April 2009

Hammerin' Hank statue



The Hank Aaron statue is a must see for those who make it to Turner Field.

— Joe Frisaro

Saved by the can

Cody Ross discovered a benefit for smokeless tobacco on Wednesday night.

The right fielder learned it purely by accident and it literally hit him directly in the can.

In the seventh inning against the Braves, Ross was hit by a Peter Moylan pitch, squarely on his left back pocket. But taking the sting out of the 88 mph fastball was the fact Ross had an empty can of Skoal in the pocket.

So instead of leaving a bruise, Ross said he had an imprint of the circular can. Reporters took his word on it when he joked about the incident after the game.

While Ross does’t dip tobacco, he was given the can by Hanley Ramirez for good luck. 

Players try pretty much anything when they aren’t hitting. Ross, off to a .115 start through eight games, has gone with his pant-legs down and pant-legs pulled up thus far. On Wednesday, Ramirez chipped in with the advice to put the can of Skoal in his back pocket.

It didn’t help him get a hit during that at-bat, but it saved him sporting a mark.

— Joe Frisaro

Chilly conditions in Hot-lanta

The weather has certainly been a factor in the first two games of the series at Turner Field. Not that it altered the outcome of either night game, but it was cold and the wind-chill made for some chilly players on the field and caused fans to bundle up in the stands.

Wednesday night, the wind was swirling, especially in the right field area, where many fans were snuggled under blankets.

“It was tough out there,” right fielder Cody Ross said. “Some of the balls felt like they were starting off more towards [center fielder Cameron] Maybin, and they moved toward me. Fortunately, we didn’t have too many tough ones. It was definitely something as outfielders, we were concerned with, and talking about.

“I’ve played in a lot colder. It wasn’t so much the cold, the wind-chill is what was really piercing.”

— Joe Frisaro

Tucker goes on Minor League DL

More injury woes for the Marlins Minor Leaguers.

Hard-throwing right-hander Ryan Tucker was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Wednesday, after he gave up seven earned runs in 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday night for Triple-A New Orleans. Tucker is dealing with a problem with his knee, which isn’t considered serious.

Tucker, a first-round pick in 2005, made his big league debut last year. The organization envisions him as a starter, but he also could be a relief candidate.

Tucker’s injury follows news that Taylor Tankersley, also in New Orleans, has a stress fracture in his left elbow. He will have surgery on Friday.

— Joe Frisaro

Tankersley to have surgery

Taylor Tankersley, Florida’s first-round pick in 2004 who was optioned to Triple-A
New Orleans in Spring Training, is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left elbow on Friday.

The Marlins on Wednesday morning confirmed the procedure will be performed by Dr. John Conway in Fort Worth, Texas. Conway, formerly a physician for the Rangers, is a leading specialist for these types of procedures. Most likely, the left-handed reliever will have a couple of screws inserted in his elbow.

The exact recovery time won’t be known until after the surgery. Best case scenario appears that he could begin throwing in about six weeks. If it is more serious, it could be season threatening.

Tankersley recently visited Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.

A first-round pick out of the University of Alabama in 2004, Tankersley was optioned to Triple-A on March 23. He has not pitched for the Zephyrs this season.

— Joe Frisaro

Volstad hot and cold

On the mound, Chris Volstad was on fire on Tuesday night. In the dugout, he was pretty cold.

The game-time temperature was 56 degrees, and it got colder at Turner Field as the night went on. Still, Volstad worked seven terrific innings in beating the Braves, 5-1. The 6-foot-8 right-hander allowed three hits and gave up one run.

A Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., native, Volstad isn’t used to cold weather. So in between innings, he huddled by the heater in the Marlins dugout.

“It’s cold to me. I was sitting near that heater the whole game between innings,” Volstad said.

Yet, when he pitched, he didn’t wear long sleeves. Instead, he had the three-quarters sleeves under his jersey.

“I can’t throw in sleeves,” Volstad said. “Growing up in Florida, I never had to. I’ll throw in short sleeves. I throw in short sleeves, no matter how cold it is.”

Asked if he had to pitch in the playoffs in October, Volstad joked about maybe having to wear two jackets.

— Joe Frisaro 

Marlins-Phils game rescheduled

Monday Night Football is impacting the Marlins.

On Tuesday night, the Marlins announced they are switching their Sept. 21 game with the Phillies to July 16 at Dolphin Stadium. The change comes to accommodate the Miami Dolphins, the primary tenant at the stadium. Tickets issued for the Sept. 21 will be honored on July 16.

The Dolphins will be playing a Monday night game on Sept. 21 at home against the Indianapolis Colts.

What the change means for the Marlins is they will gain an off day in late September. But instead of a three-game set with their NL East rival Phillies, that series now will be two games.

The change impacts Florida’s final homestand. The Marlins will now have a five-game homestand at Dolphin Stadium from Sept. 22-27 against the Phillies and Mets. New York will be in town Sept. 25 for the first of three games.

— Joe Frisaro

Gload batting cleanup

The Marlins tweaked their lineup as Jorge Cantu still is sitting out with his sore left hand. Ross Gload is hitting in Cantu’s cleanup spot.

Here’s the lineup for Tuesday at Atlanta:

Emilio Bonifacio 3b, John Baker C, Hanley Ramirez ss Ross Gload 1b, Dan Uggla 2b, Jeremy Hermida lf, Cameron Maybin cf, Alfredo Amezaga rf, Chris Volstad p.

Still nursing his sore hand, Cantu took batting practice on Tuesday, and said he felt a slight pinch. However, he is making strides, and he’s hopeful to be in the lineup on Wednesday.

— Joe Frisaro


Bonifacio = Speed + Instincts

It’s one thing to have blazing speed. It’s another to know how to apply it to running the bases.

What shouldn’t be lost in evaluating Emilio Bonifacio’s game is the fact he is an excellent base runner. He’s not just a baseball player with track star speed.

“I’ve been saying it all the time, he’s not just a speed guy that plays baseball,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “This guy is a baseball player who just happens to have speed. It’s a big difference.”

Just because you are fast doesn’t mean you can run the bases well, or make the cuts around each bag effectively.

“This guy’s got good instincts,” Gonzalez said. “He runs the bases. He knows how to cut [the bag]. He knows when to run. He knows when he can’t run. Right now, he’s an exciting player to watch.”

— Joe Frisaro

Marlins playoffs facts vs. fiction

Did the Marlins buy their 1997 World Series title? What were the sizes of the crowds at Dolphin Stadium for Florida’s playoff games?

Regarding both these questions, sometimes the fiction doesn’t match the facts.

As a quick refresher, here are some facts to ponder.

Lets’s start with the ’97 payroll. Critics say the Marlins that year, “bought the title.” Well, let’s look at the numbers and you can decide.

According BaseballChronology.com, the ’97 Marlins indeed had one of the top payrolls in the Major Leagues. But if you say they “bought it,” then the teams they beat also were trying to buy it too.

Here’s the top five payrolls in ’97: Yankees ($73,389,577), Orioles ($64,611,399), Indians ($58,865,056), Braves ($53,111,000) and Marlins ($54,465,000).

In the — did you know — category, the Red Sox had the 15th highest payroll that year ($40,611,351) and Mets were 17th ($34,985,330). Then with 28 teams, the A’s ranked last ($12,879,889).

Secondly, in a look at Marlins playoff attendance. Let’s look at 1997 and 2003.

Here’s the home crowds in ’97:

NLDS vs. Giants: Game 1 — 42,167; Game 2 — 41,283.

NLCS vs. Braves: Game 3 — 53,857; Game 4 — 54,890; Game 5 — 51,982.

WS vs. Indians: Game 1 — 67,245; Game 2 — 67,025; Game 6 — 67,498; Game 7 — 67,204.

A look at 2003 playoffs:

NLDS vs. Giants: Game 3 — 61,488; Game 4 — 65,464.

NLCS vs. Cubs: Game 3 — 65,115; Game 4 — 65,829; Game 5 — 65,279.

WS vs. Yankees: Game 3 — 65,731; Game 4 — 65,934; Game 5 — 65,975.

— Joe Frisaro