March 12, 2015

Hechavarria to see first action in a week; Marlins say double play tandem has plenty of time left to mesh

FORT MYERS -- Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who hasn't played since the Grapefruit League opener against the Cardinals on March 5th, is back in the lineup for the first time in a week.

The Marlins say Hechavarria, 26, is over his dead arm issue and can now get back to working with his new double play partner Dee Gordon

"He probably could have played two days ago, but like I said, we had the time to give him to make sure he's feeling good," manager Mike Redmond said. "Hech is a huge part of our team and our defense and we need to make sure he's 100 percent. If you have the time to be able to give him that's only going to help him. That's why we gave him the extra couple days off."

Hechavarria has battled dead arm issues in the past. What exactly is dead arm? Marlins infield coach Perry Hill described it as weakness is the arm after a player has rested it from soreness.

"Basically, you can't put oomph behind the ball," Hill said. "It just doesn't feel like it's coming out. There's nothing behind it. [The arm] doesn't hurt any more, but there's no strength because you've babied it, gone through a rehab and thrown only so many balls per day, nothing less, nothing more. So you lack the strength. There's no more hurt, but the strength isn't there yet."

The Marlins aren't worried that Gordon and Hechavarria haven't had a lot of in-game action together yet.  

"We have a month to go," Hill said. "Our system is so structured we know when we're going to flip it, throw it. I don't think it's going to be a big deal."

Hill said he's been impressed with Gordon's athleticism and isn't the least bit worried he and Hechavarria will mesh by the time the season starts against the Braves at Marlins Park on April 6.

"Some of the terminology we're still working on, but Dee will figure things out," Hill said. "He's such a good athlete he's demonstrated a couple times he can make it up because he's so talented."

Redmond said the plan with Hechavarria is to get him two at-bats and four or five innings of defensive work Thursday. All position players will start ramping up their workload with about 10 days left in the spring, Redmond said.


> Marlins (5-2): 1. Dee Gordon 2B, 2. Christian Yelich LF, 3. Marcell Ozuna CF, 4. Justin Bour 1B, 5. Reed Johnson DH, 6. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 7. Jeff Mathis C, 8. Don Kelly RF, 9. Donovan Solano 3B. RHP Jarred Cosart

> Twins (3-3-1): 1. Brian Dozier 2B, 2. Shane Robinson LF, 3. Joe Mauer 1B, 4. Kennys Vargas DH, 5. Torii Hunter RF, 6. Miguel Sano 3B, 7. Eduardo Escobar SS, 8. Josmil Pinto C, 9. Aaron Hicks CF. RHP Phil Hughes.


July 28, 2014

Mike Hill said don't put Marlins in seller category at trade deadline

Thanks to a franchise-best 6-1 road trip through Atlanta and Houston, the Marlins don't look like they'll be shipping off any pieces to save money at Thursday's trade deadline.

But if there's a chance to upgrade the team -- like adding a starting pitcher -- they're still very much interested in doing that.

"I would say you can take us out of the seller category," Marlins President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill said Monday as the visiting first-place Nationals were taking batting practice. "We're just looking for ways to build on what has been a very positive year for us. We're continuing to try to build, upgrade our talent and make decisions that help us in the short term and the long term."

Did the 6-1 road trip change things?

"I don't think we ever saw ourselves as a seller," Hill continued. "We've always felt like this club can do good things, can win a lot of games. Had [the road trip] gone differently it might have changed your idea of where you're at. But this club is capable of doing those things. Hopefully it doesn't stop with the road trip. Hopefully we come home and keep it going."

Before the road trip, the Marlins (51-53) were receiving plenty of inquires about their bullpen including closer Steve Cishek and left-hander Mike Dunn. But now that they're back home and only seven games back of the Nationals and 5 1/2 out in the National League Wild Card race it appears the front office is no longer listening to those trade scenarios.

But Hill said the team is still very much interested in upgrading their starting pitching with a controllable piece.

"I guess if you would say a rental is [no control] beyond this year I would say anything beyond a rental [is what we're interested in]," Hill explained. "If we think it's an upgrade and depending on the cost to acquire that particular player then we're looking at everything. Which is what most of the clubs are doing at this point -- to see if a deal makes sense for what they're trying to accomplish.

"As you know the starting pitching market is quite difficult a market to be in. I couldn't be happier with the strides Brad Hand and Jacob Turner have made in the rotation. If we're giving them the ball every fifth day then we have the confidence they're going to give us a chance to win every time they step out there. But if we're able to upgrade one of our five starters we'll look to do so."

> Although manager Mike Redmond said Monday second baseman Derek Dietrich told him he could be close to going on a rehab assignment soon, Hill didn't sound as optimistic. Dietrich has been on the disabled list since July 2 with a right wrist sprain.

"He's not swinging," Hill said. "I don't consider that close. I don't think any of [the injured players] you can say will be back to help us."

> Reliever Carter Capps, who has been out since the end of May with an elbow sprain, is expected to begin a throwing program soon but is still a month away from a return. 


From kicking soccer balls around in the outfield to putting on funny outfits or even the clothes of teammates, the Marlins have had their fare share of pre-game shenanigans this season.

Sunday, pitcher Tom Koehler tried to partake in a little pre-game dunking -- or what the players refer to as "posterizing" -- and things didn't go well. Instead of "posterizing" teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Koehler jumped up, grabbed the roof of the visitors dugout in Houston and whiffed as he tried to wrap his legs around his catcher. The pitcher ended up on his back side and his teammates broke out laughing.

Thankfully, nobody was injured.

"Koehler tried to be sneaky and dunk on Salty when he was walking away and it just turned into a complete mess," closer Steve Cishek said. "He dunked, slipped  fell on his backside and made a complete fool of himself basically. They happened to get in on camera."

Joked Saltalamacchia: "That's what happens when you mess with your catcher. Things go wrong."

Koehler was unavailable for comment.

Said Saltalamacchia: "I think he's going to lay low for a little while."


> Nationals (57-45): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, Jayson Werth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Ian Desmond SS, 6. Bryce Harper LF, 7. Wilson Ramos C, 8. Danny Espinosa 2B, 9. Jordan Zimmerman RHP.

> Marlins (51-53): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP. 

July 02, 2014

Redmond hoping Hand can lock down fifth spot in Marlins' rotation

Brad Hand is getting another shot at earning a spot in the Marlins rotation.

Back with the team on Wednesday following six minor league starts on rehab assignment, the left-hander will start Thursday in the final home game for the Marlins before a nine-game road trip precedes the All-Star break.

How long Hand remains in the rotation, manager Mike Redmond said Wednesday, "really is up to him."

"We'll see how it goes right?" Redmond said. "We've tried some different guys. It's an opportunity for somebody to run with it. I would love for Brad Hand to step in there and pitch great and be the guy for the rest of the season. That would be outstanding. That would make things a lot easier for all of us."

The Marlins, who rank 12th in the National League in starter's ERA (4.03), have used 10 different starting pitchers through the first half of the season. That's tied for second-most in the NL with the Padres and two fewer than the Rockies. Part of that was losing ace Jose Fernandez for the season. The other part: injuries and struggles by Jacob Turner, who is now the team's long reliever.

Hand, who began the season with the Marlins as a long reliever, was 0-1 with a 6.38 ERA and awful 1.792 WHIP in 16 appearances before he sprained his right ankle back on May 24. He made two starts earlier in the year when Turner was on the disabled list. Hand didn't do very well in either start posting a combined 11.37 ERA and not getting beyond the fourth inning in either appearance, both Marlins losses.

He did pitch well, though, during his rehab assignment going 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts with 22 strikeouts and nine walks for Triple A New Orleans.

"It was nice to go down there, get some innings in and make everything comfortable again," said Hand, who in 17 career big league starts is 1-11 with a 5.38 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 47 walks. "When you're a starter you're on a routine. You get a feel for certain pitches. This [season] was the first time I threw out of the bullpen. There's a learning period."

> Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is due to come off the disabled list on Sunday and the hope is he'll be ready then. But if he isn't, the Marlins aren't going to rush him, Redmond said.

Hechavarria, who has been on the disabled list since June 21 with a right triceps strain, fielded grounders and threw to first base pre-game on Tuesday and said his arm felt fine afterward. He'll do the same on Thursday and take swings. If there are no setbacks, Redmond said, Hechavarria will begin a rehab assignment Friday in Jupiter.

> First baseman Justin Bour, called up Wednesday to take the spot of reliever A.J. Ramos on the roster, has been logging some serious airline miles over the past month. Since making his big league debut June 4, he's been optioned back and forth from Triple A New Orleans twice.

"There hasn't been much time to settle down," Bour said. "But I'm not complaining. This last trip I went from Miami to Nashville for two days, New Orleans for one day and then I got taken out of the lineup and sent back here. I'd have quite a few [airline points] this last month."

But the Marlins get those.

> Ed Lucas, who had the walk-off, game-winning hit in Wednesday's 11-inning win over the Phillies, said he received a tweet from the fan who ended up with the ball he hit.

"He said it was flipped to him," Lucas said. "He's keeping it. I've got [the baseballs] for all my firsts. So I'll remember that one."

> Tom Koehler's baby watch continues.

His wife is due to deliver their first child on Saturday. But as Redmond said Wednesday: "I know that baby is ready. Hopefully it comes around 11 or 12 o'clock tonight. Let Tommy go out there and throw a complete game first."


> Marlins (40-43): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Ed Lucas SS, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Marcell Ozuna CF, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Jeff Baker 1B, 8. Donovan Solano 2B, 9. Tom Koehler RHP.

> Phillies (36-47): 1. Ben Revere CF, 2. Jimmy Rollins SS, 3. Chase Utley 2B, 3. Marlon Byrd RF, 5. Ryan Howard 1B, 6. John Mayberry Jr. LF, 7. Cody Asche 3B, 8. Koyie Hill C, 9. Cole Hamels LHP.

June 28, 2014

Redmond plans on starting Yelich in left field when he returns Sunday; Stanton, Mathis talk plays at plate

Left fielder Christian Yelich will be back from the disabled list Sunday and Marlins manager Mike Redmond said he plans on starting him out in his usual spot.

Redmond had discussed in the past playing Marcell Ozuna over in left field more to utilize his arm. Ozuna has started in left field in 10 of his last 12 games with Yelich on the disabled list.

"I know O's arm plays better in left. I just like him out there in center," Redmond said. "He covers a lot more ground out there, but we'll see. That's not to say we won't mix and match them too."

The Marlins will decide after Saturday's game how to make room for Yelich. Outfielder Jake Marisnick, who has held Yelich's roster spot over the last two weeks, is the likely candidate to be sent down. He is batting .159 in 12 games.


In the eighth inning of Friday's series opener, Redmond brought Marisnick in to play centerfield and moved Ozuna to left. Oakland's Josh Reddick hit a liner to left and Ozuna dove for the ball, hoping to make the final out of the inning. But as he lifted his glove in the air to show the umpire he had made the catch, the ball trickled away. 

Ozuna said he didn't realize the ball was out until he heard Marisnick yelling to throw home. Stephen Vogt managed to come around from first to score the tying run on the play. Oakland added four more runs in the ninth for a 9-5 win. After the game, Redmond called Ozuna's dive "a little aggressive" given the circumstances.

"Most of the time with two outs when you have a chance to dive and catch it, you do it and that's what happened on my play," Ozuna said. "When I was diving I closed my glove and I thought I had it."


Friday's game saw two bang-bang plays at the plate, and the A's won out on each.

In the third inning, Yoenis Cespedes tallied his league-leading 10th outfield assist by gunning down Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton seemed to beat the throw to the plate but did not touch it with his feet, and Derek Norris laid down a tag before Stanton touched the plate with his hand.

"I just think the quickest way is just to slide straight to the plate. Since you can't run the catcher over anymore it's kind of caused guys to try to go around and avoid the contact, which is too bad," Redmond said. "You take the aggressiveness out of the play for the runner. The aggressiveness really is all in the catcher. That's not really fair to the runner. It's just one of those things where it's going to take the runners some time to get used to of when to slide and how to slide. I think always the way to go is just slide straight in. That rule has definitely affected those plays at home plate."

In the top of the ninth, Oakland's Coco Crisp went in feet first and was able to tap a foot on the plate before Jeff Mathis could swipe him with his glove.

"If my feet hit first I would have been safe and it was the same idea with Coco," Stanton said Saturday. "Things like that change the whole game."

Mathis said he needs to work on getting his tag down faster, like a middle infielder defending a steal. Before MLB instituted a rule to prevent collisions at home plate this spring, Mathis would work to secure the ball with two hands and anchor himself between the runner and the plate. Now that MLB requires him to give baserunners a lane, he said he needs to work on getting a slap tag down faster.

"It’s a different play for a lot of guys used to really blocking the plate," Mathis said. "You've just got to make a better tag -- a quicker tag."


Sam Dyson became the lastest Marlins relief pitcher to get called up from the minors and join a tired bullpen. The pitcher got his first win in the big leagues on June 17 and was sent down soon after.

"The travel is getting to me -- flying one place, flying another, get a couple days off and then fly somewhere else," Dyson said. "But it's definitely fun flying up here regardless of if it's for a couple days or for a month."

Friday, left-hander Brian Flynn flew to Miami from Nashville early in the morning, pitched three innings, and then was optioned back to Triple A New Orleans after the game. The Marlins' bullpen has had to work hard this month. They've used five relievers in each of their last two games. 

Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos expressed regret Saturday after Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz landed on the seven-day concussion disabled list Friday. Ramos hit Ruiz in the helmet in Thursday's 14-inning marathon in Philadelphia.

"I feel really bad about that," Ramos said. "There’s nothing I can do but apologize for it but it doesn’t make anything better. I just hope that everything comes out ok for him."



> Athletics (49-30): 1. Coco Crisp CF, 2. John Jaso C, 3. Yoenis Cespedes LF, 4. Brandon Moss 1B, 5. Josh Donaldson 3B, 6. Jed Lowrie SS, 7. Josh Reddick RF, 8. Alberto Callaspo 2B, 9. Sonny Gray RHP.

> Marlins (39-41): 1. Reed Johnson LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 8. Donovan Solan SS, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP.  

June 20, 2014

Redmond feeling better about the Marlins bullpen these days; Turner talks move to pen

It wasn't too long ago that the bullpen was giving Marlins skipper Mike Redmond headaches with nightmarish eighth inning meltdowns and other disappointing performances.

"I feel a lot better about the bullpen," lately Redmond said before Friday's game against the Mets.

A suddenly dominant Chris Hatcher (he's struckout 12 of the last 13 hitters he's faced), a rock solid Bryan Morris (he hasn't given up a run in 11 1/3 innings since being acquired on June 1st from the Pirates) and the recent arrival of 36-year old veteran Kevin Gregg (he tossed a 1-2-3 eight inning Thursday in his debut) have all played key roles in that.

Although the bullpen is still surrendering more runs per game this season (4.28, 18th) than last season (3.99, 12th), Marlins relievers are doing a better job handling inherited runners than they were a year ago (26% compared to 30%) and rank higher in save percentage (12th compared to 18th last year).

"It's a lot deeper," Redmond said of his pen. "We have a lot more depth. We're stronger out there.

"But the key is still the starting pitching. Where you can get exposed is when you get four or five innings out of our starters a couple days in a row -- as you saw against the Pirates. You get thin. That bullpen has to eat up a lot of innings. They just can't keep that pace up. Last night was perfect. We got six innings out of [Andrew] Heaney. You saw those guys come in and what they were able to do. But that's the key. It's always a process. Every team not just us. I feel a lot better about the bullpen. We've just got to put it all together and get some wins here."

Redmond said the Marlins sent Gregg down to the minors with a plan to be able to pitch on multiple days in a row and the veteran doesn't have any restrictions. 

"Last night I thought it was perfect to get him in there to be able to see how he looks," Redmond said. "He did a great job. He's going to fit in perfect in that bullpen."


Jake Marisnick picked up his first outfield assist of the season Thursday night when he came racing in from center field to catch a fly ball and then gunned out Mets lead-off hitter Eric Young Jr. with a bullet throw to first base in the eighth inning.

Marisnick has always been considered a standout defensive player through the minor leagues so it was no surprise.

"You see the athleticism out there with him," Redmond said. "Jake has a good arm. He's aggressive defensively. He's done a great job out there. I've been fortunate to see him play a lot of centerfield. He's good out there."

Even before Marisnick got here on Monday, the Marlins were already playing like sensational as a group. According to Baseball Info Solutions, Marlins outfielders lead baseball with 26 runs saved this season -- five more than the Mets, who are in second. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton ranks third among all outfielders with 13 runs saved. Marcell Ozuna, the usual starter in center, is sixth overall with nine runs saved. Left fielder Christian Yelich, expected to be back from the disabled list on June 29th, ranks 29th with four runs saved.

"Those guys can cover a lot of ground," Redmond said. "That's fun -- especially in this ballpark. The gaps are big and the ballpark is spacious. We have fast young guys out there that can cover a lot of ground. Pitching wise it's a lot more comforting you know you have those guys out there."


Before he was booted out of the Marlins rotation on Monday, Jacob Turner had made all but one of his 117 professional appearances as a starting pitcher.


Manager Mike Redmond said Turner, the former ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft, is going to have to pitch a lot better in his new role as a long reliever before the team considers putting him back into the rotation.


"Whether it's a confidence thing or just a result thing, he needs to pitch better," Redmond said. "If he's able to do that then we'll see where we're at as far the rotation. 


"It just came to a point where he hasn't had enough success to keep him in there. We still love him and love his stuff and there's more in there. Now it's just a matter of him without the pressure [of starting] coming out and being able to pitch out of the bullpen and get his stuff back."


Turner, who is 7-18 with a 4.70 ERA as a starter in the big leagues, would obviously prefer to start. It's all he's known. 


"But at the same time I understand their perspective on it," Turner said. "So, I'm not so much saying it shouldn't be this way. I just have to go down there and execute and be more consistent. I think when I do that good things will happen."

"Slowing down the snowball effect," is what Turner said he has to do.

In his first four losses of the season big innings hurt Turner. In his first loss of the season against the Dodgers on May 13, he gave up five runs in the sixth after starting the game with five scoreless innings. In his next loss May 18 at the Giants, Turner surrendered three runs in the first before settling in and giving up four runs total over six innings. 

"I don't think it's anything other than executing the big pitch when you have to," Turner said. "A lot of times you might be in the heart of the lineup, facing a 3 or 4 hitter and you have to really bear down and make a couple quality pitches to get yourself out of the situation. 

"Unfortunately early in the season I just wasn't able to do that in a couple starts. That inning turned from giving up one or two runs to giving up four or five runs. I think that ruined a lot of outings for me. It's just about going out there and being as consistent as I can so when that situation comes up I make the good pitch."


> Marlins (36-36): 1. Rafael Furcal 2B, 2. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 6. Garrett Jones 1B, 7. Marcell Ozuna LF, 8. Jake Marisnick CF, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP.

> Mets (33-40): 1. Eric Young Jr. LF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Curtis Granderson CF, 5 Bobby Abreu RF, 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Anthony Recker C, 8. Ruben Tejada SS, 9. Daisuke Matsuzaka RHP.

June 19, 2014

Saltalamacchia back, eager to see Heaney he caught this spring -- and he's sticking with his hockey mask

Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn't get to spend a ton of time catching Marlins top prospect Andrew Heaney this spring. In fact, he thinks he only caught about an inning or two in Grapefruit League action.

But Saltamacchia said he's definitely seen enough of him to know the 2012 first round pick is pretty good.

"The one thing I noticed was his composure," said Saltalamacchia, who rejoined the Marlins Thursday after spending the last three weeks on the disabled list recovering from concussion-like symptoms and rehabbing down in Jupiter. "Usually young guys getting their opportunity try to impress and try to throw 100 mph. He wasn't. He was real fluid, pounding the strike zone, mixing his offspeed pitches, didn't overthrow. Hoping we can see that again tonight."

Heaney’s 38 career minor league appearances are the second-fewest of any Marlins’ first-round draft pick (pitchers only) prior to making his Major League debut. Jose Fernandez made just 27 appearances before his debut in 2013; Josh Beckett made 39 appearances prior to his debut in 2003; and Chris Volstad appeared in 82 games before his debut in 2008.

Heaney went 17-7 with a 2.31 ERA, 198 strikeouts and only 48 walks in those 38 appearances in the minors between Single and Triple A. Fernandez was 14-2 with a 2.02 ERA, 165 strikeouts and 39 walks in his minor league stint, which never went past High-A.

"When you have young pitchers it's a nerve-wracking day," manager Mike Redmond said. "There's a lot of emotions, adrenaline, a lot of firsts. No doubt his first start there are going to be some things that he's probably not going to be anticipating. But that's why you've got veteran catchers to anticipate tough situations and talk them through anything that comes up during the course of the game.

"Salty's been around a long time. He and [Jeff] Mathis both have spoken to Heaney to prepare him as much as they possibly can for tonight. But most importantly it's about him going out there and pitching his game, enjoying it and most importantly having fun, doing what he's done so well throughout the minor leagues. Hopefully that translates into a big night for him and a big win for us."

Saltalamacchia said he doesn't anticipate the moment being too big for Heaney.

"Just seeing him, talking with him yesterday seems like he has that personality already," Saltalamacchia said. "If the game speeds up i'll slow it down for him a little bit. The focus is obviously going to be taking care of him and helping him get the win tonight."


Saltalamacchia, who was struck by a foul ball behind the plate back on May 31, said he's going to stick with the same hockey-style catcher's mask he's worn even though former Red Sox teammate David Ross switched to a traditional catcher's mask after sustaining a similar concussion last August.

"There's no evidence saying the hockey mask is the reason concussions are happening, but I know the traditional masks are better," Saltalamacchia said. "Still, I'm going to stick with the same mask. It was just a matter of hitting that spot."

Redmond said the Marlins will keep a close eye on Saltalamacchia and give him a day off if he needs it. Saltalmacchia said he felt good catching and hitting down in the minors after some extended spring training work, but "the only timing you're going to get is by being up here. You can only get so many A balls or Triple A balls."

After hitting .299 with five homers and nine RBI in April, Saltamacchia hit just .177 with one homer and seven RBI in 23 games as he struggled throughout May.

> Redmond said left fielder Christian Yelich, who took "dry swings' and played catch Thursday, should be ready to go as soon as his stint on the disabled list ends on July 1.

"I know he's feeling good," Redmond said. "He'll probably get a couple [rehab] games in before he's up and ready to go."

> Giancarlo Stanton reiterated Thursday he probably could have stayed in the game Wednesday, but was wisely taken out as a precautionary measure after bruising his wrist.

"I'll be fine. I'll be out there today," Stanton said. "It looked like it was just about out of hand already. So the smartest decision was to get out of there."


> Marlins (36-35): 1. Rafael Furcal 2B, 2. Jake Marisnick CF, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna LF, 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Andrew Heaney LHP.

> Mets (32-40): 1. Eric Young Jr. LF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Eric Campbell 1B, 5. Curtis Granderson RF, 6. Chris Young LF, 7. Taylor Teagarden C, 8. Ruben Tejada SS, 9. Zack Wheeler RHP.

June 11, 2014

Roster decisions loom for Marlins as Furcal, Heaney wait in the wings

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With second baseman Rafael Furcal looking healthy and playing well in the minors and top prospect Andrew Heaney appearing primed and ready to go, the Marlins roster figures to see some tinkering soon. And there could be some moves made as early as Friday when they return home to open a 10-game home stand.

The Marlins need to create two vacancies on the 40-man roster to accommodate both players once they call upon them. 

Furcal, currently on the 60-day disabled list, has played in 11 minor league games since May 29 -- his latest rehab stint -- and he has shined. Furcal picked up two more hits Tuesday night for Single A Jupiter, raising his average to .341 (14 for 41) with seven runs scored and four stolen bases since his latest return from hamstring and groin injuries.

Manager Mike Redmond said the Marlins moved Furcal back to Jupiter from Double A Jacksonville (where he played five games) for logistical reasons. But it looks a lot more like so he doesn't have to travel very far when the Marlins finally announce he's ready to go.

Justin Bour, brought up last week to be a left-handed bat off the bench and designated hitter during this seven-game road trip including four stops in American League parks, would be the likely candidate to be sent down since he still has options. But he's been pretty good so far in brief action -- picking up five hits in his first two games and getting another start Wednesday in the designated hitter spot against Rangers ace Yu Darvish.

Donovan Solano is another potential candidate who also has minor league options left.

Redmond said Wednesday when the Marlins return home the only spot to really play Bour is as a pinch-hitter, something he doesn't have a ton of experience doing since he's been an everyday first baseman in the minors.

"It's especially tough for young guys," Redmond said of Bour as a potential pinch-hitter. "But his swing is pretty short. I think he would have the ability to do it. He's patient. He waits to get good pitches to hit and he doesn't try to do too much. Those are all signs that lead me to believe he could be successful in that role."

As for Heaney, when he comes up he'll be moving into the starting rotation. But when exactly that happens and who gets moved out remains to be seen. Redmond said Wednesday left-hander Randy Wolf will start Saturday, a projected landing spot for Heaney since he last pitched June 7 for Triple A New Orleans. But as it stands, Heaney is lined up to start for the Zephyrs Thursday night in El Paso, Texas.

If Heaney pitches Thursday for the Zephyrs, he would be in line to make his next start Tuesday -- either for the Zephyrs again, or at Marlins Park against the visiting Cubs. That's currently the spot where Jacob Turner is supposed to make his next start after facing the Rangers on Wednesday.

"He's still in Triple A pitching as far as I know," Redmond repsonded when asked about Heaney on Wednesday. "I don't know what more to say. I know there's been a lot of speculation of when he's coming to the big leagues and when that's going to happen. I'm not sure when that's going to happen. But I know he's pitched down there, he's done a nice job and when that day comes you guys will be the first to know. But it's not today.

"Like I said, this is an organizational decision. And when the day comes that everybody feels he's ready to be here then he's going to be here. I can't say anything clearer than that."

> Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who resumed baseball activities on Tuesday after being cleared of concussion symptoms, is in line to play his first rehab game Monday in Jupiter, Redmond said. 

> Although Nathan Eovaldi is lined up to pitch Friday against the Pirates, should his wife go into labor Redmond said the Marlins could easily adjust their rotation by moving Wolf (Saturday's starter) and Henderson Alvarez (Sunday's scheduled starter) each up a day because of Thursday's off day. Eovaldi's wife is back home in Texas.

"It shouldn't be an issue," Eovaldi said. "[Pitching coach] Chuck [Hernandz] said, once I get the call, I'm coming out of the game. We're not sure when we're having the baby. If it doesn't happen any day now, it will happen Sunday. I'd probably come to the field and throw a bullpen on Sunday and leave after that, and be back Wednesday."


> Marlins (34-30): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Ed Lucas 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Justin Bour DH, 8. J.T. Realmuto C, 9. Adeiny Hechavarria SS. Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (2-3, 5.93)

> Rangers (31-34): 1. Michael Choice LF, 2. Elvis Andrus SS, 3. Shin-Soo Choo DH, 4. Adrian Beltre 3B, 5. Alex Rios RF, 6. Brad Snyder 1B, 7. Leonys Martin CF, 8. Chris Gimenez C, 9. Rougned Odor 2B. RHP Yu Darvish (6-2, 2.36)

June 10, 2014

Alvarez expects to pitch Sunday; Salty cleared to return to baseball activities; Furcal progressing

ARLINGTON, TEX. -- Henderson Alvarez said his hip feels fine and if all goes well in his next bullpen session, manager Mike Redmond said, the Marlins' best starting pitcher should be in line to make his next start Sunday at home against the Pirates.

On Sunday, Alvarez landed awkwardly and left the game in the sixth inning after leaping high in the air to take a flip toss from first baseman Garrett Jones while covering the bag. The bullpen ended up yielding two inherited runs and they were credited to Alvarez, ending his string of 26 consecutive scoreless innings, third-longest in Marlins history. 

Alvarez said Tuesday he was pretty bummed his scoreless innings streak came to an end, and that he could have kept on pitching had the Marlins and Redmond not decided to take precautionary measures.

"Everything was fine. I was good. The only thing is when I fell it looked ugly. But I could have kept pitching," Alvarez said. "I didn't have anything wrong with my body. I wanted to keep pitching. It bothered me they took me out of the game, especially a game I was pitching so well in. I could have continued. But those are things that happen in baseball. I've got to let it go. It's over now. I have to keep looking forward."

Although the Marlins entertained the idea of starting Nathan Eovaldi against the Rangers to wrap up the quick two-game set (his wife is expecting to have their first child on Sunday), the rotation will stay in order, Redmond said, and right-hander Jacob Turner will start opposite Rangers ace Yu Darvish Wednesday. Eovaldi will pitch Friday at home against the Pirates.

Redmond stopped short of saying who was going to start for the Marlins Saturday -- a possible landing spot for top prospect Andrew Heaney. If Heaney isn't called up to start then, left-hander Randy Wolf will stay in his scheduled spot. 


Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, on the disabled list with concussion-like symptoms since June 1, began participating in baseball activities on Tuesday in Jupiter. Redmond said he took 25 swings from both the left and right side, played catch and rode bike.

The Marlins don't have a time frame as to when they expect Saltalamacchia to return from the disabled list, Redmond said. He also expects the catcher to play in a few rehab games before returning. "He'll be on a day-to-day progression just to make sure he doesn't have any symptoms come back," Redmond said.

> It might not be long before the Marlins finally get to see veteran second baseman Rafael Furcal, who on Monday had his most productive rehab game yet for Double A Jacksonville. Furcal, 36, went 3-for-5, scored two runs and stole a base. He's now 6-for-20 (.300) with four runs scored and four stolen bases since his latest return to action on June 5th. Redmond said Furcal will play the next couple days in Single A Jupiter for logistical reasons. 

"[Christian Yelich] has done a good job, but when that day comes for Furcal it will be exciting to see what he can do and get him out there and hopefully he’ll be a spark for us," Redmond said. "I don’t know when that day is coming, but it is probably coming soon. It was coming soon about a month ago too and it didn’t. I think it's safe to say coming soon."


> Marlins (33-30): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Ed Lucas 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Justin Bour DH, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Adeiny Hechavarria SS. RHP Tom Koehler.

> Rangers (31-33): 1. Michael Choice LF, 2. Elvis Andrus SS, 3. Shin-Soo Choo DH, 4. Adrian Beltre 3B, 5. Alex Rios RF, 6. Brad Snyder 1B, 7. Robinson Chirinos C, 8. Leonys Martin CF, 9. Rougned Odor 2B. RHP Colby Lewis

June 04, 2014

McGehee on broken bat that hit him Tuesday night: "I dodged a bullet"

ST. PETERSBURG -- Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee has had a lot of broken bats come flying at him over the years, but Tuesday turned out to be the first time one actually hit him.

In the fourth inning, McGehee was standing in the on deck circle when the barrel of Giancarlo Stanton's bat came zooming at him. The severed, sharp edge grazed and scratched McGehee's left elbow before the barrell hit him on the upper, left side of his rib cage.

"I got as lucky as I could have got," McGehee said Wednesday. "If the barrel hits me more flush it probably wouldn't have been too good. 

"Usually at third base my eyes usually go to the bat. But on that one I was looking at the ball. So I never saw it. Even if I would have [seen it] I'm not sure I would have been able to do anything about it."

McGehee said he wasn't freaked out over how close it came to really hurting him until he saw replays after the game. 

"[Stanton] didn't even know it happened until I told him afterward," McGehee said. "He was messing me with that I should have caught it. Tony Perez was joking saying 'You got a bat in your hand, hit it back to him.' I'm just glad we're sitting here talking about it and making light of it compared to what it could have been. I got as lucky as I could have gotten. I dodged a bullet." 


Derek Dietrich's late Tuesday night demotion -- a reassignment geared at getting the second baseman to work on becoming more consistent defensively -- opened the door Wednesday for the Marlins to get a look at left-handed power-hitting first baseman Justin Boar.

Acquired in the Triple A phase of the Rule 5 draft last December, Boar was hitting .330 with nine homers and 36 RBI for Triple A New Orleans this season.

With the Marlins playing four of their next seven games at American League parks, it's likely Bour will get a few shots to either serve as a designated hitter or even start at first base. Bour said he's only played "three or four innings in left field" in the minors so he won't be playing anywhere else.

Bour, who spent six years in the Cubs' minor league system and 23 homers in 2011 in Single A and then drove in 110 runs 2012 in Double A, said he was pleasantly surprised by Wednesday's call-up. He said Zephyrs manager Andy Haines took him out of the lineup pre-game on Tuesday and didn't explain why until after the game.

"I knew something weird was going on. I didn't know if it was going to be a trade or something like that. So I just kind of sat in the dugout the whole game wondering what was going on," Bour said. "Afterward [Haines] called me in and said, 'Sorry to lie to you, but I had to a little bit.' Then he said, 'It's June 3rd. As of June 4th you're a big leaguer. Come here, I want to give you a hug.' It was awesome. All the guys were real excited."


> Marlins (30-28): 1. Reed Johnson LF, 2. Ed Lucas 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee DH, 5. Marcell Ozuna CF, 6. Jeff Baker 1B, 7. Donavan Solano 2B, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Adeiny Hechavarria SS. RHP Tom Koehler.

> Rays (23-36): 1. David DeJesus DH, 2. Ben Zobrist 2B, 3. Evan Longoria 3B, 4. James Loney 1B, 5. Desmond Jennings CF, 6. Matt Joyce LF, 7. Yunel Escobar SS, 8. Kevin Kiermaier RF, 9. Jose Molina C. LHP David Price.

June 02, 2014

Dietrich could get a couple days off following defensive lapses

With Rafael Furcal rehabbing since mid-March, Derek Dietrich has had plenty of opportunities to stake his claim to the starting second baseman's job. But his defense has been hurting him -- and that's why he's not starting against the Rays Monday.

Although he wasn't charged with any errors in Sunday's 4-2 series-sweeping loss to the Braves, Dietrich made two poor throws to first base including one which cost the Marlins a run. And frankly, manager Mike Redmond is tired of defensive mishaps hurting the Marlins.

"I've given him a couple days off earlier in the year just to kind of clear his head," Redmond said. "Sometimes it's like anything. It's like offense. You just need a couple days to clear your head and relax. A lot of times that works. I think it worked before. We gave him a couple days off and let him relax. He seemed to play much better after that. I'm hoping that's the key."

Dietrich's seven errors at second base are tied for the National League-lead with Dan Uggla. Offensively, his OPS of .785 ranks third among second basemen with at least 100 at-bats, behind only Chase Utley (.905) and Jose Altuve (.788).

He's started 36 games for the Marlins at second base. Jeff Baker is the next closest teammate with 10 starts at second base. 

"We'll see," Redmond said when asked how long Dietrich will be given off to clear his head. "We'll give him a night off tonight. It will be day-to-day. We'll see."

> Speaking of Furcal, he'll be heading up to Double A Jacksonville on Wednsesday and playing with the Suns on Thursday Redmond said. Since returning to action May 29 with Single A Jupiter, Furcal has gone 3-for-9 at the plate with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. 

"From what I've heard he's feeling good and moving around much better than he has," Redmond said. "That's good."

> Right-handed reliever Bryan Morris, acquired in a trade Sunday with the Pirates for a draft pick, arrived in South Florida Monday morning after bad weather kept him grounded in Houston for the night Sunday. A former 2008 first round pick of the Dodgers, Morris was 4-0 with a 3.80 ERA in 21 relief appearances for Pittsburgh this season.

What kind of role can he expect with the Marlins? Redmond didn't exactly say, but he's happy Morris has major league experience. 

"Hopefully he can go out there and help us out and help us get off this see-saw," Redmond said of the bullpen's struggles. "This guy has been through it. He's pitched in big games and been in quite a few different roles. He brings that experience where we can get him out there in really any situation for me and let him go out there and pitch. That's what was so attractive. Because of that versatility and the fact were not bringing up a rookie to see what he's got.

"We know the stuff he has. Now it's just a matter of getting out there and pitching. I think a change of scenery is good for him. He's going to realize quick how big a part of the team he is."

Morris has seen the majority of his work throughout his career in the seventh and eighth innings. His career ERA in the 7th inning is 3.60 in 31 appearances and 25 innings of work. His career ER in the 8th inning is 3.26 in 34 appearances and 30 1/3 innings of work. 

> Redmond said he hopes to get catcher J.T. Realmuto some work this week. Redmond said Realmuto could get a start Thursday when the Marlins finish up a quick two-game set in Tampa with an afternoon game.


> Marlins: 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Ed Lucas 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Randy Wolf LHP.