March 2009

McPherson released

After the Marlins lost 9-2 to the Mets on Tuesday, the Marlins announced they’ve released third baseman Dallas McPherson, whom the team had been shopping around in trade speculation recently.

In other moves, outfielders Mike Ryan and Alejandro De Aza and lefty pitcher John Koronka were reassigned to Minor League camp.

— Joe Frisaro

Sheffield anyone?

Gary Sheffield is now on the market, and the veteran offered a few words on where he might end up.

Sheffield noted he would be interested in returning to the Marlins. Yet, it is unclear if the team feels the same.

Sheffield spoke with the MLB Network on Tuesday, after he was released by the Tigers.

He noted that the Phillies have already shown interest. A native of Tampa, Fla., Sheffield was a key player on Florida’s 1997 World Series title team.

“The Marlins, I feel the team, they know me from when we won the World Series,” he told the MLB Network. “And so I have an attachment there.”

A more realistic option for the Marlins could be left-handed hitting Geoff Jenkins, who was released by the Phillies. Florida is looking for a lefty bat off the bench.

— Joe Frisaro


Lindstrom getting closer

Anything can happen between now and Monday’s opener, but the way manager Fredi Gonzalez sounded on Tuesday, Matt Lindstrom should be ready from day one.

Recovering from a strained right rotator cuff, Lindstrom threw an impressive bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon. He was supposed to throw in a simulated game, but that was canceled due to heavy rains in the afternoon. So instead, he threw off the mound, and everything went well.

“Hopefully he’s ready to go, and he will be the closer,” Gonzalez said.

Lindstrom said before he threw that his shoulder was feeling great, and that he expected to be ready for Opening Day.

Next for the right-hander is to throw in a Minor League game on Thursday.

— Joe Frisaro

Sanchez, Badenhop optioned

When Spring Training began, Gaby Sanchez was a frontrunner to win the first base job. But the 25-year-old Miami native was hampered by a sore left knee and batted .194 in 36 at-bats.

On Tuesday. Sanchez and right-hander Burke Badenhop were optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. 

Badenhop appeared in seven Graprefruit League games, and he’s thrown 11 Grapefruit League innings.

With Sanchez being sent down, it pretty much guarantees that Emilio Bonifacio will be the third baseman. Jorge Cantu will shift to first base.

Sanchez enjoyed a strong 2008 season at Double-A Carolina, batting .314 with 17 home runs and 92 RBIs. He was named the MVP of the Southern League.

— Joe Frisaro

Roster options and Andino

The final week before the regular season begins should produce a lot of activity and speculation.

Infielder Robert Andino remains on the radar of the Pirates, who have shown interest in him since the 2008 Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Brian Bixler is a name that popped up as a possible trade candidate for Andino, and that still could be a deal that is made before Opening Day.

Bixler, however, has shown improvement in Spring Training, and he may have a future with the Pirates.

Andino is out of options, and if he is placed on waivers, Andino could be claimed by the Pirates, without them giving up anyone. The Marlins still are deciding if they want to retain Andino as an insurance policy for Hanley Ramirez.

There also are indications that the Marlins are shopping third baseman Dallas McPherson, who also is out of options. The team is exploring a left-handed bat off the bench.

Now the Marlins may opt to keep both Andino and/or McPherson. There are a number of possibilities that are being explored as teams look to finalize their rosters.

The Marlins are looking for lefty relief help. Pittsburgh’s Sean Burnett could be a possibility. And veteran Ron Villone was recently released by the Mets.

— Joe Frisaro

Open workout

On Sunday, April 5, the day before the Marlins open against the Nationals at Dolphin Stadium, their workout will be open to the public.

This is a first for the franchise.

Typically, the day before workout is closed to the public. This year, fans will be able to watch the workout, which begins at 4 p.m. ET. The gates will open at 2:30 p.m.

There will be entertainment available at the park, as the Mermaids and Manatees will also be on hand.

The day also will be a chance for fans to check out season ticket options.

— Joe Frisaro

Lindstrom sim game

Next up for Matt Lindstrom is to throw a simulated game on Tuesday.

With the Marlins having a night game on Tuesday against the Mets, Lindstrom’s sim game will be early in the afternoon.

If that goes well, he next step could be pitching in a Minor League game. Lindstrom is recovering from a right rotator cuff strain.

He said on Monday that he is feeling healthy and strong. There is a chance he can be ready for Opening Day, but if he isn’t, he isn’t expected to miss more than a few games of the regular season.

— Joe Frisaro

Amezaga remains upbeat

In Alfredo Amezaga’s mind, being ready for the season opener is possible.

Whether he meets that April 6 time line remains to be seen. But there is a lot of encouragement the his left knee will be healthy.

“For me, I want to play today,” Amezaga said after he took swings in the batting cage. “I’ve got to wait for Sean. He knows better than me, and whether I’ll be alright before Opening Day.”

Manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t rule out Amezaga being in the mix to be on the first-game roster.

“We’re still going to take it step-by-step,” Gonzalez said. “We’ll see where we go from there.”

Amezaga hit flips in the batting cage on Monday, marking his third straight day of swinging the bat. He’s also fielding ground balls.

The all-purpose Amezaga sprained his left knee while playing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. The prognosis was four to six weeks of recovery time was needed.

Amezaga said he will test the knee running on Monday. When he starts playing in games, he says he will need about four games total to be ready for the season.

— Joe Frisaro

Taylor takes over

Graham Taylor made the most of his emergency start.

Due to the threat of rain on Sunday, Taylor was a last-minute replacement for Chris Volstad to face the Nationals.

The 24-year-old lefty, who is in Minor League camp, turned heads by tossing three perfect innings, striking out while and throwing 28 pitches with 20 for strikes.

“That’s his MO,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “If you look, one year in the Minor Leagues, I think he had one walk. I wish we could have seen more of him, but they were saying it was going to rain in the next 15-45 minutes.”

Actually, in 2006, he walked as few as four in 65 2/3 innings. In 404 Minor League innings, however, he’s walked just 60.

“Every time I’ve seen him, he’s dominated,” Volstad said.

The projected heavy rain never came, and Taylor was lifted because the Marlins wanted to give Kiko Calero and Carlos Martinez work.

Taylor went back to the bullpen and threw about two more innings worth to build up.

“When you pound the strike zone, you have a chance,” said Gonzalez, who didn’t rule out Taylor getting a big league chance at some point. “It’s one of those things, if we need somebody, he can be the guy. I think people can have misconceptions that the Opening Day roster is going to be the one for the entire 162 games. That’s not the case.”

Taylor has 23 2/3 innings at Double-A, and the organization would like to see him get more work at that level. He wasn’t in big league camp all spring.

In 2007, Rick VandenHurk also wasn’t in big league camp, but he impressed with a strong Grapefruit League performance against the Orioles. A few weeks into the season, VandenHurk was promoted to the big leagues.

— Joe Frisaro

Lindstrom, Amezaga updates

Matt Lindstrom threw off the mound on Sunday, and the right-hander remains hopeful of being ready for Opening Day.

Lindstrom’s next step is to face hitters on Tuesday. That will either be in live batting practice or perhaps a Minor League game.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t rule out having his closer back by Opening Day.

Alfredo Amezaga fielded some more ground balls and he is hitting off the tee. Recovering from a sprained left knee, Amezaga is expected to miss most of the first month.

— Joe Frisaro