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said afterward. "Hopefully, everything checks out all right. He never lost consciousness, and he understood the questions."

Redmond was behind the plate the last time a Marlins pitcher was struck in the head by a line drive. The pitcher was Kevin Olsen, who was drilled by a Todd Walker line drive at Boston's Fenway Park in 2003.

In case you haven't seen it, here's last night's play with Jennings:

August 05, 2014

Jacob Turner designated for assignment

The Marlins finally ran out of time and patience with Jacob Turner, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday as the Marlins prepared to open a three-game series in Pittsburgh.

Brian Flynn was recalled from Triple A New Orleans to fill his roster spot.

Turner, who experienced another rough outing Sunday, was scheduled to make his next start Saturday in Cincinnati. But with Turner now out of the picture, that start could fall to Brad Penny, who turned in six scoreless innings Monday for Triple A New Orleans and is lined up perfectly to go on Saturday. Penny has not pitched in the majors since 2012 but has done well in the minors since being signed by the Marlins last month. 

We'll see what the Marlins have to say about all of this in the next few hours.

But, for now, it appears that Turner's days with the Marlins could be numbered. The former first-round draft pick never panned out as the Marlins had hoped when they acquired Turner, Flynn and catcher Rob Brantly from the Tigers in their 2012 trade with Detroit in which they gave up Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.

Turner, who was out of minor league options, has gone 8-19 with a 4.41 ERA during his time with the Marlins.

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