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37 posts from February 2009

February 28, 2009

Rough Day for Hermida (and it's only the 2nd inning)

               Jeremy Hermida is having quite the adventure in left today. He misplayed two catchable fly balls in the first inning, twisting and turning this way and that, as he tried unsuccessfly to get under them while drifting back toward the wall. Neither miss was ruled an error (the old "he didn't get his glove on the ball" scorekeeper's excuse), but it cost the Marlins and pitcher Ricky Nolasco two runs.

                If there was any excuse for Hermida, who is trying to learn the position after spending his entire career in right, it was the strong right-to-left breeze, which has the flag stretched taut here at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

               But the fans here weren't buying it. Hermida was up first in the second for the Marlins and he was booed lustily. And when he caught a lazy, easier fly ball after the Marlins returned to the field, he received the Bronx cheerr. Hermida acknowledged fans by raising his glove in the air. They cheered a second time when he caught a line drive to end the inning.


Lineups: Marlins/Orioles -- The Rematch

Lauderdale stadium

          FORT LAUDERDALE - Good morning. The Marlins are coming off a 3-2 win on Friday over the O's up in Jupiter. Saturday's lineups are posted and, in case you're thinking of taking  a spin over to Lauderdale Stadium to see the Fish, they're playing most of their regulars. Alfredo Amezaga and Dan Uggla each is listed at 2B, and we know that's not happening. One or the other will likely be DHing.

          MARLINS: 1. Cameron Maybin, cf; 2. Alfredo Amezaga, 2b/dh; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b/dh; 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Wes Helms, 1b; 9. Brett Hayes, c.

          ORIOLES: 1. Brian Roberts, 2b; 2. Cesar Izturis, ss; 3. Nick Markakis, rf; 4. Aubrey Huff, 1b; 5. Melvin Mora, dh; 6. Scott Moore, 3b; 7. Felix Pie, lf; 8. Justin Christian, cf; 9. Chad Moeller, c


February 27, 2009

Marlins/Orioles: Live Updates

          9th: It's over. Sanches allows a run in the ninth but leaves a runner standed at second to end the game. Marlins now a hockey-like 1-1-1 on the Grapefruit League season. 

          8th: We're through 8 with the Marlins still leading, 3-1. This was the time last season when the Marlins would bring in Joe Nelson to close out the win. He finished with seven spring saves. Noticed he hasn't made an appearance yet with his new new, the Tampa Bay Rays. But a couple of former Marlins have gotten their feet wet in new digs. Mike Jacobs went deep in his first game with the Royals and is 2-for-6 with them so far. Josh Willingham (Nationals) is 1-3. (By the way, the Marlins are bringing in Brian Sanches to try to close this one out. (Heading down to the field now since day is almost over). Later.

           7th: Nice running catch near wall in left-center by Jai Miller and, yep, he's first up for the Marlins in the bottom half of the inning. Just got nipped at first on a close play. Miller struck out in his only major league at bat when he was summoned to Oakland last summer. He's either the 44th or 45th such position player to strike out in only big league at bat. Was speaking this morning with Renyel Pinto, who is back from the stomach flu and was taking batting practice with the other relievers. "Five for five on sacrifice bunts," Pinto proudly proclaimed. Just looked it up and noticed he has two sac bunts in his career -- both of them last season-- but who's counting? He's 0 for 5 as a batter. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Pinto could make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday.

           6th: Kensing on the mound for the Marlins and gave up the first run of the game for the Orioles. This is is a crucial spring for him, as it is for quite a few bullpen hopefuls. I have a vivid memory of his major league debut in September of 2004 when he was called up from Single A Jupiter as an emergency starter. He gave up back-to-back homers at Wrigley Field to Moises Alou and Aramis Ramirez and was done after two innings (five earned on eight hits -- ouch). Marlins 3, Orioles 1. Errors for Orioles 3; Errors for Marlins 2. 

            5th: Error charged to Dallas McPherson. That makes eight.

            4th: Andino was charged with a throwing error. Spring training count: 7 errors, 2+ plus games. Leo Nunez also uncorked a couple of wild pitches but the O's were kept off the board.

            3rd (bottom): The Marlins have taken a 3-0 lead -- their first of the spring -- on four consecutive singles to center by John Raynor, John Baker, Dallas McPherson and Jorge Cantu, and a Melvin Mora error on Cody Ross's ground ball. Raynor also stole third, prompting one wag to wonder out loud if that would irk Hendrickson. Remember last spring when Hendrickson got upset at the O's Brian Roberts for stealing a base in an early spring training game? Hendrickson and Roberts hugged and made up early on this spring. I've wondered whether Matt Treanor and Miguel Cabrera have done the same with the Tigers this spring. Treanor, as I recall, made comments last season implying that Cabrera was a negative clubhouse influence while with the Marlins. Now they're Detroit teammates. Hmm.

            3rd: John Baker threw out his first runner of the spring, gunning down Felix Pie at second on a steal attempt. ***Former Marlins alert -- Mark Hendrickson has entered for the Orioles to pitch the third.*** If you're heading to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday to catch the Marlins, I have the traveling roster for you. Making the trip: (Pitchers) Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Kiko Calero, John Koronka, Carlos Martinez, Henry Owens, Taylor Tankersley, Michael Wood; (Position Players) Emilio Bonifacio, Jorge Cantu, Chris Coghlan, Andy Gonzalez, Wes Helms, Manny Mayorson, Logan Morrison, Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Alfredo Amezaga, Brett Carroll, Scott Cousins, Jeremy Hermida, Cameron Maybin, Cody Ross, Michael Ryan, Michael Stanton, Brad Davis, Brett Hayes, Mike Rabelo and Kyle Skipworth. Notables not making the trip: Dallas McPherson, Gaby Sanchez, Jay Gibbons and John Baker.

            2nd: Traveling secretary Bill Beck just walked by and announced that this is day 16 of 51 in spring training. "I could be off a day," Beck said, just to be careful. The general consensus here in the pressbox was that shortstop Robert Andino should have been charged with an error on Gregg Zaun's ground ball in the Orioles second. but it's spring training for the official scorekeepers, too. Andino could not glove a very fieldable ground ball to his left and Zaun reached. The Marlins have been a total mess defensively the first 2+ games. Ryan Tucker's line: 2 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 2 bb, 2 k.

            1st: Dallas McPherson went down looking in the first, but at least he can still pay his bills, unlike some other clients of agent Scott Boras. Don't know if you've heard, but several Boras players (Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady of the Yankees and Scott Eyre of the Phillies) had their assets frozen because of investments tied to the Stanford Financial Group scandal. They've been told they'll get their money unfrozen but, in the meantime, they're having trouble paying their bills. McPherson is the only Boras client on the Marlins but told me this morning that he uses a different financial advisor than the one Boras provides clients and hasn't been touched by the scandal.

            PLAY BALL: We're about to get going here. The players have taken their positions on the field. The Orioles writers were in the Marlins clubhouse earlier talking to former O, Jay Gibbons. He had some intereseting stuff to stay, but nothing inflammatory. "I'm not going to give you any dirt, nothing," Gibbons told them. By the way, if Gibbons makes the Marlins, he'll be the highest-paid player on the team. Only the Orioles will be picking up all but $400,000 of his approximate $6.5 million tag this season. Anyway, if you're interested in what else Gibbons had to say, check out Roch Kubatko's live blog ("School of Roch") at www.masnsports.com  He's sitting four seats down, so his view should be a little different.

            PRE-GAME: Alfredo Amezaga is in the starting lineup, batting nine and playing second. Everything appeared fine with his right knee during morning drills and his particiption in the World Baseball Classic is a "go" barring any further setbacks.

            Here are the lineups:

            Marlins: 1. John Raynor, lf; 2. John Baker, c; 3. Dallas McPherson, 3b; 4. Jorge Cantu, DH; 5. Cody Ross, rf; 6. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 7. Robert Andino, ss; 8. Alejandro De Aza, cf; 9. Alfredo Amezaga, 2b.

            Orioles: 1. Ryan Freel, rf; 2. Felix Pie, cf; 3. Luke Scott, lf; 4. Melvin Mora, 3b; 5. Ty Wigginton, 1b; 6. Matt Wieters, dh; 7. Chris Gomez, 2b; 8. Gregg Zaun, c; 9. Jolbert Cabrera, ss.

            -- A couple of other notes before we get going here: reliever Jose Ceda, who experienced tightness in his right shoulder early in camp, is throwing flat ground at 90 feet, will be extended to 120 feet in a couple of days, hopes to throw off a mound soon after that, and could see Grapefruit League action in a couple of weeks.

            -- Pitchers Sean West (sore hip) and Renyel Piinto (stomach flu) are A-OK now and could see game action in a day or so.



Marlins on the Air, Amezaga Update, Today's Pitchers

       Amezaga           JUPITER -- Great baseball weather here this morning. The breeze is calm for the first time in weeks and the Marlins are out stretching on the back diamond. A few quick notes to get the day rolling:

                 -- Today's game is being broadcast on 790-AM The Ticket. Dave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner are in the booth. Pre-game show starts at 12:50 p.m. with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Ryan Tucker on the mound for the Marlins. Kenji Uehara gets the call for the O's.

                 -- Alfredo Amezaga looks fine and dandy and good to go for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he'll give Amezaga some playing time today. The super sub has been nursing a sore right knee.

                 -- Following Tucker to the mound for the Marlins this afternoon: Scott Proctor, Leo Nunez, Zach Kroenke, Logan Kensing, Dan Meyer and Jason Standridge.

                 -- David Samson will try to slay Goliath on Sunday. The Marlins president has agreed to coach the Washington Generals on Sunday in a continuation of their long-standing rivalry with the Harlem Globetrotters. The Generals haven't beaten the Trotters since 1971 -- more than 12,000 games ago -- when they were known as the New Jersey Reds. Game is 1 p.m. at American Airlines Arena.


February 26, 2009

Live: Marlins/Mets

            FINAL: Mercifully for the Marlins, this one is over. They ended up with three hits, thanks to Michael Stanton and Manny Mayorson, who came through with late hits. That gave them one more hit than errors. Final score was 9-0.

             7th -- Back up from the clubhouse. Just the usual from Volstad. Working on stuff today, etc., etc. Meanwhile, since I've been away, Reyes connected on another homer, this one down the left field line to complement his shot to right earlier. Willie Collazo gave up the second blow. And the Marlins remain stuck on just one infield hit -- Maybin's. Mets 9, Marlins 0.

            5th -- Marlins offensively have only a Hermida walk and Maybin infield hit through five, and he was picked off first. Ex-Met Matt Lindstrom takes over on the mound for the Marlins.

           Just had a reader write wondering when the Marlins' TV schedule for the season would be released. From Marlins V.P. of Communications and Broadcasting P.J. Loyello: "Soon."

            4th -- The Marlins' Grapefruit League error count now stands at an even half dozen. Bonifacio, being tested at third base, became the latest culprit when a Brian Schneider ground ball ate him up. Add in a couple of walks issued by Vandenhurk to load the bases and, pow, Jose Reyes knocks one out for a grand slam. Vandy is out of there. His line as he prepares to head off to play for The Netherlands in the WBC: 1 2/3 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K. Henry Owens takes over. Mets 6, Marlins 0.

            3rd -- Emilio Bonifacio, leading off today for the Marlins, struck out in each of his first two at bats. Robert Andino, starting at second, made a splashy play up the middle to rob Jose Reyes of a hit. Vandenhurk now on the mound for the Marlins. Volstad's line: 2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.

            More ugly defensiveness for the Marlins, specifically Hanley Ramirez. The shortstop had a potential double play ground ball bounce off his chest. Managed to recover and get the out at second but was too late to complete the DP, enabling one run to score. Then was charged with an error when Mike Rabelo's throw went through his glove on Carlos Beltran's stolen base. Mets 2, Marlins 0.

            2nd -- Michael Stanton provided a snapshot of his power when he powered a fly ball to deep right center that was hauled in near the warning track. If not for the strong breeze, it probably would have gone out for a 2-run homer. Stanton is one of the organization's top prospects, probably a year or two away from the majors. Hit 39 homers last season at Single A Greensboro. Meanwhile, Chris Volstad just escaped a bases-loaded jam and the score remains one-zip in favor of the Metropolitans. 

            1st -- Jerry Manuel's decision to bat pitcher Oliver Perez in the second spot paid first-inning dividends, but don't expect it to become the new fashion trend. Manuel wanted Perez to work on bunting, and the pitcher dropped down a beauty, advancing Luis Castillo to third. Castillo then scored on Jose Reyes' grounder to first. So that's where we stand at the moment. Mets 1, Marlins 0. 

            1:02 p.m. -- Welcome back. We're at Tradition Field this afternoon for Marlins/Mets. The wind appears to be blowing right to left. We'll keep you updated throughout the course of the game. I see the Marlins brought their gloves today, so that's a good start.

            No radio today, but the broadcasting team hits the airwaves tomorrow on 790 The Ticket when the Marlins take on the Baltimore Orioles.

Amezaga Has Slight Knee Injury, Could Influence WBC Plans

              PORT ST. LUCIE -- Super-sub Alfredo Amezaga is dealing with a slight right knee injury that could keep him out of the World Baseball Classic if the Marlins feel he would risk further damage by participating.

              For now, manager Fredi Gonzalez said it is wait-and-see with Amezaga, who did not play Wednesday and did not make the trip to Port St. Lucie on Thursday to face the Mets. Instead, Amezaga remained in Jupiter to continue working out for trainers.

             Amezaga is on Mexico's roster for the WBC. Gonzalez said Amezaga tweaked his knee during an at bat in an intersquad game on Monday.

             "He was better yesterday than he was the day before," Gonzalez said Thursday. "We'll see how the work goes today back there. I think if our medical people or our training staff have any kind of concerns, we wouldn't let him go. But we're not there yet. He did a ton of treeatments on it yesterday and hopefully he'll keep progressing."

             Amezaga isn't the only Marlin with health issues. Pitcher Sean West, who was initially scheduled to start Friday against the Orioles, has a slight left hip injury. Gonzalez said he is more concerned with West trying to cover first base than with any throwing issues.


Marlins/Mets Lineups

          PORT ST. LUCIE -- Here's the lineup the Mets have issued. Note that Mets pitcher Oliver Perez is batting second. Word from the Mets reporters is that they want Perez to work on his bunting. Neither team is using a designated hitter. Another twist is the Marlins' 1-2 punch of Bonifacio and Maybin, Note that Uggla, Cantu, Ross and Baker are among the regular who aren't on this trip.

          Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Cameron Maybin, cf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Wes Helms, 1b; 5. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 6. Michael Stanton, rf; 7. Robert Andino, 2b; 8. Mike Rabelo, c; 9. Chris Volstad.

          Mets: 1. Luis Castillo, 2b; 2. Oliver Perez, p; 3. Jose Reyes, ss; 4. Carlos Delgado, 1b; 5. David Wright, 3b; 6. Carlos Beltran, cf; 7. Ryan Church, rf; 8. Daniel Murphy, lf; 9. Brian Schneider, c.

February 25, 2009

Beinfest Blasts Defense

            JUPITER -- Following a four-error performance by the Marlins in their first spring training game, Larry Beinfest ripped the defense, calling it "unacceptable," even for the first day.

            "I don't care if it's the first day or the last day," Beinfest said. "We need to play better defense from the start, set the tone."

           Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, has been preaching better defense for a club that has committed more fielding errors over the past three seasons than any team in the majors.

           On Wednesday, the Marlins escaped with a sloppy, 5-5 tie, against the St. Louis Cardinals in which three members of their starting infield -- first baseman Gaby Sanchez, second baseman Dan Uggla and shortstop Hanley Ramirez -- were each charged with errors.

           And third baseman Jorge Cantu just missed making one.

           Beinfest broke into a post-game discussion between reporters and manager Fredi Gonzalez, saying he was unhappy with the effort.

           "More runs than errors, we'll take it as a positive," Beinfest said facetiously. "Not the way you want to start. This team is going to take pride in its defense. Yes, it is the first day. But we're capable of playing better defense. We have guys who are capable of doing it. We need to do it."


Live: Marlins Spring Training Opener

               TOP 6: Hanley Ramirez atoned for his error the previous inning with a 2-run homer to left off Francisco Samuel. Fredi Gonzalez said beforehand that he expected Ramirez to run just as much as he has in the past. But I wonder about that.

               BOTTOM 5: The Cardinals added two runs in what was a debacle of an inning for the Marlins, defensively and on the mound. Hanley Ramirez booted one ball and Dan Uggla could have been charged with an error on another poor play. Chris Leroux walked a pair and hit a batter. Need I say more? So that makes fielding errors today for Gaby Sanchez at first, Dan Uggla at second and Hanley Ramirez at short. And third baseman Jorge Cantu barely got away with one in the fourth when he dropped a ground ball but picked it up in time to nip the runner on a questionable umpire's call at first. Cardinals 3, Marlins 0.

                TOP 5: Cody Ross drew a leadoff walk but it was four up, three down for the Marlins. Word of warning: they're opening the clubhouse to media in a few minutes and I'll be stepping away from the live blog for an inning or two. Will get back to you ASAP.

                BOTTOM 4: Wow, this game sure is moving quickly. Brett Sinkbiel gave up a leadoff single and Dan Uggla was charged with an error on an easy double play ball. But the Cardinals failed to come up with any runs. Still 1-0. Did I say this game sure is moving quickly? Hey, it's spring training. If there's extra innings, they'll stop it after 10. No more. Regular season rules don't apply.

               TOP 4: We're zipping along here. The Marlins went down 1-2-3. By the way, baseball writers are every bit as superstitious as players and one thing that'll land you in hot water real quick with your media brethren is if you say "Wow, this game sure is moving quickly."  Because sure as anything, you'll end up with extra innings or a 2-hour rain delay.

                BOTTOM 3: Thompson looked sharp, facing the minimum three batters. Albert Pujols, who looks like he could be a rising star :) reached on a bloop single that dropped in front of Hermida and Maybin. But Thompson retired Ankiel on a fly ball and got Ludwick to ground into a double play. That's the third twin-killing of the game.

               TOP 3: Another scoreboard zero for the Marlins. Baker singled. Ludwick made a diving catch on Maybin's shallow fly ball. Otherwise, nada...

              BOTTOM 2: Anibal Sanchez is done for the day, turning in his two innings per plans. The first-inning error didn't help him, but he didn't help himself either. He walked three and gave up a pair of hits. Still, he leaves trailing just 1-0. Lefty Aaron Thompson will be taking over in the third. 

              TOP 2: Nothing doing for the Marlins. It was a 1-2-3 inning.  

               BOTTOM 1: So much for that improved defense at first base. Rookie Gaby Sanchez dropped a direct throw from Anibal Sanchez to allow the leadoff runner to reach and Anibal walked a pair of Cardinals, including Rick Ankiel with the bases loaded, as St. Louis grabbed a 1-0 lead. It could have been worse. The Cardinals had the bases loaded with none out. But A. Sanchez struck out Ryan Ludwick and got Chris Duncan to hit into an inning-ending double play. One unearned run to put the Cards on top.

               Was just checking the results from a poll I ran a few days ago and a whopping 74.1 percent of 200 respondents picked the Marlins to either finish first (34.8 percent) or second (39.3 percent) in the NL East this season. Not even Obama has those kind of approval ratings. The poll was rounded out by 18.4 percent picking the team to finish third, 4.5 percent choosing fourth, and just 3.0 percent picking them last. I checked, and those six voters did not all come from the Washington, D.C. area.      

               TOP 1: The new 1-3 combination did its job. Cameron Maybin showed bunt on the first pitch before slapping a single to left on the second, and Hanley Ramirez walked in his at bat. Cleanup hitter Jorge Cantu also singled. But the Marlins got zip because John Baker bounced into a double play and Dan Uggla struck out looking.

                By the way, the Marlins are tonight's featured team on MLB Network's "30 Teams in 30 Days." The program airs at 6 p.m.  .

                     12:45 p.m. -- Hello from Roger Dean Stadium, where we await the first game of the spring training season for the Marlins. They're taking on the St. Louis Cardinals. Couple of quick notes: Fredi Gonzalez talked to us on the field a few moments ago, most of the questions directed at the new lineup (see my earlier blog). Cameron Maybin is the leadoff hitter for now, but Gonzalez doesn't want to rule out Emilio Bonifacio for that spot. Hanley Ramirez, though, is cemented in the third spot unless he nosedives. Gonzalez pointed out that the Marlins were 10-6 last season when Ramirez hit third, 69-66 when he was at leadoff.

                 The Cardinals, in case anyone is interested, are sending Blake Hawksworth to the mound to face Anibal Sanchez. The St. Louis lineup: 1. Skip Schumaker, 2b; 2. Colby Rasmus, lf; 3. Albert Pujols, 1b; 4.Rick Ankiel, cf; 5. Ryan Ludwick, rf; 6. Chris Duncan, dh; 7. Khalil Greene, ss; 8. Jason LaRue, c; 9. Joe Mather, 3b.

                  Pretty day. The wind is blowing in from right.


"B" Game Update -- Marlins vs. Italy

              FINAL --Italy roared back for a 4-1 victory, scoring two runs off Michael Wood and two more off Scott Proctor.

               10:49 a.m. -- The Marlins have taken a 1-0 lead on Italy on John Raynor's RBI single in the third inning. Burke Badenhop started for the Marlins and threw two scoreless innings.

              Former Marlins great Mike Piazza is working as a hitting coach for Italy's World Baseball Classic club, driving up from his Miami home on Wednesday to help his ancestral country. Piazza, who had a memorable one-week career with the Marlins in 1998, retired after the 2007 season and said he's thinking of either coaching or getting into broadcasting.

             Italy is a huge underdog in the WBC. They'll be grouped with the United States, Venezuela and Canada in first-round games in Toronto next week.

            The Marlins got off to a slow start offensively against Italy, whose pitchers retired the first eight hitters before Manny Mayorson reached on a two-out single in the third, stole second, and scored on Raynor's single to center.