June 23, 2011

Marlins head off to Seattle with a happier, focused Hanley Ramirez

Jack McKeon didn't win his first series in his return as Marlins manager.

But after three days, he may have already gotten his toughest assignment completed -- getting Hanley Ramirez to turn his attitude around and play with passion.

Two days after being benched for showing up late to a team meeting and getting chastised by Logan Morrison for it, the three-time All-Star shortstop and former batting champion played arguably his best game of the season Wednesday.

He went 2-for-5 with two, two-out RBI singles and two great plays with his glove. And even though a bad bounce produced the game-winning RBI single that scooted just past Ramirez's glove, there was a sense of victory in the Marlins clubhouse after the 10-inning 6-5 loss to the Angels.

And it's all because Ramirez, the franchise player, is displaying the attitude the team has been looking for.

"I'm very, very happy with my three days here," McKeon said. "I know we're 1-2. But I think we're on the right path. We're going to cause a little havoc the rest of the way. We've got two or three hitting now. Now, we've got to try to get a couple more just to put the ball in play.

"If you were in the dugout tonight even when we got down 5-4, the guys were figuring out we're going to tie this thing. We're going to win this thing.

McKeon said Ramirez was a big part of that.

"We probably saw his best game of the year, maybe the last couple years," he said. "Hanley was fired up. All excited to play, happy, coming over talking to me about different things. Just a smile on his face. It's the new confidence he has. And he's happy. Maybe he likes hitting fourth, he certainly has been delivering in that situation. Maybe we found the right spot for him."

A couple of his teammates said they were happy to see Ramirez show some fight.

"He played real well," said Burke Badenhop, who suffered the loss. "That catch on the tarp there was huge. You can tell when he's really locked in and he good ABs today. That was good to see. He was pretty pumped like we need him to be."

Said Brian Sanches: "It's definitely good for our team. It's no secret we need him to win. We all know he's capable of doing it. Hopefully this gets it rolling."

Ramirez said he wants to stay positive and keep the momentum going now as the team heads off for Seattle, the first of nine road games against the AL West.

"We're playing good," he said. "It's hard when you're not playing good and your team is losing. Everyday it's hard to go out there and be happy. But when your playing the right way, you got good things going it's a lot of smiles -- not just me. All those guys."

June 20, 2011

Make no mistake McKeon scored points in Marlins clubhouse benching tardy Hanley

All the talk this spring training was about what a great leader shortstop Hanley Ramirez was becoming.

Jack McKeon And for a time, it looked like Ramirez was embracing that role. He was signing autographs for fans, engaging teammates and hustling and diving for balls all over the field. But whatever good will Ramirez was building has been slowly disappearing. 

And Monday, when he was pulled out of the starting lineup for showing up late for Jack McKeon's first team meeting, well, it's safe to say that didn't go unnoticed.

McKeon, who benched players during the Marlins World Series season in 2003, has the type of hard line stance many players say they embrace and are looking forward to as he takes over.

"I think he's going to have a great influence in here," Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez said. "He's hard nosed. He's not going to take anything, any crap. If you want to play and do the right things, he's going to play you. If not, he's not. So I think that's going to be good for us."

Sanchez said McKeon's pregame speech about leaving egos at the door was "awesome." 

"It doesn't matter how old he is," Mike Stanton said. "He's very respected in the game and we know what he has to offer."

> Chris Coghlan, who was supposed to be on his way to Triple A New Orleans, was placed on the disabled list with left knee inflammation after his option was voided because of the injury on Monday.

Larry Beinfest, president of baseball operations, said Coghlan went to see Dr. James Andrews on Monday after seeing team doctors over the weekend.

Coghlan tore his meniscus in his left knee celebrating a Marlins walk-off win last July 25th and had surgery to repair it in the offseason.

Will he still head down to Triple A when his stint on the DL ends?

“We need to get him healthy,” Beinfest said. “We need to get what every inflammation or whatever discomfort is in the knee out of there. We have 15 days from last Friday and then we'll see where we're at.”

> Stanton, pulled from Saturday’s game because of a right eye infection, said he hopes to be back in the lineup by Wednesday.

Stanton said he’d been battling blurriness in his eye since the Marlins returned home from the West Coast earlier this month. He said he met with a new eye doctor on Monday and was prescribed new medication. “It’s a lot better now,” Stanton said. “It should be knocked out by Wednesday, that's what they said.”

> The Marlins optioned left-hander Brad Hand to Single A Jacksonville; recalled reliever Jose Ceda from Triple A New Orelans; and catcher Brad Davis was outrighted to New Orleans.

Hand (0-3, 3.65 in three starts) was scheduled to pitch Wednesday. But with the Marlins off on Thursday and next Monday, Beinfest said the team only needs four starters in the rotation.

Beinfest said the bullpen would likely handle the pitching duties in Wednesday’s series finale against the Angels. Beinfest said Hand will pitch in Jupiter because the Double A All-Star Game takes place Tuesday and teams are off on Wednesday. He'll then return to Double A and make his next start there.

"We wanted him to get down to get the regular work," Beinfest said. "With the off day coming up on Thursday, if we chose to go with a 'pen day instead of another starter we have a comfort of that off day. So, it gave us some flexibility to get him down, get him pitching regularly. With the off day coming he'd have some irregular starts and going on seven days rest. We really only need four starters after Wednesday."

June 18, 2011

Edwin Rodriguez talks ghosts, losing skid, Hanley's struggles and the lack of leadership in the Marlins clubhouse

ST. PETERSBURG -- A couple hours before Saturday's game, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez spent about five minutes in the dugout sharing a few laughs and ghost stories with relievers Steve Cishek and Leo Nunez.

Edwin RodriguezWith the team staying at the Vinoy Hotel, a resort with its share of ghost stories, Nunez has flat out avoided staying there, instead opting to be a guest at the home of Rays reliever and friend Joel Peralta. Cishek, meanwhile, has had two rough nights getting any sleep. Cishek made Rodriguez roar with laughter when he told him how he heard pounding at his door at 3:30 a.m., followed by someone whispering his name.

"If the ghost can hit," Rodriguez said. "Let him know I'll give him a tryout."

With the Marlins mired in one of the worst losing skids in franchise history, Rodriguez is willing to do anything to get his team out of it. Saturday, he juggled his lineup and moved a struggling Hanley Ramirez down to sixth in the batting order. It's the first time since his rookie year of 2006, Ramirez, the NL's 2009 batting champion hasn't hit first, second or third in the Marlins lineup.

Rodriguez said he's tried everything to help the Marlins shake their hitting woes with runners in scoring position. From having the team's sports psychologist talk to each player individually to yelling, screaming and throwing things around the clubhouse himself. He said he's even tried meditation. But nothing has worked. 

"I wish you guys could be in the dugout during the game. When guys struggle and come back to the dugout it's amazing," Rodriguez said. "Some of them, they're shaking because they're so mad. We tell them breathe in, breathe out. They literally have been like that. I don't want to put out names. But during the game we actually have to tell them to calm down. You talk about it and people say it's an excuse. You have to be here to understand what we're talking about.

"There's only so much you can do or say to the player. Bottomline when they go up there in front of 40,000 people yelling and screaming, and you're 21 and 23, it's hard to do. I think it's what's happening to them."

Rodriguez insists what's led the Marlins to dropping 19 of their last 22 games coming into Saturday have been the injuries to their best players -- ace Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, setup man Clay Hensley and Nunez. He said young players are being asked to do more than they're ready to do. And a lack of leadership in the clubhouse is also hurting.

"That's another thing. We don't have -- we're lacking that veteran presence, a guy who will come and say come on guys, we need to step back and have some fun," Rodriguez said. "There's only so much a coach and manager can say. Coming from a player, one of them, it will be different. Like Luis Gonzalez or Carlos Delgado when he was here. Darren Daulton. We're lacking that."

"When we put together the team back in November we talked about JJ being the No. 1 guy in the rotation, Hanley being the No. 3 hitter, the run production guy, Leo being the closer, Hensley the setup. If any of those guys go down its going to affect the whole team. That's where the minor leagues come into play. We not only lost one or two or three, but four. The ace, three-hole hitter, setup and closer we're all down. How do you replace those guys? We don't have that. I don't think any organization has that where the ace goes down and replace the ace. That affected the team and the whole season. If you have an experienced team like St. Louis, when Wainwright went down, it doesn't affect as you as much. [Albert] Pujols, [Chris] Carpenter know how to handle that. This young team doesn't, they're still learning.</p>

<p>"Asking these young guys to step up and replace that -- I think they might do it, but they're putting too much pressure on themselves. We pretty much have the same team we had the first two months of the season, but not JJ and no Hanley. No coincidence we started losing when we lost Hanley. The talent is still there, but now the approach is different. They feel the pressure. It's a snowball."

As for Ramirez, Rodriguez said he's spoken to a lot of people around baseball to try and figure out why the Marlins $70 million man has fallen so off track.

"Nobody has the answer," Rodriguez said. "His swing is different, that's for sure. His swing is too much body, too much arm. The bat speed is at best average. So what it is, I don't know. I don't if he's off balance. I don't know if he's trying to hard. Nobody has an answer."

One National League scout in attendance Saturday said Ramirez's swing has simply gotten long and he's trying to make up for it by starting his swing earlier. Ramirez, who has bulked up over the years, has hit just .249 with 73 runs scored, 40 RBI and 12 home runs since he finished runner-up in the home run derby at last year's All-Star break.

"I think he needs to realize he's older now," Rodriguez said of Ramirez. "I didn't know him back then, but maybe he used to pick up the glove and bat a week before spring training and just start hitting. Now, he's getting a lit bit older now and it isn't the same. He needs to keep himself in good shape during the offseason. I don't know if that's the reason. Maybe he works out in the offseason. But that's my observation. He definitely needs to change his approach or whatever he's doing. During the season, during the offseason, whatever. Last year was a bad year for him under his standards. This year, it's not getting any better."

June 13, 2011

Manager Edwin Rodriguez counting on Hanley Ramirez to snap Marlins out of hitting funk

For the first time in two weeks Hanley Ramirez took batting practice with his teammates on Monday.

Hanley_ramirez Nobody might have been happier to see that than manager Edwin Rodriguez. The Marlins, in the midst of a 3-13 swoon that's dropped them from being just two games back of the Phillies to 32-32 and a half game out of falling into fourth place, will get Ramirez back from the disabled list on Tuesday.

Although Ramirez is hitting just .210 with four homers and 17 RBI, Rodriguez believes having the former batting champion back in the lineup could do wonders for the Marlins, who have had epic struggles during their current 1-9 homestand delivering hits with runners in scoring position (12 for 91, 92 runners left on base).

"Getting Hanley back tomorrow will give the young guys a little bit of an opportunity to relax at the plate and don't feel the pressure they have to be the guys to bring those guys home," Rodriguez said.

"That's what it is. The talent is there. We saw the first two months of the season. Eventually those guys, the same guys, they're going to be relaxed at the plate and their performance is going to be way better. But now because Hanley is not in the lineup and [Josh Johnson] is down and we were struggling, those young guys are feeling the pressure. So with experience and with the help of Hanley in the lineup, those guys are going to be better."

Rodriguez said Sunday Ramirez, who won a batting title in 2009 and has hit primarily third in the lineup over the past three seasons, would bat leadoff against the Phillies upon his return. It could be a role Ramirez remains in for awhile.

With Chris Coghlan struggling against left-handed pitchers (.118 batting average, .176 OBP) and Emilio Bonifacio doing well against southpaws (.311 batting average, .426 OBP), Rodriguez dropped Coghlan down into the eighth spot in the Marlins order Monday and moved Bonifacio up to the top spot.

Rodriguez said in the long run he believes Coghlan should be the team's lead off hitter and Ramirez should hit third. "But right now that's wishful thinking," Rodriguez said. "That's the not reality and they're struggling so we have to make a move."

In the meantime, Rodriguez said Coghlan, who has made just one other start hitting eighth this season, will likely alternate with Omar Infante in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

"When you're losing and you're the leadoff guy and you're not getting on base, the manager wants to switch something up and hopefully it changes something. I'm sure this one of those times," Coghlan said.

"I'm sure he's trying to get Hanley going too. In order to win and do what we have to do we, both of us have to produce more than what we've done. I think he would say the same thing as I'm saying. I think it's just part of Edwin's strategy and what we need to do to help the team. Regardless of where we hit, we still got to hit. Do we both prefer different spots in the lineup? For sure. I'm sure he may say a different spot than me. The bottomline is we're not doing what we're capable of doing and we really don't have a say. We just have to go out there and hit our way out of wherever we're at and hopefully eventually he'll go back to where it's always been."

> Asked to explain why the Marlins have had so much trouble driving in runs lately, Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison both said they think the team is pressing at the plate with runners in scoring position.

"I think once we get guys in scoring position, knowing our staff is pitching so well, we start chasing pitches we normally take and we don't let the pitcher make the mistake, which is what we do when there are no guys on," Sanchez said.

"I think we need to step back as ourselves and as a team and say relax, don't think about it, go up there and hit. We're all in the big leagues for a reason. We can play this game. It's all about trusting ourselves."

> The Marlins still haven't announced a starter for the first game of Wednesday's double-header against the Phillies, but Rodriguez said Sunday it would either be Elih Villanueva (4-5, 5.23 ERA), Chris Sampson (3-0, 3.91 ERA) or Tom Koehler (5-3, 5.14 ERA). All three right-handers are in Triple A New Orleans.

Left-hander Sean West, who is 1-3 with a 9.33 ERA in New Orleans, won his first decision in six minor league starts Sunday. But the story wasn't his pitching. West went 3-for-3 and hit the first home runs of his pro career in the 7-4 win over the Memphis Redbirds. On the mound West gave up four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings.

> Rodriguez said he expects closer Leo Nunez, who has been battling a stiff back and hasn't pitched since June 5th, to be available to pitch Tuesday against the Phillies.

"He said yesterday after he played catch he would be alright for today," Rodriguez said. "We still don't know how he feels today after he played catch. I would want to see him throw in the bullpen and see how he goes. If he throws a light bullpen today, he'll be available."

> Rodriguez said Monday the most optimistic timeline for Josh Johnson to make his return to the rotation at this point is early July. Johnson has been out since May 21st with right shoulder inflammation and the Marlins want him to throw two to three bullpen sessions before making a couple rehab starts in the minors.

> Setup man Clay Hensley, out with a right shoulder sprain since June 3rd, said he will play catch on Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list. He targeting his return as "the end of June or the beginning of July."

> Catcher John Buck might break out his new silver catcher's mask this week against the Phillies. Buck, who wears a mask similar to those worn by hockey goalies, said he's been a little apprehensive about wearing the mask because it might be a little too flashy for him.

"We're to the point where I might have to go outside of the realm of comfort to get things going. Maybe if we concentrate on that we'll start getting hits," Buck said. " It's a little bright. But we'll see. I'm going to take it. If you see me wearing it, we're in desperation mode."


> Marlins (32-32): 1. Emilio Bonifacio SS, 2. Omar Infante 2B, 3. Logan Morrison LF, 4. Gaby Sanchez 1B, Mike Stanton RF, 6. John Buck C, 7. Wes Helms 3B, 8. Chris Coghlan, 9. Ricky Nolasco RHP.

> Diamondbacks (36-30): 1. Ryan Roberts 3B, 2. Kelly Johnson 2B, 3. Justin Upton RF, 4. Stephen Drew SS, 5. Chris Young CF, 6. Miguel Montero C, 7. Juan Miranda 1B, 8. Gerardo Parra LF, 9. Zach Duke LHP.

June 12, 2011

Hanley eager to return, expects to hit leadoff Tuesday in Philly

After rehabbing in two minor league games up in Jupiter, Hanley Ramirez was back on the Marlins bench Sunday afternoon playing the role of anxious spectator.

And, after watching the Marlins lose for the 13th time in 16 games, the three-time All-Star shortstop said he can't wait to get back on the field. The Marlins are hoping that will happen Tuesday in Philadelphia.

"Only myself knows how bad I really want to be out there," said Ramirez, who has been out since May 30 with a left back strain.

"It's hard being out for one game. 15 days without being on the field doesn't feel good, doesn't feel right. But it's in the past now. My back is better now and I'm going to be able to compete out there."

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Sunday there's "a big chance" Ramirez, hitting just .210 with four homers and 17 RBI, will be the Marlins new leadoff hitter when he returns.

Before moving to the three hole full-time in 2009, Ramirez was one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball, compiling a .311 career average with 70 homers, 118 stolen bases and 333 runs scored in 400 starts.

"I love it," Ramirez said of hitting leadoff. "Anything for the team. It doesn't matter. I'll be 9, 8, 7, I just want to be out there."

Ramirez, who finished 5-for-8 with an RBI and a run scored in his two rehab starts, took batting practice indoors Sunday and will practice with the team on Monday.

"He said he was a little bit sore, but he should be alright," Rodriguez said. "We need that offense."

June 05, 2011

With JJ, Hanley out Edwin Rodriguez said the Marlins have to play .500 ball to survive

When Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez talked about the Marlins being "the last team standing" back in spring training, he never envisioned it happening with his top hitter and pitcher out with injuries. 

But that's the scenario Rodriguez and the Marlins have found themselves in over the past week -- and could potentially for several more -- as All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez battles inflammation in his lower back and ace Josh Johnson continues to try to build enough strength in his throwing shoulder to warrant a return from the disabled list.

"Remember when I was mentioning about our room for error being very small in spring training? We're seeing that," said Rodriguez, whose team has gone 1-5 since Ramirez was pulled in the second inning of an 8-0 loss to the Dodgers on May 29.

"With JJ being down and Hanley out we're scrambling and trying to put pieces together. I think the guys have been doing a good job. If we keep playing .500 ball until those guys get back, we're going to be fine. We're going to be in good shape when they come back."

Ramirez is expected to finally go on the disabled list after Sunday's game. How long he'll be out remains a mystery. But as far as Rodriguez is concerned, he thinks the Marlins should take the same approach they've taken with Johnson and keep Ramirez out until he's able to return at 100 percent.

"Even when Hanley isn't hitting, his presence in the lineup makes a difference -- because he can get on base, steal bases, make things happen," Rodriguez said. "And then with JJ out of the rotation, it's a huge difference.

"We don't want [Ramirez] to go on the DL. But if he has to do it, he has to do it. I don't want him on the field if he's not 100 percent. Same with JJ. We already battled and we fought, we put ourselves in a position where we can go .500 in the month and still be in good shape without those guys. We worked for that."

Johnson, who has been on the disabled list since May 17 with right shoulder inflammation, was originally hoping to return to the rotation this Tuesday. But Rodriguez said Johnson still hasn't regained enough strength in his shoulder to even get on the mound for a bullpen session.

The Marlins want Johnson to throw a couple bullpen sessions and then get a rehab start in before returning to the rotation. Johnson said Saturday all he's been able to do thus far is throw long toss at about 150 feet.

Rodriguez said whoever the Marlins call up from the minors after Sunday's game to start Tuesday against the Braves can plan on being around for awhile.

"We're going to be looking for an option in the minor leagues and planning on that option to be here for awhile," Rodriguez said. "We have a double header next week. Even if JJ's back, we're still going to need another pitcher. And if JJ's not back by then, we're going to need two more pitchers. We're planning for that too."

Rodriguez said there are four options down in the minors: veteran right-hander Chris Sampson (2-0, 3.50 ERA in Triple A New Orleans), left-hander Brad Hand (7-1, 3.53 ERA in Double A Jacksonville), right-hander Elih Villanueva (4-5, 5.70 ERA in Triple A New Orleans) and right-hander Tom Koehler (5-1, 4.24 ERA in Triple A New Orleans).

"Sampson has been doing good. Brad Hand has been doing good. Villanueva has been struggling. Koehler's last outing was a little bit shaky," Rodriguez said. "Whoever comes up I would like them to sit in the dugout and be here for [Monday's game]. I don't want them to just fly up on the plane and pitch."

HENSLEY HAS AC JOINT SPRAIN: Injured setup man Clay Hensley said he's expecting to miss at least three weeks with an AC joint sprain, an injury he's never had before.

Hensley, who went on the disabled list retroactive to June 2, said he's looking forward to the time off so he can also rest his sore left shoulder blade and ribs, which he injured slipping down the stairs at the team hotel in Cincinnati at the end of April.

"I guess Anibal [Sanchez] went through the same thing a couple years ago and his was actually worse than mine. He came back from it just as good, so I don't think there's going to be any surgery needed," Hensley said.

"I don't know if I was compensating for stuff with my left shoulder. I know I changed my mechanics a little bit just to get through the games and stuff. That's one thing I think played a factor into this because I never had anything like this before. I guess a good thing now is I'll be able to let everything heal on the left side as far as my shoulder blade and start from ground zero and come back and kick ass the rest of the year. That's the game plan."

May 01, 2011

Marlins setup man Clay Hensley has been unavailable to pitch since slipping down flight of stairs Friday at team hotel

CINCINNATI -- A day after the Marlins bullpen blew a three-run lead and cost Josh Johnson another victory, manager Edwin Rodriguez praised his ace for the way he's been able to handle the disappointment.

Clay Hensley "I've been very impressed with JJ. Not for the obvious things, everybody knows about his ability to pitch. It's the way he approaches the game. The way he controls his emotions. He's the whole package," Rodriguez said.

"If it would have been me, I would have been throwing things all over the clubhouse. He's been very, very good about it."

Turns out things might have gone a little differently Saturday if not for an unfortunate accident involving setup man Clay Hensley, who slipped down a flight of stairs at the team hotel before Friday's game and was unavailable to pitch in the first two games of this series versus the Reds with a bruised left shoulder blade.

"Just slipped. I was wearing my dress shoes and caught the step on it, hit my back pretty hard," Hensley said. ""The first day we were here I couldn't even put a shirt on because of the bruise on my left side.

"It sidelined me [Friday] for sure. [Saturday], I was kind of questionable. I threw a bullpen, but they wanted me to give it another day of rest. I had some x-rays, didn't fracture anything. It is what it is. I have to be ready to go today."

Rodriguez acknowledged he would have called on Hensley, his regular setup man, with two outs in the eighth inning Saturday. Instead, Edward Mujica came in and allowed four straight hits before being pulled for Ryan Webb, who couldn't protect the Marlins 3-2 lead at that point.

"Tough situation," Rodriguez told The Miami Herald. "We kind of had our hands tied without Clay and [closer Leo Nunez] available."

Webb was charged with the blown save, his third of the season. The Marlins, the last major league team to blow a save on April 24, have blown four saves over their last six games.

The Marlins bullpen, which owned the lowest ERA in the majors entering the series (2.10), now ranks second (2.38) behind the Padres (2.31). A year ago, the Marlins bullpen blew seven leads handed over to them by Johnson. They've already done it twice this season.

Mujica (2-1, 6.10 ERA) said Sunday he was ready to turn the page on his rough outing.

"I just [screwed] it up bad," Mujica said. "I didn't say nothing to [Johnson]. My job was to make that out. But like I said, sometimes you're not going to do your job the right way."


Before the season, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told the media he wanted All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez to go after the National League MVP trophy.

Ramirez has been anything but an MVP candidate thus far. The 2009 NL Batting Champion closed the month of April hitting .200 (17 for 85) with nine RBI. He has yet to hit a home run -- a drought that spans all the way through spring training and back to the second game of a double header against the Phillies last Sept. 6. Ramirez, who said he wanted to steal more bases in 2011, has also been successful on just three of his seven steal attempts.

"What I'm concerned about is how he's taking it, that he will keep the same energy he's been doing," Rodriguez said.

"He's been handling the situation perfectly. He's showing a lot of energy, he's pulling for his teammates even when he's struggling. I'm not concerned about the numbers he's going to put up or when he's going to start hitting. I know he's going to start hitting."

Asked if he might consider moving Ramirez out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup, Rodriguez said: "Who are we going to put in that third hole? Chris Coghlan? Then, who is going to lead off?

"I think he needs to play himself out of that whole situation... if we have one guy here who should be able to get out of that slump, it's him."


Saturday's game was the first time the Marlins got a chance to see hard-throwing Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman in person.

The experience wasn't so bad as the Marlins drew three walks and scored two runs off Chapman with a Wes Helms bases-loaded double. Chapman, who registered a pitch on April 18 at 106 miles per hour, hit 102 on the gun Saturday night.

"I faced Randy Johnson and a bunch of those guys. I'd compare him to Randy Johnson back in his day," Helms said. "Randy had a little closer release point to you, so it made it tougher. But as far as velocity goes, he throws hard. That's all you can say, he really brings it."


Before Josh Johnson finished up his seven scoreless innings Saturday night to drop his ERA to a major-league leading 0.88, he unleashed a wicked breaking ball in the dirt that left catcher John Buck bruised, but relieved he was wearing a cup.

"Cracked it right here," Buck said as he showed reporters where his NuttyBuddy protective cup was damaged. "The guy who does these takes one off the pitching machine at like 90 miles per hour. It works good. Obviously saved my testicles last night."

Pastel fish ROLLING IN STYLE: Win or lose Sunday, a few Marlins are planning on walking out of Great American Ball Park wearing some new rather colorful, stylish suits.

Josh Johnson said he Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad and Mike Stanton purchased the suits near the team hotel shortly after going out to dinner Thursday in Cincinnati.

Johnson's suit is peach, Nolasco's is gold, Stanton's is pink and Volstad's is blue with pinstripes.

April 29, 2011

Hanley on signing LoMo's cast, Coghlan update and the revolving door at third

CINCINNATI -- Logan Morrison's team-autographed cast, up for auction on eBay to raise money for the American Lung Association, could be getting another signature soon.

Hanley Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who made it a point to sign plenty of autographs throughout spring training, said he was surprised Friday to hear everyone on the team had signed Morrison's cast except for him.

"He never told me," Ramirez said. "I was in the [batting] cage. I didn’t see it."

Of course, that’s not what Morrison told WQAM’s Sid Rosenberg on Wednesday. "The whole team signed it, and then we put it up on ebay, expect for Hanley," Morrison said.

Rosenberg asked if maybe Hanley was too busy or being a jerk. "I don’t think he was busy at the time," Morrison replied.

"He said he didn’t want to touch it. He was worried about cooties or germs. I don’t know why he’s worried about that, seeing what he hangs out with."

Ramirez laughed when told about the radio interview and insisted he didn’t know he was supposed to sign the cast.

"You know how it is. People want to make news," Ramirez said. "But when we get back hopefully, you know, I'll sign it."

The bidding for the cast ends May 6 at 5:30 p.m. As of 5 p.m. Friday, the cast, which Morrison wore for a few days last week after he was diagnosed with a sprained arch, was going for $566.

Chris Coghlan COGHLAN UPDATE: Chris Coghlan missed his first start of the year Friday night against the Reds, and it's likely the Marlins center fielder and lead-off hitter will have to sit out a few more games throughout the season to give his strained right shoulder some rest.

Coghlan, who hopes to be back in the lineup Saturday, said he had an MRI performed Thursday before the Marlins left for a seven-game road trip and there was "no structural damage."

But it's clear Coghlan will have to deal with the pain the rest of the season as the injury will not fully heal until he's able to rest it significantly. Coghlan didn't want to speculate over having surgery, but it's likely he'll have to have it after the season.

"There was definitely something -- a sharp pain I wasn't feeling before," said Coghlan, who asked out of Wednesday's loss to the Dodgers in the seventh inning, the first time he said he's ever had to ask out of a game.

"I have to take a little bit more [meds] and do treatment, stay on top of it, do exercises to strengthen my scapula and my rotator cuff, do all that. The early work, I have to be smart with what I do because it fatigues out with what I do.

"I'm just trying to go day-by-day, avoid the DL and strengthen as much as I can when I have the opportunities to strengthen it. It's not like I can't do everything. It's just how it responds after I do it."

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said it's likely Coghlan, who is hitting .373 over his last 13 games and leads the team in homers (4) and RBI (16), will no longer play in afternoon games following a night game.

"Our concern is more of swinging the bat than throwing," Rodriguez said. "He puts a little more pressure on his shoulder that way. Hopefully, tomorrow he'll be okay. The last homestand he dealt with it fine. It was just the last day."

Donnie Murphy REVOLVING DOOR AT THIRD TO CONTINUE: When the Marlins broke camp, Rodriguez was convinced Donnie Murphy was going to be his starting third baseman. It's become clear that isn't the case anymore.

"I have to go with matchups, who we got on the mound, if I need more offense than defense," Rodriguez said. "So far my decision on who is playing third is based on that.

"Murphy was doing a good job, but then he got hit by a pitch on the wrist, swinging the bat. I know if he would have been 100 percent, he would be doing a great job there, holding himself there. But with all the injuries and all the situations he's been going through, it's been tough. I think we're asking way too much from him."

Murphy, hitting just .105 (4 for 38) through 17 games, said he's fully recovered from his ailments. He admitted he was a little surprised to not see his name in Friday's lineup, but is putting the team first.

"As long as we keep winning, that's all anybody cares about," Murphy said. "If he wants to give me a start, that's fine. If he wants to keep me in that bench role, that's fine too. It doesn't matter to me. I'm just trying to get the swing back, that's all it is."

So far, Greg Dobbs leads the team with nine starts at third. Helms and Murphy each have six. Emilio Bonifacio has three. Rodriguez said what concerns him more than the revolving door at third base is how it's affecting his pinch hitting situation late in games.

"What concerns me, every time I play Wes or Dobbs I am taking them out from their comfort zone, from their role," Rodriguez said. "I feel very confident when I have Dobbs or Wes late in the game. If I have to start them, then at the end of the game I have to find another source to fill those holes."

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."

July 24, 2010

Marlins hope Anibal delivers some relief for 'pen

A tired Marlins bullpen will be looking for a huge assist from Anibal Sanchez tonight.

Anibal Sanchez Although it's been a fun week for the Marlins, it's also been a bit of a taxing one for the guys who sit and wait for the phone call down the right field line. With starters failing to go very deep into games lately, the Marlins have been calling down to the pen plenty.

Friday, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez used five relievers to eat up the final 4 2/3  innings and held closer Leo Nunez out to give him a breather. Tonight, Jose Veras will get a break.

"This homestand, since we came back from the All-Star Game, the bullpen has been overloaded with work," Rodriguez said. "That showed last night. Hopefully, Anibal Sanchez can give us at least six strong innings today."

> As expected, Chris Volstad will start Sunday for the Marlins. Rodriguez had been holding off on making the decision final because he wanted to see how Volstad felt after throwing 70 pitches in a Triple A start on Wednesday. Rodriguez said all he is hoping to get out of Volstad is five to six innings, thus the importance for the Marlins pen to stay fresh.

Sent down to the minors for some tweaking for the second year in a row, Volstad was 4-8 with a 4.78 ERA this season when he was sent down on July 6. In that last start against the Dodgers, he gave up five earned runs on five hits (two homers) and he also walked three. Volstad hasn't won a decision since he beat the Rays on June 13 in Tampa. In three starts in New Orleans, he went 1-0 with a 3.17 ERA with nine walks and 13 strikeouts.

"He has to command his pitches -- sinker, fastball, slider and changeup -- better," Rodriguez said. "He was pitching behind in the count when he was here. He went to New Orleans and worked with the pitching coach there, Scott Mitchell. I think that's what they were trying to do. I don't know if it was a mechanical issue or more of a mental approach, but hopefully he'll get here tomorrow and attack the hitters more."

The Marlins will announce the move after Saturday's game.

> Hanley Ramirez still hasn't shaken himself out of his funk at the plate, but at least he's beginning to carry his weight more with his glove. Friday night, he made three impressive defensive plays, one made the eighth best play on SportsCenter's Top 10.

"He needs to realize we need his offense, but we also need him on the field making plays," Rodriguez said. "I really feel like he kept us in the game with those big plays he made last night. As long as he understands we need the offense and we also need him to be a two-dimensional player, we'll be OK."