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51 posts from April 2012

April 30, 2012

Reyes back in leadoff spot as Bonifacio struggles to make contact; plus Petey, Jennings arrive

Jose Reyes' stay at the No. 2 spot in the lineup turned out to be a mere, 2-game pit stop.

Reyes is back in the leadoff spot for the Marlins (8-13) today as the club tries to end their four-game set with the visiting Diamondbacks (11-11) with a split.

The reason Reyes is back in the top spot probably has to do with struggling Emilio Bonifacio, who struckout three times Sunday and is now the team leader in whiffs with 22.

"That surprise me," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Boni's game should be put it in play, try to get on base... His game is speed. He should be on base more."

Bonifacio was hitting .340 on April 19th. But over his last eight games he's 3 for 31 at the plate with 11 strikeouts.

"Right now I don't feel that great at the plate," Bonifacio said. "I'm swinging at a lot of pitches outside the plate. But I'm not giving up. I'll fix my approach."


Outfielder Bryan Petersen, called up after Sunday's 8-4 loss to Arizona along with left-hander Dan Jennings, arrived at the ballpark Monday just 15 minutes before the Marlins went out to stretch and take batting practice.

"It's been a crazy past 14 hours," said Petersen, who said this is the sixth time he's been called up. "I got pulled out of a game around 4 and had a flight at 6:30 out of New Orleans to get here. I had like an hour and half to pack my bags and race to the airport.

"I just hope to bring some form of positive energy to the ballclub. I don't think they're too down right now. They know its a 162-game schedule."

Petersen has a career .273 average as a pinch-hitter for the Marlins with four runs scored, two doubles, a home run and five RBI. He was hitting .316 with 13 runs scored and eight RBI for the Zephyrs. He replaces the struggling Chris Coghlan, who was hitting a mere .118 in 34 at-bats.

Jennings, meanwhile, replaces the struggling Mike Dunn (0-0, 9.53 ERA). It's his first call up to the big leagues.

"You could see how excited he was, calling people up and letting them know," Petersen said. "He'll do a good job."


Marlins (8-13): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Emilio Bonifacio CF, 3. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 4. Austin Kearns LF, 5. Omar Infante 2B, 6. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. John Buck C, 9. Mark Buehrle P.

Diamondbacks (11-11): 1. Willie Bloomquist SS, 2. Ryan Roberts 2B, 3. Justin Upton RF, 4. Jason Kubel LF, 5. Paul Goldschmidt 1B, 6. Cody Ransom 3B, 7. A.J. Pollock CF, 8. Henry Blanco C, 9. Patrick Corbin P.

April 29, 2012

Marlins option Coghlan, Dunn to Triple A New Orleans; recall Petersen, Jennings

After dropping seven of their last eight games and falling to 8-13 on the season, the Marlins have decided to shake things up in the clubhouse a little.

Following Sunday's 8-4 loss to the Diamondbacks the team announced it was optioning reliever Mike Dunn (9.53 ERA in eight appearances) and outfielder Chris Coghlan, hitting .118 in 34 at-bats mostly off the bench, to New Orleans. Outfielder Bryan Petersen and left-hander Dan Jennings have been recalled from Triple A to replace them.

Coghlan, who won the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year Award, took the news well.

"I had to deal with this last year for the first time and it was a lot tougher," Coghlan said. "It's tough because this is where I want to be and I know I can play, but it's going to be good for me in the long run because I get to go down and play everyday and you never know what can happen."

Petersen was hitting .316 with eight RBI in 22 games with the Zephyrs and has a career .246 average in 97 games in the big leagues.

Jennings, who spent most of last season in Triple A and has never pitched in the big leagues, has posted a 2.08 ERA in nine appearances over 8 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and four walks with New Orleans this season.

"What I learned last year was when you start losing, there's a lot of guys jobs that become in jeopardy," Coghlan said. "It's a cut throat business. You have to make adjustments and they thought I was an opportunity for someone else."

After ending slump and losing streak, Hanley Ramirez feels like he can smile again

Hanley Ramirez was all smiles in the Marlins clubhouse Sunday morning.

Hanley RamirezAfter driving in the winning run Saturday night and putting an end to both an 0-for-26 slump and the Marlins six-game losing streak, Ramirez said he feels like he can finally smile again.

"It's not easy when you're losing," Ramirez said of enjoying the game. "You don't want to be smiling out there. People are going to be thinking you don't care about the game. It's different when you're winning."

If you haven't noticed by now, having fun is important for Ramirez's psyche. After the Marlins were shutout Friday, the first thing manager Ozzie Guillen said he was worried about was that his team wasn't having any fun and putting too much pressure on themselves.

Ramirez, 28, has been around long enough where a losing streak or a slump shouldn't have such an affect on him. But it's apparent it still does.

"Good players stay at the same level all year long. You can't get down when you're not good. You have to be the same guy all the time," Guillen said Saturday when asked if he though Ramirez's game-winning RBI would break him out of his funk.

"Hopefully, he stays like that and gets going."

Ramirez said he plans to start having fun "from the first inning" on Sunday.

"I think everyone is relaxed now," Ramirez said. "It was a good win, good for our confidence. Maybe we'll come back with that confidence and enjoy the game."

As for his 0-for-26 slump, Ramirez said: "What can I say? I've been hitting balls right at people. It's not like I was striking out. I was putting the ball in play. I've just got to keep improving and keeping my swing down."

For the record, Ramirez struckout nine times during his 0-for-26 skid and grounded into a double play once.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ramirez's game-winner Saturday marked the longest hitless streak that ended in a walk-off since the Phillies Charlie Hayes ended an 0-for-31 streak in a 10-inning victory over the Rockies on July 25, 1995. Ramirez, by the way, now leads the majors with walk-off hits this season with two. He also hit a game-winner April 15 vs. Houston.


Despite still feeling tightness in his sore left hamstring, second baseman Omar Infante is back in the lineup Sunday for the Marlins. "I feel better," Infante said before Sunday's game.

Guillen said Saturday his plan was to give Infante two days off to rest because he "didn't like the way he was moving." But it now appears Infante, the team leader in batting average and home runs, is going to try and play through the pain as much as he can and this could end up being a day-to-day situation whether he's in the lineup or not.

As for the pain, Infante said he feels it most when he tries to stop running and when he swings. Every morning, he says, he comes in for extra therapy and stretching. Between how feels and what Guillen thinks ultimately determines whether or not Infante is in the lineup.


> Marlins (8-12): 1. Emilio Bonifacio CF, 2. Jose Reyes SS, 3. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 4. LOgan Morrison LF, 5. Omar Infante 2B, 6. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. John Buck C, 9. Josh Johnson P.

> Diamondbacks (10-11): 1. Willie Bloomquist SS, 2. Gerardo Parra CF, 3. Justin Upton RF, 4. Jason Kubel LF, 5. Miguel Montero C, 6. Cody Ransom 3B, 7. Lyle Overbay 1B, 8. Aaron Hill 2B, 9. Wade Miley P.<.p>

April 28, 2012

Gutsy pinch-hit by Infante started Marlins rally

Hanley Ramirez will get most of the glory for putting an end to his 0-for-26 skid with the game-winning hit in Saturday's 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Diamondbacks. 

But none of it might have happened if not for a gutsy pinch-hit appearance and subsequent triple by Omar Infante to start the seventh. As Infante rounded second, he braced for the pain he was about to feel in his tight left hamstring as he stopped at third. But pain, Infante said afterward, is just a small price for a victory.

"It feels good [to get a win]," Infante said. "[But] I'm a little tight, too."

Manager Ozzie Guillen said before the game he wanted to sit Infante for two games because he didn't like the way he was moving on the field Friday. But with the Marlins down 2-0 and needing a lift, Guillen called on the team's leader in batting average to deliver. He did.

"I told Ozzie I don't want to be scared. I'm thinking a lot," Infante said. "I don't want to be out there if I'm 50, 60 percent. Sometimes I can go out there two days in a row and be fine. But I want to play 100 percent. I don't want to play 60 percent, 70 percent.

"I want to get there."


Troublesome hamstring continues to plague Infante

There aren't many Marlins hitting the ball as well as Omar Infante. The second baseman leads the team with a .315 batting average and five home runs. 

Omar InfanteBut he can't seem to stay healthy, and now Ozzie Guillen said Infante's troublesome hamstring is forcing him to sit yet again.

"Infante will say he's fine, but I saw him moving around and he wasn't moving around the way he wanted to," Guillen said Saturday. "Yesterday, he wanted to beat out an infield hit. But when you push, that's when you get hurt. Then, we're done for a little while. We'd rather deal with it little by little."

Guillen said Infante, who has already missed four games this season due to the hamstring, will rest tonight and Sunday. He hopes he'll be back for Monday's series finale against the Diamondbacks.

The Marlins, in the midst of franchise-worst slump at the plate with six runs over there last six games, don't appear to want to put Infante on the disabled list and just let the hamstring heal. As Guillen said, "I'd rather have him two days off than 15."

REYES: "I know if I get hot, everybody is going to get hot." 

> Shortstop Jose Reyes is back in the lineup today, but in a new spot -- second behind Emilio Bonifacio.

Reyes said batting second isn't a big deal and nothing will change with his approach at the plate.

"Second and leadoff is kind of the same -- I've got to get on base," Reyes said. "If Boni gets on, I'm going to let him steal. But nothing is going to change. I'm going to go to the plate with the same attitude, try to get on base and drive the machine."

Reyes, off to a career-worst start .205 batting average through his first 18 games, said his woes at the plate are not mechanical. He said he's just swinging at pitches outside of the zone.

"I don't think I'm too comfortable," said Reyes, who was given a day off Friday. "I have to move a little back in the home plate and let the ball come to me like I did in the past. That comes with time.

"Hopefully, I start coming around tonight. I know if I get hot, everybody is going to get hot."

Guillen said the move to No. 2 in the lineup is only temporary for Reyes.

"We did it for a reason," Guillen said. "Hopefully [Reyes will] see more fastballs, get more patient at the plate. Hopefully, we'll see Boni on base, try to keep the pressure on him to stay on base. Hopefully that works. When he starts swinging the bat better we'll move him back to where he belongs."

GUILLEN: "Stanton needs to swing at strikes."

> As for the homer-less Giancarlo Stanton who is sitting Saturday, Guillen said expectations might have been to high for him coming in.

"We're going to step off a little bit and let him play, see the results," Guillen said. "Before the season started, it was this kid is going to hit 60 home runs, drive in 130. When you're 21, 22 years old, there's not too many people that can handle that. I told him just play your game. You have two RBI, three RBIs, just move on. Right now we're trying to get him back on track. When he's on track, hopefully he'll keep it longer and stay with the program."

Guillen said Stanton's knee isn't a problem or the reason he's hitting just .234 with 5 RBI.

"You know what problem he has? He's not swinging at strikes," Guillen said. "Watching from the dugout, he's chasing bad pitches up and down. Nobody is that good. Not that many players are good enough to make contact on balls above your chest and balls under your knees. I think the last couple weeks he's chasing a lot of bad pitches and that's why he's put himself in trouble."

Reyes, Bonifacio flip flop at top as Guillen shakes up struggling Marlins lineup

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, looking to jump start an anemic offense that's produced just six runs and has hit .150 during a six-game losing streak, has shaken up the lineup a little heading into Saturday night's game against Arizona.

Jose Reyes, who hit .205 as the Marlins lead-off hitter over the team's first 18 games, has been flip-flopped with Emilio Bonifacio at the top. Reyes will hit in the second spot. He's hit there 47 times in his career, posting an average of .317 (58x183), eight doubles, three triples, two home runs and 10 RBI.

Second baseman Omar Infante, meanwhile, who collected one of the Marlins' three hits Friday, is sitting out. So, too, is Giancarlo Stanton, who is still looking for home run number 1 after a career-worst stretch of 93 at-bats. Greg Dobbs will start in his place in right.

THE LINEUP: 1. Emilio Bonifacio 2B; 2. Jose Reyes SS; 3. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 4. Logan Morrison LF; 5. Gaby Sanchez 1B; 6. Greg Dobbs RF; 7. Brett Hayes C; 8. Chris Coghlan CF; 9. Anibal Sanchez P.

April 27, 2012

Ozzie Guillen on Marlins: "We're not going to be worse than we are right now."

All remained quiet in the Marlins clubhouse after Friday night's sixth straight loss.

How bad was it? Not even the normally easy going Gaby Sanchez wanted to talk. And he was one of just three Marlins to get a hit off Joe Saunders. 

Yes, the Marlins are only 19 games into the 2012 season -- more than enough time to turn things around and make a push for the post-season. More than enough.

But even manager Ozzie Guillen is getting a little concerned with body language. He said his team isn't having enough fun right now and is worrying too much at the plate, where they've hit just .150 over their last six losses.

Two run deficits, Guillen said, "feel like we're down 20."

"That's how it feels like right now," Guillen said. "And I want to get that feeling out of this area."

Asked if he might shake up the lineup, Guillen said he might -- but not because any one in particular is struggling.

"You cannot lose confidence in those guys," Guillen said. "As soon as you start losing confidence and being negative, bad things happen. I always say you can't win a pennant race in the beginning, but you could lose a pennant race in the beginning.

"We're not winning now. We've got to pick it up and play the game right, now. Believe me with the experience I have, I've been through it before. We have to keep fighting. If we had a bad club I would say it would be tough. But I know in my heart, my soul we have a good team.

"You can lose confidence early in the season, or grow up and play better. But you're not going to play worse than this. We're not going to be worse than we are right now."

Marlins closer Heath Bell won't be able to redeem himself until at least Saturday; Guillen talks struggles

A little more than 24 hours after blowing his third save of the season, new Marlins closer Heath Bell said Friday he was eager to go out and redeem himself. 

Heath BellBell is going to have to wait until Saturday, though, to do that.

"[If he's going to pitch] tonight he'll have to pitch lefty," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said before Friday's game against the Diamondbacks. "He threw more pitches than [Ricky] Nolasco. Hopefully, we can pitch him [Saturday]. 50 pitches for [Carlos] Zambrano, Nolasco, [Mark] Buehrle that's nothing. For a closer, that's three games. Maybe more. Every closer is supposed to throw 15 pitches. That's three or four games. We have to be careful with him."

Bell, signed to a three-year, $27-million deal in the winter, isn't in any danger of losing his job. Guillen reiterated Friday he's fully behind the 34-year old All-Star. "If we want to win this thing he has to come with us. He has to be there in the ninth inning," Guillen said.

Bell said Friday he's figured out what's led to his struggles with the help of pitching coach Randy Saint Claire. But when asked what they were, Bell didn't care to elaborate saying "you have to ask [St. Claire]."

"I'm confident I can pitch like I know I can," Bell said. "For whatever reason I was creating bad habits this year. Some things [are] even from last year that we found out. Saint said I need to start pounding the strike zone. I'm not doing that right now. I will pound the strike zone from here on out.

"Mechanically, I'm fine," Bell went onto say. "There's just a few other things if Saint wants to talk about, we'll talk about it. But I'm not talking about it.

"Sometimes you go through ups and downs. We definitely should be better team wise. We should be playing defense and hitting better. But this is a team sport and why we have a marathon season that's six months. I'm not big into cliches and I'm not going to say it's early. But we grind everyday. If you have a bad month, so be it. It's not how you start, it's how you finish."

Bell sounded angry Thursday when he volunteered that a member of the team’s training staff questioned his work habits, saying he was doing too much, not too little.

Asked about those comments Friday, Guillen said: "If Heath said he had a disagreement with the pitching coach, I might buy that. But I don't think the trainer told him to throw 10 balls in a row. I'm just being honest.

"I don't like talking about my players, but maybe he said it because there is some reason to it. I don't know. From the minute they leave the training room to the time they get on the field, it's like four hours. If he had a reason to say it maybe you guys can ask... [But] is that going to be his excuse? I hope not. What does a trainer have to do with how you perform? Maybe he can disagree if Randy St. Claire said something about pitching. But a trainer? I don't know if that's a good excuse or that's the truth. If that's the truth, we have to find out."

> About an hour before the Marlins took the field at Marlins Park for batting practice, Guillen came out and threw an extra round to shortstop Jose Reyes, who is sitting out for the first time this season after getting off to a cold start.

How cold of a start has it been for the Mets' former All-Star shortstop? His .205 batting average over his first 18 games is the worst of his career since becoming an everyday player in 2005. His previous low? .231 in 2006. Guillen said the Marlins struggles as a team at the plate aren't the result of a lack of work. He said the team to extra BP three times on its six-game road trip. 

"I think Jose needs more a break mentally than physically. I think you watch his at-bats, not just in New York, the [entire] road trip he was rushing to the plate, trying to do too much," Guillen said. "But it's not just Jose. There are a lot of guys struggling on our club right now. We're trying to come out of it as quickly as we can. We're working on it. I think the most important thing is we have to relax. You cannot get five hits in one at-bat. You can't hit a three-run home run with one guy on base. Just relax and do what you're supposed to do."

SAMSON'S 52-MILE TREK: Marlins President David Samson spent the morning, afternoon and evening Friday on a 52-mile trek from Pompano Beach to Marlins Park -- all to raise money for charity.

Asked the longest distance he'd run in his life, Guillen joked: "A triple. That's it. And I was dying to get to third base."

"I'm not a running guy, but I think the cause of the running is very great," Guillen added. "I tip my hat... I hope he makes it alive. That's not easy bro."

Samson ran the double-marathon on Friday to honor the workers who built Marlins Park as well as raise money for various charities.

Turns out by the way Samson isn't the only long-distance runner on the team. Bell said he ran a marathon in California back in 1996 and has competed in about 15 triathlons -- none in the last five years, though.

Reyes gets night off, plus see video of LoMo giving a double decker bus a unique tour through NYC

The Marlins are on a five-game losing streak and in last place in the National League East, but don't let that get you down.

Logan Morrison, one of the few Marlins who is actually hitting these days, tried to provide a little comic relief when he took a double decker tour bus through Manhattan earlier this week. The video, shot by MLB's Fan Cave, includes plenty of LoMo wisecracks including his strong desire to find a bathroom.

Before you check out the video, here is the lineup for the Marlins for Friday night's game at Marlins Park against the visiting Diamondbacks. You'll notice the struggling Jose Reyes (15 for 73, .205) is sitting for the first time since the Marlins signed him to a 6-year, $106 million deal.

1. Emilio Bonifacio CF, 2. Donnie Murphy SS, 3. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 4. Logan Morrison LF, 5. Omar Infante 2B, 6. Mike Stanton RF, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. John Buck C, 9. Carlos Zambano P.

April 26, 2012

6 runs in 7 days!

    NEW YORK -- No offense. Ineffective bullpen (yep, Heath Bell blew another one). Spotty defense. It all added up to one atrocious 0-5 road trip for the Marlins. I was riding down the press box elevator after the game with one of the national writers and his words to me were, "I picked them to make the playoffs. What was I thinking?"

     Bell was abysmal this afternoon, laboring through a 46-pitch inning in which he walked four of the first five batters he faced. He didn't give up a hit until his 46th pitch -- the game-winning hit -- which prompted a friend of mine to write me asking, "What's the most pitches a pitcher has thrown in an inning before giving up a hit?" I thought it was a good question and sent it along to the great folks at Elias Sports Bureau. They came through for me earlier this week when I asked if a team had ever walked four batters in an inning with four different pitchers (Answer: No -- not until the Marlins did it Tuesday), so hopefully we'll hear back from Elias tonight on the latest query.

     The story of the trip wasn't Bell or the bullpen, though. It was the offense. The lineup produced a grand total of six runs in the five games. That's not bad. It's awful.

      And it all starts at the top, meaning the top of the order. The Marlins' 1-2-3 hitters -- Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and Hanley Ramirez -- combined to go 4 for 57 -- let me repeat that, 4 for 57 -- over the five games. Ramirez didn't have a hit, and in typical Ramirez fashion, didn't want to discuss it afterward. Bonifacio and Reyes did, however, and said it was unacceptable. Reyes is hitting .205 at the moment. Add in his five fielding errors and it is hardly the player the Marlins were hoping to see when they signed him to a six-year deal.

      The rotation is doing its part. The five starters posted a 1.82 ERA during the trip. But they don't have a single win to show for it.

       So there's my take. What's your's? Where do you place the greatest blame for the 7-11 start?