June 08, 2015

Marlins select 1B Josh Naylor with 12th overall pick (w/video)

If the Marlins were in the market for a draft pick they could insert in the lineup this instant, they wouldn't have had to look far to round him up.

High school first baseman Josh Naylor isn't ready for the big-time now. But Naylor, the 12th overall pick in Monday's draft, hails from Toronto -- the same place where the Marlins were opening a series with the Blue Jays.

At 6-5, 225 lbs., Naylor is a left-handed slugger some have likened to Prince Fielder in terms of build and pop.

ESPN.com's Keith Law said Naylor ranks "among the best raw thunder in the entire draft pool."

Still, the selection came as a surprise to draft analysts, few of which had Naylor going in the first round. Here's video of Naylor, out of St. Joan of Arc H.S., showcasing his power at Marlins Park in a home run contest when he was 15. Naylor appears at the 3 minute mark of the video:

 

June 07, 2015

Marlins, Blue Jays set to square off for first time since their 2012 blockbuster; rough outings for Jose Fernandez and Jarred Cosart, and more

DENVER -- Jeff Mathis was perched in a tree stand, hunting deer in southern Illinois, when he received a call on his cell phone on Nov. 19, 2012, that would shake the baseball world and rattle the Marlins’ fan base in South Florida.

When he noticed that the caller was Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous, Mathis thought, ‘Oh shoot, something’s going on.’ Was it ever.

Mathis and six other Blue Jays had been traded to the Marlins in a blockbuster in which Miami gave up Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson and John Buck.

In Toronto on Monday, the Marlins and Blue Jays will meet on the field for the first time since their mega-deal, one that was the culmination of a roster selloff by the Marlins that caused fans to explode with anger.

“I think now, people judge it fairly,” said Marlins manager Dan Jennings, who was in Miami’s front office at the time. “It was a good baseball trade for both teams. It was a reset for the Marlins and it gave Toronto some experienced guys, and they were in the go-for-it mode.”

In addition to Mathis, the Marlins received shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani, outfielder Jake Marisnick and infielder Yunel Escobar.

The Marlins traded Yunel Escobar to Tampa Bay to acquire Derek Dietrich, dealt DeSclafani to Cincinnati to obtain Mat Latos, and sent Marisnick to Houston in the trade that netted Jarred Cosart.

“I think if you judge it fairly, it was a good baseball trade for both that probably was unfairly and overly scrutinized at the time because it appeared that the Marlins were throwing in the towel when, in truthfulness, we were hitting the reset button,” Jennings said.

Buehrle will face the Marlins on Tuesday for the first time since the trade.

___________

 Neither of the pitching lines for Jose Fernandez and Cosart on Saturday were exactly stellar. But Jennings said it would be a mistake to draw any conclusions from either.

Making his first minor-league rehab start for Single A Jupiter, Fernandez gave up five runs on eight hits in only three innings of work. Cosart, who pitched in an extended spring game, gave up six runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks in five innings.

“The numbers right now -- the results -- truly doesn’t matter,” Jennings said. “I haven’t talked to Jose, but I have to believe he was very amped up, first time back in a competitive situation. And knowing the way he likes to compete, I can pretty well close my eyes and see how he was trying to amp up.”

Jennings said Fernandez is scheduled to make another rehab start for Jupiter later in the week while Cosart will next go to Triple A New Orleans to make his first rehab start since going on the disabled list with vertigo.

___________

 With the designated hitter in use in Toronto, Jennings said he plans to start Ichiro Suzuki in all three games of the series, both as an outfielder and as a DH.

“That’s the game plan right now, to utilize Ichiro in that capacity,” Jennings said. “We will look to DH (Giancarlo) Stanton a couple of days to get him off his legs.”

___________

 Reliever Bryan Morris left Saturday’s game for the Marlins with a lower back strain and is listed as day-to-day.

“Back tightness and stuff is something that happens to pitchers, but I’ve never come out of a game before,” Morris said.

___________

 Jennings was impressed with right-handed reliever Kendry Flores, who made his major league debut on Saturday and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings. The Marlins acquired Flores from the Giants for Casey McGehee last offseason.

“For a young kid to come to any ballpark, but especially here, and to be able to settle his nerves down and make quality pitches, I thought it was very good,” Jennings said. “I was pleased how he stepped up and handle that opportunity.”

June 06, 2015

Bombs and bloopers all add up for Giancarlo Stanton; Marlins and Monday's draft

DENVER -- The 484-foot home run Giancarlo Stanton tagged on Friday was the longest hit so far this season in the majors, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

But as impressive as Stanton’s latest tape-measure blast was to behold -- a solo shot in the Marlins’ 6-2 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field -- Stanton was just as pleased with his 200-foot bloop single to shallow center later in the game.

“That’s my first one of the year like that,” Stanton said of the single, which fell in front of Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon. “It’s good to get those for your average.”

While Stanton’s power numbers are strong, his average is admittedly low.

Stanton’s 18 home runs entering Saturday tied him with Washington’s Bryce Harper for National League supremecy. Stanton also leads the league with 47 RBI.

But he was hitting just .235.

Stanton welcomes any hit whether they’re long balls or dinks.

“They come in all shapes and sizes,” he said of average-aiding hits.

This much is certain: Stanton loves hitting at Coors, which features a forest-like backdrop that is to Stanton’s liking.

Stanton’s 494-foot home run at Coors in 2012 remains the longest of his career. He owns a career batting average of .362 at Coors and has hit eight homers in the 15 games he’s played there.

Stanton has now hit three of the longest five home runs this season in the majors, according to ESPN.
____________

When they had the choice this time a year ago, the Marlins went with a hard-throwing high-school pitcher (Tyler Kolek) over a more established college pitcher (Carlos Rodon) in the amateur draft.

Kolek sits in the low minors at Single A Greensboro, performing to so-so results, while Rodon has already ascended to the majors as a member of the White Sox’s starting rotation.

Come Monday’s draft when the Marlins have the 12th overall pick, they’re more likely to choose a college pitcher, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking.

“There is some college pitching,” said Stan Meek, Marlins vice president of scouting. “(But) the healthy college pitching might not be as deep as we want.”

Among college pitchers the Marlins could be considering: LHP Tyler Jay (Illinois), RHP Carson Fulmer (Vanderbilt), RHP Jon Harris (Missouri State), RHP Dillon Tate (UC-Santa Barbara), RHP James Kaprielian (UCLA), RHP Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) and RHP Cody Ponce (Cal Poly Pomona).

“I think one of the safest things in the draft is the college performer, so I think some of those guys will be gone before it gets to us,” Meek said.
___________

June 03, 2015

Wednesday night's Marlins-Cubs quote board

Here's what players and managers had to say about Junior Lake's shushing of the Marlins and pimping of his sixth-inning, two-run home run which led to a benches-clearing argument at the plate. 

> JUNIOR LAKE: "[Mat] Latos was screaming at me, cursing at me and no man likes that. We're men. And everybody has their attitude and character. I know what I did was wrong. I apologize to the pitcher and the rest of the team. But when a man screams at another man you don't like that."

> CUBS MANAGER JOE MADDON: "I just spoke to him, and we spoke to him during the game. We don’t do that here, and that’s the last time you will see it. During the scrum, I told Chuck Hernandez - because that’s who I saw – I said, ‘It’s our fault. We’ll take care of it.’ That’s it.

"I don’t to want to take the fight there by acting like a punk. I don’t want that at all. … I don’t want us to take a page out of ‘Major League’ and flamboyantly flip the bat after a long home run. For our minor-league guys watching, don’t do that – it’s not cool."

> MARLINS MANAGER DAN JENNINGS: "I know it’s been a year since he’s hit a home run, maybe he just felt really good about it."

> JOSE FERNANDEZ: “I probably shouldn’t have run out there on the field, but emotions took over.You’re losing 6-0, you should know what you’re doing. After that he put a finger in his mouth that was a little over the line and I reacted.”

> DAN HAREN: “I'm not an old-school type [or think] you're not allowed to pimp any home runs, but I think if you were to ask his own team they would probably be embarrassed by it. I don't if it’s his first home run of the year or second. Congratulations to him. I've given up about 500 home runs in my career. Big deal.”

Jose Fernandez right in the middle of Marlins-Cubs benches-clearing argument

Jose Fernandez still has at least a few minor league rehab assignments to go before he starts for the Marlins, but he was smack-dab in the middle of the best action Wednesday night against the Cubs.

After Junior Lake stood near the plate and admired his towering two-run home run off Marlins starter Dan Haren in the sixth, Lake rounded the bases and shushed the Marlins dugout as he headed for home, prompting a benches-clearing confrontation at the plate between the teams.

No punches or shoves were exchanged and no one was ejected, but Lake and Fernandez -- the first Marlins player to jump out of the dugout and race toward the plate -- shared heated words as plate umpire James Hoye fought to separate the teams.

The Marlins (21-32) jumped out to a 6-0 lead on Chicago (27-23) by scoring four runs off Cubs starter Jon Lester in the second inning. Giancarlo Stanton and Jeff Baker then crushed back-to-back solo home runs in the fifth off Lester.

The Cubs scored three runs off  Haren in the sixth and had the tying run at the plate with two outs when Marlins skipper Dan Jennings replaced his starter with Bryan Morris. The reliever struckout Cubs rookie Addison Russell to end the inning.

The Marlins wrap up their series with the Cubs Wednesday, but play at Chicago July 3-5. Fernandez will probably be back in the Marlins rotation by then.

Cishek picks up a save in Double A; Yelich trying to put frustrations behind him; no draft for Jennings

Steve Cishek pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning and picked up a save Wednesday afternoon against the Montgomery Biscuits, a good first step after the Marlins sent their former closer back to the minors a couple days ago to get him out of the spotlight and back on track. 

Cishek, who has saved 91 games for the Marlins since 2012, has a lot of friends in the Marlins clubhouse pulling for him including the guy who took his job. A.J. Ramos, who took over the closer's duties after Cishek blew his fourth save of the season May 12, said he hasn't had a chance to speak with Cishek since his demotion. But Ramos said he has complete faith Cishek will be back helping the Marlins win soon.

"It's tough to see because you know his ability, he has great talent," Ramos said. "It's just that sometimes this game kind of makes it hard to see that you have the stuff, the tools to succeed. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way. It seemed like for him he had to be perfect. As soon as he made one bad pitch they hit it. Whereas someone rolling good, throw a ball down the middle and they miss it. It's just how the game works. I feel bad, but I know he's going to be back and better than ever."

Ramos said when the Marlins made him the closer, Cishek congratulated him and told him he had his back. 

"Steve's not the type of guy that is going to be resentful or anything like that," Ramos said. "He's a guy that genuinely wants to win. He even told me, 'I don't care if I'm setting up for you the rest of the year, I just want to win.' That's where we both are. Say he comes back and out pitches me -- then that's the way it goes. So, we're all here just to win."

Ramos got a big defensive assist from Giancarlo Stanton in the ninth inning Tuesday to help get him out of trouble and pick up his fifth save in as many tries. But outside of a hiccup here or there, Ramos has been dominant in 2015. Entering Wednesday he had allowed only one run over his last 14 appearances and ranked third in strikeouts (34) among NL relievers, fourth with a 1.03 ERA, and fifth in batting average against (.156).

Why does it feel like Ramos is sharper than last year when he went 7-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 68 appearances? "My arm was killing me most of [last] year," Ramos said. "I was inventing arm angles and things just to kind of get by and I was able to do it. It's a little bit easier when you know where the ball is going.

"This year I'm keeping the same arm angle," he continued. "There's no pain and I'm kind of throwing the ball where I want to."

YELICH BACK TO BENCH

Christian Yelich had a nine-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday and found himself back on the bench Wednesday, a move manager Dan Jennings said was designed to get the more experienced Ichiro Suzuki into a matchup with Cubs lefty Jon Lester

Jennings suggested Tuesday that Yelich, who was hitting .178 before he raised his average 44 points during the streak to .222, might have gotten off to a bad start this season in part because he was still approaching at-bats as a leadoff hitter and needed to adjust into more aggressive run producer. Yelich, though, shot that down Wednesday.

"You're not going to be on fire the whole year and you're not going to suck the whole year," Yelich said. "As much as people want to believe that you're terrible and never going to find it again, you always know you're going to. That's kind of just going back to believing in yourself and trusting the process, knowing that you have the ability to do it.

"I did the same thing in May 2014 [when I hit .217], but no one noticed because of the month before it [.292]." 

Yelich said he's been frustrated too by the reaction from the outside. 

"You go out and people just let you know how terrible you're doing," he said. "You can't really let that get to you. You run out on the field, you get booed. When you strike out, get booed. Fans are fans. You let them do what they want. At the same time, you have to understand you're here for a reason, you're able to do it. You're going to come around. You've just got to find it, got to work for it."

NO DRAFT FOR JENNINGS

Monday's draft will be the first time in 30 years Jennings won't be involved with the Major League Draft and he said it's going to be weird.

"It feels very funny because I know what's coming and for any of us that have been involved in scouting its like Christmas," Jennings said. "It's that day you look forward to in the year. So for me personally this will be the first time [without it]. It's going to have a different feel to it, but I know the men in that room. I've worked with most of them over time and am very confident that they'll do a great job and we'll add to the depth that we have in this system."

What position does he want to see the Marlins address?

"Everything is about pitching," he said. "That's one area that to be successful and have a successful farm system you have to grow your own pitching. I'm sure they're will be an emphasis placed on that."

> First baseman Michael Morse, who has been on the disabled list since May 26 with a right ring finger sprain, will begin taking "dry swings" soon. 

"Once he begins that then he'll go down, have some at-bats," Jennings said. "Right now the finger we've avoided anything  so it doesn't aggravate. I think once he begins the dry swings, the progression of getting in some games, he should pretty close to just a few days after his time is up [to return]."

> Jennings said Mat Latos will pitch in an extended spring training game Thursday in Jupiter and throw about 60 pitches.

June 02, 2015

Marlins notes: All-Star voting update; Flores called up; Mathis-Cishek reunion; new approach for Yelich

There's still a month to go before fan voting ends for the 2015 All-Star Game, but if the polls had closed Monday the struggling Marlins would still have to two players in the National League's starting lineup: second baseman Dee Gordon and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.

Gordon maintained his lead in the second round of voting results released Tuesday with 1,531,048 votes. The Cardinals' Kolten Wong (1,185,972 votes) is the only player within earshot of the major league leader in hits.

Stanton, meanwhile, remains in third place among outfielders with 1,210,108 votes. He trails only Washington's Bryce Harper (2,323,186 votes) and St. Louis' Matt Holliday (1,654,428). San Francisco's starting outfield of Nori Aoki (1,012,117 votes), Angel Pagan (782,876) and Hunter Pence (692,922) follow Stanton.

The Marlins have only had two starters in the All-Star Game: third baseman Gary Sheffield in 1993 and shortstop Hanley Ramirez from 2008 to 2010. 

Adeiny Hechavarria, who ranks seventh among NL shortstops in OPS (.724) and is having an All-Star caliber season batting .300 with 20 RBI, is not ranked in the top five at his respective position.

FLORES CALLED UP

The Marlins opted on Tuesday to call up right-hander Kendry Flores, one of two minor league pitchers acquired from the Giants last December in the Casey McGehee trade, to help bolster their bullpen as a long reliever after the demotion of closer Steve Cishek on Monday night.

Flores, ranked the 11th-best prospect in the Marlins organization according to MLB.com, was 3-3 with a 2.06 ERA in nine starts for Double A Jacksonville. Flores pitched for Marlins bench coach Mike Goff when Flores was in low-A ball in 2013 with the Giants. Flores went 10-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 22 starts for the Augusta Giants before moving up to High-A ball the following season where he went 4-6 with a 4.09 ERA in 20 starts.

Manager Dan Jennings said the Marlins liked "the great angle" to Flores' fastball and that he showed "a plus curveball at times."

"Goff is obviously our bench coach," Jennings said. "So we had a little insight there to know what he's about makeup wise, and how he showed the ability to use his pitches. 

"With us going to Colorado and then an American League city where we'll have the DH we just felt it was more important to have that extra pitcher." 

WORKING BUDDY

Reliever Steve Cishek will have a familiar face to throw to in Jacksonville as he works out his mechanical issues. Catcher Jeff Mathis is now doing his own rehab assignment there. 

The Marlins moved Mathis down to Jacksonville from Triple A New Orleans over the weekend.

"I think that will be very helpful and beneficial because Matty's caught him so much," Jennings said. "Matty knows what to look for and what to expect. He'll be a good sounding board for him." 

Mathis, on the disabled list since April 13 with a right hand fracture, finally got his first hit in the minors Monday night, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. He started his minor league assignment 0-for-17 at the plate. 

YELICH CHANGING APPROACH

Left fielder Christian Yelich is finally starting to look comfortable again at the plate after a terrible start to the season. He's raised his batting average 44 points from .178 to .222 by going 12 for 36 with a homer and five RBI over a nine-game hitting streak.

"I see a much better mindset," Jennings said. "He's attacking pitches now. I think early he had some of the mindset of last year being the leadoff hitter. So he was working the count. Now he's in a spot where he can be a run producer and we need him to do that because he has that capability. So we're probably getting a little bit of that leadoff mentality out of his mind and letting him be a guy that can shoot the ball line to line and have a little thump in that bat."

> Pitcher Mat Latos said he'll make his first rehab start Thursday in Jupiter. Jarred Cosart will start Saturday in Triple A New Orleans.

> The Marlins are doing 'Back To The Future Night' Tuesday in honor of the hit three-part movie series, which in part II predicted a Marlins-Cubs World Series in 2015.

Asked about the movie Tuesday, Jennings replied: " wish I could be more help. I think the last movie actually saw was Patton. So I'm behind the times as well. But it sounds like a fun night at the ballpark. Back to the Future is good and back to the winning is even better."

June 01, 2015

Marlins send Cishek down to work on mechanics

The Marlins did some major tinkering over the first two months of the season: cutting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the end of April, and firing manager Mike Redmond midway through May. 

Monday night, they opened the month of June with a 5-1 loss to the visiting Cubs and ended the day by sending former closer Steve Cishek back to the minors to do some tinkering of his own.

“This was an organization decision… to take him out of the spotlight of the major leagues and let him go get mechanically ironed out, so when he does come back in a short time that he'll be ready to go and ready to help,” manager Dan Jennings said.

“[Steve took it like] a pro. He's always a pro. He's upbeat. He's positive. And he feels like he's very close to mechanically to getting ironed out to where he can help. We still believe in him and who he is and what he's done.”

With Triple A New Orleans out on the West Coast, Jennings said, Cishek (1-5, 6.98 ERA, four blown saves) is headed to Double A Jacksonville where the team (20-32) is hoping pitching coordinator Charlie Corbell, Cishek’s minor league pitching coach, can help him find his groove.

Jennings said Cishek’s velocity, down earlier in the season, was at his usual 91 to 93 miles per hour over the weekend in New York. Jennings said this is simply about Cishek executing pitches better and added, “it’s easier to do that and extend innings down there for him in the minor leagues.”

“There's just a couple mechanical things that some of our people have looked at, feel like that it is very correctable,” Jennings said. “I think in Steve's mind he realizes that as well.

“He pitched a great inning for us in Pittsburgh [last week]. He came into a 3-3 game in the seventh inning [Sunday] in New York, threw the ball outstanding. Thought we had a check-swing strike out and it turned into a base hit… I don't see this being a long-term deal. And I think he'll come back and be the same Steve Cishek that we've known in the past.”

Health updates on Mat Latos, Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria

So how are the Marlins other injured starting pitchers progressing on the disabled list?

Mat Latos threw a bullpen  Monday at Marlins Park and looked good according to skipper Dan Jennings.

"It looks like his knee is definitely feeling stronger," Jennings said. "I think he'll be in a game somewhere by the end of the week and then have a second rehab start and then gauging from there let's see where he is. It's great to see all three guys trending the right way --huge news for us and for them. I know they're definitely ready to get back in here and in this rotation and contribute."

The other guys Jennings is referring to are Jose Fernandez and Jarred Cosart, who both pitched in extended spring training games Monday afternoon in Jupiter (see the previous blog entry for news on that). As for Opening Day starter Henderson Alvarez, on his second disabled list stint this season with shoulder inflammation, it looks like he's much further away from making a return than those three guys.

Alvarez said he's still battling inflammation and likely won't begin playing catch again for another week. 

"[It is] a little bit frustrating, but what are we going to do?" Alvarez said. "We're here working to have the inflammation to go down."

Alvarez denied a report he's pitching with a 90 percent torn UCL in his throwing elbow. 

"The elbow hasn't been feeling bad," Alvarez said. "What it is, is the shoulder. For me, my elbow is 100 percent. The doctors just told me I have to warm-up more and stretch my arm out more.

"I also have to listen to the team and stick with my pitch count when they tell me to only pitch so much. The doctor told me I can't pass a certain pitch count. I have to do things slowly, calmly. I'll come back when I can. I'm in no rush."

> Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria should be back in the Marlins lineup Tuesday against the Cubs. Hechavarria bruised his left shoulder after he and left fielder Christian Yelich collided diving after a ball in Friday's win over the Mets and hasn't played since Friday.

"He could actually play [Monday]," Jennings said. "He went through all of the pregame prep there. We're going to give him one more day just precautionary, let [Donovan] Solano stay at shortstop. Hech should be good and ready to go for sure [Tuesday]. I saw him swing. He looks good. He was letting the bat go. He'll test it now defensively, watch him throw some in pre-game. He looks like everything is pointing toward [Tuesday] making the start."

Jose Fernandez strikes out seven, toys with Marlins minor leaguers in first game back since surgery

JUPITER -- Jose Fernandez's first game back following Tommy John surgery looked a lot like the games he dominated before it.

Throwing against Marlins minor leaguers in an extended spring training game Monday morning, the 22-year-old right-hander pitched like the kid who won the National League's Rookie of the Year award in 2013, striking out seven and registering as high as 97 mph on the radar gun in three quick, no-hit innings of work.

More importantly, though, his arm felt great afterward.

"It's obviously always good to have good results, but I felt great," said Fernandez, who will make his first official rehab start Saturday for the Single A Jupiter Hammerheads in Port Charlotte.

"I felt healthy and I felt like I belonged there on that mound. It was fun to go back out there and compete. It was a real game to me -- it wasn't just a rehab start. I was walking out and felt that game feeling inside my stomach. That's always great."

Fernandez looked in midseason form. Most of his 42 pitches went for strikes and many were of the nasty variety. He threw 16 pitches in the first inning, struck out one, walked one and then got two easy outs. 

Then, Fernandez ended his day by striking out the final six hitters he faced, four with ugly swings and misses. He walked off the mound with a smile on his face and patted teammate Jarred Cosart on the backside with his glove. 

"He looked great man," said Cosart, who also pitched Monday in his first rehab appearance since going on the disabled list with vertigo. "His stuff was good as usual. We pretty much expected similar to how [Mets ace Matt] Harvey came back [from Tommy John]. 

"Jose really didn't look any different. The velocity is the same. The pitches are the same. Everything is the same. We're excited. Hopefully he keeps progressing one step at a time and we get him back here pretty soon."

The Marlins, off to a disappointing 20-31 start and 8 1/2 games back in the division, would obviously love to get Fernandez (16-8, 2.25 ERA in 36 career starts) back as soon as possible. Fernandez, Cosart, Mat Latos (knee) and Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) make up four-fifths of the starting rotation, and all are on the disabled list. 

But Fernandez and Marlins rehab pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal reiterated Monday Fernandez's return will not be rushed. 

"You have to be careful hurrying up things," Fernandez said. "Obviously I wanted to start opening day with them. But I think the main thing here -- what the team wants and what I want -- they want me healthy and they want me there for the rest of the year, not one or two starts. We're just trying to follow the process and as soon as I can get there I will be."

Rosenthal said Fernandez's pitch count will be ramped up a little Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays’ Florida State League squad. Then, Rosenthal said, Fernandez will throw six days later (June 12) in Jupiter against that same Port Charlotte team. What happens after that has not been determined yet. 

"We have a program that [head trainer] Sean [Cunningham] setup," Rosenthal said. "It's not etched in stone where we're going to follow it perfectly, but we'll see how these two starts go and then go from there."

Could Fernandez only make two rehab starts and then make his Marlins debut soon after?

"I would think he's going to have more starts [in the minors]," Rosenthal said. "One, he's got to go to a higher level. Two, he's got to build up on pitches, pitch count and endurance. 

"You want to try to get him -- especially after surgery -- probably to get him to six, seven innings just to say he can do it. When you get to the big leagues you want to be able to say you can go seven innings. If you go five and hope he can go seven, that's not what you want after surgery."

Still, on Monday, Fernandez was mighty impressive. His fastball was clocked regularly between 94 and 97 mph, and his breaking pitches also had plenty of bite to them. A month ago, when he pitched in his first simulated game in Jupiter, Fernandez's pitches were in the mid 80s. 

Plus, Fernandez admitted it hasn't been easy to sit around the clubhouse and watch the Marlins struggle. So with two more really good minor league starts it might not be hard to convince him or the Marlins Fernandez is ready to go.

"I think we're just going to follow the process," Fernandez said. "I've got to throw a couple more starts, and I think we'll go from there. But today I think was a really good day. I'm actually trying to feel and think about everything that just happened -- the last three innings. But I feel great and just glad to be here, glad to be on the mound again."

> Cosart pitched five innings and allowed one hit, one walk and struckout five over 60 pitches. He's expected to pitch Friday or Saturday for Double A Jacksonville or Triple A New Orleans and then will likely make one more rehab start before rejoining the big league team. 

"He threw well," Rosenthal said. "He kept his pitch count down. He threw strikes with his fastball, stayed relaxed. His curveball was around the plate. I like that he threw changeups. He's ready to go."