June 01, 2015

Have bats, will travel -- Dee Gordon piling up hits with gift from Ichiro Suzuki

If Dee Gordon somehow threatens Ichiro Suzuki’s major league mark for most hits in a season -- a long shot at this point -- he can thank the player whose record he’s trying to break.

Suzuki presented Gordon with a custom, moisture-free case that preserves bats in perfect operating condition.

“It keeps your bat the same weight,” said Gordon, who leads the majors in hits and swings a 31-ounce bat. “It keeps the moisture out of the wood that makes it get heavier.”

Gordon wanted one of the metal cases the moment he saw Suzuki show up at spring training with one, and asked the Japanese legend where he could get his hands on one for himself.

Suzuki not only ordered one to present to Gordon as a gift, but had it done up in the Marlins’ colors with Gordon’s No. 9 on the end. Gordon brought the case with him on the Marlins’ just completed road trip for the first time.

“I’ve never been on a team before where a guy on my team has this many hits, this early,” Suzuki said of Gordon. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch him get all of those hits.”

Suzuki said Gordon reminds him a lot himself in his prime.

“You take a look at him, and he’s 5-11, 170, just like I am,” Suzuki said. “And he uses his legs a lot to get hits. You can say we’re the same type of players. I’ve never talked batting philosophy with him, but when I see him and the approach he takes, I think there’s a lot of things that are similar to the things that I do.”

Going into Monday, Gordon had 78 hits, a 9-game hitting streak, and a .377 average. As hot as he’s been,

Gordon would still fall short of Suzuki's record of 262 hits -- set in 2004 -- if he continued at the same pace.

“That’s a whole lot of hits,” Gordon said of Suzuki's record. “That’s tough.”

Suzuki said if the case he gave to Gordon helps him pile up even more hits, the more the merrier.

“Obviously, the bats inside are what’s going to make the hits, not the case itself,” Suzuki said.

May 31, 2015

Dan Jennings explains "creative" lineup configuration with pitcher batting 8th

NEW YORK -- The last time a pitcher for the Marlins was positioned anywhere other the ninth spot in the lineup was in 2005 when Jack McKeon penciled Dontrelle Willis into the seventh (two times) and eighth (two times) spots.

Now new manager Dan Jennings is getting in on the act.

Jennings' lineup for today's game against the Mets and Bartolo Colon has starter David Phelps batting eighth and catcher Jhonatan Solano in the No. 9 spot.

The reason?

"It's a little bit of putting more meat on the bone for the top of our order, give RBI opportunities for two through five (in the lineup)," Jennings said.

Jennings said the the lineup wrinkle also provides better double-switch possibilities, and gives Phelps a better chance of dropping down a successful sacrifice bunt with the speedier Christian Yelich hitting in front of him rather than the slower Solano.

Jennings also has Ichiro Suzuki batting in the fifth spot based on his prior success against Colon (.317 average in 102 career plate appearances).

"We just looked at it in the perspective of today knowing that Johnatan was going to start," Jennings said. "Trying to be a little creative with the personnel we had playing today. We'll see how it unfolds."

Here's the lineup as the Marlins go for their first road sweep since July of last season: 1. Dee Gordon 4; 2 2. Martin Prado 5; 3. Giancarlo Stanton 9; 4. Justin Bour 3; 5. Ichiro Suzuki 8; 6. Donovan Solano 6; 7. Christian Yelich 7; 8. David Phelps 1; 9. Jhonatan Solano 2.

________________

Jennings said Adeiny Hechavarria is available to come off the bench, if necessary. Hechavarria sat out Saturday, one day after bruising his left shoulder in an outfield collision with Yelich.

"He's ready," Jennings said of Hechavarria. "We're just trying to give him a little time. He could go today."

________________

Mat Latos (15-day DL, left knee inflammation) will have a bullpen session on Monday and, if all goes well, may make a rehab start on Thursday.

Jarred Cosart (15-day DL, vertigo) and Jose Fernandez (60-day DL, elbow) are scheduled to square off Monday in Jupiter in an extended spring game.

Henderson Alvarez (15-day DL, right shoulder inflammation) has not started throwing. Jennings said he is going through shoulder strengthening treatment.

________________

With his Citi Field-record 466-foot home run in Saturday’s ninth inning, Giancarlo Stanton supplanted Cliff Floyd at No. 10 on the Marlins’ all-time list for hits.

The home run was Stanton’s 662nd hit with the Marlins.

Luis Castillo is the all-time franchise leader with 1,273 hits with the Marlins. Just ahead of Stanton at No. 9: Juan Pierre with 682 hits.
__________

Dan Haren was used as a pinch-hitter Saturday, becoming the first Marlins pitcher to do so since Javier Vazquez in 2011. The Marlins are playing with a short bench, and Haren -- a career .207 hitter -- was the logical candidate among the team’s pitchers to swing the bat.

Haren has had nine plate appearances as a pinch-hitter over his career, going 1 for 4 with a pair of walks. Haren struck out swinging in Saturday’s pinch-at bat in the eighth.

May 30, 2015

Miami Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria out indefinitely with shoulder injury

NEW YORK -- Adeiny Hechavarria was in such pain that he could barely remove his undershirt following Friday's game in which he collided with Christian Yelich on a bloop hit into no man's land. On Saturday, his name wasn't on the lineup card for the first time all season.

Hechavarria injured his left shoulder in the collision with Yelich, and said the earliest he could possibly play is Monday when the Marlins return home to open a brief home stand with the Chicago Cubs.

He is expected to be seen by a doctor today, so the exact nature of the injury is unknown. But manager Dan Jennings said it appears that the injury is a bruise and Hechavarria should miss no more than a couple of games at most.

"Basically, my shoulder hurts when I do any type of movement, up or down," Hechavarria said through a translator. "I do expect to be in the lineup sometime in the near future."

Hechavarria is having an All-Star caliber season. He's hitting .300 and his defensive play has been outstanding and often breathtaking. If there is any consolation, it's that the injury is not to his throwing shoulder.

"I'm definitely fortunate it was left and not my right," he said.

Hechavarria said he did not think he could have hit had the game continued and his turn come up.

"I knew I couldn't hit," he said. "My shoulder was bothering me. It was tight. And I got the wind knocked out of me, so it was tough for me to breathe."

Hechavarria remained in the game for the final two outs as the Marlins held on for a 4-3 win.

Hechavarria is the only player on the Marlins who has not missed a game.

"It's upsetting for me to miss the game (Saturday), and to miss a game at all during the year," Hechavarria said. "It's always a goal of mine, and everybody's, to be able to play in every single game."

Because the Marlins are carrying 13 pitchers, their bench is already short. With Hechavarria out of the picture, it's even shorter. Donovan Solano will start Saturday at shortstop.

"Pretty ugly collision when you watch it over and over," Jennings said.

Yelich was charging in for the ball as Hechavarria was going out when they collided. Yelich said he was going to dive head-first for the ball until the last moment when he caught Hechavarria coming at him out of the corner of his eye.

"We hit each other good," Yelich said. "It could have been a lot worse. If I dove head-first, we'd probably both be going to the hospital for sure, which I'm glad I didn't do."

May 29, 2015

Jose Fernandez, Jarred Cosart to square off Monday; Stanton, Morse updates

NEW YORK -- The most compelling pitching matchup of the day Monday won’t be the one at Marlins Park when the Chicago Cubs arrive for a three-game series.

It will be up the road in Jupiter when Jose Fernandez and Jarred Cosart go head-to-head in a split-squad extended spring game.

“It’s a big day,” said Marlins manager Dan Jennings. “It’s a step toward the right direction for both guys, and we’re glad to see that occur because they’ll be welcome additions up here.”

Cosart is working his way back from vertigo while Fernandez is ramping it up a notch on his comeback from Tommy John surgery. It will be the first outing for Fernandez in an actual game setting, and he’ll be restricted to 45 pitches.

The Marlins hope to have Fernandez back by the end of June.

_________________

Giancarlo Stanton’s power numbers are strong. But Stanton said he doesn’t feel he’s played up to his usual high standards.

“I don’t feel like I’ve played as well as I can, or should have, so far,” Stanton said.

Stanton is third in the N.L. with 13 homers and second with 42 RBI.

But he is hitting just .232 and his .828 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) is well below his career figure of .898.

Still, Stanton said it could be worse.

“I’m just happy I’ve been able to survive and get through certain situations and opportunities when I haven’t felt as great as I have before,” he said. “For not feeling as comfortable as normal, I like how I’ve been able to survive.”

Stanton said he is fine physically, but just hasn’t always felt comfortable at the plate.

“I’m not far off,” he said.
_____________

Michael Morse saw a hand specialist in South Florida on Thursday and was diagnosed with a strained ligament.

“Hopefully he’ll be able to start swinging in a week, and then begin to rehab and come back,” Jennings said of the first baseman.
___________

The Marlins claimed right-handed reliever Chad Smith off waivers from the Angels on Friday and optioned him to Triple A New Orleans.

Smith, 25, has made 12 relief appearances in the majors, 10 last season with Detroit (5.40 ERA) and two this season with Oakland (five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings).
____________

 

May 26, 2015

Sources: Brett Butler out as third base coach following sign flap; Morse to DL

PITTSBURGH -- The coaching and managing upheaval continues with the Marlins, as Brett Butler is out as third base coach as of this afternoon, according to sources with knowledge of the decision. He's been reassigned to be the team's outfield and base running coach.

Assistant hitting coach Lenny Harris will now man the coaching box at third, sources said.

The latest coaching staff change comes a week after manager Mike Redmond was fired and replaced by Dan Jennings.

And Butler's exit comes one day after confusion and disagreement occurred on a hit-and-run play in Monday's game against the Pirates. With the Marlins trailing 4-2 in the seventh, Christian Yelich received the hit-and-run sign from Butler -- something that goes against conventional baseball wisdom when a team is trailing -- and, following orders, swung at the first pitch to protect the runner, J.T. Realmuto, as he took off for second. Yelich grounded to second and, sources said, was upset upon returning to the dugout that he wasn't allowed to swing away as the situation normally dictates.

Earl Weaver, in his book "Weaver on Strategy," explains his distaste for the hit-and-run play (emphasis added):

I don’t have a hit-and-run sign, and I believe it’s the worst play in baseball… you often give the opposition an out on the hit-and-run play. That’s because you can’t trust the pitcher to throw a strike, so the hitter is often waving weakly at a ball that’s off the plate. That usually results in a weak grounder that gets the runner to second, but the hitter is easily retired at first. Hell, you may as well bunt! Over the course of the season, only a few guys actually get hits on the hit-and-run play, because everything must go right for it to work. About the only thing you can say for the hit-and-run is that it prevents the double-play grounder. But when you add up the caught stealing, the weak grounders, and the line-drive double plays, that advantage vanishes. I’ll take my chances with a normal swing anytime."

 After the inning ended, Butler and new bench coach Mike Goff became engaged in a heated debate in the dugout, sources said, with Butler contending he was merely relaying the sign that was sent to him from the bench and Goff telling him the hit-and-run sign was never sent.

More on this later after the Marlins announce and discuss the decision...

_________________

The Marlins announced earlier today that first baseman Michael Morse has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ring finger -- the first indication that Morse was dealing with an injury. The move was made to make room on the roster for Jose Urena, who was recalled from Triple A New Orleans to start tonight's game.

Morse's DL move could simply be a convenient way to get him back on track at the plate by giving him at bats on minor-league rehab assignments, though that part of it hasn't been revealed to media. Morse, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal in the offseason, is off to a poor start (.211) and lost his starting job to Justin Bour, who has started each of the past six games and is hitting .365.

May 25, 2015

Does lack of coaching pedigree put Dan Jennings in the crosshairs? Plus more MIami Marlins news and notes.

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle was quick to welcome Dan Jennings to the fraternity of managers when he fired off a quick text right after the Marlins put him in the dugout: "Welcome to the club of first-guessing."

But only one week into the job, Jennings is not only receiving his share of criticism for a few of his managerial decisions, the thinly veiled jabs are originating from members of his own club.

Arizona manager Chip Hale pointed to what he perceived to be a possible managing oversight by Jennings last week when, believing the Marlins didn't have a right-hander ready in the bullpen, sent in right-handed pinch-hitter A.J. Pollock to face lefty Mike Dunn last week.

Pollock's two-run homer proved the difference in the outcome, never mind the fact that right-handed reliever Bryan Morris had warmed up one inning earlier and was ready to go in if summoned.

On Sunday, after Jennings' bullpen moves figured prominently in a win over the Orioles, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter sounded unimpressed: "They used what, three guys three days in a row out of the bullpen to get it done? We'll see how that works down the road."

Would a traditional manager -- someone groomed for the role -- be treated similarly?

Jennings said he doesn't perceive any slights based solely on his lack of a coaching background.

"I think it would probably be the same for any new manager," Jennings said. "New managers are going to be tested until they show or develop their style."

But in a radio interview with former general manager Jim Bowden, Hall all but acknowledged his displeasure with the front office-to-managing switch without a lack of on-field training.

"I think it's frustrating in a way for guys who've done it," Hall replied when asked by Bowden about his thoughts on the Jennings hiring. "I've said this before: when you finish playing or get into Major League Baseball on the minor league level, you say, 'OK, what do I want to do? OK, I want to manage in the big leagues. What do I have to do? I'm going to bust my hump coaching and teaching and become the best manager at the minor league level that I can, then get to the big leagues.' It's not looking like that track is going to be the way anymore."
______________

Jose Urena didn't get a chance to start when he was up with the Marlins in April. But it's all but certain he'll get his chance now. The Marlins are expected to promote the right-hander from Triple A New Orleans and put him on the mound Tuesday against the Pirates. Urena was scratched from his scheduled start for the Zephyrs on Monday.

Urena has been steady and solid for the Zephyrs. Since returning to the minors from his brief stint with the Marlins, Urena has gone 3-0 with a ridiculously low 1.15 ERA in five starts. Look for Urena to notch his outs via contact. He struck out just 12 (while walking eight) in those five starts.

The Marlins don't plan on announcing the move until Tuesday. They also haven't named a starter for Wednesday. Brad Hand is a possibility, as is recent call-up Andre Rienzo.

"The course of this game could determine those two," Jennings said Monday. "But we will be ready to do it after this game, just depending on who we have to go to in our bullpen tonight."

______________

Jeff Baker said he was unavailable throughout the weekend series against the Orioles after sustaining a strained hand ligament earlier last week. But Baker said the injury has healed to the point that can be used in whatever role the Marlins need him for.

Baker injured the hand on a collision at first against the Diamondbacks. There were a couple of pinch-hit situations against Orioles left-handers in which Baker would normally have been used, but wasn't.

______________

Jarred Cosart won't be returning from the disabled list when his 15 days are up. The Marlins plan on having Cosart make a rehab start in the minors, but not until next week. Cosart was placed on the DL, retroactive to May 14, with vertigo.

"It depends on how long it takes for it to evolve," said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. "It's really uncharted territory. It's not like an elbow that needs to heal, or inflammation in the shoulder. We're cautiously optimistic that (he'll return) shortly after 15 days, but we really don't know."

______________

Hill said Henderson Alvarez has not received a MRI since going on the DL a second time this season with right shoulder inflammation.

"We want to let everything calm down and see where he's at," Hill said. "So, after a week or so, we'll start to ramp him up again. If it's better, then he'll continue. If not, then we'll get him a MRI."

May 24, 2015

Marlins notes: Yelich on taking Jennings for a dip; Capps' first win; rotation picture

Whether its dunking on the game's hero being interviewed post-game or bathing them in shaving cream, the Marlins know how to come up with creative ways to celebrate.

Saturday night, after they finally got Dan Jennings his first victory, they came up with another -- taking their skipper for a dip in the pool at The Clevelander.

For Jennings it turned out to be more of a bath than anything else. In the clubhouse, per team tradition, he was covered in shaving cream -- and other things.

"Obviously it's been kind of a frustrating couple of weeks for us," said left fielder Christian Yelich, who said he and Dee Gordon had been kicking around the idea pregam about taking their manager for a dip after they finally got him his first win. "This game is kind of about having fun and stuff like that and we kind of wanted to get back to that. It kind of started off as a joke and after we got in here after the win last night everybody was saying 'Let's go in the pool!' We did it. Jumped in."

Yelich said he'd been in The Clevelander pool once before during his rookie season in 2013. But Yelich said it's the first time most of the team went in together.

"It was kind of a cool moment," Yelich said. "[The shaving cream baths are] something that kind of happens whenever there is a first in the big leagues for you. I really won't tell you what it is, but it's something happens after your first save, first win. After that, everybody went to the pool. I don't really think it's that big of a deal. But it's nice to loosen it up and get back to having fun. When you're having fun you play looser. It's the better way to go about things."

Said first baseman Justin Bour: "The way we got that win, it was just a good time. I don’t know if I did a bellyflop or a backflop [into the pool]. Whatever it was I got the most out of it."

> According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jennings became only the 12th manager in baseball history to pick up their first win in extra innings -- joining Cy Young among others. Young served as a player/manager of the Boston Americans (who became the Red Sox) for six games in 1907 and pitched the 14th inning of an 8-4 win over the Philadelphia Athletics. So Young picked up the win as a manager and pitcher.

CAPPS AN UNSUNG HERO

Reliever Carter Capps picked up his first win as a Marlin in Saturday night's 13-inning marathon -- and he earned it. Capps pitched a career-high three innings and struckout a career-high six in only his second appearance since he was recalled from Triple A New Orleans on Wednesday.

His fastball was registering between 96 and 98 miles per hour and he was mixing in some impressive sliders. Acquired from the Mariners for Logan Morrison at the 2013 Winter Meetings, the Marlins have been working on adjusting Capps' delivery for the last two years so he has better command. 

"That was definitely my best big league outing, so I was pretty excited about that," Capps said. "That's probably the best I've felt with my slider command."

Said Jennings: "I tip my hat to John Duffy, our Triple A pitching coach and Charlie Corbell our minor league roving pitch coach. They spent time working with [Capps]. There was a mechanical adjustment that was made. To his credit, he did the work, he got the adjustment and he came out there last night and was just wow."

ROTATION STILL NOT SET

The Marlins will be hitting the road after Sunday's game for a six-game trip through Pittsburgh and New York and still haven't announced who will take the spots of Henderson Alvarez and Mat Latos in the starting rotation on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But it's become clear Justin Nicolino won't be one of those guys because he pitched Saturday for Triple A New Orleans. Nicolino threw 101 pitches and pitched seven innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 win over El Paso to improve to 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA on the season.

Right-hander Jose Urena, who made two quick relief appearances with the Marlins earlier this year, hasn't pitched for New Orleans since Monday. He leads the Pacific Coast League with a 1.21 ERA and is 4-0 this season. Jennings again Sunday morning brought up long reliever Brad Hand as a potential fill-in. 

"I have to tell you he's been absolutely impressive in his role and what he's adjusted to down there," Jennings said of Hand, who is 0-1 with a 5.64 ERA in 13 relief appearances this season and is 4-18 with a 4.54 ERA in 31 career starts.

"I see a lot of team first mindset, team first mentality and that's huge."

The Marlins are hoping to have some clarity on the health of Alvarez after he has an MRI sometime Sunday. Asked if they might shelve Alvarez (0-4, 6.45) for the remainder of the season because this is the second time he's gone to the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, Jennings responded: ""Let's hope not. No. Maybe for the rest of this month."

"He's working very diligent to strengthen that," Jennings continued. "The shoulder is the shoulder. It's one of those things where after the season starts nobody feels 100 percent. There's a lot of wear and tear on their parts, so you just go to strengthen it up and focus on that area and that's what he's doing now pretty intensely. He will find a way to get through this because he's a competitor and he's athletic."

Jennings said he's hoping to have Alvarez and Latos back not long after they are eligible to come off the disabled list. 

"Based on what I heard thus far, it seems like some of them it could be the 15-days and then have them back ready," Jennings said. "Maybe in that 15 to 20 [days] window. That's best case."

May 23, 2015

Two more punches to the gut: Latos, Alvarez headed to the disabled list

As if things couldn't get any worse, after dropping their eighth game in a row Friday, the Marlins sent two top of the rotation starters -- Henderson Alvarez and Mat Latos -- to the disabled list.

"Alvarez is going on the DL with right shoulder inflammation and Latos is going on the DL with left knee inflammation," manager Dan Jennings said. "There will be corresponding roster moves that will occur [Saturday]."

For Alvarez, who fell to 0-4 with a 6.45 ERA on Friday, it's the second time this season he's gone to the disabled list with shoulder inflammation and maybe a sign the Marlins rushed him back from his last stint. Earlier in the day Friday, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported that Alvarez has apparently been pitching with a 90 percent torn UCL for years, but has been able to get by without needing surgery.

Asked about that before the game, Jennings said: "When we made the trade there was medical exchanges, and we were good with what we had. These guys who have pitched in the big leagues a while there are no pristine arms. There’s wear and tear on all of them.

"Henderson is a competitor and he’ll keep running out there. I’m not sure wehre the information came from – I too heard the report – at the same time I’m not a medical person. We’ll put that in the hands of our medical people."

Jennings said Alvarez began feeling discomfort in the fifth and sixth innings. 

Latos, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus on his left knee, has struggled all season going 1-4 with a 6.12 ERA in nine starts. Last weekend, he was nailed on a comebacker to the mound on his left shin, but made his next start and lost to the Diamondbacks earlier this week, blowing a 3-1 lead.

"He still has the bruise and pretty significant," Jennings said. "[But this is] something with his knee that is ongoing. He's battled through it. He's taken the ball. We just need him to dedicate some time strictly to rebuilding that strength in that knee and coming back to the 100 percent level."

Alvarez and Latos began the season at the top of the Marlins' rotation. Now, it's likely the club will turn to minor leaguers Justin Nicolino and Jose Urena to fill those voids in the rotation.

Nicolino, a left-hander, is 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA in Triple A New Orleans. Urena, briefly called up on earlier this season to provide long relief, is 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA in New Orleans.

"It's tough," Jennings said of losing Alvarez and Latos. "Mat he's a top of the rotation guy when he's 100 percent, when he's healthy. Hendu is an All-Star. So, now someone's going to get an opportunity to step up. Hopefully it will be a boost for us, maybe even a spark. We've had a few guys below perform well and we'll see which guy we go to bring up and give them that opportunity."

> Fans booed Friday when Jennings went to the bullpen with the bases loaded and nobody and brought in former closer Steve Cishek.

"Looking for the ground ball in that situation," Jennings explained. "This guy has performed in high stress situations -- 39 saves last year. We have confidence in him. It didn't work out tonight. The bullpen has been taxed. Two games in a row the bullpen has been taxed and these guys have taken the ball. They've battled, are very gutty. Tonight it didn't work out. But we were looking for the groundball there. His sinker and slider are two good pitches to get that."

> The Marlins finished 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position. Are they pressing? "No. I can't say it is because we had tremendous at-bats. We set the tone early. Dee [Gordon stole] two bags and [Giancarlo Stanton] gets the hit and we're moving, things are looking good. We were aggressive and did some things to set the tone and jumped ahead 3-0.

"Tremendous at bats. They're battling. I think of the basehits [14] we had there were only two extra base hits. We need that hit to get in the spot where we can do damage. But I will take the way they're battling and the way they're approaching this game and the at-bats they had. Again, it's coming out of that storm. There's a lot of positive to this."

May 22, 2015

Marlins say they weren't trying to send a message by skipping charity event, just exhausted, tired of losing

The Marlins Foundation hosted its annual Fish 'N Chips casino style party Thursday night, a charitable event aimed at bringing fans together with players, coaches and alumni while raising money for the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.

In the end, the foundation would have been better off just calling it Chips because there were no Fish in attendance. 

Caught up in the disappointment of a seven-game losing streak, the handful of Marlins players who had committed to attending the evening skipped out, bringing ire from fans Friday who paid between $100 and $175 to be there. 

Although the event was only optional for players to attend, team president David Samson said he was disappointed none of the ones who had committed showed and promised there would be a follow-up in the clubhouse. 

So were the Marlins players trying to send a message about manager Mike Redmond's firing earlier this week and about who the organization made his replacement?

Everyone in the organization that spoke Friday said that absolutely was not the case. They said the seven-game skid and the fact the Marlins lost a hard-fought 7-6 afternoon game to the Diamondbacks were the reasons why players skipped the event. 

"I can see why people are making a big deal about it -- people pay money, want to be around the players," said relief pitcher Steve Cishek, who is also the club's player representative. "But you've got to realize we were here all day. Everyone is exhausted. You look at Dee Gordon, he's stumbling around the locker room after the game, played his heart out. Everyone battled yesterday. It was just not the right timing. It's tough to explain. It's just the way things are going for us right now. All of our guys have taken it to heart. Everyone is an adult here. They just didn't show up. Their decision."

Samson said the losing streak nor the long day were valid excuses for players to skip the event.

"I think win or lose, what we do in the community matters most," Samson said. "Obviously we want to win more and they're working very hard to win. But from my standpoint, when you have a commitment with the community, you've got to do it.

"Listen, a lot of guys are very generous with their time and very generous with their pocket book. The fact is though sometimes you make commitments and you lose a game and you're tired and grumpy and angry. But guess what -- you have to continue on with what your job is, and the job doesn't end at the 27th out."

Manager Dan Jennings and most of his coaching staff did attend Thursday night's event. So too did president of baseball operations Mike Hill. Jennings said he hopes fans will eventually cut the players some slack.

"I hope our fans are more aggravated at the 0-7 than the missing the event," Jennings said. "These players, their hearts are in the right place. I think their track record from what they do and what they’ve done in the community speak to that."

Said Cishek: "Obviously the players feel badly about it. But like I said, it's just been a tough go for us. Everyone is exhausted and we're just worried about playing this game, winning [Friday]. We owe that guy [Jennings] a win. We need to get back on the right track."

May 20, 2015

Jennings searching for hittin' lickin' good lineup; Latos, Gordon and more

On his third day on the job, new manager Dan Jennings shook up the lineup by elevating Marcell Ozuna into the No. 2 hole and dropping Martin Prado in the cleanup spot. The quest, obviously, is to find a combination that can put runs on the board.

"We're looking for a spark, and sometimes you've got to move pieces here or there until you get the right formula," Jennings said. "I'm sure the Colonel tried a lot of recipes before he came up with the secret one for the chicken. So we're going to hopefully keep working it until we find ours."

The Marlins scored just 10 runs in the first five games of the home stand, going 0-5.

"It was a late night here last night, and we went through a lot of different scenarios," Jennings said of a post-mortem coaching pow-wow following Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. "So this is what we feel like is the best lineup for us today."

Ozuna is no stranger to the No. 2 spot, where he has hit better than .300. Prado also has previous experience in the cleanup position.

Here's how tonight's lineup look: 1. Dee Gordon, 2b; 2. Marcell Ozuna, cf; 3. Giancarlo Stanton rf; 4. Martin Prado 3b; 5. Christian Yelich lf; 6. Michael Morse 1b; 7. Adeiny Hechavarria ss; 8. Jhonatan Solano c; 9. David Phelps 1.

___________________

He's walking around with a left ankle and shin that's heavily taped, and wears a brace on his surgically repaired left knee after having 90 cc's of fluid drained from that knee in spring training. Pitcher Mat Latos hasn't had an easy time getting healthy but still intends to take the mound Thursday for the first time since being struck in his shin by a batted ball in his previous start.

"I'm trying to do this job at 60, 70, 80 percent," Latos said. "(I've) pitched like crap. I'm tired of it, to be honest with you. It's something I've got to go through. I'm out there trying to compete, and not being 100 percent -- or 90 percent -- is not the greatest thing. Once I started to get right, I took a line drive off the leg, and now I've got to deal with that. It affects me more than what people would really know. I have to deal with putting all my weight on that leg when I go to throw."

But Latos said he's "good enough to go" even though there's "tightness in there, there's bruising."

"Like I've said before, it's going to take me a missing limb for me not to be able to make a start," he said. "I'll be out there every fifth day, giving it 110 percent for as long as I can."

_______________

Carter Capps believes he's toned down his odd delivery, though it remains a work in progress. The hard-throwing, right-handed reliever was called for illegal pitches while with Triple A New Orleans due to a delivery in which he kicks off the rubber with his hind foot well before he releases the ball.

"I tried to make everything simpler and be more relaxed, and make it a little more fluid, minimize the jumping aspect of it," Capps said. "Other than that, it feels pretty comfortable right now. I'm still working on it. It's a daily thing and I'm sure it will be a daily thing for a while. As far as I'm concerned, it shouldn't be an issue anymore."

_______________

Dee Gordon tried unsuccessfully to drop down a two-strike bunt in his first at bat on Tuesday, fouling off the attempt and striking out. Though it's an unconventional approach, Gordon said he's "done it plenty of times before," just not with the Marlins this season.

"I think I've gone like 5 for 10 doing it," Gordon said.