February 2009

Hermida makes no excuses

The last laugh ultimately went to Jeremy Hermida when he laced a home run to right field in the fourth inning on Saturday against the Orioles.

“The best way to make them quiet,” Hermida noted.

Before that, the crowd was getting on the 25-year-old for failing to haul in two first-inning fly balls that dropped for two-out doubles. Switching from right field to left is an adjustment, especially playing at game speed.

The windy, sunny conditions did play a part in him not getting good reads on either long fly ball, which helped the Orioles score twice in the first inning.

“That’s still no still no execuse. I should have caught those balls. We’ll do some work on it, on balls hit over my head,” Hermida said. 

Nick Markakis and Melvin Mora each lofted long fly balls that swirled in the wind and Hermida awkwardly went after them. Even though both were ruled hits, fans heckled Hermida, especially in the second inning, giving him the obligatory big cheer for making a couple of routine plays.

Hermida played along with the crowd. 

“We’re having fun. It’s a Spring Training game,” he said. “We’re allowed to have fun and have a good time out there. Just having a good time, and I appreciate their enthusiasm for the game.”

– Joe Frisaro

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Upcoming pitching rotation

The Marlins will be starting Anibal Sanchez on Sunday agaisnt the Cardinals, not Andrew Miller as initially noted. Miller will pitch in relief of Sanchez.

The Cardinals are going with Joel Pineiro.

Even though the team is off on Monday from Grapefruit League play, a six-inning intrasquad game will be played on field two in Jupiter. Chris Volstad and Sean West will each pitch.

West returns to the mound after he was scratched from Friday’s start with the Orioles due to a sore left hip.

In Tuesday’s scrimmage with the Italian World Baseball Classic team, Frankie De La Cruz will start.

On Wednesday, against the Dominican Republic Classic team, Josh Johnson will start, and Ricky Nolasco will enter in relief.

– Joe Frisaro

Saturday lineup

Saturday will be the last day that the lineup will resemble what the Marlins may put out there on Opening Day. That’s because players in the World Baseball Classic are leaving on Sunday.

Hanley Ramirez, Alfredo Amezaga and Jorge Cantu are position players set to go to the Classic.

On Saturday, the Marlins went with this batting order against the Orioles at Fort Lauderdale Stadium: Cameron Maybin, Alfredo Amezaga, Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, Cody Ross, Wes Helms and Brett Hayes.

– Joe Frisaro

Stadium vote pushed back

A memo was sent out on Friday by city of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz stating that city commissioners are pushing their stadium vote day back to March 6. Initially, the city was to vote on March 4.

The new date means the city commissioners will vote three days before the vote is expected to go to Miami-Dade County commissioners on March 9.

For approval of the Marlins’ 37,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark at the Orange Bowl in Miami, five remaining documents must pass separate votes by the city and county commissioners.

– Joe Frisaro

Coming to terms

In all on Friday, 20 players reached agreement on contracts for the 2009 season.

It’s pretty much a formality, since all of the are under club control. The league minimum salary is $400,000 for those who make the team.

Those coming to terms are: RHP Rick VandenHurk, OF Jai Miller, RHP Leo Nunez, OF Brett Carroll, INF Emilio Bonifacio, INF Gaby Sanchez, C Brett Hayes, C Mike Rabelo, C John Baker, RHP Jesus Delgado, RHP Harvey Garcia, LHP Zach Kroenke, RHP Chris Leroux, RHP Dallas Trahern, RHP Tim Wood, RHP Eulogio De La Cruz, RHP Chris Volstad, RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Carlos Martinez and LHP Dan Meyer.

– Joe Frisaro

Friday in focus

Some observations and items from Friday:

* Dan Uggla was given Friday off.

* Third base/outfield coach Bo Porter went back to Texas for personal reasons. He left late in the game on Thursday, and he is expected to rejoin the team on Saturday.

* Chances of Jose Ceda being on the Opening Day roster are pretty slim becasue he won’t get enough work by April 6. Ceda had some discomfort in his right shoulder, and he is tossing off flat ground at 90 feet. After he progresses to 120 feet, he will start throwing off the mound, possibly as late as next week. He isn’t close to throwing in game situations.

* Renyel Pinto, who had a stomach virus a few days ago, is expected to pitch in Grapefruit League play this weekend.

* Matt Lindstrom on Thursday against the Mets was clocked throwing in the upper 90s.

– Joe Frisaro 

Amezaga in lineup

If all goes well the next two days, Alfredo Amezaga will be playing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

Amezaga tweaked his right knee when his cleat caught during an at-bat in an intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday. He received treatment on Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday he was back on the field doing drills.

He also was in the lineup for the first. Manager Fredi Gonzalez plans on playing him about five innings at second base. He was in the lineup hitting ninth against the Orioles on Friday, and he is expected to play on Saturday against the Orioles in Fort Lauderdale.

“It feels good. Obviously, not 100 percent,” Amezaga said. “Everybody is not 100 percent right now. My knee is fine.”

Amezaga is planning on heading to Tucson, Ariz., on Sunday to begin practicing with Mexico for the Classic.  

– Joe Frisaro

Grapefruit bites for Thursday

Observations from Port St. Lucie:

* Speed is plentiful in the batting order on Thursday against the Mets. Emilio Bonifacio is leading off against the Mets, followed by Cameron Maybin and Hanley Ramirez. Maybin is projected to hit first and Ramirez third.

I asked Mets broadcaster Ron Darling, a former pitcher, what speed at the first three spots does. He compared it to the 1986 St. Louis Cardinals, who at times had a speed combination of Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee atop their order.

“That scares you,” Darling said.

* Wes Helms is starting at first base and batting cleanup.

* Want another Spring Sleeper? Don’t discount Logan Morrison’s chances of making the team and playing first base. It would be a huge jump from Class A to the big leagues, but he can hit, and his defense is getting better.

* Early in spring, the home team decides whether to use the designated hitter in NL parks. The Mets wanted to because they wanted lefty starter Oliver Perez to work on his bunting. Perez actually was slotted to hit second, and the scenario worked out for New York. Leadoff batter Luis Castillo singled, stole second, and Perez dropped a sacrifice bunt, moving the runner to third.

* Robert Andino isn’t expected to play much second base, but he started there on Thursday because Alfredo Amezaga has a sore right knee. Andino made a great backhanded play up the middle to rob Jose Reyes of a hit in the third inning.

* Sean West’s sore left hip is why he was scratched from starting on Friday. The team doesn’t want West to risk anything while covering a bag. The ailment doesn’t bother him when he’s pitching.

* Ricky Nolasco will start on Saturday against the Orioles in Fort Lauderdale. Josh Johnson also will pitch that day in relief, keeping both frontrunners to take the ball on Opening Day working the same day.

* Renyel Pinto threw a bullpen session Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium. The lefty missed a few days with a stomach virus.

– Joe Frisaro

Amezaga tweaks right knee

All-purpose Alfredo Amezaga is resting a sore right knee, which is why he isn’t playing in the Marlins first two Grapefruit League games.

Amezaga felt some discomfort while batting on Tuesday in an intrasquad scrimmage. If the knee doesn’t show improvement in the next day or two, it could impact whether he plays for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the team is closely watching, and the ailment may be enough to keep him from the Classic. Amezaga is the frontrunner to play center field for Mexico.

Some encouraging news on Thursday was Amezaga did some light jogging.

– Joe Frisaro

Defensive lapses 'unacceptable'

On the bright side, the Marlins scored more runs than they made errors.

That point was made half-jokingly by Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest to manager Fredi Gonzalez minutes after a 5-5 tie with the Cardinals on Wednesday. In the 10-inning game, Florida had four errors.

“More runs than errors,” Beinfest said to Gonzalez, while he was about to address the media. “Take it as a positive.”

Improving defensively is a major objective for the Marlins this season. A year ago, the team finished third in the Major Leagues in errors committed. The goal is to improve, but right from the first batter, an error was made when first baseman Gaby Sanchez dropped Anibal Sanchez’s throw, allowing Skip Schumaker to reach safely. The error led to an unearned run.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Dan Uggla and catcher Brett Hayes each committed errors.

“It’s unacceptable,” Beinfest said. “I don’t care if it’s the first day or the last day. It’s unacceptable. We need to play better defense, right from the start. Set the tone.

“We’ve talked about it a lot. This team is going to take pride in its defense. Yes, it is the first day, but we’re capable of playing better defense. It’s not the way you want to start. We want to set the tone right away.”

– Joe Frisaro

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