March 2009

Volstad throws in scrimmage

Due to the threat of rain, Chris Volstad didn’t start in the Grapefruit League game with the Nationals on Sunday. Instead, he threw six innings and logged 95 pitches while throwing in a Minor League game on Field 7 behind Roger Dean Stadium.

Volstad found out the change was being made about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. He had been at the complex at 8 p.m. He was pitching for Triple-A New Orleans, and he faced Double-A Jacksonville, which had Scott Cousins and Logan Morrison in their lineup.

Cousins actually homered off Volstad, who will be the Marlins No. 3 starter.

“I was able to get my work in, which was good,” Volstad said. “If it had rained, and I missed it. It would have messed it even more up.”

Volstad ran into a string of left-handed hitters, which he said was good because he got to work on things.

“It’s always good to face lefties, and I was trying to do what I would have done in a regular game,” Volstad said.

Volstad says he is ready for Opening Day. He will face the Nationals, the team that was facing the Marlins on the main field at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Volstad watched the game from the dugout, getting a chance to see the Washington hitters.

At age 22, Volstad is even tempered, and he is maturing into a confident big league pitcher.

“I definitely feel more confident,” he said. “I matured in the year.”

Volstad embraces the high expections cast upon him.

“I like that,” he said. “I like to have the feeling of having to go out and perform. That’s what we play for. To be out there, when you’re needed. I like pitching under pressure, you can say, even though I don’t feel it as pressure. I like those situations.” 

— Joe Frisaro

Opening Day anthem

Big plans are expected for the April 6 opener with the Nationals at Dolphin Stadium.

The group, Chicago, will sing the National Athem. There will be the traditional military fly over.

Part of the opening ceremonies will include presenting Hanley Ramirez his Silver Slugger award. Manager Fredi Gonzalez will be rewarded for being named The Sporting News Manager of the Year.

Tickets are available for the opener at

— Joe Frisaro

Gearing up for season

Manager Fredi Gonzalez spoke to the team about what he expects in the final games of Grapefruit League games.

Basically, Gonzalez said he wants to use players the way they would be used in the regular season. Those who made the trip to Port St. Lucie on Saturday were told, “get ready to pinch-hit. Be ready to double-switch.”

“Looking at the grand scheme of things, to get guys playing time, I could see using Bonifacio like we did Amezaga,” Gonzalez said. “Against a tough right-hander, we could give Maybin a breather and get Boni in the lineup in center field.

“You may see that kind of stuff.”

— Joe Frisaro


Camping out in Port St. Lucie

Some leftovers from a busy Saturday morning:

* Manager Fredi Gonzalez said if Emilio Bonifacio makes the team, he likes the speedster in the leadoff spot.

* Matt Lindstrom will throw off the mound again on Sunday. If Lindstrom opens the year on the DL, he can be back-dated to March 27, and be eligible to play for the first time on April 11. There was some confusion on the back-date, which I reported yesterday as March 28. Instead, it is March 27.

* Alfredo Amezaga took some ground balls in the morning, his first drills since being sidelined with a left knee sprain. Infield coach Andy Fox saw Amezaga moving around and said he looked good. Amezaga is expected to miss most of the first month of the season.

* Wes Helms suffered a bruise to his left leg on Friday against the Orioles. It came on a play where right fielder Cody Ross tried throwing out a runner at first base. Helms was involved in a collision. He is fine, but was held back in Jupiter on Saturday.

* The Marlins are looking for an emergency catcher. John Baker and Ronny Paulino will handle the duties. But if a third catcher is needed, there isn’t a logical choice. The past few years, Mike Jacobs and Josh Willingham had catching experience. No one fits the bill this year. Wes Helms could be a candidate.

Left-handed throwing Cody Ross was asked in the dugout, and he said he’d try it.

— Joe Frisaro

Rabelo, Hayes optioned

The Marlins worked into the early morning hours to solidify their catching situation.

Early Saturday morning, they obtained Ronny Paulino from the Giants for pitching prospect Hector Correra. Late Friday, Paulino was dealt from the Phillies to San Francisco.

About seven hours later, the Marlins announced that catchers Mike Rabelo and Brett Hayes have been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

Paulino will serve as John Baker’s backup.

— Joe Frisaro

Moves on the horizon?

It didn’t take long for the Ronny Paulino situation to resolve itself. Indeed, Paulino was the odd catcher out in Philadelphia. While the Marlins didn’t dismiss the prospect of bringing him in, they didn’t pursue him that hard either.

On Friday night it was announced that Paulino was dealt to the Giants for lefty reliever Jack Taschner.

Taschner, meanwhile, fit the bill for what the Marlins were looking for, a lefty with big league service time.

With so few catching options out there, expect the Marlins to go with Mike Rabelo or Brett Hayes as John Baker’s backup.

Other catching candidates who project to be available include Adam Melhuse, who isn’t part of the Rangers plans.

There isn’t much out there, barring trying to make a significant trade.

The Marlins appear to be in the market for a veteran left-handed bat off the bench to serve as a pinch-hit, spot starter option. And lefty relief help is high on the list.

— Joe Frisaro

Paulino, lefty bullpen help?

Ronny Paulino has a track record of being a starting catcher, which is one reason why the Marlins aren’t discounting bringing the veteran in as an insurance policy for John Baker.

Word out of the Phillies camp is Paulino will be the odd man out in their catcher mix. So he could come at a cheap price.

For now, his name is being considered. Whether he is the right fit the team will ultimately decide. With the Pirates in 2007, he appeared in 133 games and had 11 homers, 55 RBIs and hit .263.

The Marlins are ready to go with either Mike Rabelo or Brett Hayes as the backup.

Adding catching depth is an organizational priority, but so is attracting left-handed relief help.

Dan Meyer, Renyel Pinto and John Koronka are in the mix. Two of the three will make the team, unless the Marlins look elsewhere. Odds are, they will.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez on Friday didn’t rule out looking at the waiver wire.

— Joe Frisaro

Roster moves

Three more players were sent down on Friday.

Reassigned to Minor League camp were reliever Henry Owens, outfielder John Raynor and catcher Brad Davis.

With Davis being sent down, that leaves three catchers in camp.

John Baker will handle the starting role. Manager Fredi Gonzalez says the backup position remains wide open. Mike Rabelo and Brett Hayes are in contention.

— Joe Frisaro

Lineup familiarity

We’re seeing some more similarities in the lineup.

Once again, Emilio Bonifacio was leading off and starting at third base on Friday against the Orioles. With John Baker getting the day off, Cameron Maybin was hitting second. Baker projects to bat second otherwise, and Maybin or Bonifacio are expected to lead off this season.

The rest of the lineup had Hanley Ramirez hitting third, Jorge Cantu (DH) at cleanup, followed by Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, Cody Ross, Wes Helms (1B) and Mike Rabelo (C).

— Joe Frisaro

Injury updates

Dallas McPherson was back in the lineup on Thursday, seeing action as the designated hitter.

McPherson had been nursing a strained right oblique. He had five at-bats in a Triple-A game on Wednesday, and he is ready to play the field as well.

Gaby Sanchez (left knee) had three at-bats in a Minor League game on Wednesday, and he made the trip to Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.

Matt Lindstrom will throw off the mound for five minutes on Friday, as he recovers from a right rotator cuff strain.

Scott Proctor is in no-throw status for two more weeks as he deals with the scar tissue proble in his right elbow.

Alfredo Amezaga (left knee) was examined by the doctors on Thursday, as they decide how to begin his rehab.

— Joe Frisaro