August 01, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MANAGER MIKE REDMOND

THIRD BASEMAN CASEY MCGEHEE

PITCHER TOM KOEHLER

PITCHER BRYAN MORRIS

CATCHER JEFF MATHIS

PRESIDENT DAVID SAMSON

July 31, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you move on?

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

Instead of defining the rule does it make more confusing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEDNESDAY'S LINEUPS

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

> Marlins (53-53): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Brad Hand LHP.

July 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STRUGGLING STANTON MAY GET A DAY OFF

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

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

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

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

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

HECHAVARRIA TALKS CLUTCH PLAYS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TUESDAY'S LINEUPS

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

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

July 28, 2014

Mike Hill said don't put Marlins in seller category at trade deadline

Thanks to a franchise-best 6-1 road trip through Atlanta and Houston, the Marlins don't look like they'll be shipping off any pieces to save money at Thursday's trade deadline.

But if there's a chance to upgrade the team -- like adding a starting pitcher -- they're still very much interested in doing that.

"I would say you can take us out of the seller category," Marlins President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill said Monday as the visiting first-place Nationals were taking batting practice. "We're just looking for ways to build on what has been a very positive year for us. We're continuing to try to build, upgrade our talent and make decisions that help us in the short term and the long term."

Did the 6-1 road trip change things?

"I don't think we ever saw ourselves as a seller," Hill continued. "We've always felt like this club can do good things, can win a lot of games. Had [the road trip] gone differently it might have changed your idea of where you're at. But this club is capable of doing those things. Hopefully it doesn't stop with the road trip. Hopefully we come home and keep it going."

Before the road trip, the Marlins (51-53) were receiving plenty of inquires about their bullpen including closer Steve Cishek and left-hander Mike Dunn. But now that they're back home and only seven games back of the Nationals and 5 1/2 out in the National League Wild Card race it appears the front office is no longer listening to those trade scenarios.

But Hill said the team is still very much interested in upgrading their starting pitching with a controllable piece.

"I guess if you would say a rental is [no control] beyond this year I would say anything beyond a rental [is what we're interested in]," Hill explained. "If we think it's an upgrade and depending on the cost to acquire that particular player then we're looking at everything. Which is what most of the clubs are doing at this point -- to see if a deal makes sense for what they're trying to accomplish.

"As you know the starting pitching market is quite difficult a market to be in. I couldn't be happier with the strides Brad Hand and Jacob Turner have made in the rotation. If we're giving them the ball every fifth day then we have the confidence they're going to give us a chance to win every time they step out there. But if we're able to upgrade one of our five starters we'll look to do so."

> Although manager Mike Redmond said Monday second baseman Derek Dietrich told him he could be close to going on a rehab assignment soon, Hill didn't sound as optimistic. Dietrich has been on the disabled list since July 2 with a right wrist sprain.

"He's not swinging," Hill said. "I don't consider that close. I don't think any of [the injured players] you can say will be back to help us."

> Reliever Carter Capps, who has been out since the end of May with an elbow sprain, is expected to begin a throwing program soon but is still a month away from a return. 

POSTERIZING GONE WRONG

From kicking soccer balls around in the outfield to putting on funny outfits or even the clothes of teammates, the Marlins have had their fare share of pre-game shenanigans this season.

Sunday, pitcher Tom Koehler tried to partake in a little pre-game dunking -- or what the players refer to as "posterizing" -- and things didn't go well. Instead of "posterizing" teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Koehler jumped up, grabbed the roof of the visitors dugout in Houston and whiffed as he tried to wrap his legs around his catcher. The pitcher ended up on his back side and his teammates broke out laughing.

Thankfully, nobody was injured.

"Koehler tried to be sneaky and dunk on Salty when he was walking away and it just turned into a complete mess," closer Steve Cishek said. "He dunked, slipped  fell on his backside and made a complete fool of himself basically. They happened to get in on camera."

Joked Saltalamacchia: "That's what happens when you mess with your catcher. Things go wrong."

Koehler was unavailable for comment.

Said Saltalamacchia: "I think he's going to lay low for a little while."

MONDAY'S LINEUP

> Nationals (57-45): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, Jayson Werth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Ian Desmond SS, 6. Bryce Harper LF, 7. Wilson Ramos C, 8. Danny Espinosa 2B, 9. Jordan Zimmerman RHP.

> Marlins (51-53): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP. 

Cishek's six saves in eight days most productive run by a Marlins closer ever

The best seven-game road trip in franchise history did more than  put the Marlins in position to be buyers instead of sellers before Thursday's trading deadline.

It also turned out to be a nice showcase for closer Steve Cishek, who could be one of the pieces the team decides to move if things go south against the division-leading Nationals at Marlins Park over the next three days.

Cishek, 28, picked up six saves in an eight-day span. That's the best stretch by a Marlins closer ever (Kevin Gregg picked up five saves in six days in 2008) and the second best in the majors this season.

Only the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez has put together a longer and more fruitful run with no more than one day of rest between saves. He picked up nine saves in 11 days from April 18-29. The Brewers played 10 games during the stretch.

Cishek, now 26 of 29 on save opportunities this season, is tied for the eighth most saves in the majors this season.  His save percentage (90 percent) ranks 10th among all closers with double digit saves. All that -- and the fact he's under club control through 2017 -- makes him a hot commodity on the open trade market. 

The Marlins believe they can get more than what the Padres got from the Angels for Huston Street (four minor league prospects, two ranked in their Top 20 by MLB on their respective franchises) and what the Rangers received from the Tigers for Joakim Soria (reliever Corey Knebel and prospect Jake Thompson).

Of course if the Marlins play well against the Nationals and continue to climb the standings -- they are seven games back in the division and 5.5 back in the wild card race -- this all becomes moot. 

Either way, Cishek, making $3.8 million in his first year of arbitration, is set for a pretty nice pay day at the end of this season if he keeps this up.

> The Marlins on Monday recalled outfielder Jake Marisnick (.220, 5 steals in 13 big league games in 2014) from Triple A New Orleans and optioned catcher J.T. Realmuto (.200, 5 RBI in 7 MLB games in 2o14) back down to Double A Jacksonville.