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21 posts from February 2011

February 28, 2011

Edwin Rodriguez Likes Donnie Murphy To Make Team

    No significant new developments concerning Mike Stanton and his right quad injury. But he was walking on Monday, one day after sustaining the injury. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said they'll take no chances with the young outfielder and won't rush his return. Privately, the Marlins are happy that it was a quad injury, and not either a hamstring or calf.

    Perhaps more significant was Rodriguez discussing Donnie Murphy and his unexpectedly quick recovery from the dislocated right wrist he injured last season. The Marlins didn't believe Murphy would be ready in time for the regular season. Now, they're beginning to think otherwise.

    "We're all very surprised at how he has rehabbed his injury, and we are very positive about the whole situation," Rodriguez said. "There's some days, maybe twice a week, that he's not going to be swinging a bat, even if he's feeling better."

     But Rodriguez described Murphy's progress as not only encouraging, but told reporters that he would like to have him on his Opening Day roster.

     "We saw last year what he is capable of doing," Rodriguez said. "And, in my opinion, he has nothing to prove. We already know what he's able to do. Chances are, I would like to take him with us, Opening Day. But, having him and (Emilio) Bonifacio on the team. Bonifacio can cover all three outfield positions. He can play middle infield. And Murphy can cover three positions in the infield. LIke I said, it's too early, but if they stay healthy and everybody else stays healthy, chances are I would like to take those two players with me Opening Day."

      The Marlins will likely have five bench spots. Two will go to Wes Helms and a backup catcher, with Brett Hayes being the frontrunner for that role at the moment. If Murphy and Bonifacio make the club, that would leave only one other spot, which will probably be given to a lefty swinging outfielder, the top contenders being Scott Cousins, Dewayne Wise and Bryan Petersen.

       Rodriguez discusses Stanton in video below

February 27, 2011

Stanton (right quad strain) leaves game on golf cart

JUPITER -- Mike Stanton made quite an entrance Sunday. He made quite an exit, too.

Mike Stanton After belting a first pitch, two-run home run to left field in the first inning, Stanton pulled up halfway to first base with a right quad strain in his second at-bat. He left the field under his own power. But at the end of the inning, he was carried off in a golf cart. 

"Be all right," Stanton told reporters as he whizzed by on his way to the clubhouse. 

The Marlins were leading 3-0 over the University of Miami in the bottom of the second inning when Stanton was injured. He hit a tapper back to the mound with the bases loaded and was thrown out at first for the final out of the inning.

The Marlins have him slotted to hit clean-up this season.

> Marlins starter Javier Vazquez pitched a perfect two innings before exiting. Vazquez struck out three and tossed 15 of his 21 pitches for strikes. After he was done, he threw an extra 15 pitches in the bullpen.

"It was good I guess. I just wanted to concentrate more on mechanics and throw strikes," Vazquez said. "I finished up in the 'pen, got a little tired there at the end. But that's what spring training is for.

"The main thing for me is to throw strikes, stay aggressive, make them hit it."

JJ pitches simulated game; Edwin's pregame talk

JUPITER -- The Marlins are all set to take on the University of Miami here at Roger Dean Stadium at 1 p.m. Be sure to follow my updates on Twitter if you aren't listening on 790theTicket.

> Javi Vazquez will be starting for the Marlins and going just two innings. What does manager Edwin Rodriguez want to see from the 34-year old veteran right-hander?

"Command of his pitches," Rodriguez said. "We're not worried about velocity."

Rodriguez said that goes for all of his starters over the course of their first three starts. Rodriguez said having Vazquez on staff is "like having another JJ in the rotation." I'm pretty sure Rodriguez meant that in terms of Vazquez's leadership and not his ability. 

Vazquez and Rodriguez have had a long relationship because they're from the same hometown in Puerto Rico. Rodriguez began scouting Vazquez when he was 16 and signed his older brother catcher Carlos Vazquez to a minor league deal with the Rays.

> Marlins ace Josh Johnson just got done throwing two innings of a simulated game on a backfield behind Roger Dean Stadium.

"The first inning didn't go as well, but the second inning was good," Johnson said. "I finally calmed down, got rid of those first inning jitters. I was trying to do too much in the first session. But the second was good."

Johnson said he wasn't throwing at full velocity. But he's not worried about it. "Last bullpen I felt like I was throwing 100 miles per hour. Today, I felt like I was throwing about 80. It's just about how your body feels and stuff. I'm not going to worry about velocity. I'm going to let it happen, let it go."

> Rookie third baseman Matt Dominguez, 21, will end up playing longer than the other projected opening day starters throughout camp. As we've state many times, the Marlins very much want Dominguez to make the team and will be really patient.

They're pulling out all the stops to make sure he has good veteran influences around him. Dominguez's locker is next to Josh Johnson's. Every time Dominguez has taken BP, he's been surrounded by either catcher John Buck or veteran third baseman Wes Helms

Would the Marlins take less offense from Dominguez for his defense? "If other things workout, we can," Rodriguez said. "If he makes the club, we'll be a much better team."

So what other things must work out? Rodriguez said Chris Coghlan has to be able to handle the job in center field. Mike Stanton has to prove he can handle the cleanup spot and the Marlins have to be healthy. 

> How many homers do the Marlins expect out of John Buck this season? Rodriguez said 15 to 18. "But what we're looking for is leadership on the field from him," Rodriguez said.


1. Zeke DeVoss CF
2. Stephen Perez SS
3. Brad Fieger 1B
4. Harold Martinez 3B
5. Rony Rodriguez RF
6. Shane Rowland C
7. David Villasuso DH
8. Joey Porro 2B
9. Chantz Mack LF
SP: RHP Michael Rudman

February 26, 2011

Marlins lineup for Sunday's game vs. UM

JUPITER -- Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez just gave us his starting lineup for Sunday's exhibition opener against the University of Miami at Roger Dean Stadium. Plenty of good seats are still available. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.

1. Chris Coghlan, CF
2. Omar Infante, 2B
3. Hanley Ramirez, SS
4. Mike Stanton, RF
5. Logan Morrison, LF
6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
7. John Buck, C
8. Wes Helms, DH
9. Matt Dominguez, 3B
RHP Javi Vazquez

The other pitchers scheduled to get work: LHP Chad James, LHP Brad Hand, RHP Jhan Marinez

> Staff ace Josh Johnson will pitch two innings of a simulated game at 10:30 a.m. on a backfield behind the stadium. Rodriguez said he wants to get Johnson some work since he ended the season on the disabled list.

February 25, 2011

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez talks Coghlan, Nolasco, rotation, leadoff

JUPITER -- A couple news and notes collected over the last couple days from talking to manager Edwin Rodriguez and players:

Edwin Rodriguez > Even though a week ago at Fan Fest he said was thinking about hitting Omar Infante lead-off this season, Rodriguez said Friday Chris Coghlan will bat first for the Marlins on April 1st -- assuming his health is in order.

Although, that won't necessarily be the case this spring. Rodriguez said he plans on having Coghlan bat leadoff in Sunday's exhibition against the University of Miami and then will likely alternate him with Infante.

"This week we're going to be very careful with Cogs," Rodriguez said. "We have to be very careful. He hasn't played in seven months."

Coghlan, who tore the meniscus on his left knee in late July, said following Thursday's practice he's felt a little stiffness in his knee. "But that's just me standing around so much," Coghlan said. "That's just standing around for five hours in cleats. There's just nothing you can do to prepare for that. My knees completely healed, completely fine. It's just getting acclimated with playing every day."

Rodriguez said he's been getting positive reports from special assistant Andre Dawson, who is monitoring Coghlan closely as he makes the switch from left to center field.

"Even before this week, we've been watching him in centerfield doing the drills, we have a very good idea how he plays in center field," Rodriguez said. "We saw it during batting practice. We have seen his instincts. I'm 100 percent sure he'll be fine there in centerfield. Plus, we have Andre Dawson telling us he's going to be fine. I'm not going to argue that. I had Coghlan for three years in the minor leagues and I know for a fact he'll be fine."

> Ricky Nolasco may still end up pitching against the Mets on April 2nd, but it's looking more and more like the Marlins are okay if he doesn't. Nolasco, who injured his right thumb about a week before coming to camp, has played catch each of the last three days and played long toss on Thursday.

"He's very excited, bouncing around better now," Rodriguez said. "That's a very good sign of how he feels."

Rodriguez said he expects Nolasco to begin throwing bullpens next week and should see spring training action before March 13th or 14th. As long as he meets that deadline, Rodriguez said, he should be able to pitch at the end of the Marlins rotation once the season begins. As it stands, the Marlins open the season with three games against the Mets and have a day off. Conceivably, they could wait until the second time around the rotation to insert him.

"There's no reason to rush," Rodriguez said. "We can go and form the rotation for the first game. If he's not feeling good, there's no reason to rush. Bottomline, we're not going to put him out there until he's 100 percent."

> As it stands, Javi Vazquez will start for the Marlins Sunday against UM. Anibal Sanchez will start Monday vs. St. Louis; Chris Volstad will start Tuesday against the Cardinals and Josh Johnson will start Wednesday against the Nationals in Viera. Johnson is also scheduled to pitch in a two-inning simulated game on Sunday morning.

Alex Sanabia is then expected to take Nolasco's spot in the rotation next Thursday when the Marlins play against the Astros in Kissimmee.

> Rodriguez said he will put what he hopes will be his Opening Day lineup on the field Sunday against UM and get each of his starters at least two at-bats. Catcher John Buck, however, will only catch three innings Sunday. Third baseman Matt Dominguez could end up playing longer.

As for Dominguez, expect the Marlins to give him up until the final few days of camp to make the team. 

"We don't have a deadline on Matt Dominguez," Rodriguez said. "If he shows he can handle it, he'll be playing for us. We're going to be able to tell if he can or can't make the adjustment. We're going to be very patient with Matty and give him all the opportunity to make the club especially late in spring training where the team is pretty much set and he's going to be facing big league pitching. We're going to be very patient with him."

The two most impressive things Rodriguez said he's seen so far at camp -- the improvement of closer Leo Nunez's slider/cutter and reliever Ryan Webb, picked up in the Cameron Maybin trade with the Padres.

"He has a really, really good arm with really good sink on the fastball and changeup," pitching coach Randy St. Claire said Friday. "Slider, curveball are still a little inconsistent right now, which is normal for breaking balls at this time of the spring. But he has a real good arm with movement to the fastball."

> Scott Cousins, competing to become the fourth outfielder on the team, said he had endoscopic sinus surgery in November and it has helped him a lot.

"Now, I can breathe," Cousins said. "I'm taking in more oxygen than normally. I'm catching my breath so much quicker now. It's awesome. I'm not as tired. Last year and in year's past I'd be in the outfield yawning because I was starving for oxygen out there. I just grew accustomed to it. I got the point where I was just so sick of it and I had the means to take care of it, so I did. I elected to do it. I'm definitely not regretting that. It's just so awesome to breath through both my nostrils. It's something a lot of guys take for granted. I know Brett Hayes is struggling with it to. A few guys have been asking me about it because they're thinking about doing the same thing. Being able to just breath and take in the proper amount of oxygen, being such a long game, it's huge, it's very important."

February 24, 2011

H2R up all night on Twitter; Murphy update

Hanley Ramirez is now available to answer all your questions on Twitter.

Hanley shoes The Marlins All-Star shortstop joined the social media network on Wednesday and in less than 24 hours has already picked up more than 4,000 followers.

"He's definitely going to take over as the most popular Marlin on Twitter," said left fielder Logan Morrison, currently the most popular Marlin on Twitter with nearly 12,000 followers.

Ramirez said he was up all night Wednesday answering questions and interacting with fans. Among his first tweets (@HanleyRamirez): "Come on fans show me some H2R love (EL NIÑO)."

Of course, not everybody was nice. One question posed by a rather bold fan: Are you going to hustle this year? Ramirez's response: "Sure all day."

"I'm having fun with it," Ramirez said Thursday morning, moments after tweeting a picture of himself with his new shoes. "The fans get to know you man. When I get tired, I'll just delete it."

Morrison is definitely the most active Marlin on Twitter. He's got over 5,000 tweets since joining it last year.

"I like the interaction, seeing guys who put out fun stuff like LoMo facts," Morrison said. "They were basically Chuck Norris jokes. One of them was LoMo would never have a heart attack, his heart is never foolish enough to attack him. It's interesting, fun. It's just throwing out a bunch of stuff like that. Other than watching American Idol, that's what I was doing last night."

A few other Marlins have Twitter accounts:
- First baseman Gaby Sanchez (@GabySanchez15)
- Outfielder Mike Stanton (@MikeStanton27)
- Outfielder Bryan Petersen (@Peteypipes)
- Catcher John Baker (@manbearwolf)
- Catcher Brett Hayes (@brett_hayes)

A club spokesman said he addressed the team about how to handle Twitter and other social media outlets such as Facebook.

So, in light of a long night for Ramirez, should there be a Twitter curfew?

"That's something you'll have to ask the team," Morrison said. "But nothing good happens past 1 a.m. anyway."

> Backup infielder Donnie Murphy, who participated in a live batting practice Wednesday for the first time since undergoing surgery on his right wrist, said he expects to start getting a few pinch hit opportunities about a week into the spring training schedule.

"Two at-bats every other day is nothing crazy, it's not going to do much damage," said Murphy, a non-roster invitee who hit .318 with three homers and 16 RBI last season in 29 games for the Marlins -- including a walk-off home run against the Rockies.

"When the games come around and they want to use me in those situations, I think it's a go. The way [trainer Sean Cunningham] made it sound, it's not going to be any different for me than last year. I only had 36 at-bats last year in spring training and I was ready to go."

Murphy is out of options and will have to be released if he doesn't make the team.

"I think they saw what I did last year," Murphy said. "I'm not trying to put too much pressure on myself in spring training. I think they're confident with what they saw last year. Of course, I want to be on this team, but at the same time I have to be smart and not push it too much, make sure it's right before I do anything."

> One noticeable difference between former second baseman Dan Uggla and new second baseman Omar Infante -- noise.

"He's definitely quiet," first baseman Gaby Sanchez said of Infante. "Uggla was much more of a talker. Omar's quiet, but he goes out, does all his work. That's all we can ask for."

The Errors of Their Ways

          New infield coach Perry Hill has been barking out orders during the first two days of drills, and the players are paying attention. They better. Hill is making them repeat drills that aren't up to his liking, and he's yelled out the word "unacceptable" more than once to players who don't get it right.

          There's a good reason the Marlins brought back Hill. Defensively, they've been atrocious. Over the past five seasons, no team in the majors has allowed more unnearned runs. Here are the teams that have given up the most unearned runs over the past five seasons (2006-10) and where their overall record stands in relation to the .500 mark during that time:

           Team                                       Unearned Runs                              Record (relative to .500)

           Marlins                                              375                                             -9

           Nationals                                           366                                            -147

           Diamondbacks                                    344                                             -34

            Rangers                                            342                                             +12

            Royals                                               326                                             -134

     Other than the Rangers, lousy defense is usually a recipe for disaster. But think how the Marlins might have fared with better D. They had winning records in two of those five seasons and finished just two games below last year. By re-hiring Hill, replacing Dan Uggla at second with Omar Infante, and giving slick-fielding rookie Matt Dominguez every chance to win the job at third, the Marlins are serious about improving their fielding.

      NOTES: Manager Edwin Rodriguez said it's too early to tell much from the early workouts, but said he's been impressed with new relievers Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica and Mike Dunn -- particularly Webb. He said Webb's pitches have excellent movement, yet he commands the strike zone. "There's nothing straight," Rodriguez said......Spoke with Ricky Nolasco after yesterday's workout and he says his injured thumb is improving. He's played catch the past two days and hopes to resume throwing side bullpens by the middle to end of next week...Overweight reliever Jose Ceda still is not throwing with the rest of his teammates as he continues to try to shed the extra luggage he brought with him to spring training.

February 23, 2011

Feeding "The Beast"

        Back when he was still with the Marlins, Cameron Maybin always marveled at the amount of food Mike Stanton could put away. Maybin nicknamed Stanton "The Beast" solely on his incredible ability to put away super-sized steaks and entire baking pans of lasagne in one sitting.

        Now it's Gaby Sanchez's turn to admire the most prolific eater on the Marlins. Sanchez and Stanton are rooming together this spring, and their first trip to the grocery store a few days ago was one for the record books.

        "That was an expensive grocery bill -- $300!" Sanchez said. "When we finished, I said, 'You got to be kidding me that we spent that much money. It (the shopping cart) was completely full. We had to take three trips to get (the groceries) from the car into the house, and it was me and him carrying stuff too."

       Sanchez said they stocked up on healthy foods and drinks. No soda pop.

       "We got vegetables, low-fat chips, a whole bunch of drinks, like water and vitamin drinks," he said. 

       And who will do the cooking?

       "Probably me," Sanchez said. "I guess I'll be the one cooking. Supposedly, he knows what he's doing. I'll give him one chance and see how the food comes out. If it comes out good, I'll let him be the chef. But, if not, I'll grab the reins and take over."

        Sanchez knows one thing: the Stanton belly is a big one to fill.

        "It's unbelievable," Sanchez said. "He can put it away. He's a big boy. When you're talking about a 6-5, close to 6-6 guy, he needs a lot of intake to get the energy back into his body. He can put it away when he wants to." 

February 22, 2011

Edwin Rodriguez: Marlins Will Be "Last Team Standing"

     The Marlins have just hit the field for their first full-squad workout of spring training, but not before Edwin Rodriguez gave them a speech he's had prepared and saved for years -- his first as a major league manager.

      Rodriguez said this is what he told the players during his 15-minute, closed-door clubhouse speech: "I can feel it. We're going to be the last team standing come October."Edwin

      Rodriguez said he has waited for this day for 15 years. That's when he prepared the speech he delivered to players and coaches before they hit the field for Tuesday's workout. He said he's practiced the speech on his wife now and then. But, this being his first spring training as a manager at the big-league level, this was the first time he was able to use it for real.

      "It was emotional knowing that I'm going to eventually getting close to that speech," Rodriguez said. "But as soon as I started talking, it was gone. I was concentrating on delivering the message that I was trying to get across."

       That message included his goal of winning the World Series.

        "I said that I know them for many years, pretty much everybody, and at one point I managed them," he said. "And I know what kind of makeup they have. There's a lot of winners in that room. There's a lot of guys that have the mental toughness needed to win championships. Let your abilities take over."

February 21, 2011

It's Talk Day for Hanley Ramirez

      Hanley Ramirez stopped to talk to sportswriters Monday after taking batting practice in the cages. The highlights of what he had to say:

      -- Ramirez said he wants to be more aggressive on the base paths and steal more bases. "I want to be able to start stealing some bases from the beginning of the season, from Opening Day." Ramirez stole 32 bases last season, with only two steals in April. "I think last year I started doing everything late. I started running a little bit late. I don't have a number, but I'm going to get more than I did last year. I get in scoring position for those guys hitting behind me. I think that's what a good team does. Steal bases and get in scoring position."

      -- Ramirez said the strained left elbow, which caused him to miss the the end of the season, is fine now. "It took me like a couple of months (of rest)," he said.

      -- He said he wasn't himself last year. "I was a different player," he said. "I want to be aggressive at home plate, on the bases, and on the field. I wasn't ready for April 5 last year. I wasn't ready. This year it's going to be different."

      -- Ramirez said his challenge this season: "I've got to take the team to the playoffs. That's my challenge this year. That's my goal."

       -- On the offseason roster moves: "Our bullpen is better. I think our defense is going to be better. Now we've got 'Bone' (infield coach Perry Hill) back. He's one of the best. I think he's going to help us a lot. He told me from the beginning, 'Are you ready for me?' And I said I'm ready for you."

        -- On manager Edwin Rodriguez: "I've got a lot of respect for Edwin. I think this team is very happy with the way he's taken the wheel."

      --  On the Dan Uggla trade: "Obviously, we're going to miss him, especially me, with him hitting behind me. But, it's business. We're going to miss that 30 homers and what kind of a person Uggla is. But I think (Omar) Infante is a pretty good player, too."

       -- On the final year in Sun Life Stadium: "We want to leave that stadium with a good memory in 2011."

       -- On the Marlins not receiving much preseason respect: "That's good. We're going to be undercover. We're just going to explode on April 1 all the way to October. We're not just going to play the Phillies. Atlanta looks pretty good."

       -- On his relationship with former manager Fredi Gonzalez last season: "Fredi and me, we get along. He's a good person. He was just trying to help me. Now we have a new manager and I have to get a good relationship with Edwin."

       -- On how much elbow bothered him at end of season: "A lot. It's not easy to go to the ballpark and know that you're not going to be in the lineup. It's not me."

       -- Ramirez said his wife had a baby girl, Hailey, in November. Ramirez also has two young sons.

       -- On Marlins in general: "I think everybody's happy right now here. We've got a pretty good team. We've got everything. Every day we've got to bring a lot of energy and stay healthy."

       -- On reaching the playoffs: "I want to know what it feels like. I'm tired of watching it on TV. I want to be in it."