May 16, 2015

Stanton belts 478-foot monster home run; Latos leaves with bruised shin

There were quite a few balls hit hard Saturday afternoon at Marlins Park.

One off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton zoomed an estimated 478-feet at 115 miles per hour and made a fan's day. Another, which traveled far shorter but was hit nearly as hard, left Marlins starting pitcher Mat Latos writhing in pain.

Latos left the game in the fourth inning Saturday with a bruised left shin after a hot shot off the bat of Cameron Maybin struck him there. Latos, who was tended to by trainers and took a few minutes to gather himself before walking off under his own power, is listed as day-to-day according to the Marlins.

Stanton's solo blast at the start of the third inning off Braves starter Alex Wood landed in the bare hand of 29-year-old Marlins fan and West Palm Beach native Ryan Mont, who was sitting in section 134 in the second deck in center field.

"We didn't think it was going to come as far as it did," Mont said. "And then I just leaned over and put out my hand. I didn't think I was going to catch it. I just figured try. At first it didn't hurt because of the adrenaline, but now it hurts."

It was the first game Mont has attended this season.

Stanton hit a mammoth 474-foot shot off Braves reliever Cody Martin Friday night that landed in the camera well in center field Friday night. That was the third longest homer of his career.

Now, Stanton, who became only the fourth player to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium earlier this week, has belted six homers in his career longer than 470 feet.

Here's the list:

Stanton's longest HRs
494 feet at Coors Field off Rockies' Josh Roenicke (Aug. 17, 2012)
484 feet at Marlins Park off Padres' Eric Stults (April 4, 2014)
478 feet at Marlins Park off Braves' Alex Wood (May 16, 2015)
474 feet at Marlins Park off Braves' Cody Martin (May 15, 2015)
474 feet at Coors Field off Rockies' Kevin Millwood (Aug. 15, 2011)
470 feet at Marlins Park off Cardinals' Shelby Miller (Aug. 11, 2014)

Alvarez to start Sunday vs. Braves; Cosart's bullpen goes well

Henderson Alvarez won't be making that extra rehab start in the minors after all.

The 2014 All-Star and Marlins' Opening Day starter will be coming off the disabled list and starting Sunday in the series finale against the Braves, Alvarez's first start since he was sidelined with shoulder inflammation on April 12.

What that means for Tom Koehler, who was scheduled to start Sunday, still has to be announced. But the Marlins could go two ways with Koehler. They could push his start back a day to give Jarred Cosart and the rest of the rotation and extra day off. Or, Koehler could be sent to the bullpen, which badly needs some help. 

Cosart, who exited his last start Wednesday in Los Angeles with a cramp in his right hamstring, threw his scheduled bullpen Saturday morning without any issues. He said he expects to make his next scheduled start Tuesday.

"It feels good," Cosart said. "So we’re going to plan on going [Tuesday] I think. I haven’t talked to them. I have to talk to them. But I feel good. So I think they’ll just plug me back in. 

"I ran some sprints, got after it pretty good. It feels good, so just keep the rehab part going for three more days and get ready to go."

Koehler (2-3, 4.62 ERA in seven 2015 starts) has made 63 starts for the Marlins in his career and hasn't made a relief appearance since May 6, 2013. But with David Phelps (2-0, 2.6.8 ERA) pitching well over his six starts including Friday's six inning, three-run effort the Marlins could opt to keep him in the rotation over Koehler for now. That's of course until Jose Fernandez returns sometime after mid-June (Phelps could be the odd man out then). 

Koehler has been a solid pitcher throughout his career through his first three innings of work (opponents have hit just .230 off him; ERA of 3.05). It's the second time through the lineup that usually spells trouble. His career ERA is 5.40 ERA from the fourth through sixth inning on and opponents hit .283 off him. 

The Marlins bullpen was charged with Friday's 5-3 loss to the Braves and could greatly benefit from eventually adding Koehler and Phelps into roles. The current relief group is  6-7 with a 4.59 ERA (24th out of 30 teams). They've also only produced four saves (tied for second-fewest in MLB) in 111 2/3 innings of work (15th out of 30).

"With [Steve] Cishek not closing down games then you got to mix and match," Redmond said of his bullpen after Monday's loss. "Guys are going to be in a bunch of different situations. At the end of the day it comes down to who can execute and who can get outs and help us win ball games."

May 15, 2015

Marlins waiting to see how Cosart feels Saturday after bullpen before making decision on rotation

The Marlins still haven't decided who will be coming out of their rotation when Henderson Alvarez comes off the disabled list, but they should have a better idea after Jarred Cosart puts his sore right hamstring to the test in a bullpen session Saturday morning.

"The best case scenario is bullpen [Saturday] and [start as scheduled on Tuesday]," Cosart said. "I don’t want to go into worst case scenario. So we’ll just wait and see what happens."

Cosart (1-3, 4.08 ERA) wasn't one of the guys the Marlins were considering yanking back to the bullpen. Friday's starting pitcher David Phelps (2-0, 2.90) and Sunday's scheduled starter Tom Koehler (2-3, 4.62)  were the two likely candidates. 

But if Cosart can't generate the push he needs off the mound or doesn't feel right, the Marlins could opt to send him to the disabled list or simply skip his next start and shuffle the decks. Alvarez, who pitched six scoreless innings in his first minor league rehab start in Jupiter on Tuesday, said Friday he had no idea yet if he was heading back to the minors for one more rehab start or pitching for the Marlins on five days rest Sunday.

Skipper Mike Redmond said the team was going to wait to see what happened with Cosart Saturday before deciding what to do with Alvarez. But Redmond said the Marlins are anticipating Cosart will be able to make his next start.

"I’m going to have to let it go pretty good," Cosart said of how hard he'll test the hamstring Saturday. "I can’t be babying it and have something come up in the second, third inning, especially with the situation we’re in now with Hendu coming back. 

"At least it’s still May -- if I have to miss a start. Like I said, best case is I make my start Tuesday."

CISHEK HAPPY TO BE HOME

Being back home and hearing his seven-month old daughter laugh provided Steve Cishek with some much needed relief Thursday after a rough road trip.

"It kind of makes you forget about stuff," said Cishek, who blew back-to-back saves against the Dodgers and Giants  Sunday and Monday and lost his job as Marlins' closer.

"It's nice to come back to my baby and my wife and my dog, just to kind of relax."

Truth is Cishek hasn't been taking it easy. He's been breaking down film constantly, and on Thursday, the Marlins' lone off day in a three week span, Cishek drove over to the team's spring training facility in Jupiter to get an extra bullpen session in with coach Reid Cornelius. The goal: get Cishek's arm slot higher so he has better command with his fastball and makes fewer mistakes with his off-speed pitches against left-handers.

Cishek also said he's also going to stop looking at the radar gun and trying to overthrow. 

"For me, I just need to get a position where I'm throwing that fastball where I want to, like I had in the past," Cishek said. " Ever since I've been up here I've been 90 to 93 [miles per hour] and [now] I'm throwing 88. 

"I tend to start overthrowing stuff to get my velocity up. Why I do that? I don't know. I think it's just a pride thing I'm battling with. When you start doing stuff like that you get into bad habits and that's exactly what's going on right now. I was throwing the ball well in spring. It wasn't the velocity I wanted, but every thing was going where I wanted. Then when you try to hump up and throw everything harder with those same mechanics it just doesn't work. So, I had to just look at some video, what gave me success in the past last year, see where my arm slot was mechanically and Chuck [Hernandez], Reid and I noticed there was a difference so we're going out there every day so we can get this thing right.

"At this point, if I was a person that worried about stats then I'd be freaking out. But really I couldn't care less. I just want to go out there and help the team win in any capacity."

Cishek said he was happy for teammate A.J. Ramos after he picked up the first save of his career Wednesday night in place of him. 

"Obviously, I'm human and you're pride takes a hit," Cishek said of being out of the closers role. "You want to be the man out there on the mound. That's what I love doing. And I know I can still do it. But AJ's a phenomenal pitcher and he's throwing the you know what out of the ball. I'm just excited AJ was able to get the job done 1-2-3, get his first save of his career. It was really exciting. Just to go in there and celebrate with him and the rest of the team, it means a lot to him and it means a lot to this club. I enjoyed it too. Like I said I'm here just to help out in any capacity. I just want to win ballgames. That's all it comes down to."

May 12, 2015

Mayday! Latest Cishek meltdown has Marlins searching for answers

LOS ANGELES -- Don't expect to see Steve Cishek in another ninth-inning save situation the next time the situation arises. Without saying so directly, manager Mike Redmond gave every indication he's ready to pull the trigger and try something new after Cishek blew his second save in as many days in the Marlins' 5-3 loss to the Dodgers on Monday.

“Anytime you have leads late and you can’t hold onto them, it crushes you,” Redmond said. “You’ve got to win these games. (Cishek) has done a tremendous job for us. But at the end of the day, it’s about winning games. We can’t keep blowing late leads."

The Marlins have spoken to agent Scott Boras about free agent Rafael Soriano. But sources told me "nothing is close" on that front. And the Marlins could look around to make a trade. But it's only the middle of May and even bad teams don't normally throw in the towel this early.

While Redmond said he could "mix and match" relievers in the ninth inning, the most likely in-house scenario is A.J. Ramos, who has been the team's best reliever (1.06 ERA) by far so far this season. While Ramos hasn't been used in that capacity in the majors, he came up through their minor-league system as a closer and recorded 83 saves.

But the Marlins don't want another repeat of 2012 when they mistakenly waited until the All-Star break before finally giving up on Heath Bell. (Ironically, it was Cishek who inherited the role in the wake of the Bell fiasco).

While Cishek's issues this season have been pronounced (four blown saves in seven save opportunities), including Monday night's catastrophe when he gave up a 3-run, game-ending homer in the ninth to the Dodgers' Scott Van Slyke, there is still reason to think the Marlins can get him back on track by using him earlier out of the bullpen. Cishek had the third-best save percentage in the majors the previous two seasons.

But they can't wait until July -- like they did with Bell -- to make that decision. And, unlike Bell, whose personality and on-field performance eventually cost him the respect of his teammates, Cishek is well-liked inside the clubhouse and is the team's union representative.

He's crushed. 

“This is about as low as I can get,” Cishek said after Monday's episode. “This is a huge trial in my life right now. I’ve always found a way to get out of it. Just waiting for that time to come.”

How has Cishek gone from a closer with a greater than 90 percent success rate in save chances to one who has managed to convert only three of seven save opportunities this season?

“I honestly can’t explain it, I really can’t,” he said. “All I needed to do was get three outs, and I just continued to let the team down."

May 10, 2015

Slumping Stanton sits, Gordon back in lineup, Yelich dropped to No. 5 spot

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time Giancarlo Stanton was a healthy scratch from the lineup was on May 18 last season, on the last day of a four-game series right here at AT&T Park. He eventually made it into that game as a pinch-hitter.

History is repeating itself.

Stanton isn't in the lineup for today's series finale. Call it a mental health break. Stanton has gone 4 for 25 on the road trip with 11 strikeouts. He whiffed four times Saturday.

"Just a day off," Stanton said. "Have a day off, get to L.A. Same time I had a day off last year."

Manager Mike Redmond said he "planted the seed" with Stanton four or five days ago -- even before his slump worsened -- that he was thinking about giving him the day off Sunday.

"I was looking at the schedule thinking this would be a good day, not even thinking result-wise," Redmond said. "This was what I was planning. He's had a good, solid stretch of games he's played. Hopefully we'll get him the full day."

Stanton has not looked comfortable with either his approach or his swings during the road trip.

"It happens with all hitters, not just him," Redmond said. "Sometimes it's good just to take a day, sit back and relax. It's tough to take him out of the lineup because he has the ability to hit a homer at any time. At the same time, we need him for the long haul, and we need him fresh, and we have the ability to give him a day off. The fresher we can keep him, the more productive he can be."

 Ichiro Suzuki will take his place in right field and bat third.

While Stanton will be on the bench to start the game, Dee Gordon returns to the lineup after missing the two previous games with a tight hamstring.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto is also sitting for a Sunday day game following a night game. And Christian Yelich slides down to the No. 5 spot as the Marlins go for the series win.

Two factors are at play in the decision to lower Yelich in the order: his hitting slump and the production the Marlins are getting at the very top of the lineup from Gordon and Martin Prado.

Yelich is hitting just .170 with only one extra-base hit -- a double -- and has gone 0 for 8 since coming off the disabled list with a back injury.

The decision to drop Yelich to the fifth spot didn't come about overnight. Redmond was planning to move Yelich there weeks ago. In fact, Yelich said he was told he was going to bat fifth on the day in Philadelphia his back tightened up on him during batting practice and he landed on the DL.

"He's going to be fine," Redmond said. "He needs to play. He needs to get at bats. Hit him a little bit lower, get him going, and we'll figure out where the best spot going forward is. I think Yelich can hit anywhere. I would have no problem hitting him in the cleanup spot, either."

Plus, Redmond likes his 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup with Gordon and Prado.

"Prado's done great," he said. "When guys are hitting well in a certain spot in the lineup, it's nice to keep them there. You don't want to mess around too much with that, and him and Dee are pretty good up there at the top."

One interesting side note: Yelich met Barry Bonds on Sunday and spoke to him on the field about two hours before the game. Did Bonds offer Yelich any advice on hitting in the middle of the order? Not really.

"It was just cool to hang out and talk to him," said Yelich, who remembers watching Bonds and the Giants as a young teenager when he was growing up in L.A. and attending games at Dodger Stadium. "Honestly, we didn't really talk a whole lot about baseball."

As for batting fifth for the first time, Yelich said "it's no big deal."

"Really, when you think about the batting order, you're hitting leadoff that one time, you're hitting second that one time," Yelich said. "Your approach doesn't really change according to the spot where you are in the batting order. It's what the situation dictates. I feel like I'll be comfortable there."

The Marlins have won 14 of their past 18 games at AT&T Park.

The lineup:

1. Dee Gordon, 2b; 2. Martin Prado 3b; 3. Ichiro Suzuki rf; 4. Marcell Ozuna cf; 5. Christian Yelich lf; 6. Michael Morse, 1b; 7. Adeiny Hechavarria ss; 8. Jhonatan Solano c; 9. Mat Latos, p. 

May 08, 2015

Dee Gordon out of lineup with "sore muscle" in right leg

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Marlins are taking no chances with the majors' top hitter, opting to err on the side of caution by leaving Dee Gordon out of Friday's lineup due to a sore muscle in his right leg.

"It's just precautionary," said Marlins general manager Dan Jennings. "We're just making sure it doesn't lead into anything significant."

Gordon tweaked his leg while scoring in Thursday's ninth inning. Gordon stepped awkwardly on the plate while eluding catcher Buster Posey's swipe tag, and appeared to limp back to the dugout. But he went back on the field to play second in the bottom of the ninth.

"If I had just slid, we wouldn't even have this conversation," Gordon said. "I should have slid. It's my fault. It's no one else's fault."

Afterward, manager Mike Redmond said he thought Gordon would be "all right" and didn't seem concerned that it was anything serious. Gordon appeared to be walking normally inside the clubhouse on Friday -- even did some jumping jacks for reporters -- and said he could have played.

"It was a decision as a group, to do the smart thing," Gordon said.

Gordon had three hits on Thursday, lifting his average to .437.

Donovan Solano started at second Friday while Christian Yelich returned from the disabled list and was installed in Gordon's leadoff spot.

The uncertainty surrounding Gordon is why the Marlins decided to keep Solano on the roster and designate infielder Reid Brignac for assignment in order to make room for Yelich. The Marlins feel Solano is better suited to play second. Brignac could opt out of his minor league contract and become a free agent. But the Marlins are hoping he remains in the organization.

May 06, 2015

Tuesday night's ninth-inning error aside, Hechavarria and Gordon forming a special duo up middle for Marlins

WASHINGTON -- If you missed the ninth inning Tuesday night, you missed one of the rare moments this season when Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria weren't on the same page.

With a runner on first base and nobody out, Ian Desmond sent a tailor-made double play ball to Gordon. But instead of turning two, Hechavarria dropped the throw from Gordon, committing only his second error of the season and opening the door for a potential rally by the Nationals.

"I was pissed," Gordon said of his throw. "The ball was a little wet. I didn't want to throw it away so I gripped it a little harder and threw the crap out of it. Thankfully we survived it. [Closer Steve] Cishek picked us up. So we owe him."

The truth is Marlins pitchers probably owe their middle infielders a lot more than Hechavarria and Gordon owe them. Together, entering Wednesday's series finale against the Nationals, Gordon and Hechavarria have combined to make only three errors in 251 chances. They've turned 17 double plays and  made countless web gems. 

Gordon had another Tuesday making a pivotal diving stop up the middle in the seventh inning to prevent what would have been the game-tying hit. Afterward, Gordon gave all the credit to infield coach Perry Hill for putting him in the right spot.

"Bone's been great for me," Gordon said. "Before Bone, I didn't know to [move to different marks on different counts]. I was just being athletic and catching a baseball. He's taught me a lot."

When the Marlins last won the World Series a dozen years ago they had one of the best defenses in baseball, a unit anchored up the middle by the double play tandem of Alex Gonzalez and Luis Castillo.

Hill, who coached that tandem, feels like the Marlins have formed another special pair. And now even the sabermetric geeks -- who have never been fans of Hechavarria or Gordon -- are starting to agree.

A month into the season, Hechavarria ranks second only to Braves Gold Glove-winner Andrelton Simmons in defensive runs saved among shortstops (Hechavarria has four to Simmons' nine). A year ago,  Hechavarria had a defensive runs saved rating of minus-3 and a total zone rating of minus-13. His total zone rating this year is plus-3, tied for sixth-best among all shortstops.

Gordon, meanwhile, leads all second basemen in defensive runs saved with a rating of plus-5 and also leads in terms of total zone defense with a rating of plus-8. A year ago with the Dodgers, Gordon had a defensive runs saved rating of plus-2 and a total zone defensive rating of minus-5.

So what's changed? Both have become a lot better at positioning themselves before each pitch, Hill said.

"Hech is figuring out the hitters and moving with the counts and that's something he hasn't done much before," Hill said. "It's what our system is designed to do -- use the marks, play the counts. Dee picked it up immediately. You watch him, he's probably moving now three, four times in the count to one hitter.

"Things aren't always going to go as planned, but they are such great athletes they'll make it look like it was planned that way. It's amazing."

PRADO PLUNKED AGAIN

Third baseman Martin Prado is nowhere near the top 100 in active players hit by pitches, but Tuesday night he was hit for the second time in four days.

Prado was plunked on the back of his left arm by a 95-mile per hour heater from Aaron Barrett in the ninth inning. It took Prado a few moments to gather himself, but he remained in the game. Wednesday morning, the back of Prado's left arm was bandaged up. The bruise on the back of his left thigh after being struck there Saturday also remains pretty fresh.

"Nothing I could do [about the Barrett fastball], it was right at me," Prado said. "It's part of the game, man."

> First baseman Michael Morse, benched for the third straight day Wednesday, will receive his World Series ring from the Giants after the Marlins arrive in San Francisco Thursday. He's not sure which day the team will present him with the ring.

"It's beautiful," Morse said. "Three diamonds on top, five on the bottom for three [titles] in five [years]. Inside it says some of the big moments of the playoffs, the scores of the games and stuff. It's pretty cool."

May 05, 2015

Morse, benched for third time in last four days, said he'd tell Marlins to play Bour too

WASHINGTON -- The Marlins signed Michael Morse to a two-year, $16 million deal in December with the idea he would be able to provide them with what Garrett Jones couldn't last season at first base -- power, defense and consistency.

So far that hasn't been the case, and Tuesday Morse found himself on the bench again for the second day in a row and the third time in the last four days. 

Is Morse angry? Apparently not. 

"I'm always just about winning and I'm happy for anybody that gets a chance to play -- especially [Justin] Bour," Morse said. "He's swinging the bat awesome. [Monday] that [go-ahead] home run [in the seventh inning] was big for us. Even if I was in there today I'd probably run into manager's office and tell them 'Better play that guy.' Like I said, I'm all about winning man."

Morse, who is hitting .193 with only two homers and eight RBI in 23 games, has struck out 28 times this season. He struckout three times in four at-bats the last time he started on Sunday. Still, Morse remains optimistic things will turn around.

"Last time I started out bad I had the best year of my career -- so I'm pretty excited," said Morse, who after a dreadful April in 2011 (.211, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 21 Ks) finished the season with career-highs in batting average (.303), homers (31) and RBI (95).

"I've never met a baseball player whose had a career where they haven't gone through some rough patches. I mean, I've had times like this my whole career. To me, I'm not worried about it. I know what I can do and hopefully I get a chance to do it."

Redmond, who inserted Bour into the starting lineup for the second day in row, reiterated Morse remains in the Marlins long-term plans. But he's also taking things "day-to-day" with Morse.

"Sometimes resting a guy for a couple days and getting his mind clear and free is exactly what they need," Redmond said. "We need this guy. We’ve got to get him going."

RAMOS WAS UNAVAILABLE MONDAY

The Marlins bullpen had a night to forget Monday, blowing leads in the seventh and eighth innings in a 6-4 loss to the Nationals. Turns out they were a little short-handed.

Redmond said pitcher A.J. Ramos was unavailable with a neck injury after he took a misstep on the mound Sunday.

Redmond said he likely would have turned to Ramos  to face Jayson Werth with two outs and the tying run on third in the seventh inning. Instead, Sam Dyson surrendered the tying run when Werth smacked an  0-2 pitch to center.

The Marlins retook the lead 4-2 in the top of the eighth, but the Nationals rallied for four runs against Bryan Morris in the bottom half of the frame.

"We just want to give [Ramos] a couple extra days to make sure everything is all right," Redmond said. "[Morris] has pitched a couple of days in a row too, and a lot of pitches. So Might have to use a couple different guys out there tonight."

> Left fielder Christian Yelich will play one more rehab game Wednesday in Jupiter before likely rejoining the Marlins in San Francisco. Yelich, on the disabled list since April 20 with a back strain, played seven innings in his second rehab game Monday and had a stolen base and a hit.

"He's taking [Tuesday] off and will play nine innings -- the goal is to play nine -- [Wednesday]," Redmond said. "We'll evaluate him. But he's probably not far off."

Marlins can't find trade partner, release Saltalamacchia outright

It was a long shot they would find a trade partner to begin with. 

Tuesday, the Marlins finally cut ties once and for all with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, eating the $14.2 million remaining on his three-year, $21 million contract.

Saltalamacchia, designated for assignment April 27, played poorly last year and lost his starting job to J.T. Realmuto less than two weeks into this season.

Any team can now sign Saltalamacchia for a prorated share of the $507,500 major league minimum. What the Marlins owe Saltalamacchia will be reduced by that amount.

Saltalamacchia hit .222 last season and committed 15 errors, the most by a catcher since 2003. This season he is 2 for 29 (.069) with 12 strikeouts and one home run.

May 04, 2015

Dee Gordon's .645 batting average over Marlins recent homestand second only to Barry Bonds

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the son of a Major League All-Star, Dee Gordon enjoyed some perks as a kid.

In 2004, he and his brothers got a  backstage pass at the All-Star Game in Houston and got autographs from as many players as they could. The last All-Star to sign his baseball, Gordon said, was eventual home run king Barry Bonds.

Now, Gordon finds himself in his Bonds' company.

His .645 batting average (20 for 31) over the Marlins most recent homestand is the second-highest for a homestand of at least nine games since 1914. The guy in front of him? Bonds, who posted a .684 mark (13 for 19) over a 10-game homestand from April 12-22, 2004. 

"Let's just be honest about it, I’m not going to be as good as Barry Bonds, ever," Gordon said with a smile Monday in the Marlins clubhouse. "Yeah [my hits] were all singles."

Gordon, who spent his first four years in the big leagues out on the West Coast with the Dodgers, said he's always admired Bonds.

"Barry bonds was sick, man," Gordon said. "Now that I’ ve played in San Francisco, you see where he hit his record home run, nobody don’t hit the ball out there ever."

Not even Giancarlo Stanton? "Right handed yeah," Gordon said. "But lefty, that’s a long way. I hit one last year and thought yeah that’s gone. Didn’t even get to the warning track. I took the triple."

At least Gordon could dunk better than Bonds, right?

"I’ve never seen Barry Bonds dunk," Gordon said. "He might be able to. Yeah, he looked like he was pretty athletic to do everything."

Gordon, who gave up basketball to pursue baseball his senior year of high school, said Monday he did "hold his own" against some of the NBA's current players when he played hoops. 

"I played against Nick Calathes, Chandler Parsons, Michael Conley," he said. "In AAU, I played against Kevin Durant. He was not that great yet, but he was still pretty good. I was all right, I could hold my own with those dudes."

COUNSELL NAMED BREWERS MANAGER

Former Marlins second baseman Craig Counsell, known best for scoring the winning run in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, was named the Brewers' new manager on Monday. 

He becomes the fourth former Marlins player to manage in the big leagues joining Marlins current skipper Mike Redmond, Rockies manager Walt Weiss and former Cubs manager Rick Renteria.

Counsell, now 44, spent three years with the Marlins before embarking on the rest of his 16-year career with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Brewers.

"He's was always a very smart, heady player," former Marlin and current analyst for FoxSports Florida Preston Wilson said Monday. "He definitely paid attention to everything that went on -- not just the positions he played. The length of his career proved that he's a guy that cared about the game and wanted to be around the game."

Counsell retired in 2012 with the Brewers and took a job in the front office, serving as a special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin. But he's never managed a game in his life until now.

"He has a baseball mind and I think as long as he's surrounded by the right people he'll be just fine," Wilson said. "I don't think any manager knows everything. A lot of managers, you rely heavily on your bench coach, you're pitching coach to fill in the voids of knowledge that you don't have. I think if he's surrounded with good people he'll be absolutely fine. He's a good baseball man."

BOUR RETURNS HOME

With left fielder Christian Yelich on the mend and expected to come off the disabled list as early as Thursday, Justin Bour could be heading back to the minors soon. 

But the 6-4, 250-pound first baseman and Chantilly, Va. native will get to start at least one more game for the Marlins tonight near his home and in front of his family and friends.

Michael Morse, who finished 3-for-28 (.107) during the Marlins' last homestand, is sitting for the second time in the last three days.

"Mo's scuffling," Redmond said. "All we can do is give him some breaks and try to get him going, get him some time to get with [hitting coach Frank Menechino] until he can get that feeling back. So, we'll just go day-to-day with him, see how he's doing, how he's feeling. This guy is a big part of our team and we need him. Right now, he's going through a tough patch."

Bour was just 1-for-17 as a pinch hitter last year and was much better as a starter (20-52, .351 average). He's 4-for-6 as a pinch-hitter this season and finished 2-for-3 in his one previous start.

"You’ve got to be able to get these guys up," Redmond said. "When they come from the minor leagues they've been getting consistent at bats. So you've got to get them in there and let them play.

"He’s done a great job. I know this is a tough role for him coming up from the minor leagues and hitting off the bench. It’s not an easy role, especially for young guys. But he’s done a great job. His at bats have been really good.

"We need to get Mo going. Hopefujlly if we get him a day off here or there, then that’s going to help. It’s a confidence thing. He just needs to go out and put a couple of good at bats together and get going. The rest will take care of itself."