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38 posts from March 2011

March 30, 2011

Should Marlins Be Second-Guessing the Badenhop Decision After Mujica Mishap?

    PORT ST. LUCIE -- Edward Mujica insists there is nothing wrong with him physically, even though he's given up five runs in his two outings since slipping and falling on his pitching elbow on Sunday. The Marlins were aware of the previously undisclosed accident when they optioned Burke Badenhop to the minors on Tuesday to resolve a bullpen issue in which they had more arms than openings, so obviously they don't feel there are any health issues with the right-hander.

    But after watching Mujica surrender a pair of home runs during a four-run inning for the Mets on Wednesday in the final spring training game, the front office might be wondering about that decision.

    Here's what happened Sunday:

    Mujica was on the Viera trip and scheduled to pitch. But, before he could take the mound, his metal spikes gave way while walking on the hard tile floor in the trainer's room, and he fell. Hard. Mujica said the full weight of his body landed on his right elbow, and his head slammed against the floor, causing some pain near the back of the neck.

    "It was very, very scary for me," Mujica said before Wednesday's meltdown. "I thought, 'What the (heck). The season is going to start in a week.'"

    With limited personnel at his disposal (the Marlins sent few regulars to Viera and started minor leaguer Adalberto Mendez, who didn't make it through four innings), manager Edwin Rodriguez scrambled to piece together a bullpen to make it through nine. He used Brian Sanches for 2 1/3 innings and had minor-leaguer Dan Jennings pitch the final two.

     "It was a mess that day," Rodriguez said.

     But Mujica said Wednesday that the stinging in his elbow disappeared quickly. He said he felt some pain in the area behind his neck, but that, too, went away within a day or so. The Marlins waited until Tuesday to test him on the mound, and he gave up the go-ahead run in an eventual come-from-behind win over the Cardinals.

      "That day (Sunday) I felt a little bit sore," Mujica said. "But the day after, I was fine."

      Apparently, the Marlins were convinced that everything was fine with Mujica, as well, as they chose to send Badenhop to the minors rather than place Mujica on the disabled list to start the season.

       I spoke briefly with Mujica after Wednesday's game, in which he gave up a solo home run to Joshua Satin and a three-run blow to Scott Hairston, and he said it was just one of those days, and that there is not a thing wrong with him physically.

        The Marlins were saying all week that they would probably not decide the bullpen logjam -- trying to fit eight arms into seven slots -- until the end of the day Wednesday. On Tuesday, though, they pulled the trigger by sending Badenhop to the minors. He was one of three relievers, along with Mike Dunn and Ryan Webb, with minor-league options.

        Badenhop made nine appearances this spring, allowing three earned runs over 12 2/3 inning for a 2.13 ERA. Mujica appeared in 10 games, allowing a dozen earned runs in 11 2/3 innings for a 9.26 ERA.

Winning Record At Stake in Spring Finale: Equipment Truck Heads South

     PORT ST. LUCIE -- Remember that nine-game losing streak earlier in spring training? Consider it a distant memory as the Marlins close out the Grapefruit League season with a chance to finish the spring above .500 for the first time since 2008. They're 15-14 and need a win this afternoon against the Mets to finish with a winning record.

      It'll be up to a large cast of minor leaguers to get the job done for the Marlins, as many of the regulars (Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, Gaby Sanchez, etc.) didn't make the trip, and prospect Joey O'Gara is on the mound for the Fish. Then again, the Mets are also planning to flood the diamond with minor leaguers after a couple of at bats for each of the regulars.

      Manager Edwin Rodriguez said about the only starter he plans to keep on the field for any length of time is center fielder Chris Coghlan. Otherwise, look for Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton, John Buck and Donnie Murphy to make early exits.

      Here are the lineups:

      Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Emilio Bonifacio, 2b; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 6. John Buck, c; 7. Wes Helms, 1b; 8. Donnie Murphy, ss; 9. Joey O'Gara, rhp.

      Mets: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Angel Pagan, cf; 3. David Wright, 3b; 4. Carlos Beltran, rf; 5. Ike Davis, 1b; 6. Willie Harris, lf; 7. Brad Emaus, 2b; 8. Mike Nickeas, c; 9. Chris Young, rhp.

      BULLPEN PLANS: With the decision to option Burke Badenhop to Triple A New Orleans, Rodriguez said he plans on using Brian Sanches and Edward Mujica in long relief, with Clay Hensley and Mike Dunn as the primary set-up guys for closer Leo Nunez.

      INJURY UPDATES: Spoke briefly with both Stanton (quad) and Coghlan (shoulder), who said their injuries have all but healed completely. "It's feeling a whole lot better," Coghlan said of his arm. "I feel confident if somebody was going to run on me, I'd be okay." Stanton also said he's running at pretty much full strength. "I haven't played nine innings fo ra week and a half straight yet," Stanton said. "But it feels good."

      NO MORE WISE: Dewayne Wise, who lost his chance at a spot on the Opening Day roster due to inflammation in his left big toe, has exercised the out option in his contract and was released. 

      SINKBEIL RELEASED: The Marlins released former first-round draft choice, right-hander Brett Sinkbeil, on Tuesday. Sinkbeil was taken with the 19th overall pick in the 2006 draft.

       Stopped by the team's spring training complex this morning, where they were packing up the moving van with bats, helmets, baseballs and the usual gear for the trip south to Miami and Sun Life Stadium. Check out the video:

March 29, 2011

Marlins Send Badenhop to Minors, Roster Virtually Set

    JUPITER -- The big mystery surrounding the surplus of relievers in the Marlins bullpen is now resolved. The team optioned right-hander Burke Badenhop to Triple A New Orleans, which all but sets the 25-man roster for Opening Day.

    While 26 players remain in camp, it's all but certain that catcher John Baker will go on the disabled list as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery.

     Badenhop, who signed for $750,000 over the winter, was the odd man out in a crowded bullpen. But he was one of the three relievers (along with Ryan Webb and Mike Dunn) with minor-league options, and was therefore vulnerable.

     So, barring any trades between now and Friday, here's how the Opening Day roster should look for the 2011 Marlins: Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, Donnie Murphy, Emilio Bonifacio, Greg Dobbs, Mike Stanton, Chris Coghlan, Logan Morrison, Scott Cousins, Wes Helms, Brett Hayes and John Buck, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad, Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley, Mike Dunn, Randy Choate, Brian Sanches, Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica.

      "He has options," Larry Beinfest, president of baseball operations, explained of the decision involving Badenhop. "(It) can be put into the 'not fair' category, but we weren't prepared to trade one of our relievers or put them on the waiver wire."

Dewayne Wise Reassigned to Minor League Camp; 3 Other Cuts

   JUPITER -- The Marlins have reassigned injured outfielder Dewayne Wise (left big toe inflammation) to minor league camp and optioned three others -- C Brad Davis, RHP Jhan Marinez and INF Ozzie Martinez -- to the minors.

    That leaves 27 plays in camp. John Baker, who continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, will likely be one of those cut. And the Marlins will also have to trim a reliever from the spring roster to get down to 25 players for Opening Day.

     The injury to Wise means that Scott Cousins will likely win a roster spot as an extra outfielder.

    Wise performed well enough this spring to land a spot on the 25-man roster. But an injured toe derailed those plans. Davis and Martinez were optioned to Triple A New Orleans while Martinez was sent to Double A Jacksonville.  

March 28, 2011

Injured Big Toe Could Cost OF Dewayne Wise Roster Spot

   JUPITER -- On paper, Dewayne Wise looked like a safe bet to win a spot on the final, 25-man roster as the fourth outfielder. He's had a solid spring, hitting .250 with a pair of home runs and 10 RBI.

    But, due to a toe injury that has limited his playing time of late, his chances aren't looking so good.

    This morning, Wise -- a non-roster invitee -- went to have his left big toe examined by a doctor.

    "It's not good that he's been out," said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations. "It's a toe. It's not good. So we'll see. He had a good spring, but it's got to be healthy. It's wait and see on the medical."

     The injury could open the door for Scott Cousins, who is hitting .228 and -- like Wise -- provides a lefty bat presence off the bench.


Injured Big Toe Could Cost OF Dewayne Wise Roster Spot

   JUPITER -- On paper, Dewayne Wise looked like a safe bet to win a spot on the final, 25-man roster as the fourth outfielder. He's had a solid spring, hitting .250 with a pair of home runs and 10 RBI.

    But, due to a toe injury that has limited his playing time of late, his chances aren't looking so good.

    This morning, Wise -- a non-roster invitee -- went to have his left big toe examined by a doctor.

    "It's not good that he's been out," said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations. "It's a toe. It's not good. So we'll see. He had a good spring, but it's got to be healthy. It's wait and see on the medical."

     The injury could open the door for Scott Cousins, who is hitting .228 and -- like Wise -- provides a lefty bat presence off the bench.


Marlins/Mets Canceled In Port St. Lucie; Still Waiting in Jupiter

    JUPITER -- One of the Marlins' two split-squad games has been canceled this morning due to heavy rain in the area, and the other could be washed out as well.

    The Marlins' game with the Mets in Port St. Lucie has already been wiped out due to the wet weather. We're still waiting to receive word on their other contest, against the Cardinals here in Jupiter. But the forecast does not look promising.

     Manager Edwin Rodriguez said scheduled starter Ricky Nolasco is the one player hurt most by the rain. If there's no game today, he said Nolasco would likely either pitch Tuesday morning in a minor league game or throw off a bullpen mound.

     But because Nolasco was already behind this spring due to a thumb injury, Rodriguez said it was important that he face major league hitters in what would be his final spring start. Nolasco is down to start Saturday against the Mets.

     Meanwhile, Donnie Murphy continues to move closer to locking up the third base job. Rodriguez said Murphy made a nice, diving stop and strong throw on a ball hit to his left on Sunday in Viera.

    "I think what we have seen, we are very close to saying that he should be the guy," Rodriguez said.

    If there's a game today vs. the Cardinals, this will be the lineup for the Marlins:

    1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 7. John Buck, c; 8. Scott Cousins, lf; 9. Ricky Nolasco, rhp.

March 27, 2011

Matt Dominguez Vows To Fight On

    JUPITER -- Caught up today with Matt Dominguez, who was playing third in Josh Johnson's final tuneup before Friday's season opener. Of course, the Marlins were hoping Dominguez would also be playing third in that game, with Johnson on the mound. But a hitting slump landed Dominguez back in the minors.

    The kid is disappointed, but is not giving up.

    "I'm 21 years old, so not making the team out of spring training is not the end of my life," he said.

    Dominguez got off to a hot start at the plate this spring, but slumped at the end and finished with a .190 average. He said he probably allowed the pressure to get to him.

    “I started swinging at bad pitches,” he said. “It was like, ‘Got to get a hit this at bat. I haven’t hit in a while.’ Then that gets into your head. Mechanics get into your head. Right now, I’m just trying to see the ball, hit the ball. There’s no pressure right now.”

    He said his fielding might have suffered, too, due to his slump. He was charged with two errors and didn’t quite live up to his glowing reputation defensively.

   “Probably, if I was hitting, maybe I would have (fielded better),” he said. “I got out of my head there for a week or so. I didn’t feel like myself. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now.”

   Dominguez said he hopes to get his bat going in the minors in order to earn a mid-season call-up.

   “I could envision that,” he said. “The defense will be there. I don’t expect to go over there and hit .350, but I know I’ll hit sooner or later. I think I’m a good hitter and just need to get adjusted to big-league pitching.

   “I would have liked to make the team. We’ll see how it goes in Triple A. (I’ll try to) play well, hit, make some adjustments, and hopefully I get back up there this season.”

March 26, 2011

Tough Calls Ahead for Marlins

    JUPITER - Manager Edwin Rodriguez said he hopes to settle on his third baseman by Monday and have the Opening Day roster determined by Wednesday when the Marlins break camp and head south.

    Donnie Murphy is getting the start today at third, but Emilio Bonifacio remains in the mix, especially now that Chris Coghlan has returned to the lineup.

    There are 31 players stil in camp, meaning that six must be cut to get down to the 25-man roster. Handicapping the field, those unlikely to stick include right-hander Jhan Marinez, catchers Brad Davis and John Baker, infielder Ozzie Martinez, outfielder Scott Cousins and one reliever, with Brian Sanches and Burke Badenhop pretty much fighting it out for the seventh spot in the pen.

     Rodriguez said he prefers that bullpen role be given to a long man who can provide two or three innings on days when the starter is knocked out early. While Sanches has done some long work in the past, Badenhop appears to be better suited for that role. It wouldn't surprise me if the Marlins deal one of their surplus relievers (perhaps for an everyday third baseman?).

     TODAY'S LINEUP: Rodriguez said it felt "weird" putting Coghlan, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison on the same lineup card for the first time this spring. Today's lineup could very well be the one he sends out Friday for the season opener against the Mets.

     Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Logan Morrison, lf; 7. John Buck, c; 8. Donnie Murphy, 3b; 9. Chris Volstad, rhp.

     Cardinals: 1. Ryan Theriot, ss; 2. Colby Rasmus, cf; 3. Albert Pujols, 1b; 4. Matt Holliday, lf; 5. Lance Berkman; 6. Skip Schumaker, 2b; 7. Yadier Molina, c; 8. Daniel Descalso, 3b; 9. Chris Carpenter, rhp.

March 24, 2011

Matt Dominguez Reassigned to Minors (with reaction)

    JUPITER -- No major surprise here as the Marlins have reassigned slumping third baseman Matt Dominguez -- along with four others -- to the minors.

    Dominguez's bat (.190 -- 7 for 48 -- this spring) cost him a spot on the Opening Day roster, and now the Marlins will begin looking at other options for third base, both inside the organization and out.

    "We all knew that we were asking a lot for the kid," manager Edwin Rodriguez said of Dominguez. "We told him the truth. We all know he has the ability to play in the big leagues at some point, but it's not going to happen right now. We thought that he was pressing a little bit, and he was taking his offense to the field, and that's not him."

    In-house, the initial plan is to use Donnie Murphy and Emilio Bonifacio at third.

    "It'll be Donnie Murphy and Emilio Bonifacio getting most of the playing time at third base," Rodriguez said. "I would like to play Murphy a little bit more there because we still waiting to see on Chris Coghlan (in center). We really believe he should be ready. That way I can keep Boni in the outfield. We want to get the answer at third base. We have to look for answers -- combinations -- in the infield, so we have one more week to go."

     Either way -- with Murphy or Bonifacio -- there is not a lot of third base experience. Murphy has played just 29 games (21 starts) at the position in the majors. Bonifacio, who was the Marlins' Opening Day third baseman in 2009, has played 92 games there (86 starts) at the big-league level.

     One option is NOT Omar Infante. Rodriguez said Infante would "stay at second base." Rodridguez also said he would prefer to use Wes Helms and, if he makes the club, Greg Dobbs off the bench.

      Outside, keep an eye on Pedro Feliz, who is in Royals camp -- at the moment. Other names that are floating around out there: Felipe Lopez, Eric Chavez and Garrett Atkins, along with the much pricier option: Michael Young.

     Also reassigned to the minors: infielders Ruben Gotay and Joe Thurston, rhp Frank Mata and OF Josh Kroeger.  The roster is now down to 32 players.

      Dominguez is headed to Triple A New Orleans.

      The Marlins could decide to weather it internally, using a patchwork of the in-house third basemen and hope that Dominguez re-discovers his bat in the minors for an early-season call-up. But my guess is they'll go outside to add an everyday third baseman.

      NOTES: Mike Stanton is starting in right and batting fourth today for the Marlins. It marks his first Grapefruit League appearance this spring.

      Today's LIneup: 1. Bonifacio, cf; 2. Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Stanton, rf; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Logan Morrison, lf; 7. John Buck, c, 8. Murphy, 3b; 9. Javier Vazquez, p.

      Boston Red Sox: 1. Jacoby Ellsbury, cf; 2. Jed Lowrie, ss; 3. David Ortiz, dh; 4. Kevin Youkilis, 3b; 5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c; 6. Mike Cameron, rf; 7. Ryan Kalish, lf; 8. Drew Sutton, 1b; Nate Spears, 2b. Pitching: Clay Buchholz.