February 2009

Camping out Sunday

What you may have missed at camp on Sunday:

* Anibal Sanchez has been tabbed to start on Wednesday in the first Grapefruit League game. The 1:05 p.m. ET game with the Cardinals will be played at Roger Dean Stadium. Sanchez will throw two innings or around 30 pitches. Blake Hawksworth is scheduled to pitch for St. Louis.

* Sunday was photo day and the day the team signed autographs at Roger Dean Stadium.

* With scrimmages about to start, Sunday was the last day where pitchers faced hitters in live batting practice.

* Andrew Miller continues to get a lot of work as he polishes up his new delivery.

* On Monday, the first intrasquad scrimmage will take place on a backfield at Roger Dean Stadium. Sean West and Eulogio De La Cruz are the respective starters. The scrimmage will be around 10:30 a.m. ET.  

— Joe Frisaro

Sanchez to start Grapefruit opener

Manager Fredi Gonzalez announced that Anibal Sanchez will take the mound in the Marlins Grapefruit League opener on Wednesday against the Cardinals.

The Marlins are the visiting team in the 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Roger Dean Stadium.

Sanchez is expected to throw about two innings and/or 30 pitches.

“I’ve got the first game,” Sanchez said. “I’m ready for this game. I just want to make sure that I’m ready for the season. I want to throw strikes and make good gains. I don’t care if I pitch the first game, second or third game. I want to get ready for the season.”

On Monday, the Marlins will have an intrasquad game around 10:30 a.m. on the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium. Sean West and Eulogio De La Cruz are slated to start for each squad.

— Joe Frisaro

Cantu pitching World Baseball Classic

Looking at the television on Sunday morning, Jorge Cantu was mildly suprised to see himself in an ESPN commercial.

Cantu was one of four players used to advertise the upcoming World Baseball Classic, which begins in March.

In January, the Marlins third baseman received a call to participate in the commercial. Cantu is representing Mexico in the Classic, and he was dressed in his country’s uniform. Derek Jeter also was showcased to represent Team USA. Alex Rodriguez is in it for the Dominican Republic and Ichiro Suzuki is on hand for Japan.

“I saw it for the first time today, I was so pumped,” Cantu said. “Wow, they did such a great job.”

To the skeptics, Cantu said the Classic is worth watching.

“People have to watch it. It’s like a playoff game,” he said. “It’s all or nothing for every country. It’s just a lot of pride for me. Obviously, in Mexico, soccer is the national sport. But in Mexico we have a lot of baseball talent. It’s a chance to show the rest of the country the talent we have in baseball.”

— Joe Frisaro

Camping out Saturday

Here’s what happened on Saturday:

* Andrew Miller continues working on his new delivery. The aim is to speed up his tempo, and basically the lefty is throwing more than the other starters. For example, when say, Ricky Nolasco and Miller are throwing live batting practice, each is going for about eight minutes. But Miller is working at a faster tempo, so he is throwing more total pitches.

* Cody Ross was back doing drills, and getting some work in later in the day, after he was away two days because his wife had a baby.

* Jose Ceda continues to play catch and do fielding drills. Because of some right shoulder discomfort, he has yet to be cleared to throw off the mound.

* Catcher John Baker is crushing some balls in batting practice.

* Dallas McPherson worked at first base with Gaby Sanchez on fielding drills.

— Joe Frisaro

Hanley hysteria

The relaxed atmosphere of the workouts on the backfields created a nice baseball moment on Saturday morning.

During a short break before a drill, Hanley Ramirez was sitting in the dugout. Fans were to his back, behind the fence. A family with a small baby began talking to Hanley, asking him when he was going to practice with the Dominican Republic for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Ramirez asked: “Are you going to miss me?”

The fans said, yes. Seeing the baby, Hanley reached his fingers through the fence and to touch the baby as he was chatting with the parents. A crew from MLB Productions was on hand Saturday, and they captured the scene.

Saturday produced a nice crowd of fans who watched the workouts. Going from field to field, Ramirez ended up signing a lot of autographs.

— Joe Frisaro

Play ball!!!

Games are only a few days away.

The Marlins Grapefruit League schedule gets going on Wednesday against the Cardinals. Before that 1:05 p.m. ET start at Roger Dean Stadium, the Marlins will play a scrimmage against Italy’s World Baseball Classic squad.

The scrimmage will be at 10 a.m. ET on a backfield at Roger Dean Stadium.

Fans actually can watch the Marlins play a couple of intra-squad scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday. Those games could be interesting because some of the front-line starting pitchers are set to throw. There is a good chance Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco will pitch in the scrimmages.

— Joe Frisaro

Quick camp hits

Lefty reliever Zach Kroenke, hampered by a minor blister to his middle finger, threw a 15-pitch bullpen session on Friday.

Because he is a Rule 5 claim, and he has to make the squad or be sent back to the Yankees by Opening Day, the Marlins aren’t taking any chances with him. Kroenke can’t miss any extended time, so when the blister popped during his second side session, Minor League pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal immediately shut him down.

Within a few days, he should be fine.

* Cody Ross was back in camp on Saturday morning. The starting right fielder missed Thursday and Friday because his wife, Summer, gave birth to their second child on Thursday.

— Joe Frisaro

Camping out Friday

What went on Friday in camp:

* Reliever Jose Ceda did some light throwing — or played catch — for the first time since last Saturday. Ceda has experienced some right shoulder discomfort. He will play catch a few days and be re-evaluated.

* Cody Ross was away for the second straight day because his wife gave birth to a baby girl on Thursday. Ross could be back on Saturday. The baby was born in Broward County.

* Backup catcher is wide open. Mike Rabelo has an edge based on MLB experience, but Brett Hayes is worth keeping an eye on.

* Jorge Cantu homered off Aaron Thompson in live batting practice. Cantu has been swinging the bat well, and he should be an impact player for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

* A bigger crowd of fans showed up on Friday. Workouts on Saturday begin at 10 a.m. ET.

— Joe Frisaro


The new Mike Lowell?

Ask around about Matt Dominguez and the name that pops up on a regular basis is Mike Lowell.

Dominguez, Florida’s first-round pick in 2007, is a slick-fielding 19-year-old third baseman. His style of play reminds the team of Lowell, the former Marlin who is now with Boston.

When drafted, Dominguez drew comparisons to Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman.

On Friday, Dominguez showed some bat speed, too. He had a challenge, facing live pitching from Ricky Nolasco. While Dominguez is a few years away from being big league ready, he is has the potential to move very quickly through the system.

— Joe Frisaro

Camping out Thursday

The highlights of Thursday’s Marlins camp:

* Cody Ross went to his season home in Plantation, Fla., to be with his wife Summer, who gave birth to a baby girl early Thursday afternoon. Haven Leigh Ross was born at 1:03 p.m. ET. Ross is expected to rejoin the team on Saturday.

* Jose Ceda (right shoulder) has been cleared to begin playing catch on Friday.

* With Ross out of camp, Jay Gibbons and Brett Carroll played a lot of right field in drills.

* Prospect Logan Morrison worked with Wes Helms at first base during infield drills that were run by infield coach Andy Fox. On the same field were Hanley Ramirez and Robert Andino at shortstop, Dan Uggla and Alfredo Amezaga at second base, and Jorge Cantu and Emilio Bonifacio at third base.

* Dallas McPherson and Gaby Sanchez were working at first base on Thursday on the field with the prospects.

* Brett Carroll and Scott Cousins are regarded as having the strongest arms in the outfield.

— Joe Frisaro