June 16, 2014

Andrew Heaney promoted from minors, added to rotation in tidal wave of moves

Lots happening here this afternoon, with the Marlins calling up four players from Triple A New Orleans -- Andrew Heaney foremost among them -- and completely revamped their starting rotation by getting rid of Randy Wolf and sticking Jacob Turner in the pen.

Joining Heaney in the tidal wave of call-ups were Anthony DeSclafani, Jake Marisnick and Justin Bour.

Heaney will make his long-awaited MLB debut on Thursday while DeSclafani will take the mound Tuesday in Turner's spot.

The Marlins designated both Wolf and Kevin Slowey for assignment, and Turner will now slide into Slowey's long relief role.

Want more? There's more.

The Marlins optioned Donovan Solano to Triple A, placed Christian Yelich on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain, and transferred Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the 15-day disabled list. Saltalamacchia will begin his rehab assignment tonight in Jupiter.

The big news, obviously, is the Heaney promotion. 

The former first-round draft pick is the top-ranked left-handed pitching prospect, according to MLB.com, and will begin his big league career Thursday at Marlins Park against the New York Mets.

With Monday's avalanche of transactions, the Marlins now have 10 players on their 25-man roster who were not on the Opening Day roster.

Will have more on this as it develops.....

June 15, 2014

DL a possibility for Christian Yelich; Nathan Eovaldi on paternity list; Donovan Solano relishes Colombia's World Cup win

Christian Yelich could be placed on the 15-day disabled list if his back issues don't improve within the next 24 hours. Yelich remained out of the starting lineup on Sunday for a second straight game.

"We're probably going to make a decision on him today or tomorrow," said manager Mike Redmond. "I think he feels better, but still pretty stiff. You can see by the way he's walking around. We're trying to give him as many days as we could, but we'll see. I think a lot of it was whether he would do baseball activities tomorrow and right now, it's not looking like it. We're holding out hope."

If Yelich goes on the DL, the Marlins would most likely call up Jake Marisnick, who has been swinging a hot bat at Triple A New Orleans after getting off to a slow start.

_________________

The Marlins placed Nathan Eovaldi on the paternity list Sunday and called up right-handed reliever Sam Dyson from New Orleans to fill his spot. Eovladi flew home to Texas to be with his wife for the delivery of their first child. Redmond said Eovaldi is expected back in time to make his next start on Wednesday.

Dyson recently returned from a long stint on the DL after having his jaw broken by teammate Chris Hatcher in a barroom incident last month when both were at Triple A.

"Everything's fine," Dyson said of the incident. "It was two months ago, so it's definitely in the past and we're just looking to help the team win."

With the Marlins bullpen taxed from extended use the past two games, the Marlins are in need of a fresh arm, and the timing on the Eovaldi paternity leave couldn't have worked out better.

"If we could just plan these guys' babies on when we need a fresh arm, we'd be in business," Redmond said, joking. "It does give us a fresh arm down there when we really do need it."

________________

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (15-day DL, concussion) is expected to make in his first rehab game Monday for Single A Jupiter. Redmond said he doesn't expect Saltalamacchia to play in too many games before he is recalled.

________________

Rafael Furcal didn't ask for the ball Saturday after recording his first major league hit in nearly two years. But nobody would have blamed him if he had.

"Why would I?" Furcal said. "I have nearly 2,000 hits."

Furcal singled with two outs in the ninth, keeping the Marlins' comeback hopes alive, albeit only temporarily. It snapped an 0 for 10 spell with the Marlins, and it gave him his first hit since Aug. 26, 2012.

Furcal said the hit was special to him only in the sense that it came at a time when the Marlins needed it.

"Especially in that situation," he said. "We're losing by two runs and I need to be on base."

_______________

Like so many kids growing up in Colombia, Marlins utility infielder Donovan Solano was big into soccer. He played it all the way through high school before giving it up for baseball, the sport he plays best.

"Every Colombian guy plays football," Solano said. "(Edgar) Renteria did. I did. My brother did. I had fun with it when I was a kid."

Solano watched Colombia's 3-0 opening-round victory over Greece in the Marlins clubhouse on Saturday before the Marlins took the field against the Pirates. He was especially pleased that his friend on the team, forward Teofilo Gutierrez, scored one of Colombia's goals.

"Every Colombian game I try to watch," he said. "It's like a party."

June 14, 2014

1st-round pick Tyler Kolek agrees to terms for $6 million

Tyler Kolek is about to become one of the wealthiest 18-year-olds -- if not THE wealthiest resident of any age -- in the Texas town of Shepherd. The hard-throwing right-hander, whom the Marlins selected with the second overall pick in last week's amateur draft, has agreed to terms on a $6 million bonus, sources have confirmed.

The deal is pending a physical.

The Marlins surprised some by taking Kolek over North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon, who went to the White Sox on the next pick. But the Marlins found Kolek and his triple-digit fastball too good to pass up and drafted the hurler right after Houston took high school pitcher Brady Aiken first overall.

The $6 million bonus, which was first reported by MLB.com's Jim Callis, is the third-largest ever given to a high school pitcher (behind Aiken and Jameson Taillon) but will save the Marlins, as the slot value assigned to that pick was $6.8 million.

The Marlins have also agreed with second-rund pick Justin Twine for the slot value of $1.316 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com.

June 12, 2014

Andrew Heaney scratched from start as Marlins begin to "guard" innings

Andrew Heaney was scratched from Thursday's scheduled start with Triple A New Orleans, and it won't be the last time his turn is skipped as the Marlins take measures to preserve the lefty's arm for September.

"We decided a few weeks ago we were going to skip a start here and there (with Heaney)," said Marty Scott, the Marlins' vice president of player development. "This is the first of several. We'll probably do this again in July and one more time in August."

There has been growing speculation about when the Marlins will call up their top pitching prospect, who is continuing to dominate in the minors. But Scott said the decision to scratch Heaney from his scheduled start Thursday had nothing to do with a pending call-up.

"Don't read too much into it," he said.

Rather, Scott said the Marlins want to make sure Heaney is still available to pitch for them in September, especially if the team is still in playoff contention.

Like Jose Fernandez last season, Heaney has a prescribed innings limit of 160-170 innings this season, Scott said. He's already totaled 72 2/3 innings between Double A Jacksonville and Triple A New Orleans. The Marlins want to avoid a situation like the one involving Stephen Strasburg in 2012 when the Nationals' pitcher was shut down in early September even though the team was still in contention and reached the postseason.

Scott said Heaney has been informed of the Marlins' plans and is on board with the altered pitching schedule.

"This way, we don't have to worry about shutting him down in September," Scott said. "If we don't let him skip a couple of starts and rest up and guard these innings, we'd have to shut him down in September, and that's something we don't want to do. We don't want to have to shut him down in the middle of a pennant race."

Heaney's next scheduled start for the Zephyrs is June 19. His last previous start was June 7.

Heaney told the New Orleans Advocate in this article that he feels like he is ready to pitch in the majors, but would prefer to receive his promotion under the right conditions.

"I feel like I am (ready)," Heaney said in Thursday's article, "but I don't want to be ready to fill a spot. I want to be ready to compete and help the team win. They're in first place. I don't want them to bring me up as an experiment."

June 11, 2014

Door open for Furcal to join Marlins after team options Bour back to minors Wednesday night

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Barring a surprising move or maybe a last second hamstring or groin pull, the Marlins are finally going to get to see what Rafael Furcal looks like again.

After Wednesday’s 6-0 loss to the Rangers, the Marlins optioned first baseman Justin Bour to Triple A New Orleans clearing a spot for Furcal. They will officially announce a corresponding move Friday, manager Mike Redmond said. But it's expected to be Furcal.

Furcal, who is on the 60-day disabled list, has played in 11 minor-league games since May 29 — his latest rehab stint. He picked up two more hits Tuesday night for SingleA Jupiter, raising his average to .341 (14 for 41) with seven runs scored and four stolen bases since his latest return from hamstring and groin injuries.

Redmond said the Marlins moved Furcal back to Jupiter from Double A Jacksonville (where he played five games) for logistical reasons. But it looks a lot more like so he doesn’t have to travel very far when the Marlins finally announce he’s ready to go.

How new Marlins reliever Bryan Morris added a couple ticks to his fastball

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Recently acquired reliever Bryan Morris ended up picking up his first victory in a Marlins uniform Tuesday night by picking up four big outs between the sixth and seventh innings.

Morris, acquired from the Pirates at the beginning of the month for a 2014 draft pick, has been stellar since the Marlins got him. He's pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts, no walks and only three hits allowed.

"You always want to start off with a new team and start off well," Morris said. "It's easier to become part of the team. It's always a different situaton when you come to a new team and you don’t know the guys, so getting off to a good start helps."

A 2006 first round pick of the Dodgers who had Tommy John surgery coming out of college, Morris said he spent a lot of time in the off-season strengthening his shoulder muscles with a specially designed workout first used by tennis players and most recently Blue Jays All-Star reliever Steve Delabar.

Morris said it's helped increase his velocity "a few ticks."

"It was something to make my sholder more stable so I can throw every day," Morris said. "It's based on decelerator muscles in the back of your shoulder -- that and strengthening all the small muscle so they can help the large muscles endure some of the stress that your arm goes through while throwing.

"Last year I probably was really consistent around 94 [miles per hour]. Ive seen a lot more 95s and 96s this year. Last year I would hit 95 every now and then and 96 on occasion. Later in the year I ran it up to 97 a couple times in the playoffs. I've hit 97 a few times this year and I've hit 98 a couple times. 98 is what I used to flirt with before Tommy John in 2006."

HAPPY HOMECOMING FOR RAMOS

Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos, who grew up a Rangers fan and played for Texas Tech, had more than 150 friends and family members in the stands Tuesday night when he made his first pitching appearance in the state of Texas since getting drafted by the Marlins in 2009.

Ramos pitched a clean eighth inning of relief and struckout the first batter he faced.

"Man it was awesome," Ramos said. "If you were out here you heard how many people were out there, especially when they announced my name. It was kind of crazy. I heard it from all around the stadium."

Ramos said he as espeically happy to see his grandmother, Olga, in the stands. He said he lived across from his grandparents in Lubbock, Texas and said Olga and his late grandfather were his biggest fans growing up.

"She hadn't seen me pitch since college," Ramos said. "She’s been taking care of her dad. He’s 107 years old. It’s a 24/7 job and she doesn’t get to leave the house very often. So for her coming out here to Dallas is like a mini vacation to see me pitch."

Ramos said his father organized a group of about 94 people, who all sat in one section to cheer him on. Ramos said his mother has 11 brothers and sisters and thus he has "about 60 cousins." Most made the 5 1/2 hour trek from Lubbock to see him pitch.

"All of the 94 people in the same section were related," Ramos said. "The people in other sectoins were friends. If we were even closer to Lubbock I think the whole town would have come to the game."

YELICH SEEING RESULTS

Manager Mike Redmond said he hasn't seen a whole lot different in Christian Yelich's approach at the plate. Just better results of late.

After going hitless in four games from June 2nd to June 5th, Yelich has gone 9 for 20 with three doubles, a homer and five RBI over his last four games entering Wednesday.

"I think his approach overall has been pretty good," Redmond said. "He's hit some line drives right at guys, some ground balls. The key to him is to continue to stay within his approach. When he gets good pitches to hit he usually hits them. I think you saw that last night.

"A lot of it is confidence. Sometimes we lose sight -- even though I try to remind everyone -- this is his first full season in the big leagues. Everybody gets caught up in the numbers and the batting average. That stuff for me really doesn't matter. This is his first full go-around in the big leagues. There's a lot of pressure on him to go out and produce. But I've been very happy with what he's been able to go out there and do. He's led off all year in a position where we didn't expect him to be leading off. I think he's done a nice job. I think he's learned a lot. And I think he's continued to improve.

"And you know what he's a gamer. He's a grinder. This is going to be huge for him in the process of him becoming a great player.  He brings it everyday. He never comes into my office and asks for a day off. He wants to be out there to play. I was happy for him to go out there and put together a multi-hit game, a big game. It was fun to see him that. We needed that too."

Roster decisions loom for Marlins as Furcal, Heaney wait in the wings

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With second baseman Rafael Furcal looking healthy and playing well in the minors and top prospect Andrew Heaney appearing primed and ready to go, the Marlins roster figures to see some tinkering soon. And there could be some moves made as early as Friday when they return home to open a 10-game home stand.

The Marlins need to create two vacancies on the 40-man roster to accommodate both players once they call upon them. 

Furcal, currently on the 60-day disabled list, has played in 11 minor league games since May 29 -- his latest rehab stint -- and he has shined. Furcal picked up two more hits Tuesday night for Single A Jupiter, raising his average to .341 (14 for 41) with seven runs scored and four stolen bases since his latest return from hamstring and groin injuries.

Manager Mike Redmond said the Marlins moved Furcal back to Jupiter from Double A Jacksonville (where he played five games) for logistical reasons. But it looks a lot more like so he doesn't have to travel very far when the Marlins finally announce he's ready to go.

Justin Bour, brought up last week to be a left-handed bat off the bench and designated hitter during this seven-game road trip including four stops in American League parks, would be the likely candidate to be sent down since he still has options. But he's been pretty good so far in brief action -- picking up five hits in his first two games and getting another start Wednesday in the designated hitter spot against Rangers ace Yu Darvish.

Donovan Solano is another potential candidate who also has minor league options left.

Redmond said Wednesday when the Marlins return home the only spot to really play Bour is as a pinch-hitter, something he doesn't have a ton of experience doing since he's been an everyday first baseman in the minors.

"It's especially tough for young guys," Redmond said of Bour as a potential pinch-hitter. "But his swing is pretty short. I think he would have the ability to do it. He's patient. He waits to get good pitches to hit and he doesn't try to do too much. Those are all signs that lead me to believe he could be successful in that role."

As for Heaney, when he comes up he'll be moving into the starting rotation. But when exactly that happens and who gets moved out remains to be seen. Redmond said Wednesday left-hander Randy Wolf will start Saturday, a projected landing spot for Heaney since he last pitched June 7 for Triple A New Orleans. But as it stands, Heaney is lined up to start for the Zephyrs Thursday night in El Paso, Texas.

If Heaney pitches Thursday for the Zephyrs, he would be in line to make his next start Tuesday -- either for the Zephyrs again, or at Marlins Park against the visiting Cubs. That's currently the spot where Jacob Turner is supposed to make his next start after facing the Rangers on Wednesday.

"He's still in Triple A pitching as far as I know," Redmond repsonded when asked about Heaney on Wednesday. "I don't know what more to say. I know there's been a lot of speculation of when he's coming to the big leagues and when that's going to happen. I'm not sure when that's going to happen. But I know he's pitched down there, he's done a nice job and when that day comes you guys will be the first to know. But it's not today.

"Like I said, this is an organizational decision. And when the day comes that everybody feels he's ready to be here then he's going to be here. I can't say anything clearer than that."

> Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who resumed baseball activities on Tuesday after being cleared of concussion symptoms, is in line to play his first rehab game Monday in Jupiter, Redmond said. 

> Although Nathan Eovaldi is lined up to pitch Friday against the Pirates, should his wife go into labor Redmond said the Marlins could easily adjust their rotation by moving Wolf (Saturday's starter) and Henderson Alvarez (Sunday's scheduled starter) each up a day because of Thursday's off day. Eovaldi's wife is back home in Texas.

"It shouldn't be an issue," Eovaldi said. "[Pitching coach] Chuck [Hernandz] said, once I get the call, I'm coming out of the game. We're not sure when we're having the baby. If it doesn't happen any day now, it will happen Sunday. I'd probably come to the field and throw a bullpen on Sunday and leave after that, and be back Wednesday."

WEDNESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (34-30): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Ed Lucas 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Justin Bour DH, 8. J.T. Realmuto C, 9. Adeiny Hechavarria SS. Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (2-3, 5.93)

> Rangers (31-34): 1. Michael Choice LF, 2. Elvis Andrus SS, 3. Shin-Soo Choo DH, 4. Adrian Beltre 3B, 5. Alex Rios RF, 6. Brad Snyder 1B, 7. Leonys Martin CF, 8. Chris Gimenez C, 9. Rougned Odor 2B. RHP Yu Darvish (6-2, 2.36)

ESPN Stat comparison: Stanton compares favorably to Aaron

Here's an interesting graphical stat comparison between Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Hank Aaron through their first 550 games from ESPN.

Stanton

June 10, 2014

Closer Steve Cishek finds his adrenaline rush at Six Flags over Texas

ARLINGTON, TEX. -- Marlins closer Steve Cishek calls himself an adrenaline junkie.

On the Marlins; day off Monday, Cishek and fellow relief pitchers Chris Hatcher and Mike Dunn went searching for a rush at Six Flags Over Texas, a theme park full of thrill rides right down the road from Globe Life Park. Needless to say, they found it.

"We had a great time," Cishek said. "The Titan [Texas' largest and fastest roller coaster] was crazy. We were trying to explain it. It's like when a dog sticks their face out of a car window at like 85 [miles per hour]. You can't even close your eyes. It's just pinning your face back. It was awesome."

Cishek, who won his first game against the Rangers here in 2011 before becoming the Marlins closer in the middle of the 2012 season, said he usually spends the All-Star Break at Universal Studios in Orlando with his wife riding The Hulk, his all-time favorite coaster. 

"I wouldn't I'm say an [adrenaline] junkie like jumping out of trains, but roller coasters for sure," Cishek said. 

"Paintball I get a super adrenaline rush just from like rushing in knowing it's going to get hit and it's going hurt like crazy. I usually wear something bright so people shoot at me. Roller coasters, my dad got me into them when I was really young. My mom likes them. Any time I get a chance to go to a theme park or some place I haven't been -- like here -- I'm going to take advantage of it."

BRACING FOR DARVISH

The Marlins ranked second in baseball as a team in strikeouts entering Tuesday's game. Wednesday, they'll face Rangers ace Yu Darvish, who ranks ninth in baseball with 91 strikeouts.

"We’ll have our work cut out for us," manager Mike Redmond said. "He just has that ability to make guys miss. Some off-speed pitches that sort of float out of the zone.

He’s been pretty productive in his starts. I think his last start was a little bit shaky for him. But he’s one of the best in this game so we'll definitely have a challenge out there."

The Marlins have struckout a season-high 17 times in three games this season. Darvish has a pair of 12 strikeout games this year. 

BIG CROWD FOR RAMOS

It's only a quick two-game series, but it's a big deal for Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos and his friends and family from nearby Lubbock and Corpus Christi.

Ramos said he expected more than 250 friends and family members for the series and his father helped accommodate most of them by setting up a Facebook page where they could buy tickets to sit together. Ramos said he bought about 35-40 tickets for immediate family on his own.

"I've got over like 430 text messages from people saying they're coming," Ramos said. "It's kind of ridiculous right now."

> Outfielder Jake Marisnick (.347, 3 HRs, 13 RBI for Triple A New Orleans) and left-hander Andrew Heaney (3-1, 1.96 ERA in six starts between Double A Jacksonville and New Orleans) were named the minor league player and pitcher of the month for the Marlins on Tuesday.

Alvarez expects to pitch Sunday; Salty cleared to return to baseball activities; Furcal progressing

ARLINGTON, TEX. -- Henderson Alvarez said his hip feels fine and if all goes well in his next bullpen session, manager Mike Redmond said, the Marlins' best starting pitcher should be in line to make his next start Sunday at home against the Pirates.

On Sunday, Alvarez landed awkwardly and left the game in the sixth inning after leaping high in the air to take a flip toss from first baseman Garrett Jones while covering the bag. The bullpen ended up yielding two inherited runs and they were credited to Alvarez, ending his string of 26 consecutive scoreless innings, third-longest in Marlins history. 

Alvarez said Tuesday he was pretty bummed his scoreless innings streak came to an end, and that he could have kept on pitching had the Marlins and Redmond not decided to take precautionary measures.

"Everything was fine. I was good. The only thing is when I fell it looked ugly. But I could have kept pitching," Alvarez said. "I didn't have anything wrong with my body. I wanted to keep pitching. It bothered me they took me out of the game, especially a game I was pitching so well in. I could have continued. But those are things that happen in baseball. I've got to let it go. It's over now. I have to keep looking forward."

Although the Marlins entertained the idea of starting Nathan Eovaldi against the Rangers to wrap up the quick two-game set (his wife is expecting to have their first child on Sunday), the rotation will stay in order, Redmond said, and right-hander Jacob Turner will start opposite Rangers ace Yu Darvish Wednesday. Eovaldi will pitch Friday at home against the Pirates.

Redmond stopped short of saying who was going to start for the Marlins Saturday -- a possible landing spot for top prospect Andrew Heaney. If Heaney isn't called up to start then, left-hander Randy Wolf will stay in his scheduled spot. 

SALTY BEGINS BASEBALL ACTIVITIES

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, on the disabled list with concussion-like symptoms since June 1, began participating in baseball activities on Tuesday in Jupiter. Redmond said he took 25 swings from both the left and right side, played catch and rode bike.

The Marlins don't have a time frame as to when they expect Saltalamacchia to return from the disabled list, Redmond said. He also expects the catcher to play in a few rehab games before returning. "He'll be on a day-to-day progression just to make sure he doesn't have any symptoms come back," Redmond said.

> It might not be long before the Marlins finally get to see veteran second baseman Rafael Furcal, who on Monday had his most productive rehab game yet for Double A Jacksonville. Furcal, 36, went 3-for-5, scored two runs and stole a base. He's now 6-for-20 (.300) with four runs scored and four stolen bases since his latest return to action on June 5th. Redmond said Furcal will play the next couple days in Single A Jupiter for logistical reasons. 

"[Christian Yelich] has done a good job, but when that day comes for Furcal it will be exciting to see what he can do and get him out there and hopefully he’ll be a spark for us," Redmond said. "I don’t know when that day is coming, but it is probably coming soon. It was coming soon about a month ago too and it didn’t. I think it's safe to say coming soon."

TUESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (33-30): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Ed Lucas 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Justin Bour DH, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Adeiny Hechavarria SS. RHP Tom Koehler.

> Rangers (31-33): 1. Michael Choice LF, 2. Elvis Andrus SS, 3. Shin-Soo Choo DH, 4. Adrian Beltre 3B, 5. Alex Rios RF, 6. Brad Snyder 1B, 7. Robinson Chirinos C, 8. Leonys Martin CF, 9. Rougned Odor 2B. RHP Colby Lewis