April 26, 2014

Slowey back to the scene where he won 20-inning marathon; Yelich on hit streak being snapped

NEW YORK -- The last time he was on the mound in this building Kevin Slowey left as the winning pitcher of a 20-inning, 6-hour and 25 minute marathon -- the longest game in Marlins history.

Slowey tossed seven shutout innings in relief, giving up eight hits while striking out eight from the 13th through the 19th innings. Tonight, he's back on the hill at Citi Field, trying to improve the Marlins' road record to 2-9 in his second start of the season.

"That was the longest game I've ever been a part of," Slowey said.

"We had been rained out earlier that series, the day before. They said go throw a bullpen down in the seventh. We'll figure you won't throw today. Obviously I got called back in the 12th. I remember they weren't clean innings. I remember each inning something was going on. It's nice to think back you were in a lot jams and were able to get out of them and were obviously able to win another game. It was neat. It was definitely and experience I'll never forget."

In his career, Slowey has gone 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in four appearances (three starts) against the Mets. Aside from his stellar performance in that 20-inning game back on June 8th, Slowey tossed eight innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 Marlins win back on April 30th of last year.

Slotted to be the team's long reliever this season, Slowey is starting Saturday so the Marlins can rest their young starting rotation.

"For me, anytime I'm out there I want to fill the role they're asking me to fill," said Slowey, who has a 4.15 ERA, 10 strikeouts and four walks allowed over 17 1/3 innings of work this season. "Whether that's starting or relieving, I'm certainly not picky about the times I get to compete. For me every outing is important, every pitch I throw is important."


Christian Yelich was more bummed about the Marlins' heart-breaking loss Friday night than his career-long 17-game hitting streak getting snapped.

"Now that it's over I'm not really anymore phased by it than when it started," said Yelich, who tied three others in the organization for the eight-longest hitting streak in club history. "Obviously I would have liked to get one [Friday] and help the team win. But I was more focused on getting hits, getting on base, helping my team win. That's the part I cared about more. Baseball is a hard game and it's hard to keep those going. It was a good run."

Yelich said the only time he would have cared about the streak was if he had closed in on Luis Castillo, who has the longest hitting streak in club history at 35 games. Yelich said he hit three balls hard Friday night during his 0-for-4 performance. The first ball, a hard ground ball third baseman David Wright wasn't able to handle, was scored as an error after it bounced off his foot. 

"The first one it's kind of I don't know. I'm not going to say anything about that," Yelich said. "Then you have the fly out and the one I squared up in the last inning [a hard ground to second base] just right at him. That's why it's so hard to keep those thing going.

"I said earlier you could line out four times and there goes your streak. Or you could tap a ball five feet and there's your hit. Baseball is a funny game and that's why those things are so tough."


> Marlins (10-13): 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. Kevin Slowey RHP.

April 25, 2014

Jose Fernandez visits 9/11 Memorial on day off, pays respects

NEW YORK -- Jose Fernandez spent most of his free time during his rookie season last year hanging out in his hotel room and relaxing. 

Jose FernandezThis year, though, the 21-year old All-Star and Marlins ace said he wants to start to get to know America's history a little better. Thursday, Fernandez spent the Marlins' day off visiting the World Trade Center Memorial in Manhattan.

"I really wanted to go and pay my respects," Fernandez said. "This country has been amazing to me. So I'm here learning about it, being right there.

"When I was in school, history was my favorite subject. I want to learn a little more. When I go to Washington [next month] I want to see some things."

Although he was only nine years old when the terrorist attacks took place on Sept. 11, 2001, Fernandez said the images he saw on TV back home in his native Cuba stuck with him.

"We didn't see much [in Cuba], and we didn't get a lot of information, but we saw what happened," Fernandez said. "So when I got here obviously I looked into it. It was pretty special to be there [Thursday].

"Being there you imagine how it happened and the people that were in there, the people who ran out. You see the names, other people walking around and looking. It's just a weird feeling. You're not happy. You're just thinking about what people did, throwing themselves down 50-something floors. It's desperate moments. It's tough."

Fernandez said he was in school when the attacks took place that morning, but didn't learn of them until he got home from classes. Even afterward, he said, "they really didn't let us talk about it much in Cuba because it was America."

"We saw what happened, but we couldn't figure it out. Over there there's no internet, no information," Fernandez said. 

"It was just a feeling of shock [in Cuba]. Nobody could believe it or that somebody would do that."

> Reliever Carlos Marmol, who pulled his right hamstring in Wednesday's 3-1 loss in Atlanta, said he felt better Friday, but still didn't know if he would be able to pitch in the series opener against the Mets. He's battled pulled hamstrings before and gone to the disabled list with them in the past.

"I feel a lot better," Marmol said. "I'm going to go outside, play catch on the mound, see how I feel. It felt worse a couple days ago."


> Marlins (10-12): 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 Hechavarri SS, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP.

> Mets (12-10): 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. Travis D'Arnaud C, 8. Ruben Tejada SS, 9. Zach Wheeler RHP.

April 23, 2014

No innings limit yet, but Marlins are being smart with Jose Fernandez, other young starters' workloads

ATLANTA -- With a day off on Thursday and another coming up on Monday, the Marlins had the choice of either going with a four-man rotation this week or starting veteran long-reliever Kevin Slowey in Saturday's open slot against the Mets.

They opted for the latter, a move manager Mike Redmond said Wednesday was all geared toward giving his young rotation an extra day of rest.

"If we can get guys an extra day here it's going to be better for them down the road," Redmond said. "Slowey has pitched well against the Mets. Now we don't rush these guys too much.

"At the end of day, at the end of this year, all these guys are going to be in unchartered territory with all of their innings. It all sounds good at the beginning of the season, but you know how it is at the end of the season. These guys are in unchartered territory. It just made sense to push them back, give them an extra day."

The Marlins haven't discussed putting an innings limit on 21-year old ace Jose Fernandez like they did last year during his National League Rookie of the Year season. But Redmond made it clear the Marlins still have Fernandez's "best interest in mind."

"We showed that last year how we kind of handled him," Redmond said of Fernandez, who was shutdown the second week of September after throwing 172 2/3 innings. "[An innings limit] will be a conversation to have later in the year, end of the year. We'll see how it goes. But we've talked about possibly giving him extra days when we can throughout the year to save him and make sure he's fresh at the end of the year as well."

In Tuesday's masterful 1-0 victory over the Braves, Fernandez matched a career-high with 14 strikeouts and 109 pitches over eight innings. It marked the third time in his career Fernandez had taken a shutout through eight innings, but didn't come out to pitch the ninth.

Redmond reiterated Wednesday he would have let Fernandez pitch the ninth inning on Tuesday had his pitch count after the eighth been closer to 100 pitches. 

"That was the most he's pitched in a game this year, but he was fine," Redmond said. "He really didn't run into [trouble]. His innings were pretty quick, didn't really get into any jams the whole night. I would say those were 109 stress-free pitches.

"Like I said, it just kind of goes from start to start, see how he feels and how effective he is in the zone and how hard he has to work. Sometimes 109 pitches is a max effort for some guys. Sometimes 109 pitches is easy. Last night was an easy 109 pitches. Had he been at around 100 I might have let him go out there to finish the game. We didn't have to make that decision obviously."

Fernandez, by the way, made history again Tuesday. He became the fourth-youngest pitcher since 1900 to record 14-plus strikeouts with no walks in a start, according to Elias. Only Gary Nolan (19 years, 11 days in 1967), Dwight Gooden (19 years, 301 days and 19 years, 306 days in 1984) and Kerry Wood (20 years, 324 days in 1998) were younger than Fernandez when they accomplish the feat.

Within his first 33 starts, Fernandez now has five games of 10-plus strikeouts with one or no walks, the first pitcher to pull off that feat since Mark Prior.

> Redmond said Jacob Turner, on rehab assignment with a right shoulder sprain, will throw 50 to 60 pitches for Single A Jupiter Wednesday night. It's first game action since he strained his shoulder in the batting cages before a game. 

> Infielder Ed Lucas (fractured left hand) still has not begun playing in games, but he is working out in Jupiter.


> Marlins (10-11): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Marcell Ozuna CF, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Garrett Jones 1B, 5. Casey McGehee 3B, 6. Derek Dietrich 2B, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP.

> Braves (13-7): 1. Jason Heyward RF, 2. Andrelton Simmons SS, 3. Freddie Freeman 1B, 4. Chris Johnson 3B, 5. Ryan Doumit LF, 6. Dan Uggla 2B, 7. Jordan Schafer CF, 8. Gerald Laird C, 9. Aaron Harang RHP.

April 22, 2014

Dempster becomes latest former Marlin to join MLB Network; Dietrich says he's just in defensive slump

In case you haven't noticed, there's a quite a former Marlins sharing their opinions on TV these days.

Ryan Dempster will be the next one. He's been hired by the MLB Network as an analyst and will make his debut on TV Wednesday. 

Dempster is the fifth former Marlins player to become an analyst for the network, joining Mike Lowell, Cliff Floyd, Kevin Millar and Al Leiter. Except for Leiter, four were teammates of Marlins manager Mike Redmond when he was with the team as a player from 1998 to 2004.

Other Marlins on TV who are part of the FoxSports broadcasts are Carl Pavano and Preston Wilson. Redmond said he thinks Dempster will be great on TV because he's funny.

"Those guys took the easy road instead of coaching," Redmond quipped Tuesday. "Now they can sit up there and second guess me. I love it."

> Although Redmond suggested Monday Dietrich's defensive struggles might be related to the ground ball in spring training which broke his nose, Dietrich says he's just in a defensive slump.

Dietrich, hitting .290 with three homers and nine RBI, is on the bench for the fourth game in a row Tuesday in part because of his struggles on defense. He has a team-leading four errors in 47 chances. Last season, he made just two errors in 258 chances, but hit just .214 in 57 games.

"I played great defense for this team last year and I'm confident really on the defensive side," Dietrich said. "I know I'm helping the team offensively. I'm just looking every day to help this team win. Whether its off the bench or playing everyday at second -- you know you want to play every day and have a chance. I think I'm doing that."

Said infield coach Perry Hill: "He's a good worker and a tough kid. He'll come out of this. He'll be fine." 

> Even though Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna have been very productive at the top of the lineup, Redmond said he still hasn't decided what he'll do when Rafael Furcal (hamstring) returns from the disabled list. Furcal signed a $3.5 million deal to bat leadoff and play second for the Marlins in 2014.

"I haven't really thought about it yet because we're still waiting for that day [when Furcal returns] to happen," Redmond said. "It definitely  will be a [tough] decision to make with Yelich leading off and hitting the ball well too. But we'll figure that out when that day comes.

"[It's a good problem to have]. Last year I spent about an hour and a half a day on that lineup trying to piece that together. Now, I spend about 10 minutes. If it takes me 15 minutes when he comes back then I'm fine with that."


> Marlins (9-11): 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. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Donovan Solano 2B, 9. Jose Fernandez RHP.

> Braves (13-6): 1. Jason Heyward RF, 2. B.J. Upton CF, 3. Freddie Freeman 1B, 4. Justin Upton LF, 5. Chris Johnson 3B, 6. Dan Uggla 2B, 7. Evan Gattis C, 8. Andrelton Simmons SS, 9. Alex Wood LHP.

April 16, 2014

Stanton on pace for 54 HRs, 227 RBI in 2014; Slowey to start Sunday

Giancarlo Stanton earned himself $6.5 million in his first year of arbitration this past off-season.

It's hard to fathom what the Marlins are going to have to pay him if he keeps up his current pace.

After 15 games, the 24-year old former All-Star is hitting .317 with five homers, 12 runs scored and 21 RBI -- by far his best start to a season ever. The RBI total leads the majors.

At this rate, if he plays in all 162 games for the Marlins this season, Stanton will finish with 54 homers, 130 runs scored, 227 RBI and 20 stolen bases.

Of course, history has shown us Stanton has yet to get through a big league season completely healthy. He missed 85 combined games with injuries over the last two seasons after playing in 150 games in 2011. But a healthy Stanton sure is pretty scary to watch.

The first month of the season has usually been horrendous for Stanton. Between March and April in his first three full big league seasons (2011-2013), he combined to hit .236 with 27 RBI and six homers in 57 games. This season has obviously been different.

According to Fangraphs, Stanton is seeing more pitches in the strike zone (40.4 percent) compared to last season, when he finished second with the fewest strikes thrown to him (38.2 percent).

He's also being more aggressive than he was a year ago, swinging at 47.1 percent of the pitches thrown to him compared to 41.5. During his All-Star season of 2012, Stanton swung at 48.4 percent of the pitches thrown to him ,and saw 44.8 percent of those pitches thrown in the strike zone.


Skipper Mike Redmond said veteran right-hander Kevin Slowey will start Sunday's game against the Mariners. 

It might be the only time Slowey is needed in the rotation. The Marlins, off Thursday before opening a three-game series Friday at Marlins Park against the Seattle Mariners, have a day off between series next week in Atlanta and New York, and then another day of rest before they return home to face the Braves on April 29. 

Redmond said he and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez opted to not move Tuesday night winner Tom Koehler into Sunday's slot on five days rest because they wanted their staff to line up accordingly against the Braves next week and other teams down the road. Koehler is slated to start Monday night in Atlanta, followed by Jose Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi.

By the time the Marlins get back from the road trip, right-hander Jacob Turner could be back from the disabled list. Turner, out with a strained right shoulder, played catch from 60 feet on Tuesday and played catch again Wednesday. Redmond said Turner will throw a bullpen Friday before being reevaluated.

Slowey went 1-6 with a 4.21 ERA in 14 starts for the Marlins last season. Redmond said left-hander Brad Hand, who had back-to-back starts that didn't make it past the fourth inning, will head back to the bullpen to serve as the long reliever.

> Redmond said he's hearing nothing but positive reports regarding second baseman Rafael Furcal, who is down on rehab assignment in Jupiter and isn't expected back until May 6th. "I've heard he's feeling great, doing good. He's running around really well. He's playing good defense. That part of it is very encouraging," Redmond said. 

> Stanton (21) and Casey McGehee (13) have combined to drive in 34 runs over the first 15 games of the season, the most RBI among any two teammates in the Majors. The duo has recorded the most combined RBI by a set of teammates over the first 15 games of any season in Marlins history, two better than Juan Encarnacio (17) and Miguel Cabrera (15) in 2005. The last set of teammates in the Majors to record 34+ RBI through the first 15 games of the season were Prince Fielder (19) and MIguel Cabrera (17) of Detroit, and John Buck (20) and David Wright (14) of the Mets, last season.


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

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

April 15, 2014

Yelich, Stanton share laugh after near collision in outfield Monday night

Things obviously haven't been going well for the Marlins during this eight-game losing streak. 

But Monday night's 9-2 loss to the Nationals came awfully close to being much more painful for the Marlins had Christian Yelich not yielded the way to Giancarlo Stanton. The two nearly collided into each other in right-center field in the second inning sprinting after a Jayson Werth fly ball.

Stanton made the grab for the out and then smiled at Yelich, who decided at the last second self preservation was a smarter idea than crashing into his 6-6, 240-pound teammate.

"I heard him at the last second and saw out of the corner of my eye he wasn't stopping," said Yelich (6-3, 200). "So I kind of just peeled off. Self preservation -- otherwise I probably wouldn't be here today. I would have been out there still."

Yelich said Stanton joked with him after the game how everyone on the team would be wearing a C.Y. patch (Yelich's initials) on their uniform Tuesday had there been a head-on collision between the two.

"It was close," Yelich said. "We had a close one in spring training also. I've tempted fate a few times here. Hopefully it doesn't become a frequent thing. The good thing is you kind of hear him running when he gets close to you. It sounds like a horse. You can definitely tell he's coming."

Yelich, who returns to left field tonight with Marcell Ozuna back in the lineup, has only started six games in center field in the big leagues. Skipper Mike Redmond said he has no problem starting Yelich in center and that the ball Werth hit belonged to the center fielder.

"You always get a little bit nervous even though Yelly has played quite a bit of center field [in the minors]," Redmond said. "He hasn't played a lot of in the big leagues, but you know he can do it. Those are always things you worry about -- the communication in the outfield. But fortunately it didn't happen."

> Redmond said what he's seen from Stanton defensively and running the bases this season has been outstanding.

"He looks great. His jumps have been solid. Watching him run the bases he looks good, he looks healthy," Redmond said. "He looks really comfortable out there both offensively and defensively. He's feeling good. Now we have to get everything around it going. The pitching, better defense."

> Yelich heads into Tuesday night's game on a nine-game hitting streak. He's gone 14 for 39 (.359) since starting the season 2-for-14. Getting more familiar with the pitchers he's been facing helps, Yelich said. 

"When it wasn't going well I think I had good at-bats and it wasn't happening. Now it is," Yelich said. "I'm just finding holes. Baseball is funny like that."

He's also getting comfortable and speaking up more, sharing his assessment of what pitchers are doing and the quality of their pitches to teammates. That's something every lead-off hitter tries to do.

"Previously it was kind of tough for me to go back and tell a guy this is what he's doing tonight because he would say 'Hey man you've got two at-bats against him,'" Yelich said. "Obviously when you face guys more you kind of have a better idea of what their stuff looks like on their good and bad days, kind of what they're doing to you. You feel more comfortable letting the other guys in the dugout know this is what he's got going tonight and this is what he's doing, let's go get him. I'm starting to feel more comfortable doing that."

> Redmond said the Marlins still haven't decided what they're going to do with Brad Hand's spot in the rotation after his rough night Monday, but a decision could be announced Wednesday. Hand's starts have lasted 3 1/3 innings and 3 innings.

> Right-hander Jacob Turner, who played catch off flat ground for the first time since being placed on the disabled list, said his strained right shoulder has "definitely gotten better the last few days." He said his rehab could be sped up or slowed down depending on how feels.


> Nationals (8-5): 1. Anthony Rendon 3B, 2. Bryce Harper LF, 3. Jayson Weerth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Ian Desmond SS, 6. Danny Espinosa 2B, 7. Nate McLouth CF, 8. Sandy Leon C, 9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

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

April 14, 2014

Marlins hoping to get closer Steve Cishek some work

Steve Cishek has the longest current consecutive saves streak in the majors at 31. 

The next time he pitches it might not be a save situation. 

Skipper Mike Redmond said Monday the team needs Cishek to get some work. He's pitched just once since the season-opening series against the Rockies -- last Friday night in Philly -- and has played spectator as other Marlins relievers have blown games with late home runs over the last week. 

"We've talked about it," Redmond said of getting Cishek into a game earlier for the sake of putting him  to work."It's crazy that we're in the same exact situation we were in last year. We've won more games this time around. It's tough. The first week we scored a lot of runs and didn't get a chance to use him and then last week we took a couple tough losses, tried getting him the ball. We might be in a situation here where we bring him in the eighth to get him some work, possibly throw a couple innings. We need him to pitch."

Cishek had three situations during last year's 100-loss season where he got six or more days worth of rest between appearances. So he's used to long layoffs.

"Everyday is just about going out there and hoping the team puts you in a situation to secure a win," Cishek said. "Our first six games we were raking. So even if we've been down I'm still trying to key in, get myself mentally ready to go in. It's still early. I feel like we have a good bullpen. I think we'll handle ourselves fine for the remainder of the year. We just had a little bad run."

> Second baseman Rafael Furcal, who spent last week in extended spring training, will begin his minor league assignment tonight in Single A Jupiter. Redmond said Furcal was going to play five innings.

"Our plan is for him to use all 21 [rehab] days," Redmond said. "Hopefully everything goes well and we go from there."

That means the earliest Furcal would be back with the big league team is May 6th when the Marlins take on the Mets at home. 

Redmond said Furcal would spend a week in Jupiter and then another in Double A Jacksonville before being reevaluated.

> Center fielder Marcell Ozuna isn't in the starting lineup Monday after fouling a ball off his foot Sunday. Redmond said Ozuna was on crutches Sunday night. But Ozuna took batting practice Monday and Redmond said he could be available to pinch-hit.

"It's one of those things where if its a bone bruise it can be a big deal, or it's just a matter where it flares up, swells up that night," Redmond said. "We'll see how he does today. We know he can't run 100 percent. We'll see if he can hit."

> Pitcher Jacob Turner, scratched from his last start and placed on the disabled list after injuring his throwing shoulder during batting practice last week, will begin playing catch on Tuesday. Redmond said Turner "reported that he feels much better than he has."

"We'll see how it responds to long toss," Redmond said. "Then we may start a plan for him."

> Utility infielder Ed Lucas was cleared to begin full baseball activities Monday. Lucas has been on the disabled list since he fractured his left hand during his final at-bat of the spring. He isn't expected back until next month.


> Nationals (7-5): 1. Anthony Rendon 3B, 2. Kevin Frandsden LF, 3. Jayson Werth RF, 4. Bryce Harper CF, 5. Ian Desmond SS, 6. Tyler Moore 1B, 7. Danny Espinosa 2B, 8. Sandy Leon C, 9. Jordan Zimmerman RHP.

> Marlins (5-8): 1. Christian Yelich CF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Garrett Jones 1B, 5. Casey McGehee 3B, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Reed Johnson LF, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Brad Hand LHP.

April 05, 2014

Hechavarria, hitting leadoff again, has chance to catch Bonifacio for most hits by a Marlin to start a season

A couple of quick Marlins notes to share before I run down to the clubhouse:

> Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria's 11 hits to start the season are the second most by a Marlin through the team's first five games. Only Emilio Bonifacio had more. He had 14 hits in 2009. Bonifacio didn't get a hit in his sixth game so Hechavarria, batting leadoff again Saturday, can catch him for the fastest start through six games.

> The Marlins lead the majors in batting average (.315) and runs scored (35). Their current run total tied the 2009 Marlins for second-most runs scored over the first five games of the season. The 2003 World Series champions tallied 39 over its first five contests. That same 2003 team holds the record for most runs through the first six games with 43.

> Casey McGehee is leading the Majors in RBI, and Giancarlo Stanton is setting the pace with seven runs scored.

> New hitting coach Frank Menechino has tweaked the swings and approaches of several Marlins hitters this spring. But he says the players deserve all the credit for the hot start.

"Everyday it's somebody different," Menechino said before Friday night's 8-2 blitz of the Padres. "Stanton's been hitting really well. He had a good spring. McGehee had a really good spring. I just tell them to focus on getting a good pitch to hit, have a good plan against pitchers and these guys are finding out what they can and cannot do.

"It's not going to be everyday, but they're finally figuring out they need a gameplan. What's good is some guy's game plans are the same, and then there will be one or two different. It looks to me like they're talking to each other saying 'Look what they're doing to Reed or Solano, Dietrich, Jones. Everybody is talking amongst themselves -- Bake and all them. They're getting comfortable being uncomfortable. It's a good start."


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

April 04, 2014

Red-hot Hechavarria hitting leadoff vs. Padres Friday

Do you know who is leading the National League in hitting?

If you answered former Marlin Emilio Bonifacio, you are correct. He's hitting .688 (11 for 17) in four games for the Cubs.

Adeiny Hechavarria isn't that hot at the plate. But he's pretty close.

Hechavarria, who hit .227 in his first full season in the majors last year, is 7-for-14 (.500) with four runs scored and three RBI entering Friday night's series opener against the Padres at Marlins Park.

Skipper Mike Redmond has given Christian Yelich a rest so Hechavarria will be batting leadoff. Hechavarria has some experience hitting leadoff. He did so in 21 games last season and hit .205. But he made 90 of his starts batting either seventh or eighth.

Veteran Reed Johnson is getting his first start of the season in left field. 

So what has helped Hechavarria look better at the plate this season? A tip from hitting coach Frank Menechino regarding hand placement.

“In spring training he said he saw me too tight, that I was a good stance, but my hands were too close to my body,” Hechavarria said. “[Menechino] said to try to give it a little space. At the beginning I was a little uncomfortable, but the more I did it the more relaxed I felt. I started hitting the ball better, felt better hitting it and saw it better.”

Menechino said the hand adjustment “freed” Hechavarria’s swing up.

“What he’s doing is he's getting good pitches to hit and he's not chasing the ball,” Menechino said. “He's not panicking with two strikes either. He's sticking with his approach and the little mechanical change we made.”

> Redmond said he wanted to give the left-handed hitting Christian Yelich (.158) a break Friday since the Marlins were facing another left-handed starter.

“I still feel great about him in that leadoff spot and feel he's going to make the adjustment,” Redmond said. “It's just going to take a little bit of time. He has to stay with it.”

> Utility infielder Ed Lucas had his protective cast removed from his surgically repaired left hand Friday. Redmond said Lucas can't play catch or hit, but will do other baseball related activities. Lucas is expected to be out at least a month.

> The Marlins are hoping to give second baseman Rafael Furcal (hamstring) a minor league assignment before taking off on the road Monday, but Redmond said it's unclear if that will happen or if Furcal will need more rest. 

> In his first four games, Casey McGehee has driven in a Major League-leading eight RBI (tied with Mark Trumbo). His RBI total is tied with Hanley Ramirez (2009) for the most ever by a Marlin through the first four games of a season.

The Club record for most RBI over the team’s first five games of the season is nine, done by Ivan Rodriguez (2003), Alex Gonzalez (2003) and Ramirez (2009). McGehee has tallied the most RBI by a player over his first four games as a Marlin, besting the previous mark of six, done previously by Moises Alou (April 1-4, 1997), Ivan Rodriguez (March 31-April 4, 2003) and Mike Jacobs (April 3-7, 2006). The Franchise mark for most RBI in the first five games as a Marlin is nine, done by Rodriguez in 2003.


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

> Padres (1-2): 1. Everth Cabrera SS, 2. Will Venable CF, 3. Chase Headley 3B, 4. Seth Smith LF, 5. Yonder Alonso 1B, 6. Jedd Gyorko 2B, 7. Chris Denorfia RF, 8. Yasmani Grandal C, 9. Eric Stults LHP.

April 01, 2014

Jose Fernandez had no problem with Carlos Gonzalez admiring his home run on Opening Night

Jose Fernandez had no problem with the way the way the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez stood and admired his 430-foot solo home run off him in the sixth inning Monday night.

In fact, the only thing exchanged afterward were smiles and good-natured trash talking between two guys who became friends after playing together in last year's All-Star Game.

"We were just joking around," Fernandez explained Tuesday of the stare down he gave Gonzalez as he rounded first and the subsequent good-natured barbs they yelled at each other from the dugout. "I told him, 'I don't know what I'm going to throw you next time.' He's like 'Don't even talk about it you struck out everybody.' We talked after the game. No big deal."

According to baseball's unwritten rules, standing at the plate to admire a home run is a big no-no. It usually leads to somebody getting plunked. Sometimes it can result an all-out brawl like in the case of the Brewers' Carlos Gomez and the Braves last season.

Last year the Braves took exception to the way Fernandez stood and admired his first career home run at Marlins Park. Catcher Brian McCann met Fernandez at the plate and words were exchanged. Fernandez apologized for his actions after the game.

But there was no reason for those antics Monday.

Fernandez said he and Gonzalez talk and text each other all the time. Gonzalez called Fernandez a good kid and said he admires the passion Fernandez plays with and the way he shows it.

"It was fun. It was nothing like he was mad at me. We have a really good relationship," Gonzalez told Rockies reporters. "When he gets you out, he lets you know. So why not do the same thing when you get him?"

> With the win Monday night, Fernandez became only the second pitcher to earn a win on Opening Day after being voted the Rookie of the Year the previous season joining the Giants' John Montefusco.

The more impressive list Fernandez joined was becoming only the 10th pitcher in MLB history to record nine strikeouts and no walks on Opening Day. The other guys on the list: Cy Young (1900), Walter Johnson (1916), Bob Gibson (1967, 1969), Chris Short (1968), Ferguson Jenkins (1969), JR Richard (1980), Steve Carlton (1983), Mike Mussina (1998) and Jered Weaver (2012).

"This kid is going to end up on a lot of lists with a lot of great pitchers the way he's going," manager Mike Redmond said. "Him winning the Rookie of the Year was just the start for this kid. He's just hungry. That's the beauty of Jose. He wants it every single time he gets the ball."

> Fernandez said there was no post-game celebration with his mother and grandma after Monday's win.

"We went home. We were dead [tired]," Fernandez said. "Remember she's getting used to things here now. In Cuba, [my grandmother] used to go to sleep at 8, 830. She eats at 430 or 5."

Fernandez said he recently took his grandmother Olga out to eat at Texas de Brazil, a Brazilian steakhouse. "She couldn't believe it," he said. "So much food."

He said she still hasn't had the chance to cook him a home-cooked Cuban meal. But the opportunity figures to come soon. He said his grandmother and mother are living with him this season and will probably spend most of the year with him except for a few occasional trips back to Tampa, where Fernandez' and his mom both have homes.

Fernandez said Olga is on a five-year visa, but can't stay longer than 364 consecutive days. So she'll return home to Cuba and then back to Miami. 

Fernandez said his grandmother plans to attend as many Marlins games as she can. She's still very much interested, too, in the family's hometown baseball team back in Cuba and follows the scores online.

"She'll never get tired of watching baseball," Fernandez said. "She said she used to play baseball and do all that stuff when she was little. One time I was playing in Cuba with a tennis ball, a game. You had to hit it with your hand and run. One time they hit a line drive and when I went to catch it it passed by me and she caught it. I was like 'Woah'"

> Utility infielder Ed Lucas said he'll have a pin placed in his fractured left hand on Wednesday and expects to miss four weeks. Lucas' hand was broken by a Scott McGregor pitch on Thursday, only hours after learning he had won the battle for a spot on the Marlins' Opening Day roster.

"I'm not a big cursor," Lucas said of his immediate reaction upon being hit. "But, I let out a few expletives I probably shouldn't have."

> The Marlins have released pitcher Chad James, their first-round pick in 2009. James, the 18th overall pick that year, never panned out, going 18-41 with a 4.67 ERA in four minor league seasons. He never advanced past High A Jupiter.

> Outfielder Brent Keys, who was the Marlins' minor league player of the year last season but has dealt with numerous leg injuries, had an epidural within the past week to pinpoint whether a bulging disc in his back is the cause. "They really think the whole time that he suffered from these leg injuries, it was a direct result of the back," said Marty Scott, the Marlins' vice president of player development.


> Rockies (0-1): 1. Drew Stubbs CF, 2. Michael Cuddyer RF, 3. Carlos Gonzalez LF, 4. Troy Tulowitzki SS, 5. Justin Morneau 1B, 6. Wilin Rosario C, 7. Nolan Arenado 3B, 8. DJ LeMahieu 2B, 9. Brett Anderson LHP.

> Marlins (1-0): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jeff Baker 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.