September 18, 2015

Nationals receiving no protection from father of Washington killer Justin Bour

WASHINGTON -- When Justin Bour was growing up in the D.C. area, his father was assigned to the Secret Service, protecting the lives of presidents. These days, Bour's father is retired and the first baseman for the Marlins is putting the hurt on the Washington Nationals, his hometown team.

Bour's three-run homer Thursday sparked the Marlins to a 6-4 victory over the Nationals. It was the fourth home run of Bour's career at Nationals Park. The only place where he's hit more is Marlins Park. Bour chalks up his success against the Nationals (lifetime .313 average and .960 OPS) to having faced them often so far in his young career.

It has nothing to do, he says, with having grown up in the area and watching them play. In fact, Bour said the first major league game he ever saw was the first one he played in. But Bour does have close ties to the area, where his father was often the closest person to the U.S. president.

"He was in transportation detail and he guarded both (George H.W.) Bush and (Bill) Clinton," Bour said. "He drove one of the limos for one of the inaugural."

Bour said if he wasn't playing baseball, "I'd probably be doing some sort of law enforcement."

Like father, like son, in other words.


Martin Prado was scratched from Friday's lineup due to a sore wrist he tweaked in Thursday's game, according to manager Dan Jennings, who termed the decision "precautionary" and said the third baseman could be back in the lineup on Saturday.

"It's just a little discomfort," Jennings said.


Carter Capps threw a sim game Friday and will likely throw one more before returning to the Marlins' bullpen, probably during the upcoming home stand, Jennings said.

"The volunteer list was very light," Jennings said of the hitters who stood in against Capps. "There were not many people running to grab a bat to face Carter Capps."

One who did was Marlins hitting coach Frank Menechino, who slapped a single up the middle on the only pitch he saw from Capps. But no one else managed to hit the ball out of the cage at Nationals Park.

Marlins bullpen catcher Jeff Urgelles said Capps is intimidating.

"The ball gets on you really, really quick," said Urgelles, who often warms up Capps in the bullpen but said facing him from the batter's box is an altogether different experience. "I've seen his delivery thousands and thousands of times. But when you're standing sideways and not facing him square, it's a lot different. I can see why he strikes out so many hitters, because when he's painting down and away, and throwing so hard, it's not easy to catch up to. No shot. Nobody has a shot."

September 17, 2015

Stanton return plans back on hold due to "abnormal" amount of scar tissue in injured hand

WASHINGTON -- The on-again-off-again status of Giancarlo Stanton is back on hold after tests performed earlier in the week on his injured left hand revealed an “abnormal amount” of internal scar tissue.

Stanton hasn’t taken batting practice since Monday in New York and doesn’t expect to step back in the cage again until Saturday at the earliest.

He said doctors in New York told him “the strength’s not there. Don’t overdo it. Do what’s manageable.”
Stanton said he still hopes to play before the end of the season.

But time is clearly running out. And he said the scar tissue won’t be gone anytime soon.

“Not in a couple of weeks,” Stanton said, understanding it might require the entire offseason for the hand to completely heal.

“That’s kind of the big speed bump as far as getting the strength back,” he said. “That has altered the anatomy of my tendons. So that’s what’s going on.”

After breaking the hamate bone on June 26 and undergoing surgery, Stanton was initially expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. But his recovery has taken far longer.

September 11, 2015

Jose Fernandez, Marlins to map out 2016 usage plan during offseason

The Marlins and Jose Fernandez want to avoid a Matt Harvey situation in 2016 and intend to map out a usage strategy before the start of next season.

"Whatever it is, we'll figure it out and we'll all try to be on the same page," Fernandez said. "In the offseason, I feel pretty comfortable we'll all have a meeting with the team, the doctor, (agent) Scott Boras and myself. I don't think it will be hard at all."

Fernandez, like the Mets' Harvey, returned from Tommy John surgery this season. And, also like Harvey, Fernandez is represented by Boras, who raised questions recently about an innings cap for Harvey, creating an end-of-season controversy with the Mets.

Fernandez would not talk specifically about Harvey.

"I prefer not to comment on it," Fernandez said. "A lot of things go into it. But I'm staying out of it."

What Fernandez would acknowledge is that he intends to design a plan with the Marlins beforehand to address any questions about how much he'll pitch in 2016.

"I think we're going to be careful," Fernandez said without going into specifics about a potential innings limit. "I think we're going to try to be careful, because it's a long run, and you want to make sure you stay healthy and you stay good as much as you can."

Fernandez said he and the Marlins had a plan in place this season in the event the team was still in contention in September.

"We kind of had a plan for this year if we would have made it to the playoffs," Fernandez said. "We talked about it in spring training. So we had it planned out -- the team, the doctor, the agent, myself -- (that) everybody could feel comfortable with. We were going to (implement) it if we were closer. After the All-Star break, we were going to sit down, see where we're at, and go from there. But there would have been a plan."

September 08, 2015

J.T. Realmuto joins Hanley Ramirez, Derrek Lee as only Marlins to hit inside-the-park home run and another over the fence in same game

J.T. Realmuto joined exclusive company Tuesday night, becoming only the third player in Marlins history to hit an inside-the-park home run and another over the fence in the same game.

The Marlins’ rookie catcher slugged his first one the traditional way in the second inning when he jumped on the first pitch from Brewers starter Taylor Jungmann and drilled it over the left field wall, an estimated 385-feet according to ESPN.

Then, Realmuto opened the fourth inning with a scorching, 411-foot line drive to center off Junggman that bounced high off the top of the wall and away from center fielder Domingo Santana, allowing Realmuto to circle the bases easily.

Realmuto joined Derrek Lee (April 12, 2003) and Hanley Ramirez (Sept. 27, 2006) as the only players in Marlins history to achieve the feat.

6/13/94 - Bret Barberie at St. Louis
6/2/95 - Alex Arias vs. Cubs
8/9/95 - Kurt Abbott vs. Rockies
8/12/95 - Kurt Abbott vs. Reds
4/5/97 - Edgar Renteria vs. Reds
5/29/97 - Kurt Abbott vs. Rockies
5/24/99 - Kevin Millar at Cubs
6/19/01 - Cliff Floyd vs. Pirates (Grand Slam)
8/12/01 - Mike Redmond vs. Astros
4/12/03 - Derrek Lee vs. Braves (also homered over fence)
5/19/04 - Hee Seop-Choi vs. Astros
6/13/04 - Juan Pierre at Tigers
9/27/06 - Hanley Ramirez vs. Reds (also homered over fence)
4/6/09 - Emilio Bonifacio vs. Nats
5/3/10 - Cameron Maybin vs. Brewers
6/30/15 - Dee Gordon vs. Giants
9/8/15 - J.T. Realmuto vs. Brewers (also homered over fence)

Marlins notes: Will Hechavarria be back this season? Capps is finally pain free

Adeiny Hechavarria

Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria tested his tight left hamstring out with some light running Tuesday at Marlins Park, but said he still felt discomfort.

With a little more than three weeks left in the season there’s a chance the 26-year-old Gold Glove candidate might not make it back in time to play. But he’s not giving up on the season just yet.

“Right now I’m around 70 percent,” Hechavarria said. “I think I’ll be back before the season ends. But to rush back from a hamstring isn’t easy. I’m not going to play until I don’t feel it at all. To play at 90 percent, you can hurt it again. If I can’t run right, bunt, steal bases, I’m not going to play like that.”

Hechavarria hurt himself legging out a bunt single in Atlanta Sept. 2. He said he had been feeling tightness in the back of left knee for about two or three weeks prior to that.

“They were giving me treatment for a couple weeks,” he said. “After that, in Atlanta, is when it tightened up a little higher up as I was running to first base. All of that in the back of your leg is connected.”

Hechavarria is having a career year at the plate (.281, 5 HRs, 48 RBI) and defensively. He leads the National League and ranks second only to Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier in Defensive Runs Above Average, regardless of position. Hechavarria also leads all NL shortstops in Ultimate Zone Rating (14.1), ahead of Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons (10.8), the defending Gold Glove winner in the NL at shortstop.

The Marlins tried to sign Hechavarria to a long contract this winter, but he declined. His value has clearly gone up. He’s under club control through the 2018 season.

 “I think he'll be back,” manager Dan Jennings said. “We just don't want him back out there and then he does tear it and then he's lost for the year. It will be a process. He did test it a little bit today and had some improvement. But he’s not ready to open it up yet. We're probably another day or two away from doing that to see exactly where it is.”


Marlins reliever Carter Capps finally had a pain-free bullpen on Tuesday.

The hard-throwing right-hander, who last pitched for the Marlins Aug. 2, has been on the disabled list with a flexor muscle strain in his forearm.

“I've thrown a couple [bullpens] but still had some pain when I was throwing off the mound,” Capps said. “The incline I guess was bothering me. This one, though was good, first time without any pain. I'm pretty excited.”

The Marlins were initially hoping Capps would return in early September. He said he has another bullpen session Friday and could have a third session after that before he’s finally cleared to return. But now, at least, Capps said he's confident he will pitch again in 2015.

Capps (1-0, 1.16 ERA, 30 games) was leading baseball with a whopping 16.84 strikeout per nine inning average when he went on the disabled list. The Marlins could eventually ask him to close games in 2016.

“I've had a good year,” Capps said. “Hopefully I can cap it off with a few innings at the end of the season.

> The Marlins on Tuesday recalled right-handed relief pitcher Scott McGough from Triple A New Orleans and claimed first baseman/outfielder Tommy Medica from the Padres.

Medica, 27, hit .233 with nine homers and 27 RBI in 240 at-bats this season with San Diego. A right-handed hitter, he could potentially compete with Justin Bour and Derek Dietrich for the first baseman’s job next year in spring training.

Although Bour is hitting .257 with 16 homers and 51 RBI, he hasn’t done enough to impress the front office into giving him the job outright.

“He's put himself on the map in some capacity,” Jennings said of Bour. “Truly what that will be, we'll determine that the rest of the season.”

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

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

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

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

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


September 07, 2015

Jose Fernandez expects to make his return Saturday vs. Nationals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 06, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 05, 2015

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

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

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

He hasn’t pitched a full season since 2013.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Cosart said he underwent therapy and a battery of tests.

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

September 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ichiro Suzuki will start today in center.


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

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

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