September 08, 2015

Opening Day 2016: April 5 vs. Detroit; Marlins release home schedule

Is it too early to begin thinking about the 2016 season? Not if you've weathered through what's already been a tortuously long and dreary 2015 for the Marlins, who today released their home schedule for next season.

They'll open at home April 5 against the Detroit Tigers and notable former Marlin Miguel Cabrera. The Marlins will play the Tigers in a two-game set at Marlins Park before immediately hitting the road.

With the National League East matched up against the American League Central in inter league play next season, they're also down to host the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals at home while hitting the road to take on Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota.

As I mentioned last week, a two-game set against Pittsburgh in Puerto Rico is in the works, either May 30-31 or June 1-2. But the Puerto Rican trip is still in the planning stages, from what I've been told.

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September 07, 2015

Jose Fernandez expects to make his return Saturday vs. Nationals

Jose Fernandez said he should be back on the mound pitching for the Marlins Saturday against the Washington Nationals.

"I don't know how many pitches or what, but whatever it is I'll be ready for it," said Fernandez, who has been on the disabled list with a right biceps strain since his last start Aug. 7. "I still have to throw my bullpen and make sure everything is fine. But the plan is to pitch Saturday against Washington."

The staff ace threw 75 pitches in a sim game against his teammates at Marlins Park about two hours before Miami was set to open a three-game series against the Brewers.

"Command was there," Fernandez said. "Since the first inning I was all out. I wasn't over throwing. It's always great to be back out on that mound -- especially that mound right there."

Hitting coach Frank Menechino even stepped into the batter's box to face Fernandez Monday, eliciting a few laughs. Fernandez walked Menechino.

"I don't think it was a walk," Fernandez said with a grin. "I think the umpire got confused, he was looking somewhere else. Nah, but it's fun to get your work in. I really didn't care anyone was hitting. I had to get my work in. I treat that like a game."

After making his return from Tommy John surgery July 2, Fernandez made seven starts for the Marlins, going 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA before being yanked after making 76 pitches in five innings against the Braves Aug. 7.

Fernandez is 15-0 with a 1.14 ERA in 24 career starts at Marlins Park. Saturday's game is vital to the Nationals, who entered the day four games behind the New York Mets for first place in the National League East. The Marlins just took two of three from New York over the weekend.

"It means the world, means a lot, not only for my piece of mind, but for our team, finishing the season strong," Fernandez said. "[I'll know] going into next year everything is healthy and I'll be ready to go next year. It's really important to me.

"We're a good team when we're healthy. We just got to try to stay healthy, win some ballgames, finish the year strong, do the best we can."

September 06, 2015

Not returning this season a "possibility" for Giancarlo Stanton, but not his desire

Giancarlo Stanton, for the first time, acknowledged there’s a chance he might not play again this season due to a hand injury that has been slow to heal.

“There’s always a possibility (of not returning), but (that’s) not what I’m looking for,” said Stanton, who is continuing to strengthen his surgically repaired left hand in hopes of getting back on the field for the Marlins.

But Stanton said he is beginning to have “a little bit” of concern that might not be possible.

Stanton was expected to miss four-to-six weeks following surgery to repair the broken hamate bone he sustained on June 26. At the time, he was leading the majors in home runs and RBI.

But the recovery has gone slow, and Stanton said he doesn’t yet have the strength in his hand -- specifically with his little and ring fingers -- he requires for torque and power.

“It’s my pinkie and ring finger’s strength, they’re lacking,” Stanton said. “To have no grip strength, to have no feeling at first, that’s what I’m coming back from. So that’s taking way longer than I could have anticipated, coming from zero.”

Stanton played in one minor-league game earlier in the week, removing himself after three plate appearances due to continued discomfort in the hand.

Now, after taking off a few days, he said he’s ready to resume hitting off a tee. Even if he regains the necessary strength in the hand, he’ll have to jump back into the Marlins lineup with no rehab work to work on his timing.

“You can’t keep going with the days off and then coming up and still trying to have my timing and everything right now, especially since it has to be show-and-go because there’s no minors to play in,” Stanton said. “That’s the other element.”

Stanton said getting back on the field for the Marlins is not a matter of having peace of mind going into the offseason.

“No peace of mind, either way, to be honest,” Stanton said. “It’s just better to be out there than not. It’s not like I’d be worried about playing with the time off. I want to play.”

September 05, 2015

Marlins could place innings limit on Jose Fernandez in 2016; Jarred Cosart to start Sunday

The Marlins are looking forward to Jose Fernandez starting the 2016 season in the rotation. But they also want to ensure he’s there for them at the end, as well, and will likely take measures to lighten his workload to achieve that goal.

Fernandez, who returned from Tommy John surgery in July, has thrown only 77 total innings (minors and majors) this season, and could finish with right around 100, assuming he returns from his latest stint on the disabled list to make three or four more starts.

He hasn’t pitched a full season since 2013.

Manager Dan Jennings said a plan for Fernandez would likely be developed during the offseason, or early in spring training.

“I think we’ll address the plans for him next year,” Jennings said, “whether it’s potentially skipping starts, adding a day somewhere here and there -- realizing that it’s essentially been a year-and-a-half since he’s gone through a full major-league season.”

Scott Boras, who is Fernandez’s agent, spoke out earlier in the week about another of his clients who returned this season from Tommy John surgery, Mets pitcher Matt Harvey.

Boras said the Mets should allow Harvey to throw no more than 180 innings. Harvey, who did not pitch at all last season, is already up to 166 innings, and the Mets are pushing for the playoffs.

“This is not a club’s decision,” Boras told cbssports.com on the Harvey situation. “This is a doctor’s decision. Any club that chooses to defy a surgeon’s wishes is putting the player in peril.”

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 If ever there was a season that Jarred Cosart would like to forget, this would be the one. Cosart has spent most of the year dealing with vertigo caused by an ear infection. As a result, he’s made only eight starts with the Marlins, going 1-4 with a 5.36 ERA.

“This is the craziest (season), obviously,” Cosart said.

Cosart will receive Sunday’s start against the Mets even though his minor-league numbers haven’t been spectacular, either. Cosart has gone 0-3 with a 4.98 ERA and a high WHIP of 1.573 in eight minor-league rehab outings.

“It’s a lot better now,” Cosart said of his vertigo.

Cosart said he underwent therapy and a battery of tests.

“A lot of therapy stuff,” he said. “A lot of machines, reaction-time stuff. Dark rooms, a lot of lights moving around, getting your eyes and ears on the same page. It wasn’t fun, obviously. But it was necessary to get back and try to help the team finish up strong."

September 02, 2015

With Stanton's status up in the air, Ozuna moves to RF (NEVER MIND)

So much for the Marcell Ozuna to right field move. The Marlins announced a lineup switch just before game time, with Ozuna moving back to center and Ichiro Suzuki to right. Not really sure what that's all about since we had a discussion with Dan Jennings this morning about the thinking behind the move. More later…..

ATLANTA -- One after Giancarlo Stanton removed himself from a rehab game due to discomfort in his injured wrist, manager Dan Jennings moved Marcell Ozuna to right field for today's game at Turner Field.

Jennings said he made the move, in part, "not knowing the status of Stanton."

Stanton took himself out after three plate appearances Tuesday for Single A Jupiter in what was his first rehab game since breaking a bone in his hand on June 26. His anticipated return to the Marlins on Friday is now in doubt.

Stanton told MLB.com following Tuesday's game that his hand and wrist "just felt OK" and "not 100 percent." Stanton went 0 for 2 with a walk. He popped out and struck out looking.

Jennings said Stanton would test his hand today and, depending on how it feels, could try to play tonight for the Hammerheads.

"He's going to test it today to determine the strength factor, where he is," Jennings said. "We'll see how he's going and go from there."

In the meantime, Ozuna could see more time in right.

"He came through our system as a right fielder," Jennings said. "He's comfortable there. He played all the way through the system there. I wouldn't read into more than today he's our right fielder."

Ichiro Suzuki will start today in center.

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With teams now permitted to expand their roster, the Marlins on Wednesday called up left-handed reliever Raudel Lazo from Double A Jacksonville. Lazo, who signed out of Cuba in 2011, went 4-3 with a 1.96 ERA in 26 combined appearances for Jacksonville and Single A Jupiter.

"We like his stuff," Jennings said. "We wanted to add another left-hander in the bullpen, and he gives us that option."

To make room for Lazo on the team's 40-man roster, infielder Don Kelly was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

September 01, 2015

Marlins returning to Puerto Rico in 2016?

ATLANTA -- While the Marlins are a couple of weeks away from releasing their 2016 schedule, it appears they will be returning to Puerto Rico for a two-game series there next summer, according to sources. If so, it will mark their first visit to the island commonwealth since 2010 when they faced the Mets there.

The Marlins also played in Puerto Rico in 2003 against the Montreal Expos.

Details for next season's Puerto Rico series, such as dates and opponent, are unknown at this point.

The Marlins and their National League East brethren will be paired against the American League Central in interleague play next season.

August 27, 2015

Jose Fernandez earns rave reviews with bullpen session; Christian Yelich out of lineup with knee/shin

Fire drill alarms were sounding inside Marlins Park during batting practice on Thursday, prompting manager Dan Jennings to declare: "It sounds like the emergency room for the starting rotation."

It's been that kind of season.

The Marlins used their 13th different starter, Chris Narveson, on Wednesday. They've only used that many starters twice before, in 2004 and again in 2014. The rotation is such a collective mishmash at the moment that, for the first time in franchise history, it contains four left-handers.

But there was a rare bit of positive news on the pitching front. Jose Fernandez threw his first bullpen session on Thursday, and Jennings said it went extremely well -- so well that Fernandez, who is on the 15-day DL with a biceps strain, could return to the mound for the Marlins within two weeks.

"I think it went something like, wow," Jennings said of Fernandez's 30-pitch session. "I talked to (trainer Sean Cunningham), and he said it was very impressive. He said he's right on track, looks good, jumped out of his hand. So we'll start to build that up now."

Jennings said Fernandez would likely throw one more bullpen, followed by a simulation game, before putting him back on the mound.

"Somewhere early to mid-September is probably a realistic target date," Jennings said of the timetable on Fernandez's return.

Jarred Cosart could also be nearing his return to the rotation. Cosart is scheduled to start Thursday for Single A Jupiter and throw 60-65 pitches.

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Christian Yelich is continuing to deal with discomfort in his bruised right knee, was left out of Thursday's lineup, and didn't take batting practice. Yelich also fouled a ball off his shin and ankle Wednesday, further compounding the problem.

"We knew it was going to be touch and go with it and, to his credit, he jumped back out there for a couple of days," Jennings said of Yelich, who came off the DL on Tuesday. "So now we just need to let the flare go down."

Said Yelich: "It's kind of day-to-day, see how it's going. I don't really know what to say or how to explain it."

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Giancarlo Stanton is expected to face live pitching in batting practice for the first time Monday in Jupiter. He could be back in the lineup for the Marlins by the end of next week.

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The Marlins on Thursday optioned right-handed reliever Scott McGough to Triple A New Orleans and activated right-hander Andre Rienzo from the 15-day DL.

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August 25, 2015

Stanton eyes return from DL in 'about a week and a half'; Yelich activated from DL

Giancarlo Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton could be back in the Marlins lineup when they open their next homestand against the division-leading New York Mets a week from this Friday.

The All-Star slugger, who underwent surgery to repair a left wrist fracture on June 28, said Tuesday he's feeling better and is "about a week and a half [away]" from a return.

Stanton, who was leading baseball with 27 homers and 65 RBI when he injured his wrist swinging a bat, doesn't expect to play in any minor league rehab games when he's finally cleared. He said he can get his timing back in the batting cages. 

"I don't know how much time I have to do that [a minor league rehab stint] to be honest, for their schedule and for ours," said Stanton, who was initially expected to be back four to six weeks after surgery but has been delayed by pain in the wrist. "Hopefully, my timing will be there and we'll go from there."

The Marlins starting outfield of Stanton, center fielder Marcell Ozuna, and Gold Glove-winning left fielder Christian Yelich, tabbed the best in baseball by ESPN this winter, has only made 44 starts together in 2015.

"It will be a welcome addition to have him back in the lineup," manager Dan Jennings said of Stanton. "I know he's been progressing in a good way. I had a good visit with him Monday. He told me he's feeling stronger and doesn't feel it when he turns his wrist. So that's a good sign. If we can get these guys together and have a month of health, maybe we can be a spoiler in some ways."

Said Stanton: "We'll get a good 20, 25 games in together [to finish the season] -- so that will be nice for us all."

Yelich came off the disabled list Tuesday after the Marlins sent their seventh starting pitcher this season, rookie Kendry Flores, to the disabled list. Left-hander Chris Narveson will become the 13th different Marlins pitcher to start a game on Wednesday.

Jennings said Flores still has to have his an MRI on his throwing shoulder.

"Hopefully that tendonitis he felt will dissipate and he can be back because it's obvious we're going to need that pitching depth going down the stretch," Jennings said.

Staff ace Jose Fernandez, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 8 with a right biceps strain, will throw a bullpen session Thursday at Marlins Park. Fernandez may simply need to throw in a simulated game before he's cleared to return from the disabled list. 

"There's a case with him we could run him to Jupiter and get him in," Jennings said. "But he may accomplish the same thing in a sim game. Just depends on when he's ready to amp it that way. But he feels great right now, real good."

> The Marlins are also expecting right-hander Jarred Cosart, who has made just eight big league starts this season while battling vertigo, to be back soon. He's scheduled to throw 65 to 70 pitches for Single A Jupiter on Thursday.

> Rookie Jose Urena (bruised left knee) will throw a bullpen Wednesday and then live batting practice on Saturday. 

August 24, 2015

Christian Yelich hopes to be back in Marlins lineup Tuesday

Christian Yelich, sidelined since Aug. 10 with a bruised right knee, is hoping to be back in the Marlins lineup Tuesday night, the first day he's eligible to come off the disabled list.

While Yelich has kept himself busy taking batting practice over the last two weeks, he's avoided running and shagging fly balls to give his knee some rest and regain his range of motion. Sunday he ran for the first time, and Monday was the first time he tested his knee in the outfield. 

Yelich was red-hot at the plate when he was hurt banging against the outfield wall in Atlanta. After starting the season ice cold, he's hit .345 with two homers and 14 RBI since June 27 with 14 multi-hit games in a 37-game span.

"I'm not really worried about it -- not feeling well [at the plate] or losing the swing," Yelich said. "I've been able to swing throughout this whole thing. It was just the running that was tough. I think my swing will be alright. Once I get back in game action I think I'll be okay."

Yelich said he's looking forward to playing alongside center fielder Marcell Ozuna again. The two haven't played together since Ozuna was sent down to the minors on July 5 -- about 10 days after right fielder Giancarlo Stanton went on the disabled list with a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Stanton is hoping to return early next month. 

The Marlins starting outfield trio, pegged the best in baseball by ESPN prior to the season, has made a grand total of 44 starts together this season.

The Marlins were 15-29 when all three were in the lineup together this season. Miami was 58-56 last season when Yelich, Ozuna and Stanton was the team's starting outfield. 

"It's been rare for us to all be out there at the same time," Yelich said. "It's been one of those years we've had to overcome a lot of injuries and it's taken its toll a little bit. For everybody to come back and be healthy for the last month of the season it will be a good thing. Maybe, we can get some chemistry going and take that into the off-season."'

> Reliever Carter Capps, on the disabled list with a right elbow strain since Aug. 3, said Monday he's still feeling some discomfort in his throwing elbow.

"I've had a few bullpen sessions. I'm just trying to get beyond healthy and be able to throw like I have been all year," Capps said. "Right now I don't feel anything on the slider. The long toss has been great. Little discomfort still on some of the fastballs once I'm off the mound. Other than that, probably just a few more days and that will go away and then I'll really start amping it up."

August 23, 2015

Close bond with Brett Butler compelled Cole Gillespie to sign with Marlins

The Marlins can thank outfield coach Brett Butler for convincing Cole Gillespie to sign as a free agent last November. Gillespie, who is hitting .319 in a reserve role, said he entertained offers from a handful of teams.

But he chose the Marlins due to his close bond with Butler, who was his manager in the Diamondbacks’ farm system for several years.

“I’ve known him for a long time,” Butler said. “He’s like a son to me.”

Butler said that when Gillespie’s mother died during spring training a few years ago, the player’s father called Butler to help him break the news and soften the blow.

“His dad called me and said, ‘I know how much you care about my son. Would you be next to him when I tell him his mom passed away,’” Butler recalled. “So I handed him the phone and stood by when he got the news. Tragedy kind of brings people together.”

Butler said the only thing that’s held Gillespie back has been opportunity -- “nothing more, nothing less.”

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Jose Fernandez doesn’t know when he’ll return to the mound for the Marlins, or how many starts he’ll make before the end of the season. But he said he’s determined to pitch once his arm is ready.

“If I’m ready to come back, I’m coming back,” he said.

Fernandez will take an important step in that direction Thursday when he throws his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list with a right biceps strain.
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