February 2009

Checking up on Ceda

Reliever Jose Ceda, who has some right shoulder discomfort, has been cleared to begin playing catch on Friday.

On Thursday, about 9:15 a.m. ET, Ceda went to the doctor, but not for his shoulder. He was completing some exams related to his physical.

Obtained from the Cubs in the offseason for Kevin Gregg, Ceda threw a bullpen last Saturday, the day pitchers and catchers began workouts. The team has been taking it easy on him since.

— Joe Frisaro

Batting order scenarios?

Manager Fredi Gonzalez would like to leave at least some parts of the batting order up to the imagination of the media.

Basically, he confirmed that Hanley Ramirez will bat third, as expected. That means Cameron Maybin leads off and John Baker is the likely No. 2 hitter, then Hanley, and probably Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, Cody Ross and Gaby Sanchez.

Hermida and Ross could flip-flop depending on the pitcher.

That is my projected batting order. I welcome what batting order the readers think.

— Joe Frisaro

Camping out Wednesday

Some of happenings at camp on Wednesday:

* Reliever Jose Ceda’s sore right shoulder is preventing him from throwing for four or five days.

* Cody Ross will be away from the team for a couple of days because his wife is slated to have labor induced on their second child. The baby is scheduled to be born on Thursday, and Ross expects to be out Thursday and Friday, and perhaps Saturday.

* A couple of sleepers to keep an eye on are outfielder John Raynor and reliever Tim Wood.

* Third baseman Matt Dominguez, the 19-year-old first-round pick from 2007, is showing why he is so highly regarded. Dominguez is a slick fielder, and he draws comparisons to Mike Lowell.

* Jay Gibbons in drills is working in left field with Jeremy Hermida, and Brett Carroll is backing up Ross in right field.

— Joe Frisaro

Johnson befuddles hitters

Josh Johnson wasted little time bringing the heat.

Pitching live batting practices to hitters on Wednesday, the 6-foot-7 right-hander basically dominated.

“Nasty,” said Cody Ross, who had the unenviable task of facing Johnson. “The ball was cutting four or five inches at 95 mph.”

Marlins special assistant Jeff Conine joked with Johnson: “Way to help the [hitters] get dialed-in.”

The group that faced Johnson had Ross, John Baker, Dallas McPherson and Jay Gibbons. The first foul ball was greeted with a, “Take that, Johnson!” from hitting coach Jim Presley.

— Joe Frisaro


Camping out Tuesday

First full-squad workouts in review:

* Manager Fredi Gonzalez was given a two-year contract extension, locking him up with the club through 2011. When he went out onto the field, his players gave him a big hand.

“You stll have got to win ballgames,” Gonzalez said, keeping perspective.

Gonzalez makes Marietta, Ga., his home. He has a daughter who is graduating from high school, and a son, who is a sophomore in high school. Gonzalez said when they are out of school, he may consider moving back to Miami, where he grew up.

* Renyel Pinto has made it official that he will not compete in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela. The lefty reliever is focused on staying healthy and strong for the regular season. It was a tough decision.

“I’d like to represent my country,” Pinto said. “It’s important to me, too. But I have to worry about my family first. There are more World Classics. I can go later. For right now, I’m just thinking about the team, and my family. It’s going to be a big year for me.”

* Right-hander Jose Ceda has some discomfort in his right shoulder, and he will not throw for three or four days.

* When Jorge Cantu ripped the ball down the third-base line off Jason Standridge in his first round of living pitching, Hanley Ramirez chimed in: “Same guy. I’ve seen that before.”

— Joe Frisaro

Fredi given two-year extension

The Marlins made a major announcement on Tuesday. Manager Fredi Gonzalez’s contract has been extended two-years, through the 2011 season.

Gonzalez originally signed a three-year deal in 2007, and the club decided to address his contract before going too deep into Spring Training. Last year, the Marlins went 84-77, and in two seasons he is 155-168.

Owner Jeffrey Loria approached Gonzalez about the extension on Saturday.

— Joe Frisaro

Hyping up Hanley

The first day of full-squad workouts offered a chance to have a little fun in the clubhouse.

In front of Hanley Ramirez’s locker on Tuesday was a taped area, forming a small box on the carpet. Inside the middle of the taped area was written — also in tape — “HR 2,” signifying the expectations for more home runs from the guy who wears No. 2 on the Marlins.

Jorge Cantu, who wears No. 3 and has his locker next to Ramirez, did the prank.

“Hype him up,” Cantu said. “This could be a big year for him. I think he can be a 40/40 guy. Why not?”

— Joe Frisaro

Ross to become daddy again

Cody Ross will have a good reason for not being in camp on Thursday. His wife is scheduled to have labor induced that day on the couples’ second child, a baby girl.

Although Ross makes his home in Arizona, the baby will be born in South Florida. Ross will be heading to his place in Plantation, which is in Broward County.

Ross said he probably will be away on Thursday and Friday.

— Joe Frisaro


West's side story

His attitude is certainly right, but his timing may not be.

Prospect Sean West, an imposing 6-foot-8 left-hander, is in camp to make the team. The Marlins clearly envision him as a big part of their future. Whether he fits into the present has yet to be determined.

One of Florida’s five first-round picks in 2005, West had some injury setbacks that have delayed his progress. In 2007, he missed the whole season due to left shoulder surgery. Last year, he battled with a blister problem to his left middle finger. The blister limited him to 21 games, with 20 starts, and 100 2/3 innings at Class A Jupiter.

He has 270 1/3 total Minor League innings, and the team is leaning towards giving him a full season at Double-A. Still, the 22-year-old wants to make a case for himself these next few weeks. Now 22-years-old, he has added confidence after performing well in the Arizona Fall League.

“I think I’ve faced the best hitters that there are to face in the Minor Leagues when I was in the Fall League,” West said. “I can compete with those guys. I’m anxious for [the Marlins] to throw me in there. I’m here to win a job, and make their decision as hard as possible. I’m not going to go out quietly, that’s for sure.”

— Joe Frisaro

Camping out Monday

Here is some of what went on Monday at camp:

* Some pitchers, including Josh Johnson, threw bullpen sessions for the third straight day. Those in that group, however, tossed abbreviated sessions, about four minutes.

* The first full-squad workouts, which start on Tuesday, will feature live batting practice. The workouts start at 1 p.m. ET.

* Ricky Nolasco is building his case for being the Opening Day starter. In a bullpen session on Sunday, Nolasco was so effective with all his pitches that catcher John Baker said he looked like he was throwing in August.

* Renyel Pinto is leaning towards not competing in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela. He hopes to make a decision on Tuesday.

— Joe Frisaro