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40 posts from April 2013

April 30, 2013

Giancarlo Stanton has Grade 2 hamstring strain; out several weeks at minimum

      Giancarlo Stanton has a grade 2 hamstring strain that will keep him out of the Marlins lineup for at least a few weeks, and that's in a "best-case scenario." Stanton underwent a MRI on Tuesday, one day after pulling up lame while running the bases.

      "No real timetable," Stanton said. "We don't know how long it will take. Best (case scenario) is probably two or three (weeks). The reality? I don't know really. I've got to be able to walk a normal pace first before I can predict all that." Stanton

      Stanton and first baseman Joe Mahoney were placed on the 15-day disabled list immediately following the Marlins' 4-3 win over the Mets in 15 innings. Mahoney is also on the DL with a strained right hamstring. But he said a MRI showed his injury to be not quite as severe as Stanton's -- a "grade 1 plus or 2," he said. As a result, Mahoney said he is hoping to be back on the field after the 15 days are up.

       Stanton, however, could be out considerably longer. Compounding Stanton's frustration: he was starting to show signs of finding his groove at the plate and was looking forward to the Marlins' once-a-season road trip to Southern Califoria, where he's from. The Marlins play in San Diego and Los Angeles next week.

       "There's really never a good time, but this is probably one of the worst times," Stanton said. "It's just more of 'Here we go,' this month (-long) process to bring everything back. If we could just erase all of April that would be lovely."


        With Stanton and Mahoney going on the DL, the Marlins promoted outfielder Marcell Ozuna from Double A Jacksonville and pitcher Brad Hand from Triple A New Orleans. Hand was brought up as insurance after the bullpen was forced to cover 11 innings in Monday night's win.

         Ozuna is one of the Marlins' top prospects (No. 5, according to Baseball America) and with Stanton going down was immediately thrown into the starting lineup. He'll bat sixth tonight against New York and play right field.

          OzunaThe 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic said he didn't sleep a wink Monday night after finding out he was headed to the majors. It's a quick jump for Ozuna, who spent last season at Single A Jupiter (.266 with 24 home runs and 95 RBI), missed the initial part of this season at Jacksonville with a broken left wrist, but has been on a tear since joining the Suns' lineup (.333 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI in 42 at bats). He was the Southern League Player of the Week for April 22-28. Defensively, Ozuna won the Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award for his play in right field last season with Jupiter.

         "I'm so excited, the first time coming over here to play with the big guys," Ozuna said, adding he thought the earliest he might be called up would be June or July, after some additional seasoning at the Double A level.

         Ozuna said he was watching a Bruce Willis movie ("Fuego contra Fuego") when he received a phone call telling him he was being promoted.

         "I'm not nervous," Ozuna said. "It's the same game."

         Manager Mike Redmond said he likes the energy Ozuna brings to the field.

         "He's a got a great personality, he's always smiling," Redmond said. "Last year I managed against him when he was in the Florida State League, and I just liked the way he played. He was playing with one pants leg down and one up, and I was, like, 'What's wrong with this guy?' I don't know if it was on purpose or not. But he just looked like a mess out there and I thought, I kind of like this guy. This guy is just having fun."

         Redmond said Ozuna is an aggressive swinger, "but he's got a lot of power and I think he'll always have to work on getting good pitches to hit. But I think he has that ability to swing the bat. And the way he plays, he's got nothing to lose. That's the way he plays, with that nothing-to-lose attitude. He's an energy machine."


         Odds and Ends.........

         -- Despite giving up the go-ahead run in the top of the 15th on an infield hit by Ruben TejadaJon Rauch threw a personal record 60 pitches and earned the win when the Marlins came back in the bottom of the 15th. The most pitches Rauch had ever thrown as a reliever in one game: 47 in 2006.

       -- In terms of innings, Monday's marathon was one of the Marlins' 10 longest. They've had one go 20 innings, one go 17, two go 16, and six make it 15. The Marlins are 4-6 in those lengthy contests.

       -- The Marlins and Mets combined to go 3 for 31 with runners in scoring position.

       -- By going hitless in seven at bats, Placido Polanco became the third Marlin to go 0 for 7 in a game. He joined Omar Infante (0 for 7 on June 16, 2012) and Gregg Zaun (0 for 7 on June 8, 1998). All three 0-fers took place in games lasting 15 innings or longer and, oddly, the Marlins won all three by identical 4-3 scores. No Marlin has ever gone 0 for 8 (or worse), as Josh Hamilton did Monday for the Angels in their 19-inning affair with Oakland.

        -- With two steals on Monday, Juan Pierre raised his career total to 599 in 1,904 games. Since 1912, according to research provided by STATS, LLC, Pierre will become the ninth-fastest player in MLB history to 600 stolen bases. The fastest: Rickey Henderson (971 games). Pierre ranks 14th on MLB's all-time stolen base list and needs 21 to tie Otis Nixon for 13th.

        -- Desperate times called for desperate measures Monday and, with his bench completely depleted from substitutions and his bullpen almost completely wiped out, Redmond said starting pitchers started to volunteer their services. "They knew the situation we were in," Redmond said. "We were out of players and the pitchers were coming up to me going, 'Hey Mike, I played first in high school. If you need me to pinch-hit, I can do that. Ricky (Nolasco) said 'I played the outfield once.' And it was kind of fun because it was all hands on deck. The pitchers were back there in the cage, hitting off the machine. Kevin Slowey (who is on the mound tonight for the Marlins) spiked up. He's down in the bullpen. He said 'Red, if you need me, I'll be down there. Just let me know.'" Redmond

        -- There were a number of second-guess situations involving both managers in Monday's game. One example: the top half of the 15th when the Mets scored the go-ahead run. With runners at second and third and pitcher Shaun Marcum on deck, the Marlins elected to pitch to Ruben Tejada, who singled into the hole to put New York on top. Asked if thought about intentionally walking Tejada to get to Marcum (.128 career hitter), Redmond replied: "I did (think about it). He had him 1-2, and I really thought he'd get him out, and the guy rolled the ball through the six hole. In hindsight, if I had to do that over again, would I walk him? Maybe. That's one of those situations you just learn from."

        -- Redmond was also asked about the situation in the bottom of the fourth when the Marlins had runners at first and second with two outs. Redmond allowed pitcher Jose Fernandez to bat for himself even though he had no intention of sending him back to the mound (Fernandez had already thrown 81 pitches). "We were short players (Mahoney was unavailable), and we were down a run. It was the fourth inning. I sat up there last night in the 12th or 13th going, 'Man, I'm glad I didn't pinch-hit for him there." We would have been out of players in the ninth." When it was mentioned that if Redmond had pinch-hit for Fernandez, the result might also have been a RBI hit -- or more -- he replied: "That's the beauty of the game. There's so many situations that come up. And believe me, I sit there and I think to myself, 'Oh man, I should have done that or could have done that.' There's a lot of stress. There's a lot that goes into it. I learn something new every night, and I love it. I love being in the fire and having to make those decisions. Now, I may be completely bald by the All-Star break. But I'm already married and have kids, so I guess that's good."


         Marlins: 1. Pierre, lf; 2. Solano, 2b; 3. Polanco, 3b; 4. Dobbs, 1b; 5. Ruggiano, cf; 6. Ozuna, rf; 7. Olivo, c; 8. Green, ss; 9. Slowey.

         Mets: 1. Baxter, rf; 2. Tejada, ss; 3. Wright, 3b; 4. Duda, lf; 5. Murphy 2b; 6. Davis, 1b; 7. Recker, c; 8. Lagares, cf; 9. Hefner, p.

         Umpires: HP -- Jerry Meals; 1B -- Marvin Hudson; 2B -- Jordan Baker; 3B -- Tim McClelland.

         Slowey/Meals: Slowey has made one previous start with Meals behind the plate, giving up six hits in 24 at bats. He struck out 10 while walking just one.

         Hefner/Meals: Like Slowey, Hefner has also made one previous start with Meals calling balls and strikes. He, too, gave up six hits in 24 at bats. He struck out four and walked one.

Stanton, Mahoney to DL; Marlins call up Ozuna, Hand

       The Marlins have placed Giancarlo Stanton and Joe Mahoney on the disabled list, each with right hamstring injuries, and are calling up outfielder Marcell Ozuna from Double A Jacksonville and pitcher Brad Hand from Triple A New Orleans.

        Stanton is scheduled to undergo a MRI on Tuesday.

        "We'll find out more tomorrow," Stanton said. "But anytime you go down, it's not good."

        Stanton suffered the injury in the 10th inning while trying to beat out a nubber hit in front of the plate. He grimaced after crossing the bag at first, reached back for his leg, hopped twice, and fell to the ground. He said he heard a "pop," just as first baseman Casey Kotchman did when he suffered a hamstring injury the second game of the season. Kotchman remains on the DL.

        "Not good," said Larry Beinfest, Marlins president of baseball operations, standing outside the clubhouse following Monday's morning, which ended early Tuesday morning. "He's hurting. It grabbed him pretty good."

         Manager Mike Redmond said Ozuna would likely take Stanton's place in right field. Ozuna, 22, is one of the organization's top prospects, and he's off to a hot start at Jacksonville, where he's hitting .333 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI in only 42 at bats.

         Because the bullpen was used hard (11 innings) Monday, Hand was brought up as insurance. Hand was scheduled to start Tuesday for New Orleans.

         "Obviously a big blow losing Stanton," Redmond said. "We're enjoying this win tonight. But at the same time tomorrow the reality will set in that he's not in the lineup anymore. But Ozuna's an exciting player and hopefully he'll come up and provide a spark."

         -- In terms of innings, Monday's 15-inning game was one of the 10 longest in franchise history. Elapsed time of the game was 5:31. The longest game was the Marlins' 20-inning affair against St. Louis in 2003, which lasted 6:07. 


April 29, 2013

Giancarlo Stanton suffers hamstring injury

        Giancarlo Stanton left tonight's game with a hamstring injury. If the pained expression on his face was indicative of the seriousness of the injury, the Marlins could be without their slugger for a significant period.

        Stanton grimaced after crossing the bag at first, reached for his right hamstring, hopped twice on one leg, and tumbled to the ground after trying to beat out a nubber in the 10th inning. The Marlins later announced that Stanton had a strained right hamstring.

        The timing is never good for the Marlins when Stanton is out. But the latest setback with their top player comes just when it looked like he had re-discovered his home run stroke. Now he's out indefinitely.

Marlins work to rid Jose Fernandez of pitch-tipping habit

        Jose Fernandez's two previous starts weren't nearly as impressive as his first two, and the Marlins think they know why. Manager Mike Redmond said Fernandez was tipping his pitches.

        "Hopefully that part of it has been cleaned up," Redmond said Monday before Fernandez was set to face the Mets' Matt Harvey in a showdown of two of the majors' top young guns. "Those are things we're always looking for."

        Redmond said Fernandez was tipping three of his pitches in the way he held the ball in his glove just before starting his delivery. Both the Reds and Twins put up big innings against the 20-year-old rookie with Minnesota hitters often going after Fernandez's first pitch.

        "He was holding a fastball here, a change-up was out here and the curveball was up here," Redmond said, demonstrating to reporters. "There was like three different spots. The good thing is we caught it."

        Redmond said simply knowing what pitch is coming doesn't guarantee success for a hitter.

        "Johan Santana tipped his pitches, too, and nobody ever hit them," Redmond said. "It was so obvious. But he still give up two runs on four hits every game. And everybody knew what was coming, but still couldn't hit it."


        Marlins: 1. Pierre, lf; 2. Solano, 2b; 3. Stanton, rf; 4. Polanco, 3b; 5. Dobbs, 1b; 6. Ruggiano, cf; 7. Brantly, c; 8. Green, ss; 9. Fernandez, p.

        Mets: 1. Baxter, rf; 2. Turner, 3b; 3. Murphy, 2b; 4. Duda, lf; 5. Buck, c; 6. Davis, 1b; 7. Tejada, ss; 8. Valdespin, cf; 9. Harvey, p.



April 27, 2013

Stanton belts first home run and unleashes a monster -- 472-foot shot 3rd longest of his career

It took him longer than he wanted, but when Giancarlo Stanton finally belted his first home run of the season Saturday night he really got into it.

The first inning blast off Cubs left-hander Travis Wood soared over the left field video scoreboard and only stayed inside Marlins Park because it bounced off the sliding glass doors behind it. The ball traveled an eye-opening and estimated 472-feet -- third longest of his career.

“It hit the windows," Stanton said afterward. "Window damage.’’

According to ESPN's hittrackeronline.com, which keeps record of home run distances, Stanton's blast fell three feet shy of the longest in baseball this season. That record still belongs to the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo, who belted one 475-feet last week against the Rangers at Wrigley Field.

The homer was also the longest home run at Marlins Park. The previous mark was a 462-foot shot by Stanton last May 21.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum was impressed by the shot.

"“I guess if you are going to give one up, you don’t want to give up any cheapies,” Sveum said. “That’s as far as I’ve seen a ball hit. As strong as he is and getting a 3-1 fastball …”

When told that the shot was measured at 472 feet, Sveum said: “I think that’s a little bit short.”

According to hittrackeronline, Stanton's two longest career blasts have come at Coors Field. His longest home run -- and longest by anyone during the 2012 season -- was a 494-foot blast off Rockies pitcher Josh Roenicke It was 29-feet longer than anyone else in the game last season. Stanton's second longest blast traveled 474 feet at Coors back in 2011.

Could Stanton remember hitting a ball better than he did Saturday?

"That one was pretty good," he said. "Here I’ve hit a few of those foul. So it was nice to finally get it on the right side of the pole."

By hitting Saturday's home run, Stanton ended a run of 72 consecutive at-bats dating back to Oct. 1 of last season without a long ball. It was the third-longest stretch of his career without a long ball. Last season, he opened the year without hitting a home run until his 69th at-bat.

His longest career streak without a home run is a run of 97 at-bats from the end of the 2011 season (29 at-bats) to his first home run in 2012 (68-at-bats). His second-longest career streak without a home run was a span of 83 at-bats from June 11, 2011 to July 6, 2011.

Are the Marlins close to seeing Mike Redmond's Matt Foley impression? Maybe

With his team owning the worst record in the majors at 5-18, the worst team batting average in the game (.222) and the fewest homers (7) in the game, Marlins manager Mike Redmond was asked by a reporter before Saturday's game against the Cubs if any motivational speakers have been brought in to help shake things up.

"I consider myself a motivational speaker because I’ve watched Saturday Night Live a couple of times," Redmond said straight-faced. "I was actually going to talk to the guys tonight. I was writing some stuff down."

Redmond was of course joking. But he says deep down inside he really isn't laughing about the team's struggles. Saturday he put out his 22nd different lineup hoping to find a spark on offense.

"We've been mixing and matching all year, trying to find a lineup that produces more than two runs. I'm laughing, but I'm crying inside," Redmond said. "We've talked about it. It seems like whatever combination we use it seems to be producing the same thing. It's kind of where we're at. [Austin] Kearns has had some great at-bats. He's had some walks and some big hits. Maybe he's the spark that gets us going. Like I've been saying the whole year We're looking for a spark. It doesn't have to be a hit. Maybe it's a walk. It could be a jam shot with a couple guys on. I'll take anything right now."

Maybe the ghost of Chris Farley could help the Marlins snap out of their funk. After all, he did a pretty good job as the character Matt Foley cracking people up.


> Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria continues to show signs of progress in his return from a bruised right elbow and will play in rehab games in Single A Jupiter Monday and Tuesday before hitting the road with the Marlins as long as he doesn't have any setbacks, Redmond said. Hechavarria is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday when the Marlins open up a four-game series in Philadelphia.

> Right-hander Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) threw 45 pitches in a simulated game Saturday and will throw 60 pitches in his first rehab game Thursday in Jupiter, Redmond said.


> Marlins (5-18): 1. Donovan Solano 2B, 2. Placido Polanco 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Austin Kearns LF, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Joe Mahoney 1B, 7. Miguel Olivo C, 8. Chris Valaika SS, 9. Alex Sanabia RHP.

> Cubs (8-14): 1. David DeJesus CF, 2. Starlin Castro SS, 3. Anthony Rizzo 1B, 4. Alfonso Soriano LF, 5. Nate Schierholtz RF, 6. Wellington Castillo C, 7. Luis Valbuena 3B, 8. Darwin Barney 2B, 9. LHP Travis Wood.

April 26, 2013

Slowey remains upbeat even as a W continues to elude him

As heartbreaking as Thursday's 4-3 loss was for Marlins starter Kevin Slowey because he let a 3-1 lead get away from him and failed to pick up his first win since Sept. 18, 2010, there was a positive.

He threw a season-high 112 pitches over six innings of three-run, five-hit ball and felt good afterward.

"For a pitcher like me who has come back from some injuries to know my manager and my pitching coach have faith in me that my pitches 105 to 112 are still going to be competitive it's a great thing," said Slowey, who didn't pitch all of 2012 because of a fractured rib and missed the rest of the 2011 season with an abdominal strain.

"I felt like I was still commanding the ball where I wanted to. The [game-tying home run] pitch to [Nate] Schierholtz just didn't execute it in where I wanted it. But those next couple batters I was able to continue to let it go. I didn't feel winded or exhausted."

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said he felt "totally confident" having Slowey continue to work in the sixth even though his pitch count was high. Slowey hadn't thrown more than 93 pitches in a game this season before Thursday.

"We need to get this guy a win," Redmond said. "He's pitched his butt off. He deserves it."


Turns out the Heat jersey with the No. 1 hanging in the Marlins' clubhouse doesn't belong to Chris Bosh. It belongs to veteran left-fielder and longtime Heat fan Juan Pierre, who said he received it as a gift from the Heat during his bachelor party three years ago at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Pierre said he's had the jersey hung close to his baseball locker since he got it and brings it out during the playoffs. But he won't wear it.

"I wouldn't wear it with shorts and kick it," Pierre said. "Once you get past 30 you cant' wear jerseys. That's just the rule. You pass 30 years old you can't wear it. When I became a man I had to put those away."


> Marlins (5-17): 1. Juan Pierre LF, 2. Placido Polanco 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Joe Mahoney 1B, 5. Donovan Solano 2B, 6. Rob Brantly C, 7. Chris Coghlan CF, 8. Chris Valaika SS, 9. Wade LeBlanc LHP.

> Cubs (7-14): 1. Dave Sappelt CF, 2. Starlin Castro SS, 3. Anthony Rizzo 1B, 4. Alfonso Soriano LF, 5. Wellington Castillo C, 6. Scott Hairston RF, 7. Cody Ransom 3B, 8. Darwin Barney 2B, 9. Scott Feldman RHP.

Loria denies report he meddled in pitcher flip-flop; Redmond said it was organizational decision

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria denied a Yahoo! report Friday he personally mandated the lineup card change that flip-flopped starting pitchers Jose Fernandez and Ricky Nolasco before a doubleheader Tuesday in chilly Minnesota and did not sit well with the clubhouse.

“I had nothing to do with the decision,” Loria told FOXSports.com on Friday. “I was informed of the decision by the baseball department. I told them it was their call.

“I don’t make decisions on who to pitch and when, how to go about it — that’s not my role. Sometimes they call me and tell me what they’re doing. But I don’t call them up and say, ‘This is what is going to happen.’ That’s not true.”

Loria told FoxSports he was discussing his primary business -- art -- at the time he received a call about the pitching changes from general manager Michael Hill. “I was engaged in discussions in the world about pictures, as in paintings, not pitchers, guys who can or can’t paint the strike zone,” he said.

Citing three unnamed sources, Yahoo! reported Loria insisted Fernandez, the team's prized 20-year-old rookie, pitch in the first half of the doubleheader at frigid Target Field instead of the scheduled Nolasco because the day game was expected to be warmer. The temperature at Fernandez's first pitch (38 degrees) was actually colder than at the beginning of Nolasco's start (42 degrees).

For doubleheaders, it is normal protocol to allow the pitcher with the most seniority to have his choice of games. Nolasco is the team's all-time wins leader and its opening day starter. Fernandez had made only three big-league starts going in to Tuesday.

Nolasco's agent Matt Sosnick told The Miami Herald Thursday: “I know it wasn’t the manager’s decision, and [front-office executives] Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill have too much integrity to make that type of call. Whoever made the choice would have to have so little social and emotional awareness that would totally have a lack of understanding of how it would affect Ricky and the manager.”

Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who was reportedly embarrassed by the decision made above his head, was asked about the new reports on Friday.

"We were all on the call," Redmond said. "It was an organizational decision. I'll leave it at that."

Worst Marlins team ever? They've got a chance to be at least in April

At 5-17 they've got the worst record in baseball.

With 57 runs scored they're the worst offensive team in baseball by at least 12 runs. Homers? RBI? Batting average? Also dead last in the game.

Their team ERA of 4.48? Not the worst in baseball. But it still ranks 27th out of 30 teams.

We know these Marlins aren't very good. But are they going to be the worst Marlins team ever?

With five games left in the month of April they've got a shot of at least getting off to the worst start ever.

Until now, the worst Marlins start in club history was 5-20 back in 1995. Those Marlins only played four games in April because the season started late following the strike. But they still didn't win their sixth game until Game 26. If these Marlins get swept by the visiting Cubs this weekend they'll match that feat. Lose to the Mets on Monday too and the worst start in franchise history is theirs.

So what's the worst April in Marlins history? That distinction belongs to the 1999 Marlins who went 6-17. The 2006 Marlins weren't far behind at 6-16.

What about the worst month ever? That should be fresh in your minds. The 2011 Marlins went 5-23 in the month of June. These Marlins can't eclipse that because there are only five games left. The worst they could finish is 5-22. But they can finish second all-time.

So who deserves the blame for this team's struggles? It can obviously go a lot of places, but you've got to point to the offense first. The team's 57 runs are on pace to finish as the fewest ever in a month. The previous record for fewest runs in a month with at least 20 games? Last year's Marlins in April. They scored just 73 runs.

If these Marlins don't combine to score at least 16 runs over the next five days, they'll own that dubious record too.

April 25, 2013

Redmond provides injury updates; Hechavarria expected to be ready when DL stint is up

Manager Mike Redmond showed up for his daily press conference with reporters in the Marlins dugout Thursday with a list of health updates on injured players.

The best news: shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, out since April 17th with a right elbow contusion, is expected to be ready to go when his stint on the disabled list is up May 2nd. Hechavarria said he played catch from about 70 feet Wednesday and felt good. He took grounders with the team Thursday.

Redmond said the team would like to get Hechavarria in some games in Single A Jupiter next week before he returns to the lineup.

> Right-hander Henderson Alvarez (right shoulder inflammation) is throwing a 45-pitch simulated game on Saturday and the plan is to start him with a 60-pitch game next Thursday in Jupiter.

> Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, on the 60-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, is progressing with his long toss Redmond said. 

> First baseman Casey Kotchman told Redmond his hamstring is feeling better, but he's still is a couple weeks away.

> Catcher Jeff Mathis -- out since early in spring training with a fractured right clavicle -- is shooting to participate in his first rehab assignment next Wednesday, Redmond said.

> First baseman Logan Morrison (knee) still isn't running the bases, but the team is shooting for a rehab game on May 10th.

> The Marlins picked up some left-handed pitching experience Thursday when they claimed 27-year old Duane Below off waivers from the Tigers and optioned him to Triple-A New Orleans.

Below threw 46 1/3 innings in 27 games with one start for the Tigers last year. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder was 1-2 with a 2.10 ERA in four starts at Triple-A this season. In 25 2/3 innings, he has 15 strikeouts and four walks.


> Marlins (5-16): 1. Juan Pierre LF, 2. Placido Polanco 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Joe Mahoney 1B, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Rob Brantly C, 7. Chris Valaika SS, 8. Donovan Solano 2B, 9. Kevin Slowey RHP.

> Cubs (6-14): 1. David DeJesus CF, 2. Starlin Casro SS, 3. Anthony Rizzo 1B, 4. Alfonso Soriano LF, 5. Nate Schierholtz RF, 6. Wellington Castillo C, 7. Luis Valbuena 3B, 8. Darwin Barney 2B, 9. Edwin Jackson RHP.