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12 posts from August 2015

August 27, 2015

Jose Fernandez earns rave reviews with bullpen session; Christian Yelich out of lineup with knee/shin

Fire drill alarms were sounding inside Marlins Park during batting practice on Thursday, prompting manager Dan Jennings to declare: "It sounds like the emergency room for the starting rotation."

It's been that kind of season.

The Marlins used their 13th different starter, Chris Narveson, on Wednesday. They've only used that many starters twice before, in 2004 and again in 2014. The rotation is such a collective mishmash at the moment that, for the first time in franchise history, it contains four left-handers.

But there was a rare bit of positive news on the pitching front. Jose Fernandez threw his first bullpen session on Thursday, and Jennings said it went extremely well -- so well that Fernandez, who is on the 15-day DL with a biceps strain, could return to the mound for the Marlins within two weeks.

"I think it went something like, wow," Jennings said of Fernandez's 30-pitch session. "I talked to (trainer Sean Cunningham), and he said it was very impressive. He said he's right on track, looks good, jumped out of his hand. So we'll start to build that up now."

Jennings said Fernandez would likely throw one more bullpen, followed by a simulation game, before putting him back on the mound.

"Somewhere early to mid-September is probably a realistic target date," Jennings said of the timetable on Fernandez's return.

Jarred Cosart could also be nearing his return to the rotation. Cosart is scheduled to start Thursday for Single A Jupiter and throw 60-65 pitches.


Christian Yelich is continuing to deal with discomfort in his bruised right knee, was left out of Thursday's lineup, and didn't take batting practice. Yelich also fouled a ball off his shin and ankle Wednesday, further compounding the problem.

"We knew it was going to be touch and go with it and, to his credit, he jumped back out there for a couple of days," Jennings said of Yelich, who came off the DL on Tuesday. "So now we just need to let the flare go down."

Said Yelich: "It's kind of day-to-day, see how it's going. I don't really know what to say or how to explain it."


Giancarlo Stanton is expected to face live pitching in batting practice for the first time Monday in Jupiter. He could be back in the lineup for the Marlins by the end of next week.


The Marlins on Thursday optioned right-handed reliever Scott McGough to Triple A New Orleans and activated right-hander Andre Rienzo from the 15-day DL.


August 25, 2015

Stanton eyes return from DL in 'about a week and a half'; Yelich activated from DL

Giancarlo Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton could be back in the Marlins lineup when they open their next homestand against the division-leading New York Mets a week from this Friday.

The All-Star slugger, who underwent surgery to repair a left wrist fracture on June 28, said Tuesday he's feeling better and is "about a week and a half [away]" from a return.

Stanton, who was leading baseball with 27 homers and 65 RBI when he injured his wrist swinging a bat, doesn't expect to play in any minor league rehab games when he's finally cleared. He said he can get his timing back in the batting cages. 

"I don't know how much time I have to do that [a minor league rehab stint] to be honest, for their schedule and for ours," said Stanton, who was initially expected to be back four to six weeks after surgery but has been delayed by pain in the wrist. "Hopefully, my timing will be there and we'll go from there."

The Marlins starting outfield of Stanton, center fielder Marcell Ozuna, and Gold Glove-winning left fielder Christian Yelich, tabbed the best in baseball by ESPN this winter, has only made 44 starts together in 2015.

"It will be a welcome addition to have him back in the lineup," manager Dan Jennings said of Stanton. "I know he's been progressing in a good way. I had a good visit with him Monday. He told me he's feeling stronger and doesn't feel it when he turns his wrist. So that's a good sign. If we can get these guys together and have a month of health, maybe we can be a spoiler in some ways."

Said Stanton: "We'll get a good 20, 25 games in together [to finish the season] -- so that will be nice for us all."

Yelich came off the disabled list Tuesday after the Marlins sent their seventh starting pitcher this season, rookie Kendry Flores, to the disabled list. Left-hander Chris Narveson will become the 13th different Marlins pitcher to start a game on Wednesday.

Jennings said Flores still has to have his an MRI on his throwing shoulder.

"Hopefully that tendonitis he felt will dissipate and he can be back because it's obvious we're going to need that pitching depth going down the stretch," Jennings said.

Staff ace Jose Fernandez, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 8 with a right biceps strain, will throw a bullpen session Thursday at Marlins Park. Fernandez may simply need to throw in a simulated game before he's cleared to return from the disabled list. 

"There's a case with him we could run him to Jupiter and get him in," Jennings said. "But he may accomplish the same thing in a sim game. Just depends on when he's ready to amp it that way. But he feels great right now, real good."

> The Marlins are also expecting right-hander Jarred Cosart, who has made just eight big league starts this season while battling vertigo, to be back soon. He's scheduled to throw 65 to 70 pitches for Single A Jupiter on Thursday.

> Rookie Jose Urena (bruised left knee) will throw a bullpen Wednesday and then live batting practice on Saturday. 

August 24, 2015

Christian Yelich hopes to be back in Marlins lineup Tuesday

Christian Yelich, sidelined since Aug. 10 with a bruised right knee, is hoping to be back in the Marlins lineup Tuesday night, the first day he's eligible to come off the disabled list.

While Yelich has kept himself busy taking batting practice over the last two weeks, he's avoided running and shagging fly balls to give his knee some rest and regain his range of motion. Sunday he ran for the first time, and Monday was the first time he tested his knee in the outfield. 

Yelich was red-hot at the plate when he was hurt banging against the outfield wall in Atlanta. After starting the season ice cold, he's hit .345 with two homers and 14 RBI since June 27 with 14 multi-hit games in a 37-game span.

"I'm not really worried about it -- not feeling well [at the plate] or losing the swing," Yelich said. "I've been able to swing throughout this whole thing. It was just the running that was tough. I think my swing will be alright. Once I get back in game action I think I'll be okay."

Yelich said he's looking forward to playing alongside center fielder Marcell Ozuna again. The two haven't played together since Ozuna was sent down to the minors on July 5 -- about 10 days after right fielder Giancarlo Stanton went on the disabled list with a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Stanton is hoping to return early next month. 

The Marlins starting outfield trio, pegged the best in baseball by ESPN prior to the season, has made a grand total of 44 starts together this season.

The Marlins were 15-29 when all three were in the lineup together this season. Miami was 58-56 last season when Yelich, Ozuna and Stanton was the team's starting outfield. 

"It's been rare for us to all be out there at the same time," Yelich said. "It's been one of those years we've had to overcome a lot of injuries and it's taken its toll a little bit. For everybody to come back and be healthy for the last month of the season it will be a good thing. Maybe, we can get some chemistry going and take that into the off-season."'

> Reliever Carter Capps, on the disabled list with a right elbow strain since Aug. 3, said Monday he's still feeling some discomfort in his throwing elbow.

"I've had a few bullpen sessions. I'm just trying to get beyond healthy and be able to throw like I have been all year," Capps said. "Right now I don't feel anything on the slider. The long toss has been great. Little discomfort still on some of the fastballs once I'm off the mound. Other than that, probably just a few more days and that will go away and then I'll really start amping it up."

August 23, 2015

Close bond with Brett Butler compelled Cole Gillespie to sign with Marlins

The Marlins can thank outfield coach Brett Butler for convincing Cole Gillespie to sign as a free agent last November. Gillespie, who is hitting .319 in a reserve role, said he entertained offers from a handful of teams.

But he chose the Marlins due to his close bond with Butler, who was his manager in the Diamondbacks’ farm system for several years.

“I’ve known him for a long time,” Butler said. “He’s like a son to me.”

Butler said that when Gillespie’s mother died during spring training a few years ago, the player’s father called Butler to help him break the news and soften the blow.

“His dad called me and said, ‘I know how much you care about my son. Would you be next to him when I tell him his mom passed away,’” Butler recalled. “So I handed him the phone and stood by when he got the news. Tragedy kind of brings people together.”

Butler said the only thing that’s held Gillespie back has been opportunity -- “nothing more, nothing less.”


Jose Fernandez doesn’t know when he’ll return to the mound for the Marlins, or how many starts he’ll make before the end of the season. But he said he’s determined to pitch once his arm is ready.

“If I’m ready to come back, I’m coming back,” he said.

Fernandez will take an important step in that direction Thursday when he throws his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list with a right biceps strain.

August 15, 2015

Marcell Ozuna rejoins Marlins after Christian Yelich placed on DL

Marcell Ozuna is finally back with the Marlins.

After spending more than a month at Triple A New Orleans, ostensibly to work on his swing (emphasis added), Ozuna was recalled Saturday after the Marlins placed Christian Yelich on the 15-day disabled list with bruised right knee.

By leaving Ozuna in the minors for so long, the Marlins delayed the start of his salary arbitration clock, thereby saving the franchise money in the near future while also making him that much more attractive as a potential trade chip.

The Marlins could decide to shop Ozuna over the winter in their quest to acquire starting pitching help.

All that aside, Ozuna has been putting up solid numbers at Triple A New Orleans (making his stay there all the more suspicious). Ozuna went 3 for 4 on Friday, raising his average to .317.

Yelich, meanwhile, heads to the DL for the second time this season. He missed time previously with a back injury.


Ichiro triggers bonus, 'ties' Cobb; Marlins now only team without a cycle

One at bat after making himself $400,000 richer, Ichiro Suzuki tied Ty Cobb's mark for career hits.

Suzuki triggered a performance incentive in his contract with his second at bat Friday in St. Louis. That gave him 300 plate appearances for the season. Suzuki's contract ($2 million base salary) with the Marlins calls for him to get bonus payments of $400,000 for 300 plate appearances, and every 50 plate appearances thereafter up to 600.

Just after reaching that threshold, Ichiro tied Cobb with his 4,191st hit. Suzuki's total, of course, includes the 1,278 hits he recorded in Japan.


And then there was one...

Matt Kemp became the first player for the San Diego Padres to hit for the cycle, leaving the Marlins as the only team in the majors without one. Kemp accomplished the feat with a ninth-inning triple on Friday.

The Padres have been around 47 years, so their drought was twice as long as the Marlins.

There have been 201 instances in which the Marlins have had a player came up one hit shy of the accomplishment. Four of those belonged to players (Gary Sheffield, Omar Infante, Dan Uggla and Josh Willingham) who were tripped up by the lack of a single.

August 12, 2015

Marlins to honor Franchise Four in the fourth inning Wednesday -- in front of Hanley Ramirez

The Marlins on Wednesday were scheduled to take a moment to recognize Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sheffield, Jeff Conine and Mike Lowell, who were selected by fans earlier this season as the organization's Franchise Four.

Among those who will be watching from the opposing dugout: Hanley Ramirez, who somehow didn't even make the Marlins' top eight finalists despite having his name all over the franchise record book and being the only player in club history voted to start three All-Star games.

Did the fact Ramirez didn't make the top four or eight surprise manager Dan Jennings, who has been in the club's front office since 2002?

"Not the top four when you look at who they are, when you think of each of these guys and what they've done," Jennings said. "The fact that Sheffield could truly go in as the first Marlins Hall of Famer, look at his numbers and then what Mikey [Lowell] meant to this organization. Hey, Mr. Marlin, he's got to be in there right? He is Mount Rushmore. He's the first one. It's a tough decision. It was for every organization. But there's just a special bond each of those guys had and it bridges the past and the future. I hope Giancarlo erases all of their records. He's certainly capable of doing that."

Ramirez, though, at least had a strong case to make the top eight. He won a batting title in 2009 and ranks second in club history in hits (1,103), career average (.300), runs (666), stolen bases (230), doubles (232), third in triples (26), homers (148) and walks (406) and fourth in RBI (482).

"You look at Hanley, you look at Miguel Cabrera, had we had more space you could put a couple of other guys," Jennings said. "Josh Beckett was pretty well known around this joint. But you're right, it was tough decisions. You never know what fans [are thinking] when they vote. Maybe some of them harbored ill feelings or were more about a special moment when they were a kid -- the '97 Series or something like that. But it's good. I think it's awesome the fans got to vote them.

"It's tough to go wrong. I wish [the franchise four] were in the lineup today."

> The Marlins gave Christian Yelich (bruised left knee) another day off Wednesday and are hoping he will be back in the lineup Friday in St. Louis.

> Jennings said Jarred Cosart (vertigo) is scheduled to throw a bullpen Thursday before beginning a rehab assignment. The Marlins are hoping to have him back in a week to 10 days. 

August 11, 2015

Jose Fernandez: "As long as I'm healthy, I'm coming back. It doesn't matter our record."

Jose Fernandez quickly and emphatically put to rest any thoughts of shutting down the rest of the season when he told reporters during batting practice today that he fully intended to pitch again.

"As long as I'm healthy, I'm coming back," Fernandez said without hesitation. "It doesn't matter our record."

As expected, the Marlins placed Fernandez on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a right biceps strain.

But Fernandez said he is relieved that test results showed the injury wasn't anything more serious.

"That was great news," Fernandez said of the diagnosis. "I think it's the best news out of all it. It's been a couple of days. I don't feel any pain. I don't feel anything. So I think it's really good news. I feel really good about it."

Asked if he expected to pitch again this season, Fernandez replied: "For sure. I'm pretty sure, yes."

Fernandez complained of shoulder stiffness after pitching Friday in Atlanta. Though he came out after throwing only 76 pitches over five innings, he said it was the 38-pitch fourth inning that likely caused the injury.

"During the game, that fourth inning I threw a a lot of pitches," Fernandez said. "My arm got a little tired. When I went out and pitched in the fifth inning, I wasn't the same. I was dragging my arm. They just took me out of the game."

"I really don't see it as an injury," he said. "Probably the arm needed a little break. But thank God, it wasn't a big deal."


Giancarlo Stanton continues to hit inside the cage but has yet to face live pitching, and there remains no timetable on when that will occur.

"He's progressing nice," said manager Dan Jennings. "He'll continue to do baseball activities. You know, it's just about when he gets the strength back in that hand and wrist."

Stanton has missed more than six weeks after breaking the hamate bone in his left hand and undergoing surgery to repair the injury.

"He has been in the cages, starting to feel some strength come back," Jennings said. "So, hopefully, that's a positive side that we can move that clock forward some."


Reliever Carter Capps (right elbow) threw his first bullpen session Tuesday.

"Went well," Jennings said. "I saw him flat ground and it looked good. The ball was coming out nice. It was great to see. Today was a nice step. He'll have another bullpen, and then somewhere we'll get him in game action, probably in Jupiter."



August 07, 2015

Another rookie -- Kyle Barraclough -- headed to Marlins bullpen

ATLANTA -- Just when you thought the Marlins couldn't possibly locate another raw rookie with no big-league experience to insert in their bullpen, the team announced today that Kyle Barraclough -- the right-handed reliever the Marlins acquired in the Steve Cishek trade with St. Louis -- is on his way up.

Barraclough and right-hander Kendry Flores were called up Friday after the team placed starting pitcher Jose Urena (left knee contusion) and reliever Andre Rienzo (left knee laceration) on the 15-day disabled list. Urena was struck in the knee by a line drive in the second inning of Thursday's start.

The Marlins acquired Barraclough from the Cardinals on July 24 for Cishek. In four outings with Double A Jacksonville since the trade, Barraclough has posted impressive figures, striking out nine while walking only one in a total of four innings. Walks have been a major issue for him in the past. Over four minor-league campaigns totaling 140 2/3 innings, Barraclough has averaged more than five walks per nine innings to go with a strikeout rate of more than 11 per 9.

Just within the past week, relievers Brian Ellington and Chris Reed have made their major-league debuts with the Marlins. Flores isn't exactly flush with experience, either. He was up earlier in the season with the Marlins, making his big-league debut in early June before being sent back to the minors after two relief appearances.

Not yet known is who will take Urena's spot in the rotation. Both Flores and Adam Conley, another rookie who has been working out of the pen, have both been used exclusively as starters in the minors and could fill the void. 

August 06, 2015

Hechavarria taking aim on team errorless record

ATLANTA -- Ask Martin Prado which shortstop is better defensively -- the Marlins’ Adeiny Hechavarria or the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons -- and he’ll shrug his shoulders.

“That’s a tough one,” said Prado, who has played alongside both players in the infield.

Simmons has won the Gold Glove award as the National League’s best shortstop each of the past two years. But Hechavarria is nipping at his heels. The two ranked one-two among N.L. shortstops in fielding percentage -- Simmons at .994 and Hechavarria at .991 -- going into their weekend series at Turner Field in Atlanta.

Entering Thursday, Hechavarria had gone 42 straight games without making an error, putting him within range of the team record for a shortstop (54 consecutive errorless games by Hanley Ramirez in 2009).

Hechavarria has made just four errors all season.

According to Marlins infield coach Perry Hill, the league is taking notice.

“People are starting to ask more questions about Hechavarria,” Hill said of fellow coaches and managers. “They’re starting to notice and starting to ask more and more questions. Maybe the word’s out.”

The Gold Glove awards are determined by a combination of statistical formulas (25 percent) and votes submitted by coaches and managers (75 percent).

So what separates the two shortstops?

“For me, Adeiny is more reactive. He’s more flexible,” Prado said. “And Simmons is more knowledgable and anticipates better. They’re both athletic. But Adeiny is more acrobatic.”

Hill said Hechavarria’s knowledge of the position has improved, too.

“He’s learned to move on counts,” Hill said. “So he’s putting himself in better position to catch all hit balls. We used to have to move him, and sometimes couldn’t get his attention. But I haven’t moved him in the last 15 to 20 games. He’s doing it on his own. He’s figured it out.”


Catcher J.T. Realmuto sat out his second straight game due to a bone bruise on his glove hand resulting from the constant pounding of pitches.
“It’s probably the glove I’m using,” Realmuto said. “The padding is so worn down on it. There’s no padding left. Over time, it’s kind of just gotten beat up.”
Realmuto said he expects to return to the lineup Friday.

The Marlins are hoping Jarred Cosart can return to the rotation before the end of August.
Cosart has missed much of the season with vertigo due to an inner ear disorder. But he is scheduled to resume a throwing program on Friday and could begin making rehab starts for Single A Jupiter in the near future.
“Now it’s just a matter of building him back up,” said manager Dan Jennings. “It would be great if (Cosart returned) sometime in August because we could use the depth.”


Friday -- Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (4-0, 2.13) at Atlanta Braves RHP Julio Teheran (7-6, 4.59), 7:35 p.m., Turner Field.
Saturday -- Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (8-8, 3.71) at Atlanta Braves RHP Mike Foltynewicz (3-3, 5.40), 7:10 p.m., Turner Field.