May 28, 2014

Stanton fourth among outfielders in first All-Star voting results; Heaney shines again

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It's almost certain Giancarlo Stanton is going to get selected to the All-Star Game in Minneapolis in July. The only question now is if he'll be selected as a starter by the fans or picked as a reserve.

Wednesday, the first All-Star voting results were released by Major League Baseball and Stanton was ranked fourth among all National League outfielders with 426,228 votes. The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon (549,394 votes), the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (467,378) and Brewers' Ryan Braun (446,780) are ahead of Stanton for the three starting spots selected by the fans.

Stanton, who leads the National League in homers (15) and major league baseball with 49 RBI, ranks seventh overall in the National League in votes. He's also the only Marlin listed among the top vote-getters by position. 

"He's been great," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Tuesday. "Spring training was big for him. You could tell he was a new man. He was energized with the moves we made. He's doing great. He's happy He's gotten some huge hits for us including [Monday's] game. It's been fun to watch him go out there and run around. You can tell he feels healthy, everything is going good. He's in a good place right now and that's good for us."

HEANEY SHINES AGAIN

Marlins top prospect Andrew Heaney had another stellar start Tuesday night for Triple A New Orleans, tossing six scoreless innings of one-hit ball in a rain-shorted win at Round Rock.

Heaney (1-0) struck out seven without walking a batter and threw 55 of his 78 pitches for strikes. At one point he retired 16 in a row. 

"[My command]'s been a big help lately," Heaney told MiLB.com. "I've really put a lot of emphasis on pounding the strike zone lately. You don't ever want to give up walks, but I've been working to not give in on 3-1 or 3-2. I want to make guys beat me. You try and stay out of deep counts, but they are going to happen sometimes. It's OK to let them beat me, but not beat myself."

WEDNESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (27-25): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Marcell Ozuna CF, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP.

> Nationals (25-26): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, 3. Jayson Werth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Wilson Ramos C, 6. Ian Desmond SS, 7. Kevin Frandsen 2B, 8. Nate McLouth LF, 9. Jordan Zimmerman RHP.

May 27, 2014

Capps heads to DL, won't throw for four weeks Redmond says; Furcal to play Thursday in Jupiter

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On a day when Jose Fernandez was back in Los Angeles having his cast and stitches removed following Tommy John surgery, another hard throwing Marlins pitcher -- right-handed reliever Carter Capps -- was headed to the disabled list with a sprained right elbow injury.

Although Fernandez was sent to the disabled list on May 12 with a similar right elbow sprain and then had season-ending surgery a week later, manager Mike Redmond said Tuesday surgery isn't in the plans for Capps.

"I think we feel like right now it's something that can be treated with rest," Redmond said. "He's going to go four weeks without throwing or picking up a ball. He'll be down for an extended period of time, and then we'll start building him back up and see where we're at."

Redmond said Capps experienced tenderness in his elbow after his last appearance Sunday against the Brewers. Redmond said Capps didn't even make the road trip with the Marlins, and had an MRI performed. Asked if there was a ligament tear, Redmond said "I don't know."

"I didn't really get into depth about what they saw in the MRI -- just that it was a right elbow sprain," Redmond said.

Arquimedes Caminero was recalled from Triple A New Orleans to replace Capps in the bullpen. Capps was acquired in the Logan Morrison trade with Seattle in December and made nine relief appearances. He had a 3.00 ERA over 12 innings of relief work for the Marlins since being called up from New Orleans on April 23. His average fastball velocity this season was 97.7 miles per hour according to Fangraphs.com. That's second behind only the Reds' Aroldis Chapman (100.1 miles per hours).

Caminero had a 13.50 ERA in five relief appearances for the Marlins before being sent back down to Triple A New Orleans. He's gone 1-1 with a 6.63 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 10 walks in 19 innings and 11 relief appearances for the Zephyrs.

Caminero, though, could be coming out his slump. He's tossed two innings of scoreless relief in each of his last three appearances for New Orleans.

"The biggest thing for me is to get him up here and see him do it at the big league level," Redmond said. "We've all seen the arm and stuff. But it's been a battle, it's been a struggle for him at this level getting big league hitters out. So I think this is a huge opportunity for him -- and really, we need him. We need him to come up and throw strikes and get guys out and be able to log some innings."

Outside of closer Steve Cishek, the back end of the bullpen has been a bit of a headache for Redmond this season.

After Chad Qualls (2 years, $6 million to Astros) and Ryan Webb (2 years, $4.5 million) left via free agency, the team spent $1.25 million to sign reliever Carlos Marmol this past off-season and traded for Capps. Marmol was released by the team on May 19 after going 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA and 10 walks in 13 innings. It was reported Tuesday Marmol will sign a minor league deal with the Reds.

Henry Rodriguez, another hard thrower signed to a minor league deal by the Marlins as insurance, was called up May 11 and designated for assignment three days later after two bad relief appearances (10.80 ERA, five walks).

Sunday, the team recalled left-hander Dan Jennings from New Orleans and placed left-hander Brad Hand (0-1, 6.38) on the disabled list. Right-hander Chris Hatcher, designated for assignment before spring training and then resigned to a minor league deal, was called up last Thursday. Now Caminero will get his second crack this season at a bullpen spot again. 

"We have young guys who are still establishing roles at the big league level," Redmond said. "At one point these guys [Nationals relievers] were young pitchers in the major leagues too. They kind of worked themselves into those roles and established themselves. Their guys are probably a little bit farther along than our guys are.

"But we feel like we've got quality arms to be able to get to that point where maybe in the next year or so we say [Mike Dunn] this is your inning. Or, AJ [Ramos] this is your inning, go get them. The [Nationals] kind of have that luxury. Right now were still piecing it together and making sure that we try to get guys in situations where they can be successful."

FURCAL TO PLAY THURSDAY

Second baseman Rafael Furcal, who has yet to play for the Marlins despite signing a $3.5 million deal this past winter, will start playing in rehab games again Thursday, Redmond said.

Furcal first injured his hamstring at the start of spring training and battled his way up to Double A Jacksonville in mid-April when he injured his groin running the bases. After a week off, Furcal got back into a game in Jacksonville and reinjured his groin.

Last week, Furcal started playing in extended spring training games. He'll begin his rehab assignment playing for Single A Jupiter, and then will likely progress the same way he was before -- being promoted to Double A, Triple A and so on.

"We've been down that road before. So hopefully this time he's good, feels good and gets healthy," Redmond said. "We didn't really talk about how many [rehab] games [he'll play]. But it's just like we talked about earlier. When he starts coming back, he's got to be able to show his legs can play multiple days in a row and he can feel good and be able to run. That's the biggest thing."

TUESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (27-25): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Marcell Ozuna CF, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP.

> Nationals (25-26): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, 3. Jayson Werth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Wilson Ramos C, 6. Ian Desmond SS, 7. Kevin Frandsen 2B, 8. Nate McLouth LF, 9. Blake Treinen RHP.

May 26, 2014

Wolf will get another start in Marlins rotation; Redmond talks Beckett no-hitter

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Randy Wolf's rough first start for the Marlins hasn't knocked the 37-year old veteran left-hander out of the rotation.

Despite getting rocked for six runs on eight hits by the Brewers and struggling to get through five innings Sunday, Redmond said Monday Wolf will get another crack at it Saturday back home at Marlins Park against the Braves.

"He hasn't pitched in a big league game in a long time, which is a testament to how hard he's worked to get himself back," Redmond said of Wolf, who underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2012 season. "First outing was a little rough, but hopefully the second one will be lights out. Because I've seen him be lights out. You know it's in there."

Wolf is the second pitcher to try and fill-in for the injured Jose Fernandez. Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani made two starts after Fernandez went down for the season on May 9. Sunday, DeSclafani lasted only four innings in his first start since being sent back to the minors. He allowed one run on four hits for Triple A New Orleans, but needed 75 pitches to get through it.

Top prospect Andrew Heaney was recently promoted to New Orleans. Heaney tossed five innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts last Thursday. He's scheduled to start for the Zephyrs again Tuesday. It's expected Heaney will at least get a few starts in Triple A before the Marlins call him up.

TEXTING JOSH BECKETT

Redmond said he sent a text message to former Marlins World Series hero and teammate Josh Beckett, who tossed his first no-hitter Sunday for the Dodgers in a win at Philadelphia.

Redmond said the two got a chance to catch up and talk baseball when the Marlins were in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago. 

"I told him, 'Hey man you never know it might be your best year and where you have the most fun because you have no expectations on yourself. You're just out there pitching every five days, having fun, enjoying it,'" Redmond said. "It's great to see Josh is in such a different place than we played together. So different personality-wise. He has kids now, married. It's a totally different Josh. But it's great. I'm happy for him.

"I know personally for him he's not a guy who looks at the stats. But with all the big games he's pitched he definitely deserved the no-hitter. It was cool. I wish I could have been there to catch it."

Beckett no longer registers his fastball in the mid to high 90s like he did when Redmond was catching for him. Redmond said: "He's a pitcher now."

"Not that he wasn't before," Redmond continued. "He's just the true essence of a pitcher now where he has to throw off-speed pitches for strikes and still uses his fastball. But he doesn't have 96 or 97 in the tank all the time anymore. It's really made him learn how to pitch and carve through a lineup. He's a veteran that knows what he's doing. There were probably years there where that never would have come out of my mouth -- that he knows what he's doing. But he does now know what he's doing. It was good to see man. I'm happy for him."

HAPPY HOMECOMING

With a father who was an officer in the army for 23 years, Marlins utility man Jeff Baker has a special appreciation for the military and Memorial Day. And being able to come back home and play in the nation's capital Monday against the Nationals is extra special.

Baker said although his father, Larry, never battled on the front lines, "he was in charge of people who were getting shot at" and he took that responsibility for what it was. Baker said his father worked in both air defense and nuclear weapons and was involved in Desert Storm.

An only child, Baker said he and his parents never stayed in the same city more than two years. Born in a U.S. base in Germany, Baker said the family moved from West Point to Norfolk to Egypt to Kuwait to Abu Dhabi to Key West and then Colorado Springs. Baker said he was a sophomore in high school when his father finally decided to retire as a Colonel.

"He was about to become a General when he basically gave it all up so I could concentrate on high school and baseball," Baker said. 

His father is now a computer math teacher at Gar-Field high school in nearby Woodbridge, Virginia.

"It's one of things when you're going through those things you don't realize that's not the norm," Baker said of being "an army brat."  "But for me I thought it was cool. You're in Egypt you go see the pyramids, hang out with the camels, do all that stuff. Being able to be exposed culturally -- not knowing baseball was going to be a career -- was helpful. When you're in the minor leagues you're here for one stop, there the next. You have teammates that are Japanese, Dominicans, it kind of helps you fit in seamlessly in a lot of places.

"I enjoyed it. I thought it was cool, traveling, seeing the bases. I always liked going out seeing the ships, seeing the soldiers march around. When we were in Abu Dhabi they actually set up a t-ball league. I remember that was kind of interesting because we played basically on sand. There wasn't a lot of grass out there. You look out and the right fielder is building sand castles, not really paying too much attention to the game. The thing that was great was the moms and the dads and the families bonding together and trying to help us play sports, whatever it was."

MONDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (26-25): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Marcell Ozuna CF, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP.

> Nationals (25-25): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, 3. Jayson Werth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Wilson Ramos C, 6. Ian Desmond SS, 7. Danny Espinosa 2B, 8. Nate McLouth LF, 9. Tanner Roark RHP.

May 23, 2014

Marlins Park trims beer prices, create Happy Hour; Alvarez's throw bothers Baker, plus other notes

In case you didn't already know, Marlins Park has the most expensive beer in baseball this season, according to a report done last month by BusinessInsider.com.

For $8 a pop fans get 16 ounces of their favorite domestic beer inside the stadium. Well, starting Friday fans can save a few bucks if they walk a little further from the concession stand and over to a nearby bar inside the stadium.

The Marlins announced Thursday their trimming their small domestic beers at bars to $6. If fans go to the regular concessions it will still cost them $8 for a beer.

The Marlins are also debuting a special Happy Hour at the Budweiser Bow Tie Bar on Fridays where beers cost $4 between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

"We're always taking a look at all our concessions -- what we offer, the size of our offerings, the price of our offerings," team president David Samson said. "We felt there were two opportunities with beer we wanted to do. We wanted to see if we could get a lower price beer, which we got. And we wanted to see if we could do a happy hour -- because we want people to get out here before the game starts."

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians sell the cheapest beer in the majors at $4.

The Los Angeles Angels sell the cheapest 16-ounce beer in baseball for $4.75.

The Boston Red Sox sell a 12-ounce beer for $7.75.

HOME ATTENDANCE IS UP

The Marlins have the best home record in baseball this season at 19-6 -- the best home start in franchise history. And it's paying dividends at the gate.

This year, Marlins Park is drawing an average of 21,360. That's still the worst in the National League. But it's better than six other American League teams (Astros, Royals, A's, White Sox, Rays and Indians) and 24th overall. Last year, the Marlins drew 19,584 on average. The only team worse were the Rays (18,645).

Samson said the Marlins are "where we thought we would be" in terms of attendance.

"I think we're playing better," Samson said. "I think people are getting more used to getting here. I think they're having a better time when they're here. I think they're realizing coming to Marlins Park is both easy, fun and affordable. All those things take time to build up. And the team is getting better.

Of course, the effect of losing staff ace and the Cuban-born Jose Fernandez has yet to really be measured. But it should be noted the three most highly attended games at Marlins Park this season were Fernandez starts. Those were: Opening night, 37,116; April 5 vs. Padres, 35,188; May 4 vs. Dodger, 30,145.

"He's one of 25. We love him. We're sorry. We want him back. He's a big part of the team. But guess what? It's part of the game," Samson said of the injury. "There's still a season to be played."

BAKER CALLS ALVAREZ'S THROW 'FOOLISH'

Marlins utility man Jeff Baker used the word "foolish" on Friday to describe the throw pitcher Henderson Alvarez made to him at first base that pulled Baker off the bag and got him hurt in Thursday's 4-3 win over the Phillies.

Baker bruised his right shoulder after he collided with Domonic Brown, who hit a hard comebacker to the mound Alvarez stopped easily but took his sweet time throwing over to the bag for the putout. 

"We lucked out he wasn't running as hard or he could have separated my shoulder," said Baker, who was still expected to be available to pinch hit for the Marlins Friday.

"That can't happen. You can't pimp a ground ball and then fire it over to first. You have to go after it."

Marlins manager Mike Redmond agreed.

"I think we got to do a better job fielding the ball and getting rid of it," Redmond said. "It should never come to that -- that that's a close a play. Nobody should get hurt on a comebacker. Henderson obviously understands that and hopefully that will be it."

> Redmond said second baseman Rafael Furcal (hamstring, groin) is on pace to start playing in extended spring training games on Monday. Redmond again cautioned Furcal is a long way off from returning to the Marlins.

> Redmond wasn't as surprised as reliever Chris Hatcher was to see the 29-year old reliever get called back to the big leagues on Thursday.

"He's been consistent," Redmond said. "We saw some improvement -- a lot of improvement -- in spring training. As coaches and managers you always try to see how a guy responds when something like that happens. You take him off the [40-man] roster and see what he's made of. Is he going to continue to get better and improve and do the things consistently at a big league level? I think we all see he has. He wasn't going to let being taken off the roster affect him. He went down there, worked hard and you saw his numbers and how consistent he's been."

> Marlins top prospect Andrew Heaney made his Triple A debut on Thursday and pitched well, striking out seven and giving up just one earned run on seven hits over five innings. The left-hander took a hard grounder to the shin in his final inning, but was fine according to Redmond. He threw 84 pitches and 56 went for strikes.

Although most top prospects nowadays make the leap to the big leagues straight from Double A, the Marlins wanted Heaney to face some more experienced hitters Redmond said. 

"I haven't been to Triple A in a long time, but I know there's still a lot of good Triple A hitters, more experienced hitters," Redmond said. "Although I think they can make the jump from Double A to the big leagues, I think that experience for pitchers... is pretty important."

"I think when you get to a level and everyone feels you've accomplished what you've needed to accomplish you move them to the next level. I think he was there. Get him to Triple A see how he adjusts to Triple A hitters and we'll see where he's at down the road."

> Thursday's eighth inning meltdown by Mike Dunn ended a nice run for the left-hander, who had tossed 9 2/3 scoreless innings since April 23rd. The fact the Marlins were able to rally and still get the win made Dunn, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, feel a little better.

"I was sitting in [the clubhouse] and I was pretty pissed," Dunn said. "To get the walk off win it takes a little bit of that away from you. You're still mad, but the team won. I still look at it like wins are what it's all about for the team. I feel like if I'm sitting in here pouting it's kind of selfish for me because I didn't do my job. Because it's a team sport. It definitely made it a little bit easier to sleep last night."

Eighth inning meltdowns were a problem for the Marlins and the bullpen last month, but the team had been doing better. Asked if he's thought about bringing closer Steve Cishek earlier into games, Redmond made it pretty clear he prefers not to.

"We can't ask our closer to do more than everyone else's share," Redmond said. "He's got to continue keep doing what he's doing. At the end of the day we've got to be able to bridge that gap with the guys we have and get the ball to him to close games."

FRIDAY'S LINEUPS

> Brewers (28-20): 1. Jean Segura SS, 2. Scooter Gennett 2B, 3. Jonathan Lucroy C, 4. Carlos Gomez CF, 5. Mark Reynolds 3B, 6. Lyle Overbay 1B, 7. Khris Davis LF, 8. Logan Schafer LF, 9. Marco Estrada RHP.

> Marlins (25-23): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Marcell Ozuna CF, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Tom Koehler RHP.

May 22, 2014

Marlins surprise Chris Hatcher by calling him back up; transfer Furcal to 60-day DL to make room on 40-man

The Marlins have recalled reliever Chris Hatcher from Triple A New Orleans and transferred second baseman Rafael Furcal to the 60-day disabled list, a corresponding move to make room for Hatcher on the 40-man roster.

Hatcher, 29, was suspended for five games earlier this season for punching and breaking the jaw of teammate and pitcher Sam Dyson. Since serving his suspension in early May, Hatcher has pitched well for the Zephyrs and comes back to the big leagues with a 1-2 record, 2.01 ERA and five saves in 22 1/3 innings of work. 

"Pretty shocking -- wasn't expecting it," Hatcher said of being called up. "Having the roster guys down there -- [Arquimedes] Caminero, [Dan] Jennings, [Bryan] Flynn. [Andrew] Heaney is knocking on the door. I was just trying to help that ballclub win and the last thing on my mind was being called up to be quite honest with you."

The Marlins designated Hatcher for assignment right before spring training. Out of options, he simply took the assignment and pitched well this spring, saying he threw the ball with more downward action and that his splitter had improved. Hatcher tossed 10 scoreless innings in nine appearances and picked up two saves in spring training. But when the year started he was down in New Orleans.

Then on April 29th he reportedly broke the jaw of Dyson during a skirmish in a Nashville, Tenn. bar. Hatcher didn't want to talk about the incident on Thursday morning, but did say he "learned from it." He said he and Dyson have spoken. Asked if they've cleared the air, Hatcher said: "For the most part."

"I felt like I've become a better person because of it," Hatcher said of the incident. "Moving forward I know things like that can't happen, which I knew that before. But I put myself in a tough spot professionally and as a person and hope to move forward from it."

 

Furcal, who began rehab work in Jupiter on Tuesday as he returns from a strained groin and hamstring, has yet to play for the Marlins despite signing a $3.5 million contract for 2014.

 

Manager Mike Redmond said Thursday's move to the 60-day DL was "just a paper move" because Furcal is eligible for it. His retroactive date is March 21. Redmond said earlier this week Furcal still has a ways to go before he'll begin playing in minor league games.

 

KOEHLER NOT PUTTING PRESSURE ON HIMSELF

 

With Jose Fernandez done for the season, the Marlins could use some one to step up and pitch like a No. 1 starter. Tom Koehler isn't volunteering, but his numbers at least suggest he's capable.

 

According to ESPN's Wins Above Replacement rankings, Koehler ranks ninth among all pitchers in baseball with a 2.0 rating. Koehler, who will start Friday night against the visiting Brewers, is 4-3 with a 2.25 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and arguably worthy of All-Star discussion if he keeps it up.

 

"Just trying to force some early action and letting the defense play behind me," Koehler explained of his early season success. "If you start putting pressure on yourself thinking about [replacing Fernandez] it's going to force you to do things you're not capable of doing. You can't replace him. So, the key is really to go out there and do what I'm capable of doing and for each of us individually do what they're capable of doing and take it game by game."

 

WOLF LOOKING FORWARD TO START SUNDAY

Randy Wolf, making his first big league start Sunday since having Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2012 season, believes the one way he can help the Marlins' starting rotation is by showing the rest of the fireballers in it there are other ways you can win. 

"Obviously every other guy in the rotation has better stuff than me," Wolf said. "I think the one way I can help is to show that you can succeed at this level without having a 97-mile per hour fastball, and how when you have  stuff and you put everything together pitching becomes a lot easier. I think I have a good idea of what to do out there without having a 95 mile per hour fastball."

Wolf, who uses a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup, said he threw over 100 pitches multiple times while he was starting in the minors earlier this year. He finished 5-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six starts for the Triple A Reno Aces.

"As a starting pitcher my strength is throwing my four pitches for strikes any time," Wolf said. "As a bullpen guy when you go in a game you can have two pitches you throw for strikes. If you have three great. Four, amazing. You don't have time to really like find your changeup or slider. You've got to find something that's there and go with it."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THURSDAY'S LINEUPS

> Phillies (20-23): 1. Jimmy Rollins SS, 2. Wil Nieves C, 3. Chase Utley 2B, 4. Ryan Howard 1B, 5. Marlon Byrd RF, 6. Cody Asche, 3B, 7. Domonic Brown LF, 8. Ben Revere CF, 9. Cole Hamels LHP.

> Marlins (24-23): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Ed Lucas SS, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Jeff Baker 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP.

May 21, 2014

Struggling Ozuna -- hitting .140 in May -- dropped to eighth in Marlins lineup

The month of May hasn't been kind to Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna.

After finishing the first month of the season with a .310 batting average, Ozuna has hit just .140 over his last 18 games.

Wednesday, he was moved back into the eighth spot in the lineup. He hasn't hit in that spot since April 6.

Over his  57 at-bats this month, Ozuna has only eight hits, two homers and seven RBI. He's struckout 22 times and walked just twice.

"He goes through spurts where he's too aggressive and then he's too patient," manager Mike Redmond said. "He'll take some fastballs and swing at some breaking balls, which happens with a lot of young guys.

"The big leagues are a monster. We've talked about there being a learning curve for our young guys. The league continues to make adjustments on them and they have to make adjustments to the league. Scouts are out there every night and trying to pick out weaknesses they can exploit. Ozuna needs to make some adjustments. But he has the ability to make those adjustments.

"At the same time too you've got to do it in a game. I know he can do it. He's been great out there in center field. But now we're at a time he needs to keep battling. Hopefully tonight he can go out there and get a couple big hits. I'm sure he feels a little bit of pressure. These guys all know where they're at. It's all about making adjustments."

WEDNESDAY'S LINEUP

> Marlins (23-23): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 7. Ed Lucas SS, 8. Marcell Ozuna CF, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP

May 07, 2014

With confidence growing, some Marlins see 11-game road trip as measuring stick

The Marlins are going to be California dreaming after they wrap up their nine-game home stand against the Mets this afternoon.

It's going to be a three-city, 11-game, 11-day tour through San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- and a homecoming for four players: Giancarlo Stanton, Reed Johnson, Christian Yelich and Casey McGehee. 

Although we're still only in May, some guys are also looking the road trip as a measuring stick. The Marlins after all have the best home record in baseball at 16-5, but they are 2-10 on the road.

"It's in the middle of our 20 game [in 20 days] stretch so it's going to be tough. That's going to prove where we're at I think," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "We haven't played well on the road, but we've scored runs, kept games close, had opportunities to win. We just couldn't finish it.

"I think this road trip is going to be a big test for us to do that. We're facing the Dodgers again -- who we just got done facing. They're in their home ballpark and obviously they're going to want to repay the favor. I think we feel pretty good against those guys. I think we're going to stay strong."

Johnson, who won a division title with the Braves last season, said he feels like the team's successful homestand had been a huge confidence builder especially for the younger players in the clubhouse.

"I think the older guys kind of already know how good we are, but some of the young guys in the room it may take a few series like we've had now to kind of solidify the fact that 'Hey man we can be here for awhile, late into the summer and really be a contender,'" Johnson said. "Hopefully what we're doing now and hopefully what we can do on the road -- kind of change some things up on the road and start winning some games on the road -- that can benefit  all the young guys as far as their confidence is concerned."

Johnson said he doesn't see this road trip "as do or die," but "it could be a huge confidence builder."

"The reason we weren't winning on the road earlier was because we weren't playing all that well to begin with," Johnson said. "Now, all of a sudden we've taken this homestand to really get us on a roll and hopefully we can take it over to the West Coast. I think a lot of those parks on the West Coast are similar to ours. They play big, especially at night. We're a gap-to-gap hitting team besides one guy that can hit it out of any park at any time of night. So, all those things can play to our advantage."

> Henderson Alvarez's shutout on Tuesday -- his third over his last eight starts -- made him the youngest pitcher with three shutouts in a span of eight starts since Mark Mulder in 2001.

What's the common thread for Alvarez when he's dominant?

"When he has that downward angle he's tough to beat," Saltalamacchia said. "I think that's the consistency he needs, feeling that downward angle. You don't have to throw 95. You can throw 90, 91, just throw good pitches. His ball moves so much."

As a staff, the Marlins have five shutouts, one fewer than National League-leading St. Louis. The starting rotation ranks seventh in ERA among all major league teams (11-7, 3.25).

> Saltalamacchia said he expects Jacob Turner, roughed up by the Dodgers this past weekend in his first start since coming off the disabled list, to bounce back against the Padres Thursday night.

"He just needs some innings," Saltalamacchia said. "Right now he's behind the eight ball with those other guys because they've had a few more starts than him. They've gotten into the routine. His first start back he said he felt good. He missed his spots a couple times which is a team that it's tough to miss your spots against. From my view I thought he still looked good."

WEDNESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Mets (16-16): 1. Juan Lagares CF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Curtis Granderson RF, 5. Chris Young LF, 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Anthony Recker C, 8. Ruben Tejada SS, 9. Zack Wheeler RHP.

> Marlins (18-15): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 3B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Tom Koehler RHP.

May 06, 2014

Redmond struggling to find the right time to give Stanton a day off; no timetable on Furcal return; Dobbs released

With an 11-game road trip set to begin on Thursday and his team in the midst of playing 20 games in 20 consecutive days, Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Tuesday he's been trying to find a window to give slugger Giancarlo Stanton a day off to rest.

It just hasn't been easy.

"Anytime you have a guy like that in the middle of that order doing what he's doing it's tough to sit him," Redmond said.

"That's not to say it might not happen here soon. It's just to get him a day whether he wants it or not. I remember Derrick Lee and Mike Lowell hated days off too. But at the end of the day we need him strong the whole year, not just the first couple months of the season. We'll see when that day comes. I've been able to get a guys a few days off here. We'll give some guys days throughout this road trip."

Stanton, who leads the National League with 10 homers and all of baseball with 37 RBI, is one of three Marlins who has played in every game this season. Third baseman Casey McGehee and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria are the others.

"It's just hard in the National League to get guys a full day off," Redmond said. "The pitcher's spot comes up and you do have to use your best guys to hit in certain situations with runners in scoring position. We play close games. So we end up not having that luxury to take a guy and park him, say you're down the whole day. But we try."

Redmond said when he does finally get Stanton a day off in right field veteran Reed Johnson will replace him in the field. Redmond said he prefers to keep the rest of his outfield where they are comfortable.

> Redmond said second baseman Rafael Furcal is back in Jupiter on rehab assignment after aggravating his groin in his first game back with Double A Jacksonville last Friday. But Redmond said Furcal isn't playing in any games yet, and "as of right now there's no timetable for him to come back."

> Pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs, who privately worked out a $1.7 million extension with owner Jeffrey Loria to play for the Marlins this season, was officially released on Tuesday. 

The 35-year old left-handed bat was designated for assignment back on April 29th to make room for Ed Lucas. Dobbs had just one hit in his 13 pinch-at bats and had not seen any action in the field this season. He and his agent reportedly negotiated his extension without the knowledge of then president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and his staff.

> As part of the Marlins' Think Tank program, an online curriculum-enhancement program for local fourth through sixth graders in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, Redmond and a handful of players split up and visited students from four different schools on Tuesday.

So what were some of the best questions the players fielded?

"Do my parents still love me now that I play in the big leagues. That was my favorite one," said left fielder Christian Yelich, who along with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia visited the Renaissance Charter School in Cooper City. "I was laughing pretty hard. I didn't even know what to say. I was like 'I think.'"

Said first baseman Garrett Jones, who visited the Mater Academy of International Studies in Miami: "One kid asked me how much I make in a day. We had a lot of fun. Mostly, everybody wanted to know where Stanton was."

TUESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Mets (16-15): 1. Juan Lagares CF, 2. Daniel Murhpy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Curtis Granderson RF, 5. Chris Young LF, 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Travis d'Arnaud C, 8. Ruben Tejada SS, 9. Bartolo Colon RHP.

> Marlins (17-15): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 6. Garrett Jones 1B, 7. Marcell Ozuna CF, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP.

May 05, 2014

McGehee not letting homerless start, teasing from teammates bother him too much

The Marlins aren't just hitting more home runs this season. They're doing a good job teasing at least one teammate who has yet to club one himself.

Third baseman Casey McGehee said Monday he recently found a set of weights inside his locker. It's among the many subtle, "fun" hints McGehee said his teammates have been leaving behind for him lately.

McGehee, who finished second in Japan's Pacific League last season with 28 homers, is the only clean-up hitter with at least 60 at-bats this season yet to hit a home run. Yet, he ranks seventh in the No. 4 spot in RBI with 16, and tied for 20th overall with 20 RBI.

"It doesn't bother me too much," McGehee said of the teasing. "I just remind some of the guys in here that I've got more [career] homers than they do. Outside of that, it's not too big a deal. I like to think I'm going to get one in before we wrap it up for the year."

In case you haven't noticed, the Marlins are tied for sixth in major league baseball with 33 homers -- 21 of those have come at home. Last year they didn't hit their 33rd home run of the season until June 11th, their 64th game of 2013. They hit a total of 36 homers at home, an MLB-worst 95 for the season.

According to Stats LLC, Marlins Park has seen the greatest up-tick in homers of any MLB venue this season. Last year a homer occurred every 72.5 at bats at Marlins Park. It's now up to 42.3 percent this season.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond, however, doesn't want McGehee to change his approach at the plate. 

"We’ve talked to him about it a little bit, don’t get caught up in the home runs, just keep driving in the runs," Redmond said. "We talked about him hitting behind Stanton and there are going to be RBI situatoins. We just need those guys to get driven in. It doesn’t matter how. I don’t think anybody is asking him to hit home runs or be a power hitter. We just want him to drive those runs in and that’s what he's been able to do.

STANTON SNUBBED

Even though he put up impressive numbers (.269, 8 HRs, 31 RBI) and currently leads the National League in homers (10) and all of baseball in RBI (36), Giancarlo Stanton was not named the NL's Player of the Month on Monday. Those honors went to Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki (.364, 7 HRs, 22 RBI).

Stanton was hardly bothered. Even though he feels like his approach at the plate has been the most consistent he's ever had to start a season, Stanton said Monday he's also had some really bad games and really bad at-bats.

"You have a few days where it's like 'Have you even played baseball before?' And then you kind of lock in, stick to your plan and not worry about anything else," Stanton said. "Whether I am or not [getting more pitches to hit] I'm just being more aggressive and putting them where they need to be. I'm not missing as many pitches when I am getting pitched to as I was previous."

Stanton said the opposition has been using a lot more shifts against him this season, usually placing the second baseman to left side of the of the bag since he's always been a pull hitter. But Stanton said he's been trying to teach himself "not to pull off balls" and to go the other way.

"That's been my problem," Stanton said. "When I have bad games or not seeing the ball well I'm not giving myself time to let [the pitch] get deep and understand right field is just as successful as pulling the ball."

> Jose Fernandez, hit on a Dee Gordon ground ball in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Dodgers, said the bruise in his left inner thigh "was hurting a lot" Sunday night. But he said he woke up feeling a lot better and did all the conditioning work he was supposed to do on Monday.

> Redmond celebrated his 43rd birthday on Monday and was treated to lunch from Joe Stone Crabs by the Marlins brass. His twin brother Patrick sent the team photos of Redmond as a child. The team put them up inside the clubhouse on a TV screen for everyone to see.

MONDAY'S LINEUPS

> Mets (16-14): 1. Eric Young Jr. LF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Curtis Granderson CF, 5. Bobby Abreu RF, 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Travis d'Arnaud C, 8. Omar Quintanilla SS, 9. Jonathan Niese LHP.

> Marlins (16-15): 1. Christian Yelich CF, 2. Ed Lucas 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 6. Jeff Baker 1B, 7. Reed Johnson LF, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP.

April 27, 2014

Salty gets his World Series ring, plans to wear it around Marlins

NEW YORK -- One of the big reasons the Marlins say they signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the off-season was that they wanted his championship-winning experience with the Red Sox to rub off on his new teammates.

Salty ringNow, he actually has a World Series ring to flaunt in front of their faces.

Sunday morning, the 28-year old catcher received his reward for helping Boston win its third title since 2004. Allard Baird, Red Sox Vice President of Player Personnel, made the trek over to Citi Field to deliver Saltalamacchia's ring in person. And his new teammates all got a good look at it.

"Bigger than I thought it was going to be, but it's nice to actually have it in hand," Saltalamacchia said. "It's really cool. It fits and they got the name right. I had to check it twice to make sure it’s spelled right."

The ring -- studded with red rubies and sapphires -- has several slogans from the Red Sox run to the World Series on it including Beared Brothers and Boston Strong. It represents everything the team went through during the season, Saltalamacchia said. It's also not too gaudy, smaller than the huge rings Saltalamacchia said he's seen the Marlins front-office personnel wearing from the 2003 World Series season.

"A lot of guys play a long time to get one of these or even make it. So I’m pretty fortunate," Saltalamacchia said. "I plan on wearing it for sure."

Mike Hill, Marlins President of Baseball Operations, doesn't mind that at all. He wants the Marlins to see it and be envious.

"You win one of those they're all special," Hill said. "It doesn't matter what the size is. You know a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into that. 

"We brought him here for that. That pedigree. We talked about what he brings. Casey McGehee won it in Japan. Garrett Jones was part of breaking that historic drought in Pittsburgh. That's what you play for -- to achieve and to win. Every reminder you can give is positive."

> Even though the Marlins are two games under .500 entering Sunday and have sustained quite a few heartbreaking losses late, Hill said he's been encouraged by the team's play coming off a 100-loss season.

"You guys have seen every single one of our games -- lot of mistakes against good teams," Hill said. "If you're going to make 'em, prefer to make them now and hopefully we don't repeat them. But at this point I really believe a lot of mistakes we've made we'll learn from them and it will benefit us come later in the summer. Part of that whole growth and maturation of a roster, we've gotten right out of the box, which you can't always say.

"But this is a resilient team, a tough team that plays hard day-in, day-out, even after tough losses. And we've had our share of tough losses to say the least. But that's what makes a team battle-tested. I think that's what's going to help us in the long run."

Hill said we haven't seen the best from the Marlins.

"There's a lot of talent," he said. "When we consistently minimize the mistakes against good teams you're going to see us on a roll. As long as we pitch we can play with anybody. That was in the case in Atlanta. That was the case with Washington. You minimize the mistakes and execute the pitches. Our defense hasn't been great to this point. Late innings we've had some missteps. But that's all part of the process of a team gelling and coming together. I truly believe we're going to benefit from that as we get later in the summer."

> As tough a run as it has been for the Marlins bullpen to start the season, left-hander Mike Dunn, who picked up the victory Saturday night with two scoreless innings of relief, said he expects himself and others who have been struggling to bounce back. The Marlins have lost four games in walk-off fashion and another three games on the road by allowing big hits in the eighth inning.

"Last year was pretty tough with the way we lost games too," Dunn said. "I think the experience of being a part of it last year makes it easier to move on this year. 

"It’s a six month season, it’s not a spring, it’s a long haul. Over the course of a season everything is going to be ironed out and be fine. We got to see what the bullpen could do last year and what our pitching staff could do on a full season."

> Hill said the Marlins are still waiting on a final evaluation regarding second baseman Rafael Furcal, whose right groin tightened up on him Friday night as he was rehabbing in Double A Jacksonville. In the event the groin is worse than anticipated, the Marlins will pull him off rehab for five, six days and then restart him on it. 

"We were starting to see much more consistent at-bats," Hill said of Furcal. "His hamstring feels great. His defense has been solid. So, it's just a matter of making sure his body is ready what he's going to undergo here."

SUNDAY'S LINEUPS

> Marlins (11-3): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Marcell Ozuna CF, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 6. Garrett Jones 1B, 7. Derek Dietrich 2B, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Tom Koehler RHP

> Mets (13-11): 1. Eric Young Jr. LF, 2. Curtis Granderson RF, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Daniel Murphy 2B, 5. Chris Young CF, 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Anthony Recker C, 8. Ruben Tejada SS, 9. Dillon Gee RHP.