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Marlins to sign Furcal; Impressive achievement for Fins; Fins notes; UM recruiting; LeBron's film; Radio news

Thursday night update: The Marlins are signing longtime big-league shortstop Rafael Furcal with the intent of making him their starting second baseman, according to a source with direct knowledge. The news was first reported by Fox's Ken Rosenthal.

Furcal, 36, missed last season after Tommy John surgery and still must pass a physical. He will sign a one-year deal for $3 million, plus incentives.

He hit .264 with five homers, 49 RBI and 12 steals in 2012. The Marlins are still looking for a third baseman and will intensify that search in the coming weeks. Derek Dietrich can play either second or third but the Marlins do not want to go into next season assuming he will be a starter. And they did not want to enter next season with Donovan Solano as their starter at second base, either.

Furcal has played 1554 games at shortstop, just 36 at second. He hasn't started a game at second base since 2004. But the Marlins believe he is capable of handling second.

A .281 career hiter, Furcal spent the first six years of his career with Atlanta, the next 5.5 with the Dodgers and the next 1 1/2 with St. Louis.

He has made the All-Star team three times, most recently in 2012. Furcal ranks 8th among active players in steals, 20th in runs, 23rd in hits and 32nd in total bases.

The Marlins also will strongly consider trading first baseman Logan Morrison, according to two sources, but whether that happens will depend on the quality of the offers they get. Several teams have expressed interest. 

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Dolphins, Canes, Heat and local radio items:     

### Dolphins fans have witnessed a bunch of exasperating things this season: Ryan Tannehill underthrowing or overthrowing Mike Wallace, the offensive line being beaten for sacks, the running game being stuffed in a handful of games.

But here’s one thing they haven’t seen: Opposing receivers beating Dolphins’ defensive backs deep for touchdowns.

And that’s a testament to the work of the team’s top four cornerbacks, who are all allowing less than a 70 passer rating in their coverage area.

To put that in perspective, only 23 cornerbacks in the league are below 70, and Miami is the only team with four of them, according to Pro Football Focus.

In fact, through three quarters of the season, the Dolphins have allowed only one touchdown reception by an opposing receiver – a 14-yard pass from Tom Brady to Aaron Dobson, against Nolan Carroll.

“That’s cool,” said Brent Grimes, who has had an exceptional season. “With the talented receivers in the league, that’s a good [accomplishment].”

That needs to continue in Pittsburgh on Sunday, when the Dolphins face Antonio Brown, who had six touchdowns and 1103 receiving yards on a league-high 85 catches, and Emmanuel Sanders, who has 54 receptions, 604 yards and four touchdowns.

Grimes hasn’t been beaten for a touchdown all season, and quarterbacks have a 62.6 rating in his coverage area – best among cornerbacks with at least 700 snaps. (Grimes has played 853). Plus, he has four picks.

What’s more, Dimitri Patterson, limited to five games by a groin injury, is allowing just a 36.1 rating in his coverage area and leads the league in interceptions-per-snap (four in 229). He returned to practice today.

And Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson have made “tremendous improvement,” according to receiver Rishard Matthews, who has battled both in practice the past two seasons.

Carroll has allowed only 47.7 percent passes thrown against him to be completed, compared with 57 percent last season. Wilson has made very few significant mistakes in coverage all year.

### Mike Wallace told Pittsburgh writers that he has “something in mind” to celebrate if he scores a touchdown Sunday – he wouldn’t give details – and said he plans to eat dinner on Saturday night with Antonio Brown.

“I’m pretty sure AB has a good healthy cook for us. He’s always eating healthy so I’m pretty sure he’ll have a nice meal for us,” Wallace said. “I don’t know how good it’ll taste, he’s a little weird when it comes down to his food but he’s having a great season so I’ll take whatever.”

### Over the first four games, the Dolphins allowed six touchdowns against tight ends, including two against Jimmy Graham. In the eight games since, Miami has allowed two: to San Diego’s Antonio Gates and a one-yard game-winner to Carolina’s Greg Olsen.

This is encouraging: The Dolphins have allowed fewer than 52 receiving yards by tight ends in seven of their past eight games.

On Sunday, the Dolphins face a legitimate receiving threat in Heath Miller, who has 46 receptions for 468 yards. Among linebackers, Dannell Ellerbe has particularly good in pass coverage.

### The recruiting battle is intensifying this week for Central High’s Dalvin Cook, considered one of the nation’s top five running backs in the 2014 class. Cook signed financial aid agreements with UM and FSU on Wednesday and told Rivals.com that “I plan on signing with Florida, too, but I don’t know when.” The agreements are not binding, of course.

He remains a UF oral commitment but is giving strong consideration to the Hurricanes and Seminoles. He will visit UM Saturday, when Miami holds its first bowl practice.

“I'm looking to see how the practice is and things like that,” Cook told Rivals.com. “I want to see how the running backs coach teaches the players and how they use their running backs in their offense."

He also told Rivals.com that the idea of playing with fellow Central running back Joseph Yearby, a UM oral commitment, is appealing.

"I want to play with Joe, just to clear all that up,” Cook said told Rivals. “That's my guy. I've been playing with him for three years and I feel like I've been playing with him forever. It would be a great experience to play with him for the next three or four years."

But Cook also makes no secret of his affection for Florida State. “I really like the program overall," Cook told Rivals.com. "They are doing great things on offense. I like the way they use their running backs. I think Florida State can put me in the best predicament to make plays."

### Palm Beach Dwyer four-star receiver Johnnie Dixon, coveted by UM, will announce his college choice at 7 p.m. Sunday. Alabama, UM and Ohio State are considered the top contenders, with North Carolina State and Arkansas also under consideration. The Palm Beach Post quoted a source as saying Dixon is leaning toward Alabama and also quoted UM oral commitment Travonte Valentine as saying that he is now considering LSU as well. Losing Valentine would be a big blow for UM, if it happens.

### By the way, UM's basketball team lost 60-49 at Nebraska tonight in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. UM (5-4) opens ACC play at 12:30 p.m. Sunday against Virginia Tech at BankUnited Center.

### Deadline.com reported tonight that LeBron James will star with Kevin Hart in a basketball comedy movie, Ballers. Hart will "play a man who lives in the shadow of his NBA superstar brother (James) but gets a chance to prove himself when he and some pals attend a weekend fantasy basketball camp in Miami," according to the web site. 

At 5-3, Hart is one foot and five inches shorter than James. Production is expected to start next summer.

### Marc Hochman, who informed 790/104.3 The Ticket a couple weeks ago that he is leaving when his contract expires Dec. 31, e-mailed associates on Wednesday that he and the Ticket have mutually agreed to part ways about three weeks earlier than planned. He indicated that Thursday morning will be his final show on The Ticket.

In the e-mail, he said Thursday's show will not be a "farewell show" and will make no mention of his departure.

Hochman is expected to take a job as WQAM's afternoon-drive host beginning April 1, barring something unexpected. A non-compete clause will prevent him from working on the radio in the market before then.

The Ticket hasn't determined who will replace Hochman alongside Jonathan Zaslow and Joy Taylor on its morning show.

Comments

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sflafan

Al Golden better tap into all his charm and ensure Travonte Valentine signs with the "U". The kid is a beast. A Warren Saap type player. The Canes desperately need this kid. Hopefully the coach will sell him on the fact that he'll likely start as a true freshman. With our need on the D Line and with his monstrous talent, he'd probably see the field come Day #1. Dip into your bag of tricks Coach Golden and make sure young Mr. Valentine doesn't get away.

Georgia Cane

I agree main focus should be on Valentine. Cook appears to be playing games, he should know by now where he will go. Don't think we will get Dixon, that's why Golden got the kid from SDade. What we need desperately is D-line.

lnyprz@hotmail.com

hocxhman suks no sportsknowledge

RichmondHeightsCane

The real problem with Valentine is academics, and LSU has an easier admission requirement than the U. This is another reason the SEC can attract more top level players. To have an even playing field, the NCAA need to force a standard across the board, regardless of institution...or just accept the SEC is a minor league for the NFL.

We are loaded at RB, and Cook wants to be the man. He is not going to learn anything by attending a practice. He is from Miami, and he should know that the U run a pro-style offense...which always features the RB. FSU is winning and they have a pretty good QB who can pass...which helps the running game. If he wants to be the main man, then he need to stay with Florida. Based on my observation of Cook, he is a better Safety and play-maker in the secondary...which the U really needs. As for Dixon, I see him at the U, unless Saban lied about immediate playing time.

JRod

Getting Cook and Dixon would be nice, but losing Valentine would be absolutely devastating. Golden cannot continue to miss at that position. We need about 4 in this class. Losing any of the DT's would put a major damper on this class no matter what its ranked at the end of the day. We need Kayaa as well.

Source?

"LSU has an easier admission requirement than the U."

Gary

Source, How about checking every entrance and academic rating! I agree with JROD. We need QB's & above that even a DL that has talent and provides depth. Stephen is so erratic & has no touch, while Anthony Chickillo is steady in the Wake Forest style lineman but no closing speed & short on strength to bull rush. Very important recruiting class to close well on.

Gary

The PS- Kids like Dalvin Cook are irritating to most fans. I'm sure he is a very nice kid and is obviously a super football player. At this point he knows where he is going. Stop the showboating and go! Unless you don't have the grades. ESPN has made these kids think they are the end all to every program. Hyping their signing days.

202canefan

The PS- Kids like Dalvin Cook are irritating to most fans. I'm sure he is a very nice kid and is obviously a super football player. At this point he knows where he is going. Stop the showboating and go! Unless you don't have the grades. ESPN has made these kids think they are the end all to every program. Hyping their signing days.

Posted by: Gary | 12/05/2013 at 08:54 AM
****
Only to suckers that latch on to these kids every move.. Maybe, he has yet to decide(it is a big decision--ya know!) Let the kid be a kid & decide what's best for him, not what's best for the fans!

T.J.

"I think Florida State can put me in the best predicament to make plays."

The best predicament? Really? Hahaha

TP

I agree with JROD 100%. This is make or break with our front seven. That's why our defense has taken a step back.

Danny

Why didn't they re-negotiate to keep Hoch on The Ticket if they wanted him to stay? Will we lose Mt. Rushmore and other stuff on his AM show?

Source?

"How about checking every entrance and academic rating!"

Felon State University

Florida State will put you in a predicament all right.

Marios

We are overstating the importance of DTs for UM because our whole front 7 was bad and undersized. Yes you need 2 good, stout DTs, but more important for Canes are guys who can pressure the QB and better, faster LBs who can cover sideline to sideline.

Valentine looks like one of those immature kids who is not taking care of his personal business(grades) and is trying to change the focus on the school's performance instead of on his own. Smells like trouble already.

RichmondHeightsCane

Source,

Remember Pat Petterson was a U commit, but did not have the grades. However, he was able to gain immediate admission into LSU. A lot of players with academic issues attends Marshall too. I am not saying all SEC players have academic problems...just the admission requirements are lower for student/athletes. Valentine may see the writing on the wall, because earlier in the year he was recruiting players to join him at the U.

Source?

"Remember Pat Petterson was a U commit, but did not have the grades"

http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/sports/dolphins/joerose/2011/03/patrick_peterson_spurned_um_pa.html

Source?

Not saying it doesn't happen, but Miami fans take it for granted that UM's academic requirements for athletes is higher than other schools in the ACC and around the country and that we lose players for it, and I've never seen anyone confirm that's the case.

I know that it's something that many UM fans would be interested in, seems like the kind of thing Barry Jackson could sort out with a couple phone calls.

cool and the gang

Why don t D linemen get juiced for playing at the U period?I mean is it the D line Coach?If he were replaced with an Asst from the Ravens in the NFL...or Seattle.....would these HS kids change their attitude toward the U?Just saying.Miami or Golden or both just don t seem to tingle anyone s toes who is a great D lineman fresh out of top high school.Jimmie and Butch and Dennis and Howard seemed to find D linemen.Golden can t seem to find even 1 devent D lineman that will help guild a defense.I just don t get it.Unless it s D Onofrio and........naw..........couldn t be because of him.nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

johnnie j

Hope to see a good game tonight against the Bulls.Chances are the Heat shoot better on the perimeter as it would be hard to play 2 stinkers in a row like that.Hope it s out of their system for another nice little 6 or 7 game run.Bench needs to keep playing well and starters play like they usually do.If that happens...Heat should outlast the Bulls because they STILL have trouble scoring points.GO HEAT.

LongTimeCanesFan

Miami requires incoming student athletes to get into the school with the same grades and test scores as any other student. This is a higher academic requirement than the NCAA minimum. Other schools just enforce the minimum.

AFAIK, Donna Shalala instituted this policy when she came to UM. One benefit is the high graduation rate.

Bill

It is very immature for fans of the U totake shots at Winston even after being cleared of any assault charges by a state district attorney. The U just went through a very hurtful experience with the NCAA and fans should not be too quick to judge Winston after his name was dragged throgh the mud. Remember the Duke lacrosse players actually being charged and then found not guilt of any sex assault crime. Look in the mirror U fans.

IMAWriter

That was DUKE, Bill. Mentioning them in the same breath with FSU is a felony.

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