April 06, 2015

Marlins ace Jose Fernandez: "I think we can win the World Series"

Jose Fernandez still has another couple of months of rehab to go before he'll be back on the mound pitching alongside his Marlins teammates. But that hasn't stopped him from dreaming big in 2015.

"I think this team is amazing. I honestly think we can win the World Series -- honestly," the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year said Monday before going out and throwing another bullpen session as he continues to make his return from Tommy John surgery 11 months ago.

"This is a team," Fernandez said. "We're going to be tough. We're going to be real tough. And I'm going to do my part. I'm going to support until I can help."

Fernandez, on track to start facing live hitters at the end of the month and return to the big league team in late June, isn't alone. Starter Tom Koehler and closer Steve Cishek, both part of the Marlins 100-loss season two years ago, say there is an entirely different level of expectation now in the clubhouse among the players.

"There's just a whole different vibe -- not only in the clubhouse, but outside the clubhouse," Koehler said. "The guys who were here and dealt with the 100-loss season have now grown up and shown they belong in the big leagues and now expect a lot more of themselves than the veterans than we brought in. It started last year and with the new additions this year, it has everything steering in the right direction.

"[Winning the World Series] has to be the expectation. Otherwise, why are we playing? If they're keeping score we're trying to win whether it's a baseball game or a game of tiddlywinks. If anybody doesn't believe we can win the World Series then they shouldn't be in here."

Of course, there were big expectations for the Marlins not too long ago either. And 2012 turned out to be a big flop. 

"We just had different types of players back then," Cishek said. "This is a totally different atmosphere in terms of team. Everyone is already close on this team. We have guys that aren't going to try to do too much. We have key role players on this team. I'm just excited to see this all unfold.

"Obviously you want to make the playoffs, but you really want to make it to the World Series. If you're not playing for that there is something wrong with you. If you don't have that goal in mind you shouldn't be playing."

The funny thing is Marlins management used to be the ones who talked a big game. But so far owner Jeffrey Loria has stayed away from setting any level of expectation for the Marlins. Monday, during a guest spot on FoxSports Florida's pregame broadcast, Loria said he has "great expectations" but wouldn't go beyond saying he's hoping the team is in playoff contention. 

"It's the best clubhouse I've ever had," Loria said. "We had a pretty good clubhouse in '03. The guys in our clubhouse are first class. Everybody is trying to help the next guy. There's camaraderie like I've never seen. The whole idea of egos... we don't have any of those problems."

> Sidelined reliever Aaron Crow said he'll seek a second opinion on his throwing elbow Tuesday, but expects to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on Wednesday. Crow said it's a bad tear. The 28-year-old right-hander is under club control through 2016.

> The only Marlin on the Opening Day roster who will experience his first Opening Day today: reliever Sam Dyson, who made the team in large part because Crow was lost for the season.

"It's my first one so it's definitely special," said Dyson, who proved last year he's more than capable of being a reliever at this level. "Parents here, girlfriend's here. So it's special."

OPENING DAY LINEUPS

> Marlins: 1. Dee Gordon 2B, 2. Christian Yelich LF, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Michael Morse 1B, 5. Martin Prado 3B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP.

> Braves: 1. Eric Young Jr. CF, 2. Jace Peterson 2B, 3. Nick Markakis RF, 4. Freddie Freeman 1B, 5. Christian Bethancourt C, 6. Kelly Johnson LF, 7. Alberto Callaspo 3B, 8. Andrelton Simmons SS, 9. Julio Teheran RHP.

April 03, 2015

MLB: No evidence Jarred Cosart bet on baseball

A league investigation did not find evidence that Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart bet on baseball, but fined him for betting on other sports with bookmakers.

“I’m glad to bring closure to this situation before Opening Day and I look forward to a great season,” Cosart said in a statement issued by the Major League Baseball Players’ Association.

Major League Baseball launched an investigation into gambling allegations involving Cosart after tweets surfaced from his Twitter account indicating that he might have placed sports-related bets.

“The investigation did not reveal any evidence to suggest that Cosart, who fully cooperated with the investigation, bet on baseball,” according to a statement released by the league.

Had the league’s investigation found that Cosart bet on baseball, he could have faced a lifetime ban from the sport.

“I have never, nor would I ever, bet on the great game of baseball,” Cosart said in the statement. “Major League Baseball conducted a thorough investigation and I cooperated fully with them and their investigators throughout that process.”

The league did, however, fine Cosart an undisclosed amount for betting on other sports with illegal bookmakers, a violation of Rule 21(d)(3).

The Marlins acquired Cosart in a trade with the Houston Astros last July. He was scheduled to start the fifth game of the season for the Marlins.

“I’m sorry for any distractions this may have caused the Marlins, my teammates, coaches, and our incredible fans,” Cosart said.

_________________

The Marlins, as expected, reassigned outfielder Jordany Valdespin and catcher Jhonatan Solano to minor league camp on Friday. Both players were informed earlier in the week they would not make the Opening Day roster.

The roster now stands at 27 players. Two, pitchers Jose Fernandez and Aaron Crow, will be placed on the disabled list.

April 01, 2015

Jarred Cosart ends spring on high note, addresses MLB investigation and says he never bet on baseball

JUPITER -- Jarred Cosart wrapped up a rough spring Wednesday afternoon on a high note: with six scoreless innings of one-hit ball against the Nationals. 

The performance came on the heels of a tough week for the 24-year-old Texas-born right-hander. Not only did he miss his last scheduled start because of a blister on his middle finger, but he's had baseball investigating him for an alleged gambling connection. 

Wednesday, though, was a good day. 

"Five days feels like a long time between starts. This felt like an eternity," said Cosart, who was 0-2 with an 8.49 ERA in four starts prior to Wednesday. "I came out there and I finally had a clear head. Obviously there's been a lot of stuff going on the last two weeks. It's just really good to get back out there in a game situation and be with my team and pitch like I know I'm capable of pitching."

Cosart also addressed the ongoing MLB investigation saying he's hopeful "everything will get done by Opening Day" and then emphatically saying he never bet on baseball.

"I told all these guys, I never have, never will bet on baseball," he said. "That's the only statement I can come out with right now. I'm letting MLB security [handle the rest]. They’ve investigated my Twitter. I had to speak to some people from their offices last week, but I’m in a good position on it, I’m confident. Like I said, it's kind of just in the commissioners hands now and we’ll see what he does with it."

As it stands, Cosart said he will make one final start here in Jupiter Monday morning in a simulated game. Then, he will head down and join his teammates at Marlins Park for Opening Day. So, he's currently in line to make his 2015 debut a week from Saturday against the Rays.

Manager Mike Redmond was encouraged by what he saw from Cosart Wednesday.

"That was great, a big lift for all of us and probably a big relief at the same time, getting him back out on the mound," Redmond said. "His finger felt great. So that's the Cosart we know and we've seen a lot of. It's good to have him back."

> The Marlins formally announced the order of their rotation about an hour after Wednesday's Grapefruit League finale: Henderson Alvarez, Mat Latos, Tom Koehler, Dan Haren, Jarred Cosart.

Redmond on Crow injury: "The depth we have now covers us"

JUPITER -- Losing a quality relief pitcher with major league experience to a season-ending injury on the final day of spring training can be a disastrous problem for some managers.

The Marlins, though, appear to be in good enough shape to survive the loss of Aaron Crow, manager Mike Redmond said Wednesday. 

"The timing of injuries is never good because it doesn't matter when it is," Redmond said. "But you have to be able to adapt and adjust, and we feel like the depth we have now covers us."

Crow, obtained in a Nov. 28 trade with the Royals for pitchers Brian Flynn and Reid Redman, was fighting with Sam Dyson for the lone remaining vacancy in the Marlins bullpen. But on Sunday, a day after his last spring appearance, Crow said his elbow was very sore "and it was painful to throw."

Crow said he had an MRI performed Tuesday that revealed a tear and a doctor has recommended season-ending Tommy John surgery. Although Crow, set to make $1.975 million this season, will seek a second opinion, he doesn't expect the prognosis to change. The Marlins will still have club control over Crow (20-11, 3.43 ERA in 246 career appearances) in 2016 when he's expected to return.

In the meantime, Dyson, who went 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 31 appearances, is all but assured he'll be on the Opening Day roster. He's 2-1 with an 8.31 ERA in eight appearances this spring.

The Marlins also have a couple of other relievers down in Triple A with big league experience including hard-throwing Carter Capps (3-3, 4.83 ERA in 88 appearances from 2012-14) and former Yankee Preston Claiborne (3-2, 3.79 ERA in 66 appearances from 2013-14). 

"Officially our roster won't be set until Sunday, but we're getting close," Redmond said. "We still have a couple things to finalize on the pitching side. We should know that more in the next couple days."

> Redmond said he's anticipating the Marlins starting rotation staying in the current order it is in -- with Henderson Alvarez starting on Opening Day and Jarred Cosart, Mat Latos, Tom Koehler and Dan Haren following. 

Cosart is pitching today against the visiting Nationals in the final Grapefruit League game of the spring. Koehler and Haren are lined up to pitch Friday and Saturday when the Marlins play against minor league affiliates in Greensboro and Jacksonville.

"Today with Cosart throwing it's another big step, making sure his [blistered middle] finger gets through the grind of a game healthy," Redmond said. "I'm anticipating if everything stays fine with him this [order in the rotation] pretty much is what it is. But we'll know more after he goes out and pitches. I'm anticipating him being fine."

Redmond said Marlins regulars will probably only get an at-bat or two before being pulled for backups in Friday and Saturday's games. Koehler and Haren, though, will throw between 85 and 90 pitches to prepare themselves for the start of the season.

> Redmond said the Marlins will give first baseman Mike Morse, who has a history of injuries, days off throughout the season to make sure he stays healthy for the duration.

"That's definitely something we'll monitor with him -- his health," Redmond said. "Will there maybe be some extra days off for him? We'll see and monitor that as he goes. Really the important thing for him is to keep him on the field. He knows that and we know that. But the beauty of our bench is we have options. We have [Jeff Baker]. We have Don Kelly. We can play them if [Morse] needs a blow. Martin Prado too. These guys, they want to play every single day. But at the same time too we need to be smart because we need them for the whole season. Keeping these guys together, healthy and strong is important as well."

Aaron Crow expects to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery

JUPITER -- The Marlins had managed to avoid serious injury -- nothing more than mild soreness or blisters -- throughout spring training. But that streak of good fortune is over.

Right-handed reliever Aaron Crow said Wednesday he expects to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. Though he added he'll seek another opinion, he doesn't expect the prognosis to change.

"The last time I pitched was Saturday. I felt fine then, but came in the next day and it was really sore and it was painful to throw," Crow said. "[Surgery is] definitely not what I wanted to hear."

With Crow headed to the disabled list, Sam Dyson is expected to fill the lone remaining vacancy in the bullpen.

The Marlins obtained Crow in a Nov. 28 trade with the Kansas City Royals for pitchers Brian Flynn and Reid Redman. Crow will make $1.975 million this season.

In seven spring outings, Crow had allowed two earned runs in eight innings (2.25 ERA) while striking out nine. 

"It sucks," Crow said. "It kind of makes it worse coming over here and before I even got a chance to help the team out I get hurt and never have an opportunity this year."

March 31, 2015

Donovan Solano, Don Kelly make team as Marlins all but finalize roster

JUPITER -- Donovan Solano and Don Kelly are in. Reid Brignac and Jordany Valdespin are out.

That was the major thrust of Tuesday's many roster moves, as the Marlins all but finalized their 25-man roster. Only one bullpen spot remains open, and that will hinge on the health of Aaron Crow, who has a sore right elbow and was receiving a medical evaluation.

If Crow starts the season on the disabled list, Sam Dyson will inherit the final bullpen opening.

Otherwise, the Marlins have their 25 players firmed up for Monday's season opener against Atlanta.

"It was a tough couple of days," said manager Mike Redmond, who was busy Tuesday summoning players to his office to tell them they wouldn't be heading to Miami for Opening Day.

Brignac, and outfielders Tyler Colvin and Cole Gillespie were reassigned to minor league camp. Veteran reliever Nick Masset was granted his release. Valdespin was told he would start the season in the minors. Brignac has an out in his contract that allows him to refuse the assignment and sign with another team, which will likely end up being the case given what sources said is strong interest in the infielder from other clubs.

"We'd love to be able to keep those guys in our system," Redmond said of Brignac and others with outs.

As for the decision to keep Solano and Kelly, Redmond said it basically boiled down to their versatility to play several positions.

"We were looking for who's going to give us the best chance to give (second baseman) Dee Gordon a day off, (shortstop Adeiny) Hechavarria a day off if he needed it, (third baseman Martin) Prado a day off," Redmond said. "We felt Donovan has done that and been successful in the big leagues. With Kelly, too."

 

March 29, 2015

Henderson Alvarez named Opening Day starter for Marlins

VIERA -- The wait is over.

Manager Mike Redmond finally ended the suspense -- what little existed -- in naming Henderson Alvarez his Opening Day starter.

"I'm sure that's a surprise for you," Redmond said laughing.

While most teams had already announced their Opening Day starters, Redmond waited until Sunday, eight days before the April 6 opener against Atlanta. The Braves are sending out Julio Teheran.

"It's a big honor and he deserves it after the year he had last year," Redmond said of Alvarez, who went 12-7 with a 2.65 ERA and was named to his first All-Star team. "I felt really comfortable having this guy on the mound. He brings a lot to the table. He can hit. He brings a flair and an excitement. It's really a perfect fit for Opening Day."

Alvarez will become the 13th different Opening Day starter for the Marlins.

"It's really a no-brainer for us," Redmond said. "I think he's going to be pretty excited."

Redmond said it remain unclear how the rest of the rotation will line up, especially with uncertainty surrounding Jarred Cosart. Cosart's last scheduled spring start on Friday was skipped due to a blister on his right middle finger. Cosart is also under investigation by Major League Baseball for alleged gambling.

"I'm anticipating for that finger to respond and for things to be fine, and for him to be slot back into the rotation," Redmond said of Cosart, who was scheduled to test the finger by throwing a bullpen session back in Jupiter on Sunday. Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez remained behind to oversee the session.

Redmond said if all goes well, Cosart could make the final Grapefruit League start for the Marlins on Wednesday. It's possible he'll be slotted at the back end of the rotation once the season start.

Here's a look at the Marlins' Opening Day starters over the years:

1993 -- Charlie Hough

1994 -- Charlie Hough

1995 -- John Burkett

1996 -- Kevin Brown

1997 -- Kevin Brown

1998 -- Livan Hernandez

1999 -- Alex Fernandez

2000 -- Alex Fernandez

2001 -- Ryan Dempster

2002 -- Ryan Dempster

2003 -- Josh Beckett

2004 -- Josh Beckett

2005 -- Josh Beckett

2006 -- Dontrelle Willis

2007 -- Dontrelle Willis

2008 -- Mark Hendrickson

2009 -- Ricky Nolasco

2010 -- Josh Johnson

2011 -- Josh Johnson

2012 -- Josh Johnson

2013 -- Ricky Nolasco

2014 -- Jose Fernandez

2015 -- Henderson Alvarez

 

March 27, 2015

Marlins ace Jose Fernandez likely a month away from facing hitters

KISSIMMEE -- Jose Fernandez's return from Tommy John surgery hasn't hit any speed bumps yet and if things continue to progress as they have he'll likely begin facing live hitters in about a month.

"There are X amount of bullpens to throw and I think he has like eight left [before he faces live hitters]," Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said Friday shortly before the Marlins and Astros were rained out.

"We're doing two a week, so that's a month," Hernandez continued. "Once he gets past batting practice and stuff, then you could have road bumps because you've repped up a lot, pounded  [the arm], the intensity goes up. That's why it's not an exact science to it [as far as any exact date when he'll be back with the team]. But we have a general plan, that's big, formulated."

The Marlins have said all along the earliest Fernandez could be back is mid-June. But they're obviously going to be smart. Hernandez said Fernandez has been smart with his rehab to this point.

"Overall, he's doing it well," Hernandez said of Fernandez's rehab. "He's not overdoing it. He's getting to the point, we're getting at that stage of rehab you have to start stressing it and moving it a little bit. It's part of the way it works. The build up to this point he's done it perfectly. I watch him throw and I get amazed because I see how different they come back compared to 15, 20 years ago. Now there's such a success rate the kid's think 'It's fixed, now I'm supposed to throw two miles an hour harder.

"But he's doing great."

 

March 26, 2015

Cosart, scratched from Friday's start with a blister, says he was caught off guard by gambling allegations

JUPITER -- Jarred Cosart and the Marlins aren't saying much regarding baseball's probe into the gambling allegations the 24-year-old right-hander was roped into late Tuesday night. 

But here's what they did say Thursday: Cosart won't make his next scheduled start Friday because of a blister on his middle finger, not the investigation. And as for all that gambling stuff on Twitter, MLB is handling it and Cosart is cooperating. 

"Obviously I was caught off guard by the whole situation and all I'm really saying to everyone is I'm following MLB protocol and talking with MLB security and they're taking care of the rest," Cosart said in a very brief meeting with reporters shortly before joining his teammates for pre-game stretch on the backfields at Roger Dean Stadium.

"So that's where I stand right now and that's it," he said.

Acquired by the Marlins at the trade deadline last July, Cosart deleted his official Twitter account late Tuesday night after screenshots of purported direct messages from himself to a gambling expert were leaked by a third party using the same social media outlet.

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney confirmed Wednesday morning the commissioner’s office was investigating the matter.

It’s unclear whether the allegations involving Cosart revolve around baseball or sports-betting on another sport.

Players are allowed to legally gamble on sports other than baseball. But if it is proven that he was betting on baseball, there are stiff penalties. If he bet on a baseball game he wasn't involved in its an automatic one-year suspension. If he bet on a game he was involved in he's banned for life.

Cosart’s trouble began late Tuesday night when a purported gambling expert on Twitter who goes by the handle @GhostFadeKillah tweeted out screenshots of direct messages between Cosart and a friend. 

During the alleged conversation, Cosart says: “I bet LARGE. Shhhh lol lookin for some help anywhere I can … Saw a retweet on your under play and hammered it.”

Two other Twitter accounts have since surfaced claiming to be Cosart, but he said Thursday morning neither account belong to him.

"Anything that happened after [the official account] is not me," Cosart said. "My other one's completely deleted and being looked at by MLB and all the new ones -- that's not me."

As for the blister, manager Mike Redmond said Cosart developed it on his middle finger after his last start on Sunday.

"He’s going to play catch today to see how it felt and then we’ll re-evaluate to see where he’s at as far as his next start," Redmond said. "Brad Hand will make [Friday's start in Kissimmee versus Houston]. we’ll reevaluate how Cosart feels and go from there."

Redmond said he's spoken with Cosart regarding the allegations and added "it’s better to let these things play out and find out more information and when we do that we’ll have a comment."

Asked if he's seen a change in the pitcher, who has struggled this spring (0-2, 8.49 ERA), Redmond said: "No. He's fine."

Mike Hill, President of Baseball Operations, said baseball has given the Marlins no timeline as far as when they think the probe will end.

How did the Marlins become aware of the situation involving Cosart?

"We all saw the article on-line," Hill said.

March 25, 2015

MLB looking into gambling allegations tied to Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart

Major League Baseball is investigating allegations tying Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart to gambling.

The 24-year-old Texas-born right-hander, acquired by the Marlins at the trade deadline last July, deleted his official Twitter account Tuesday night after screen shots of purported direct messages from Cosart to a gambling expert were leaked by a third party using the social media outlet.  

"Major League baseball is aware and they are investigating it and we have no further comment at this time," Marlins spokesman Matt Roebuck said. 

It’s unclear if Cosart was gambling on baseball or another sport. But if it is proven that he was betting on baseball, there are stiff penalties.

“Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year,” Rule 21 states.

“Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”

Here's the original tweet that started the firestorm and was sent out by the third party called @ghostfadekiller

The third-party later tweeted this morning:

Phone calls by The Miami Herald to Cosart’s agent at Select Sports Group have not been immediately returned.

Cosart went 4-4 with a 2.39 ERA in 10 starts for the Marlins after being acquired from Houston last season. He’s struggled this spring going 0-2 with an 8.49 ERA in four Grapefruit League starts.

The Marlins starting rotation, which won’t get staff ace Jose Fernandez until June at the earliest, has struggled overall this spring and could ill-afford to lose one of its top three arms.

A second Twitter account, purportedly Cosart's, made the following comments this morning regarding the allegations:

Cosart

That account was deleted less than an hour later.

Asked if the new Twitter account was actually Cosart's, Roebuck said he couldn't confirm nor deny it because he didn't know.