April 2009

Taylor lined up for Sunday

Officially, the Marlins will announce their Sunday starter after Saturday’s game.

Indications for several days have been that it will be Graham Taylor, the left-hander from Double-A Jacksonville.

The latest clear indicator is the fact Taylor was scheduled to start for Jacksonville on Saturday night at Montgomery. Now, Jacksonville is starting Jarrett Santos.

A left-hander, Taylor will fill Andrew Miller’s rotation spot. Miller is on the DL with a strained right oblique. If he performs, Taylor could make a couple of starts.

Going with Taylor against the Phillies makes sense since Philadelphia is loaded with left-handed hitters.

— Joe Frisaro

Lindstrom not available Saturday

Matt Lindstrom still is the Marlins closer. But not for Saturday night.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez is staying away from using Lindstrom on Saturday because he threw 38 pitches in the ninth inning in Friday’s 7-3 loss to the Phillies.

Lindstrom was tagged for all seven runs in the ninth inning, including a grand slam to Shane Victorino and a solo shot to Chase Utley.

Because of the high pitch count, Lindstrom was given Saturday off. Still, Gonzalez says about Lindstrom, “There’s something special there.”

A closer for the first time, Lindstrom is 3-for-5 this season in save chances, and he’s converted eight of 13 in his career.

The Marlins are being patient with Lindstrom, letting him grow into the role.

“You can’t simulate that seventh inning,” Gonzalez said. “I looked it up. He’s only had 13 opportunities.”

The pressures of the ninth inning just aren’t the same as in the seventh or eighth. Gonzalez notes that starting pitchers feel the same heat while trying to get through the necessary five innings to qualify for a win.

“It’s the ninth inning for the closers and the teams, and it’s the fifth inning for the starters,” Gonzalez said. “How many times do you see the starters go out there, and all a sudden they say, ‘If I get one more hitter, I get the W?’ Then all of a sudden, it’s like base on balls, and 25 pitches later.”

Lindstrom watched some video of his performance on Friday, because he wanted to see the location of his pitches. He admitted to having a rough night of sleep.

“I’ve got to stop getting behind hitters,” Lindstrom said. “I’ve never had an inning like that. Never like that. Not even in the Minor Leagues.

“There were quite a few pitches I’d want back from last night. Pitches I threw with not a lot of conviction, just because my stuff was a little more difficult to harnass last night.”

Lindstrom said his fastball was cutting five or six pitches away from the plate.

“Then I’d have to ease one in there to throw a strike,” Lindstrom said. “That’s not going to cut it, especially when these guys are timing it, timing it and timing it.”

Leo Nunez is the strongest candidate to close, but Gonzalez said he would play matchups.


Hanley hot but hindered?

After going 2-for-5 on Friday night, Hanley Ramirez extended his hitting streak to six straight games. He’s raised his batting average from .245 to .279 over that stretch.

But is all well?

Maybe not. While Ramirez is getting his timing down at the plate, he seems to be experiencing some lower back discomfort. Players commonly deal with bumps and bruises, and Ramirez certainly has played through the years with pain. For most of the second half of 2007, he dealt with a left shoulder problem that required surgery after that season.

Now, for about a week, dating at least to the series at Washington, from April 17-19, Ramirez has been icing his lower back. 

Perhaps that’s a reason Ramirez wasn’t running at full-speed on his double in the fifth inning on Friday, on a ball he seemed to think was going over the wall for a homer. He also didn’t tag up from second on Ross Gload’s fly ball out in the same inning. But Ramirez did try to steal third in that frame, but he was thrown out.

“I got a bad jump,” Ramirez said of Saturday about his steal attempt.

Asked if his back is bothering him, Ramirez said no, which isn’t surprising because aren’t always willing to reveal their ailments.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he had a discussion with Ramirez on Saturday, but didn’t say what was talked about.

Even with some discomfort, Ramirez has continued playing. It just looks like he’s not running like he did when he was swiping 51 bases in each of 2006 and 2007.

— Joe Frisaro

Miller undergoes special treatment

Andrew Miller can now relate to what Cody Ross went through after the 2007 season.

As treatment for his right oblique strain, Miller has received a Platelet-Rich Plasma injection. The procedure basically took Miller’s own blood, and then purified it and re-injected it into the impaired area, below his right rib cage.

Ross had a similar injection after the 2007 season, where the blood was used to help heal a left hamstring problem.

Miller went on the disabled list on April 20, and he is confident he will be ready to return to the rotation when his 15-days are up. His rotation spot would fall on May 6 at home against Atlanta.

Miller said he may begin throwing off flat ground on Saturday.

— Joe Frisaro


Cantu still day-to-day

An MRI revealed a deep bone bruise on the back of Jorge Cantu’s left hand/wrist. The first baseman had a cortisone injection, and he was again out of the lineup on Friday in the series opener with the Phillies.

Cantu last played on Monday at Pittsburgh, and he said on Friday that he is very hopeful to be back in the lineup on Saturday. Cantu still is feeling the effects of being hit on the back of the hand by a Daniel Cabrera fastball in the third game of the season.

What aggravated the injury was in the field when he had his glove hand jammed by a runner in a game a few days later against the Mets.

Before playing, Cantu said he wants to test the wrist by swinging the bat.

“I’m resting it today,” Cantu said. “I’m not taking batting practice.”

In Pittsburgh, the wrist became so bothersome that he spoke up, and he was sent back to Florida on Wednesday, where he had an MRI.

“I had to say something,” he said. “I can’t cheat the team.”

Cantu has played through pain before. In 2006, when he was with Tampa Bay, he played a few weeks early in the season with a fracture in his left foot.

“Everything seems to happen on the left side,” Cantu said.

Asked why he does’t take it easy, go on the DL retroactive to Tuesday, and let the injury heal itself, Cantu said: “I’m not a big fan of the DL. I want to get this thing right. It’s getting right. I’ll be full go. The way I’m feeling, I don’t think I need the DL, unless I aggravate it more. That’s a different story.”

— Joe Frisaro

Marlins claim reliever

Adding some depth to their Minor League system, the Marlins on Friday announced they’ve claimed lefty reliever Dave Davidson from the Pirates.

The 25-year-old has been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. After spending last year in Double-A Altoona, Davidson made three appearances for Triple-A Indianapolis.

“He’s got a good arm, and he’s got options,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.

Throwing strikes consistently has beena challenge for Davidson. His raw talent was enough for the Marlins to feel comfortable taking a chance on him.

— Joe Frisaro

Cantu's hand healing

The latest medical evaluation on Jorge Cantu’s sore left hand is encouraging.

When the team was in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Cantu was sent back to South Florida, where Marlins physicials took another look at the first baseman’s hand. The latest tests show Cantu has a bruise, and there is no further damage.

Now whether he is back in the lineup on Friday against the Phillies is up to manager Fredi Gonzalez. In terms of how the hand/wrist feels, it is getting better. So there is encouragement.

Cantu last played on Monday at Pittsburgh, and the days off this week are helping the healing process. In the third game of the season against Washington, he was struck on the back of his hand by a Daniel Cabrera fastball.

Cantu is one of Florida’s most durable and dependable players. Batting cleanup, he is hitting behind All-Star Hanley Ramirez.

In his arbitration years, the Marlins should seriously consider locking up Cantu to a multiyear contract. With a new stadium on the horizon for 2012, the Marlins are better positioned to pick which players to sign to long-term deals.

Signing pitcher Josh Johnson is high on Florida’s list. Regarding position players, retaining Cantu also makes sense for a number of reasons — his production on the field, the fact that he can hit cleanup behind Ramirez, and his character in the clubhouse.

The Marlins are high on chemistry in their clubhouse, and Cantu fits the bill.

— Joe Frisaro

President's race in D.C.



Sorry for this being a few days late. But the president’s race in Washington remains one of the best in-game entertainment features in the league.



Marlins rotation options

What to do with the rotation spot vacated when Andrew Miller was placed on the 15-day DL remains unresolved — at least publicly.

Hayden Penn could fit the bill since he’s been a starter with the Orioles, and that may be where he is best suited. However, he hasn’t been stretched out of late because he’s been pitching long relief. Burke Badenhop, brought up to replace Miller’s roster spot, could get the nod since he’s made starts at Triple-A.

Perhaps the best option against the Phillies on Sunday, considering all the lefties on Philadelphia, is left-hander Graham Taylor, who is at Double-A Jacksonville. Taylor last pitched on Monday, so he would be well rested. Taylor wasn’t in big league camp with the Marlins, but he pitched in the final Grapefruit League game.

Another Double-A option is lefty Aaron Thompson, a first-round pick in 2005, who last threw on April 17.

If the team looks outside of the organization, a name that doesn’t appear to be an option is veteran Pedro Martinez. During Tuesday night’s game at Pittsburgh, President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest was asked about Pedro. Although the Marlins never really say never, Beinfest indicated on TV that signing Pedro wasn’t very likely.

— Joe Frisaro

Historic weekend in Washington

History on several different levels is being made by the Marlins.

In sweeping the Nationals over the weekend, the Marlins improved their fastest start ever to 11-1. The way the Marlins also won the three games at Nationals Park.

According to Elias, never before has an MLB team ever won a three-game series the way the Marlins did. That’s by trailing in the ninth inning, and rallying to victory in all three games.

You have to go back to the Tigers from Sept. 17-19, 1998, to find a team that has won three straight in this fashion. But then, Detroit beat two different teams. The Tigers rallied to beat the Blue Jays on Sept. 17, and on Sept. 18-19, they came back against the Twins.

— Joe Frisaro