August 10, 2014

Jack McKeon: Brad Penny's outing "brought back a lot of memories"

[Update on item below: Mike Redmond announced following today's game that he would use six different starters over the coming six days: Tom Koehler (Monday), Jarred Cosart (Tuesday), Nathan Eovaldi (Wedneday), Brad Penny (Thursday), Brad Hand (Friday) and Henderson Alvarez (Saturday). But there are no plans to stick with a 6-man rotation beyond this first go-around.]


CINCINNATI -- Other than Brad Penny himself, perhaps no one was happier with the pitcher’s winning performance Saturday than his former Marlins manager, Jack McKeon.

Mckeon“I was really proud of him,” said McKeon, who watched the telecast of Penny’s first Marlins outing in 10 years from his home in North Carolina. “He was one of my favorite guys.”

Penny, of course, was a key member of the 2003 Marlins, going 14-10 that season and winning two games for them in the World Series.

“It brought back a lot of memories,” McKeon said of Penny’s comeback outing Saturday. “He was like the old Penny. He was a bulldog like he used to be. He knows how to pitch. He doesn’t give in.”

With both Jarred Cosart and Henderson Alvarez rejoining the rotation this week, the Marlins will have a decision to make with their starting staff, and Penny figures to be the odd man out.

The Marlins will have six starters, and Penny could be moved to the bullpen as a long reliever.

Cosart missed his last start due to an oblique strain but is set to pitch Tuesday in Miami. Alvarez, who is on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, said his bullpen throwing session on Sunday went well. He can come off the DL on Thursday and pitch that night.

The Giants used Penny as a reliever in 2012, his last previous big-league season.

But, Redmond hasn't yet indicated how his rotation will line up, other than to say he would prefer not to go with a six-man rotation.


Steve Cishek couldn’t have picked a much better spot in which to record his first major league pickoff.

With the Marlins clinging to a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning on Saturday, a runner on first with no outs for the Reds, and a full count on Billy Hamilton, Mike Redmond signaled from the dugout for Cishek to throw over to first.

“In that situation, we knew (Chris Heisey) was going to go, and we hadn’t thrown over at all, and it seemed like the right time to throw over there,” Redmond said. “It was just a perfect time. We fired over there and it worked.”

Heisey was caught leaning when Cishek threw to first, and ended up being tagged out in the ensuing rundown. Cishek promptly retired the next two batters to close out the win.

“Pickoff is probably the last way I think I’d ever get someone out, but it worked out great,” Cishek said. “(Heisey) was going for sure. A 3-2 count with a decent contact hitter up there, he was probably going to go. The dugout picked up on it and it worked out great.”

August 09, 2014

10 years later, Brad Penny returns to Marlins

CINCINNATI -- It's one of those Marlins baseball stories that continues to bring smiles to those who remember it. It was early in the 2003 season, the Marlins were at their lowest point record-wise with a 19-29 mark, the team was in Cincinnati, and starting pitcher Brad Penny was throwing-up sick in the team hotel, unable to take the mound that night at Great American Ball Park.

So Jack McKeon turned to Tommy Phelps, with most assuming the Marlins' miserable season would continue. Only that wasn't what happened. Phelps and the Marlins beat the Reds that night -- and from then on, they kept on winning, all the way to the World Series. It was a key turning point in that magical season for the Marlins, and Penny was a big reason why, not only that night, but on a lot of others to follow.

"This is a good place to start a streak," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Friday, reminiscing on that 2003 moment involving Penny. "This is a good place to start a streak. We need to get a streak going. This would be a perfect time. We had one, now we need another one."

And the Marlins are hoping Penny can help them do it again.

Penny, now 36, will be making his major league comeback tonight for the Marlins at Great American. Penny hasn't pitched in the majors in two years. He hasn't started a big-league game in three. And he hasn't pitched for the Marlins in 10.

"I'm excited," Penny said. "It’s been 10 years since I pitched for the Marlins and I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a little weird. But I’ve been with so many teams, it’s also kind of normal.”

Plenty of Marlins players have had return engagements, but none like this. No player has ever gone at least 10 years between his Marlins stints. Until now. Penny

Penny, whose last major league appearance came in 2012 with the Giants, began his career with the Marlins in 2000 and returns as a figure from its glorious past. His 48 wins as a Marlin rank fifth on the team's all-time list -- one behind A.J. Burnett -- and he's the only Marlins pitcher ever to win two World Series games. He won Games 1 and 5 against the Yankees in the '03 Series.

Midway through the 2004 season, Penny was traded to the Dodgers for Paul Lo Duca and others. He was a two-time All-Star in Los Angeles and in 2007 finished third in voting for the Cy Young Award.

But it's been three years, when he was with Detroit, since Penny recorded a major league win. He tried playing baseball in Japan last year, made one start there, and returned home, his career seemingly over. But not as far as Penny was concerned.

"I just took last year off, gave my body a rest," he said. "Everything was kind of aching. I just decided to give everything a rest."

A re-energized Penny signed with the Marlins earlier in the summer and, lo and behold, looked like the Penny of old in his minor-league outings. He went 2-2 with a 2.28 ERA in his five outings for New Orleans. In those starts, he struck out 26 and walked nine in 27 innings. He didn't give up any home runs.

It hasn't been a good year for players trying to resurrect their careers with the Marlins (see Rafael Furcal, Randy Wolf and Kevin Gregg). But the Marlins are counting on Penny to reverse that trend.

"It's been a long road for him coming back," Redmond said. "I don't know what it'll do for the other guys, because most of these guys (all of them, actually) weren't around when Brad was pitching. I know for me, it's going to be fun. I caught a lot of his starts and seeing him out on that mound, and me managing him, it's kind of fitting. I'm excited for him. We need him to come in and have some big starts. Hopefully he'll come in and be a nice spark for us."

August 08, 2014

Marlins trade Jacob Turner to Cubs; Stanton rides a camel; Roster moves galore

CINCINNATI -- With little in the way of leverage to command a greater return, the Marlins settled on a couple of minor-league relievers in order to complete a deal with the Cubs for Jacob Turner. The Marlins acquired right-handers Tyler Bremer, 24, and Jose Arias, 23, for Turner, who was snatched up by the Cubs after being designated for assignment.

Bremer and Arias were at Single A Kane County and both are older than the 23-year-old Turner.

Bremer was 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA and 12 saves in 28 relief appearances for Kane County -- the Cubs' High-A team -- while Arias was 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 25 relief outings. Neither pitcher is ranked among the Cubs' top 30 prospects.

One scout described the two relievers as "up-and-down major leaguers -- at best."

But once they decided to designate Turner, the Marlins didn't have a lot of choice.

"The Cubs were the club awarded with the claim," said Michael Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations. "They had exclusive negotiating rights for his services. You could have pulled him back, but then you wouldn't have been able to trade him to the Cubs. Your only real recourse would have been to go through release waivers."

Asked if the Marlins could have dealt Turner before the July 31 trading deadline and received something better in return, Hill replied: "It was a name we had discussed. Leading up to the trade deadline, if the right deal would have been there, it would have been something we would have considered. The right deal just never came up."


The roster received a makeover before Friday's game against the Reds, with six players changing places.

First, Jennings was placed on the 7-day concussion list after being struck in the head by a line drive last night in Pittsburgh. The word on Jennings remains good. The pitcher tweeted Friday that he was flying home to be with family.

The Marlins also optioned Brian Flynn and Kike Hernandez to Triple A New Orleans. Hernandez was sent down because the Marlins want him playing every day. Flynn, of course, made Thursday's start in Pittsburgh as an emergency fill-in for Jarred Cosart.

Promoted from NOLA were pitchers Anthony DeSclafani and Edgar Olmos and infielder Ed Lucas.

The Marlins will announce another move following tonight's game, with Brad Penny expected to start Saturday at Great American Ball Park. Even though Penny is in Cincinnati waiting to make his first major league appearance in two years -- and his first with the Marlins in 10 -- the Marlins are waiting to announce the move until after the game.


Tom Koehler ordered one of the new protective caps designed exclusively for pitchers before spring training, wore it around the house for a day or two, and eventually decided it was too uncomfortable to wear in a game situation. It now sits in his garage.

"Something needs to be done," Koehler said Friday, one day after Marlins teammate Dan Jennings was struck in the head with a line drive. "I think it's going to take a league-mandated rule to get guys to do it (wear a protective cap). With the technology we have today, there's got to be a way to find something. I don't know what it's going to take. But hopefully it doesn't take something more drastic than yesterday for a change to be made."

Koehler has been struck in the head with a line drive. It happened in his very first college game at Stoney Brook.

"I probably had a concussion, but I don't really know," Koehler said. "I was on a plane two days later to pitch against USC in California. The first guy hit a line drive back to me, and I almost pooped in my pants."


Finally, for your viewing pleasure, Giancarlo Stanton turned into a camel jockey for a MLB special. Check it out:

Line drive to head leaves Dan Jennings with concussion

Marlins reliever Dan Jennings remained overnight in a PIttsburgh hospital after being struck in the head with a line drive. Jennings was diagnosed with a concussion. But it could have been worse, and it was with a great sense of relief that it wasn't.

According to the Marlins, a CT scan was negative.

Jennings was on the mound in the seventh when Jordy Mercer's line drive struck him in the left side of the head. Jennings went down initially, got back on his feet quickly, but then -- clearly dazed -- dropped down to his knees as teammates and medical personnel gathered around the mound.

"That was scary," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said afterward. "Hopefully, everything checks out all right. He never lost consciousness, and he understood the questions."

Redmond was behind the plate the last time a Marlins pitcher was struck in the head by a line drive. The pitcher was Kevin Olsen, who was drilled by a Todd Walker line drive at Boston's Fenway Park in 2003.

In case you haven't seen it, here's last night's play with Jennings:

August 05, 2014

Jacob Turner designated for assignment

The Marlins finally ran out of time and patience with Jacob Turner, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday as the Marlins prepared to open a three-game series in Pittsburgh.

Brian Flynn was recalled from Triple A New Orleans to fill his roster spot.

Turner, who experienced another rough outing Sunday, was scheduled to make his next start Saturday in Cincinnati. But with Turner now out of the picture, that start could fall to Brad Penny, who turned in six scoreless innings Monday for Triple A New Orleans and is lined up perfectly to go on Saturday. Penny has not pitched in the majors since 2012 but has done well in the minors since being signed by the Marlins last month. 

We'll see what the Marlins have to say about all of this in the next few hours.

But, for now, it appears that Turner's days with the Marlins could be numbered. The former first-round draft pick never panned out as the Marlins had hoped when they acquired Turner, Flynn and catcher Rob Brantly from the Tigers in their 2012 trade with Detroit in which they gave up Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.

Turner, who was out of minor league options, has gone 8-19 with a 4.41 ERA during his time with the Marlins.

August 03, 2014

Dunn The Vulture; Valdespin Hot; Saltalamacchia Out

Marlins reliever Mike Dunn has a new nickname: The Vulture.

Bullpen buddy A.J. Ramos was flapping his arms Sunday morning, a day after Dunn tied a team record with nine wins as a reliever. Saturday night, Dunn swooped in to get the final two outs in the top of the 10th inning, earning the ‘W’ when Christian Yelich hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the inning.

“At this point in the season as long as the W’s are going to someone on our team, that’s all that matters.” Dunn said. “They all make fun of me … They all came in last night flapping their wings.”

Edward Mujica was the last reliever to earn nine wins in 2011, and Robb Nen did it in 1997. Dunn is now fourth in Marlins history with 17 career wins as a reliever. He is a win away from doubling his career high for a season, which he set in 2011 with five.

After earning Saturday’s victory, Dunn said others joked that he was only 11 games away from being a 20-game winner, but he said he’d be fine staying at nine.

“I prefer to get holds and let the starters collect the wins,” Dunn said.

Dunn earned Saturday’s win by striking out both Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce, stranding an inherited runner at third.

“Coming into the game in that situation, I had a one-track mind,” Dunn said. “With Billy Hamilton, I couldn’t let him put the ball in play … I was able to get ahead of him — execute my first two pitches and then I had a little room to make a couple pitches outside the strike zone and get him to chase.

“With Bruce … I ultimately got ahead of him and felt pretty good and was able to get him to chase a pitch out of the zone too.”

Dunn has now logged five appearances without surrendering an earned run, lowering his ERA to 3.79 on the year. Four of his wins have come in July.

Henderson Alvarez is second on the team with eight wins.


By going 2-for-4 for a second straight game Saturday, second baseman Jordany Valdespin raised his average to .289 through his first 14 games with Miami. That ranks third among Marlins position players, behind only Casey McGehee and Giancarlo Stanton.

Valdespin has a hit in four of his last five games and seven of his last 18 at-bats.

Less than a month ago, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said the team was in the market for a second baseman. Last week Hill said he liked how Valdespin had fit into the lineup and the former Met remained the starter following last week’s trade deadline.

With that date passed, Valdespin can look forward and focus on continuing to help the team.

“Everything is good right now so I hope to keep doing well and keep playing everyday,” Valdespin said. “We have a good team and we can make the playoffs so we need to keep playing like this … playing with emotion.”


Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was not in the starting lineup for a second straight game Sunday. Saturday, manager Mike Redmond said the backstop was dealing with a sore back, but Saltalamacchia said he feels fine. 

“I don’t know what that’s about,” Saltalamacchia said before Sunday’s game.  “My back feels great.”

He added that Redmond told him Saturday night that Mathis would be starting Sunday without giving a specific reason.

Asked if he was antsy to return to the starting lineup, Saltalamacchia said he was.

“Yea, of course,” he said. “I’m watching our team play great right now and it’s fun to be a part of.”

Saltalamacchia had not missed two straight games since June 19 after he was struck by a foul ball. 

In his last 10 games, Saltalamacchia has hit .250. He was 0-for-4 in his last appearance Friday.

Backup Jeff Mathis has hit .097 in his last 10 times out.


> Reds (55-55): 1. Billy Hamilton CF, 2. Jay Bruce RF, 3. Todd Frazier 1B, 4. Devin Mesoraco C, 5. Ryan Ludwick 1B, 6. Skip Schumaker 2B, 8. Kris Negron 3B, 8. Zack Cozart SS, 9. Mike Leake RHP.

> Marlins (54-56): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Jacob Turner RHP.


  • Monday: OFF
  • Tuesday: Marlins LHP Brad Hand (2-3, 4.15 ERA) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates TBA, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park

August 02, 2014

Henderson Alvarez hoping to be back in two weeks to face Diamondbacks

Henderson Alvarez said the MRI performed on his right shoulder Friday showed nothing more than inflammation and he's hoping to be back on the mound for the Marlins when he's scheduled to come off the 15-day disabled list during the team's next home stand.

Alvarez said he's aiming to pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who play a four game series at Marlins Park from Aug. 14-17.

"I'm good. It's just inflammation," Alvarez said Saturday after the Marlins took batting practice. "There's nothing there. I'm just going to do treatment to bring down the inflammation and go from there."

Alvarez, 24, said he first began to feel discomfort in his shoulder since he pitched last week in Atlanta.

"The day before it started to hurt, but I kept pitching and doing my treatment to see if it went away. But it didn't get better. I pitched against Washington and it bothered me, but I kept pitching," he said. "I talked with the Marlins pitching coach and the trainers so we could avoid something worse."

Shoulder inflammation shelved Alvarez last season for the first three months of the season. Asked if it was the same type of injury, Alvarez said it wasn't.

"Dr. Kaplan, he just told me to rest my arm for a few days and in like five or six days I could throw to see how it felt," Alvarez said. "For me I'm sad that I have to be out. At the same time, it's good because I can avoid whatever bigger issue, and just rest so that inflammation goes away quickly."

The Marlins have gone 14-3 with Alvarez (8-5, 2.48 ERA) on the mound over his last 17 starts. He's thrown 137 2/3 innings and made 22 starts total in 2014, the second-most of his career. Two years ago Alvarez threw 187 1/3 innings for Toronto and made 31 starts. 

"Like any pitcher some guys go through a period of time where they get sore and they need a little bit of a breather and that's where he's at," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's pitched a lot of innings. Last year had the first two months off. This year, he hasn't had that time off like he had last year. The good news is that it's hopefully a short term deal, he'll be able to work through it and be fine."


With Alvarez on the disabled list, Jacob Turner is getting a chance to step into his spot and stay in the rotation. After falling out of the rotation in mid-June because of struggles and being reinserted into it after the All-Star Break, Turner (4-6, 5.69) was going to be the odd man out after the Marlins acquired Jarred Cosart from the Astros Thursday.

"It's an opportunity," said Turner, who is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA over his last two starts. "Henderson's been our most consistent pitcher. As a rotation, everyone's going to have to do their part a little bit and we're getting to the point where these are must-win games. It's crucial we go out and pitch deep into the games and give our team a chance to win."

Said Redmond: "His job is to take advantage of the starts he gets and put pressure on us to get him more starts. He understands that. We've made it very clear. We just want him to keep building off the momentum he's had."


After struggling through a rough July (.226, 4 HRs, 13 RBI), Giancarlo Stanton has started to swing his way out of it. Entering Saturday, he had homered in each of his last three games.

What's changed? His routine. Instead of taking batting practice with the team on the field he's spent that time indoors hitting off the machine.

"Just getting back to the basics," Stanton said. "That's it really. You don't have to do the same thing everyday but make sure you're prepared."

> Redmond said he's giving Jeff Mathis more playing time of late because Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been battling some stiffness in his back.

"We want to keep these guys as fresh as we can -- especially the catcher position," Redmond said. "These guys get banged up. These next two months are wear and tear for catchers for sure."


> Reds (55-54): 1. Billy Hamilton CF, 2. Jay Bruce RF, 3. Todd Frazier 3B, 4. Devin Mesoraco C, 5. Brayan Pena 1B, 6. Skip Schumaker LF, 8. Ramon Santiago 2B, 8. Zack Cosart SS, 9. Homer Bailey RHP.

> Marlins (53-56): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP.

August 01, 2014

Marlins place All-Star Henderson Alvarez on disabled list with shoulder inflammation; Turner to take spot in rotation

The big blows keep coming for the Marlins -- and this one could end up hurting more than Thursday's.

A day after a controversial, eighth-inning overturned call at the plate helped wipe out a chance at getting back to .500, the Marlins sent their best pitcher -- All-Star Henderson Alvarez -- to the 15-day disabled list on Friday with shoulder inflammation. 

"I don't know if it's in the same spot or the same type of pain he had last year, but we're going to get him checked out and make sure we get him healthy," manager Mike Redmond said. "Hopefully we caught it early enough where it's not a huge deal. Just 15 days on the DL hopefully. That's the hope."

Redmond said Alvarez, who tossed seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 win over the Nationals on Tuesday, came into the clubhouse Thursday complaining of soreness. 

"He felt it last night when he was sleeping so he came in and told [pitching coach] Chuck[Hernandez]," Redmond said. "How it works with those pitchers is you shut those guys down, let it calm down and let them get healthy. So Jacob Turner will go into the rotation. We plan on him pitching Sunday." 

Left-handed reliever Dan Jennings, sent down to Triple A New Orleans after Thursday's 3-1 loss to Cincinnati to make room for newly acquired starter Jarred Cosart, will return and take Alvarez's spot on the 25-man roster.  

Losing Alvarez couldn't have come at a worse time for the Marlins considering they had won nine of their last 12 games entering Friday to get back into the playoff race. The Marlins have won 14 of the last 17 games Alvarez has started. He's 8-5 with a 2.48 ERA, the fourth lowest among starters in the National League.

"We're in a situation where we're in must-win mode almost," Redmond said. "So to lose your best starter for a couple weeks is another blow. But hopefully Jake can step up and with Cosart [going Friday] he can fill in and give us a chance to win some games."

Before Alvarez's injury, Turner (4-6, 5.69 ERA) was going to be the odd man out in the Marlins' rotation with the addition of Cosart. Now, he's right back in there after having won each of his last two starts. Turner had fallen out of the rotation back in mid-June and was reinserted right after the All-Star break.

"I've got confidence in myself and I think that's the most important thing for any player," Turner said Friday. "I've been feeling good out there for a little while now, so that's a positive."

President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill said Thursday veteran Brad Penny could  be available for the Marlins if they need him in the rotation soon.

Penny, who has pitched in the majors since he was with the Giants for 22 games in 2012 (0-1, 6.11 ERA), made his fourth start for Triple A New Orleans on Wednesday and went six innings, giving up only two earned runs. He's gone 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in those four starts for the Zephyrs.

MLB releases statement regarding Thursday night's call at the plate

Major League Baseball issued the following statement today regarding the play at home plate in the top of the eighth inning of last night's Cincinnati Reds-Miami Marlins game at Marlins Park and the replay judgment that resulted in overturning the initial 'out' call, allowing the run to score because of a violation of Official Baseball Rule 7.13:

"The Replay Official judged that the catcher did not provide a lane to the runner and hindered his path to the plate without possession of the ball. The throw also did not force the catcher into the runner's pathway. As a result, in accordance with Rule 7.13, the ruling on the field was overturned and the run was allowed to score.

"We realize that people may reasonably have different opinions regarding the application of Rule 7.13 in any particular instance because it is a judgment call. We are continuously evaluating the application of the new rule, and we anticipate a full review with all appropriate parties in the off-season in order to determine whether any changes should be made. We also recognize that the exorbitant length of last night's review, which was more than three times the season average, must be avoided in the future.

"That said, the most important goal of this rule has been to eliminate dangerous collisions at home plate, and it cannot be disputed that the rule has been very effective toward achieving this purpose."

AUDIO: Redmond, Samson, McGehee, Koehler, Mathis, Morris talk controversial call in Thursday's loss

Click on the link to listen to the post-game reactions of the Marlins after Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Reds ended in controversy. (WARNING: It is unedited and there is foul language)