March 16, 2014

Miami Marlins no-hit New York Yankees in Panama

On a night in which Panama and the New York Yankees paid tribute to retired closer Mariano Rivera in his home country, the Marlins spoiled the party by no-hitting the Bronx Bombers.

Brad Hand and three relievers -- Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos and Arquimedes Caminero -- combined on the no-hitter as the Marlins won 5-0.

"You never want to be no-hit," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told MLB.com. "I don't care what game it is or what level. You never want to see that."

Said Marlins manager Mike Redmond: "It's the first no-hitter I've ever been a part of in spring training."

It wasn't the first spring training no-hitter for the Marlins, though. Ricky Nolasco and two relievers combined to no-hit the Detroit Tigers in a spring training game in 2009. Interestingly, the Marlins are scheduled to face Nolasco and the Minnesota Twins on Sunday in Fort Myers.

Hand strengthened his case for a starting rotation spot by throwing the first five innings of no-hit baseball for the Marlins. Hand struck out six and did not walk a batter. Cishek took the handoff from Hand and pitched one inning. Next was Ramos, who turned in two innings. Caminero closed it out in the ninth.

Jake Marisnick had two of the Marlins' seven hits. Adeiny Hechavarria stole two bases for the Marlins.

The same two teams will close out the Panama series today at 2 p.m., with Nathan Eovaldi taking the mound for Miami.

March 15, 2014

Marlins outfield alignment remains up in the air

JUPITER -- With Marcell Ozuna slow to get going offensively this spring (he's gone 6 for 30), the Marlins could be looking at other alternatives when it comes to deciding on their Opening Day center fielder. One option: having Christian Yelich slide from left to center and use either Reed Johnson or Jeff Baker in left. Brian Bogusevic is another possibility.

Johnson is a non-roster player but has forced his way into the picture with a strong spring at the plate.

And then there is this interesting tidbit: down in Panama, where the Marlins are preparing to face the Yankees tonight, Yelich is starting in center while Jake Marisnick will be in left -- as opposed to the other way around. Hmm.

The Marlins have not yet crossed off Ozuna's name. Not yet. But if he doesn't start picking it up quickly, he could find himself starting the season in the minors.

March 13, 2014

Lucas leaves with tight left hamstring; Turner solid against old team; Redmond loses 1st challenge

LAKELAND -- Ed Lucas has had a smile on his face most of this spring. He didn't have one Thursday.

Considered a favorite to land the Marlins utility job over Donovan Solano, Lucas left Thursday's 4-2 win over the Tigers in the fourth inning with a tight left hamstring. Lucas singled and scored in the inning and said the hamstring stiffened as he was running to third on Adeiny Hechavarria's double to right field.

"I think it's okay," Lucas responded when asked how bad the injury was.

Lucas, 31, is supposed to go to Panama with the Marlins Friday night to face the Yankees in a special two-game weekend series. But it's obvious he won't be going anywhere now. 

"We'll have to make an adjustment, see what we do there," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of the Marlins' travel roster.

REDMOND LOSES FIRST CHALLENGE

Redmond lost his first and only challenge thus far this spring when he asked umps to review a pickoff play of Derek Dietrich at first base in the ninth inning. Upon further review, first base umpire Joe West properly called Dietrich out.

"I just wanted to challenge it just to get one in," Redmond said. "It seemed like a perfect time. I probably had a feeling he was probably out. But it was worth it just to go through the process. For everyone, for the umpires, for us. The timing of it was good."

Redmond said the best part of Thursday's first experience with replay was how quickly he got an answer via walkie-talkie from video coordinator Cullen McCrae and newly hired administrative coach Pat Shine, who were watching the game on a laptop.

"There were a couple plays [we thought about challenging] but we had a quick enough answer on them where I didn't need to go out there," Redmond said. "I could have challenged it just to do it. But I already knew the calls were right. I actually got the information quicker than I anticipated. It was alright."

> Pitcher Jacob Turner -- expected to be the fourth starter in the Marlins' rotation -- turned in arguably his best start of the spring Thursday giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits over four innings against his former team.

"It felt like I had to battle a little bit more than I would have liked to," said Turner, who threw 37 of his 62 pitches for strikes. "In the first couple innings I was kind of getting my feet underneath me. My fastball command kind of got better as the game went on. But those last two innings felt really good. It's something to build upon."

Turner, who also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch, gave up a lead-off triple to Austin Jackson in the second. It turned into his only earned run moments later when catcher Bryan Holaday hit a sacrifice fly to left. The Tigers took advantage of an Hechavarria throwing error to open the fourth and later scored, but Turner evaded more trouble.

Turner also retired Triple Crown winner and former Marlin Miguel Cabrera both times he faced him. The first time on a grounder to first base, and the second on a hard line drive to right field.

"I was happy how I competed when they got runners in scoring position," said Turner, who retired two hitters with runners on the corners and one out in the fourth. "It was also good throwing to Salty for the first time in a game. I felt like I was able to mix in a lot more breaking balls today what I had the last two times out."

Traded to the Marlins by Detroit in 2012, the former first round pick said it was weird being in the visitor's dugout Thursday. Turner gave up seven hits and two earned runs over two innings of work against the Braves in his previous start.

"I think he looks 100 times better than last year," Redmond said of Turner before Thursday's game. "The ball is coming out of his hands better. He's much stronger. I've been pretty happy actually with the way he's pitched this spring. His last start he gave up a bunch of hits, but he was able to get through it.

"We like his stuff. We've seen his stuff when it's really good. Like any of our starters its a matter of consistency, throwing strikes and giving us a chance to win."

> Garrett Jones had a two-out RBI double in the third inning off Tigers starter Drew Smyly to tie the score at 1.

Lucas and Hechavarria then gave the Marlins a 3-1 lead the following inning on Jake Marisnick's double down the left field line. Marisnick, who had two hits, then scored on a Giancarlo Stanton sacrifice fly. 

Marlins to get first taste of new replay system -- albeit a little limited -- today vs. Tigers

LAKELAND -- The Marlins will play in their first instant replay game of the spring this afternoon against the Tigers. Just don't consider it a complete dress rehearsal.

Unlike during the regular season when umpires in New York's Replay Command Center will watch video of the play in question using the "indisputable video evidence" standard when deciding whether to overturn a call, somebody inside of a TV van parked outside Joker Marchant Stadium will be doing the reviewing this afternoon.

The camera angles used also won't be as good as during the regular season, Marlins manager Mike Redmond cautioned.

"We'll see how it goes," Redmond said. "It would be nice to have a play -- at least one play that we could review, get used to how we're going to do it during the season.

"I know this system is totally different than what we're going to have during the season. I can't really say it's a tune-up. It's basically exactly what we've been doing for the last two weeks just with the mechanics of being able to review a play. We still have limited camera angles. So we're kind of at the mercy of the trucks and whatever angle they get of the play. I think there's [been] a lot of inconclusive pictures so far [in other spring training games]. At least that's the way I've seen it."

Baseball's new adopted replay rules allow managers to make one challenge per game (two if the first challenge results in an overturned call) and allows umpires to initiate a review from the seventh inning on.

The Marlins will have video coordinator Cullen McCrae and newly hired administrative coach Pat Shine watching the game on a laptop this afternoon. When they feel the need to appeal a play they will use a walkie-talkie system to contact bench coach Rob Leary and tell him the team should challenge the play.

Here what is reviewable under the new rules: Ground-rule doubles; fan interference calls; boundary calls; force plays at all bases (except whether a middle infielder touched second base during the attempt to "turn" a double play); tag plays on the base paths (whether a runner was tagged or whether the runner touched a base); fair/foul calls on balls hit into the outfield; catch/trap calls on balls hit into the outfield; time plays (whether or not a run scored prior to the third out); whether a runner passed a preceding runner; scorekeeping issues (including the count, number of outs, score or substitutions).

Redmond said the Marlins plan on challenging anything they think they should and won't be saving their challenges for later innings.

"We've talked about it. My philosophy is going to be to use it," Redmond said. "If we can get a guy on base or get an out [we'll use it]. We talk about 27 outs. If we can get one of those outs using replay -- it doesn't matter if it's early in the game or mid game -- we're going to do it.

"I know they talked about saving challenges for the big plays. But you never know when the big plays are going to come. It could be in the first inning. It could be the first hitter of the game. You never know. But that's kind of going to be our philosophy. I'm sure they'll be some trial and error with this system. But it will be like that for everybody. I think we all hope it doesn't slow down the game and there's not games where there are four or five or six tough calls. Hopefully, like they say, we're only using this thing every four or five games."

There are four other games in which the team will have the expanded replay system available for us: Sunday at the Twins (Fort Myers), next Wednesday versus the Cardinals (Jupiter), March 23 at Detroit (Lakeland), and March 29 at Yankees (Tampa).

> Redmond said he expects infielder Jeff Baker, who strained his quad getting out of the batter's box on Monday, to play Friday night against the Mets in Jupiter. Second baseman Rafael Furcal (hamstring) will likely play Saturday in Jupiter if he doesn't have any setbacks, Redmond said. Both players were expected to go through full baseball activities for the first time Thursday. They hit in the batting cages and played catch in Jupiter on Wednesday. 

> Redmond said Reed Johnson, Brian Bogusevic, Donavan Solano and Greg Dobbs -- all bench players for the Marlins -- were participating in Triple A game Thursday in Jupiter to get extra at-bats. 

"It's a good way to get to get guys in there, get six, seven, eight, nine at-bats quickly without having to play defense," Redmodn said. "They can just go work on the offensive part of it."

THURSDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (8-4-2): 1. Jake Marisnick DH, 2. Christian Yelich LF, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Garrett Jones 1B, 5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 6. Casey McGehee 3B, 7. Marcell Ozuna CF, 8. Ed Lucas 2B, 9. Adeiny Hechavarria SS. RHP Jacob Turner.

> Tigers (7-6-2): 1. Rajai Davis LF, 2. Steve Lombardozzi 2B, 3. Miguel Cabrera 1B, 4. Torii Hunter DH, 5. Austin Jackson CF, 6. Steven Moya RF, 7. Danny Worth 3B, 8. Bryan Holaday C, 9. Eugenio Suarez SS. LHP Drew Smyly.

March 12, 2014

Nicolino, DeSclafani in first wave of roster cuts

JUPITER -- The Marlins trimmed 12 players from their spring roster this morning, including top pitching prospects Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani.

"The ax came down hard," said one player.

There were no surprises in the first wave of cuts.

Nicolino and DeSclafani were among five non-roster players reassigned to minor league camp. The others: Jesus Sanchez, Colby Suggs and Avery Romero.

Michael Brady and Kyle Jensen were optioned to Triple A New Orleans while Grant DaytonAngel Sanchez, Jose Urena, J.T. Realmuto and Brent Keys were optioned to Double A Jacksonville.

The big-league camp roster now stands at 58 players.

________________

The Marlins have hired Pat Shine to the team's newly created position of major league administrative coach. Shine, who was associated head baseball coach at Cal-Irvine, will focus primarily on video replay. But manager Mike Redmond, who played with Shine in high school and college, said Shine would also throw batting practice and work with infield coach Perry Hill.

________________

Injured infielders Rafael Furcal (hamstring) and Jeff Baker (quad) could return to game action as early as Friday.

"Both are feeling much better," Redmond said. "They're going to do some light activity today, and if everything goes well, go through all baseball activies tomorrow. I wouldn't rule out them playing in the next couple of days."

Baker said he slipped coming out of the batter's box in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

"The box was soaked, grabbed, and just kind of gingerly got down to first," Baker said. "Just made sure I didn't blow the thing out and miss significant time. I'd like to play Friday."

March 11, 2014

Flynn regains rhythm, tosses three scoreless innings in first spring start for Marlins against Red Sox

FORT MYERS -- Matt Flynn's first two outings this spring weren't exactly smooth.

He looked a lot better Tuesday against the reigning World Champions.

The 6-7, 240-pound left-hander tossed three scoreless innings, retiring the first eight batters he faced before third baseman Jonathan Herrera singled to left. Herrera never advanced, though, getting thrown out at second on a pinpoint throw by catcher Rob Brantly moments later.

For Flynn, acquired along with Brantly and Jacob Turner in a 2012 trade with the Tigers, it was the kind of day he was hoping to have once someone in the bullpen began reading him the Red Sox lineup. In his first two outings out of the bullpen this spring, Flynn got banged up by the Nationals (2 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 HR in 2 IP) and Cardinals (3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks). Coming out as the starter Tuesday helped, Flynn said.

"It's the first time it's really felt good," said Flynn, who three 33 pitches, 22 for strikes.

"I threw a lot of fastballs, kind of worked downhill, got a rhythm going out of the windup. I was looking forward to [starting]. It definitely paid off today having that comfortable time, getting on the mound, coming out of the dugout. The routine was really comfortable. At the same time if I would have brought the same stuff from the last two outings to today it would have turned out just the same."

Flynn, a darkhorse candidate to win the fifth starter's job, said he's been focused on improving his mechanics. He said his arm had been dragging behind him in his previous appearances. That wasn't the case Tuesday.

"Today was good for me -- I could feel it," he said. "I just wanted to make them quick [innings], didn't want to be on the field for a long time. Whether they were three liners at someone's face, I just wanted to get smooth innings, get some rhythm going."

MARLINS RALLY PAST RED SOX

Leading 3-1 before most of the starters were pulled in the sixth, the Marlins rallied to beat the Red Sox 5-4 Wednesday thanks a two-run home run off the bat of Kyle Jensen in the ninth.

Boston plated two runs off reliever Marlins reliever Josh Spence in the seventh and took the lead in the eighth against Chaz Roe.

Jensen's towering home run to left came off Boston left-handed reliever Drake Britton.

And he absolutely drilled it. The line drive shot cleared the Green Monster in left field at jetBlue Park.

"It felt good to come into the game, see one pitch and close it out," Jensen said. "I was just looking for a pitch to drive. Saw it early."

Chris Hatcher retired the final three Red Sox hitters to pick up the save.

Mr. Versatility Ed Lucas makes way around Marlins infield as utility job competition heats up

FORT MYERS -- During his 10 years in the minors, Marlins utility man Ed Lucas made his way around to every position except catcher.

"In the minor leagues I always tried to talk my manager into one of those nine innings, nine position things," Lucas said. "We were in a pennant race so there was never a real good opportunity for me to do that."

In Monday's 11-1 win over the Mets, the 31-year old former Dartmouth standout did get to pull off something pretty cool -- albeit in a spring training game. He went around the horn for the Marlins, playing third, shortstop, second and first base over the final four innings. It's the first time in his career, Lucas said, that he's played more than three positions in the same game. It might also be the first time a Marlin has ever done it.

According to baseballreference.com, only four players since 1914 have played all four infield positions in the same regular season game. And those four players actually played all nine positions in the same game. No player has ever played just the four infield positions in the same game, in other words.

The players who lined up at all nine positions in the same game: Shane Halter, 2000 (Detroit); Scott Sheldon, 2000 (Texas); Cesar Tovar, 1968 (Minnesota); Bert Campaneris, 1965 (Kansas City).

"[Ty] Wigginton told me he played five [positions] in one game," said Lucas, who usually carries four gloves with him to games (middle infield, third base, first base and outfield). "I have a catchers glove but hopefully I wont use that."

There were times in the minors Lucas said he considered "shutting it down." But last year he got his call-up with the Marlins and is making the most of it now.

Although manager Mike Redmond expects Lucas and Donovan Solano to be in a dog fight for the Marlins' utility job through the end of the spring, it's pretty evident Lucas' ability to both play first base and be the team's emergency catcher gives him a bit of a leg up in the competition. Redmond joked Tuesday that Lucas could even pitch if needed.

Both Lucas and Solano came into Tuesday's game against the Red Sox swinging hot bats this spring. Solano is hitting .375 (6 for 16, 3 doubles, 2 RBI). Lucas is hitting .353 (6 for 17, 1 HR, 4 RBI).

"That's going to be a long, tough [decision] at the end," Redmond said. "But that's good. Those are the kind of decisions we want to have to make. We want guys to come in and make the most of their opportunities and make it tough on us to make a decision. I think every manager would say that."

Redmond said the Marlins know Lucas can play short and wanted to get a better look at Solano there this spring.Lucas played short in six games last year for the Marlins, starting three. He saw most of his action at third base (61 games, 56 starts).

Solano played at short in five games back in 2012. He spent most of last year at second (93 games, 92 starts). Solano said shortstop is his natural position and it's where he spent the majority of his nine minor league seasons (387 games, .951 fielding percentage).

"When [Rafael Furcal] signed the organization told me what they think about me," Solano said. "I've just come to camp this spring with the attitude I had in 2012 when nobody knew about me. I just want to play hard, put my [jersey] number on and play good."

> Redmond said Monday's injuries to Furcal (hamstring) and infielder Jeff Baker (upper quad) aren't bad. 

"I think they both came in [Tuesday] feeling better than anticipated so that's good for us," Redmond said. "They're going to be day-to-day. We'll get them the out there moving around the next couple days. We'll see how they progress.

"This is the time of spring training, those first couple weeks, that two-to-three week period where guys start getting banged up a little bit. We want to monitor that, keep all our guys healthy. We have time to get these guys at-bats and do what we need to do to get them ready for Opening Day. We don't want to push them until they are physically ready to go out there and play."

Neither player was scheduled to head to Panama this coming weekend to face the Yankees. So it's likely they'll be playing in Jupiter if they're healthy. 

"We got a lot of games coming up this weekend with us going to Panama and everything," Redmond said. "It would be nice to see them back out there and playing. We'll just wait and see. We're not going to push them."

TUESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (7-3-2): 1. Donovan Solano SS, 2. Christian Yelich LF, 3. Marcell Ozuna CF, 4. Derek Dietrich 2B, 5. Casey McGehee 3B, 6. Brian Bogusevic RF, 7. Ed Lucas 1B, 8. Greg Dobbs DH, 9. Rob Brantly C. LHP Brian Flynn

> Red Sox (4-7-1): 1. Grady Sizemore CF, 2. Dustin Pedroia 2B, 3. David Ortiz DH, 4. Mike Napoli 1B, 5. Jonny Gomes LF, 6. Xander Bogarts SS, 7. David Ross C, 8. Bryce Brentz RF, 9. Jonathan Herrera 3B. RHP John Lackey.

March 10, 2014

Giancarlo Stanton breaks out the tape measure with mammoth blast (w/video)

PORT ST. LUCIE -- The Marlins pounded out 19 hits in an 11-1 victory Monday over the New York Mets. But the hit that had everyone talking was Giancarlo Stanton's second homer of the season, a mammoth shot to left-center that nearly landed on one of the Mets' practice fields. Mets announcers were in disbelief, saying they had never seen one hit there before.

Stanton nearly homered earlier in the at bat when his long fly ball down the left field line was just foul.

But after fouling off the next two pitches, he went deep off Mets left-hander Jack Leathersich.

"I just wanted to hit the ball hard coming from that," Stanton said of the earlier foul ball. "A lot of times -- I've done it and I've seen other players do it -- you hit a ball like that foul and then you call it a day for the rest of the at bat. I (didn't) want to say, 'I hit a home run foul. Good for me.' That doesn't mean anything. That was more what I was thinking."

Check out the home run for yourself:

The Marlins had managed to make it through the first few weeks of spring training relatively injury-free. But that stretch of good fortune ended Monday when Jeff Baker left the game with a strained left hamstring while Rafael Furcal came out a while later with a strained left hamstring.

Manager Mike Redmond said he doesn't think either injury is serious, but cautioned that he'll know more Tuesday. Baker was scheduled to go to Fort Myers to face the Red Sox, but those plans were altered by Monday's injury.

Counterpunch: Marlins sending "representative" lineup to face BoSox

PORT ST. LUCIE -- Giancarlo Stanton and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be staying behind in Jupiter. But when the Marlins travel to Fort Myers on Tuesday to take on the Red Sox, they won't be playing the payback game with Boston, which sent over a lineup largely devoid of major league talent to Jupiter last week.

Manager Mike Redmond is sending three of his projected starters -- Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Casey McGehee -- to face the Red Sox. They'll be joined on the bus by likely backups Brian Bogusevic, Jeff Baker, Greg Dobbs, Ed Lucas and Donovan Solano.

"What you're doing is for the fans, give them a look at the players who are going to play down in MIami," Redmond said in response to last week's controversy in which the Red Sox had only one projected regular -- centerfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. -- in its lineup against the Marlins. "That's why you bring guys. If there weren't those rules, then nobody would bring anybody on a 3-hour bus ride, right? Nobody wants to take a 3-hour bus ride in spring training. But that's the way it goes. It's always been like that. Guys understand that."

Brian Flynn is scheduled to start against the Red Sox.

________________

Chris Valaika and Justin Ruggiano, two of the former Marlins who were involved in verbal altercations with former hitting coach Tino Martinez, told the Chicago Sun-Times said they're happy to be out of Miami and with the Cubs.

"After all the things that went on, I wanted to go somewhere else," said Valaika, one of several players that Martinez allegedly abused verbally.

Martinez resigned immediately after reports of the abuse allegations surfaced. But the story didn't end there for Valaika. When the front office decided to promote the utility infielder last September, the move was vetoed by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who had hand-picked Martinez for the job and was bitter about resignation.

"It was unfortunate," Valaika said in his first comments about the end-of-season episode. ""It was just tough at the end of the year. Once the end of the year came, I made the decision I wanted to be elsewhere."

Valaika was signed by the Cubs as a free agent.

As for Ruggiano, who was traded by the Marlins to the Cubs for Brian Bogusevic, the outfielder said he has since spoken with Martinez and patched up any differences they might have had.

"I have no idea about whether that situation played into the fact that we're over here now," Ruggiano told the Sun-Times, "but I dealt with that situation last year, and the awkwardness that it created for the clubhouse, it's something that can put a strain amongst the guys. That's something I don't really want to revisit."

March 09, 2014

Carlos Marmol to make spring debut; Marlins bullpen battles wide open

JUPITER -- The Marlins and manager Mike Redmond will be looking for some clarity to an extremely muddled bullpen picture when Carlos Marmol makes his spring debut this afternoon. Marmol's first outing for the Marlins was delayed due to his return to the Dominican Republic to sort out visa issues.

It's hard to envision any scenario in which Marmol doesn't make the team.

But, outside of Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos and Mike Dunn, the rest of the bullpen picture is unclear.

"We have a bunch of guys fighting for those spots," Redmond said. "We're looking for guys to step up. It's going to be an interesting battle to see who can be most consistent and earn it."

Redmond said he was impressed with Henry Rodriguez's first outing Saturday when the hard-throwing, but erratic, right-hander struck out three in one inning of work.

"From what I saw yesterday -- and I know it's only one outing -- but it was pretty impressive," Redmond said. "He's got an arm. To have a guy coming out of there with 98 (mph) against some right-handed hitters would be pretty nice."

Redmond was more guarded in his comments when asked about Carter Capps, the hard-throwing right-hander the Marlins acquired from Seattle in the Logan Morrison trade. Redmond said Capps is "doing OK."

"He's only been pitching for a few years," Redmond said. "We just need to keep getting him out there and get him comfortable on the mound, and get his innings."

There are essentially a slew of contenders for three spots: a long man, a right-hander and another lefty.

"We lost (Ryan) Webb and we lost (Chad) Qualls, and we need guys to step up and fill those innings," Redmond said. "We've got to replace those innings."

Kevin Slowey looked sharp in his two spring appearance and has re-emerged as a leading candidate for the long spot. The Marlins also turn to bullpen help from among the handful of pitchers who are presently vying for starting rotation spots, including Brad Hand and Tom Koehler.

Others who figure to be in the mix include: Arquimedes Caminero, Dan Jennings, Chaz Roe, Josh Spence and Chris Hatcher.

"These guys have got to earn it," Redmond said. "For me, every outing is big for guys. We have so many pitchers, and we're trying to get a look at so many different guys. Honestly, any time they get the ball it's important. There's just not enough innings out there for guys to kind of ease into it. I want to see what you got. So if guys are holding back for something, it's probably not the time to hold back."