May 2009

Swoboda's Marlins connection

A famous former Met has a silhouette on the sign of the right-field entrance at Citi Field as well as a connection to the Marlins.

Ron Swoboda, a hero on the Mets 1969 World Series championship team, is currently a broadcaster for the Marlins’ Triple-A New Orleans affiliate.

In New York for a Mets fantasy camp weekend, Swoboda mingled with the Marlins on Sunday, especially the players who opened the season at New Orleans. That list includes Chris Coghlan, Brett Hayes and Brian Sanches.

In Game 4 of the 1969 World Series, Swoboda made a diving, back-handed grab to rob Brooks Robinson of extra bases. A silhouette of the diving Swoboda is above the right-field entrance.

“I was going to stand out there and let people walk by,” Swoboda joked. “I move as good as that guy on the sign. Maybe a little better. But that’s pretty cool to see something like that.”

Swoboda’s catch came in Shea Stadium, which now is a parking lot.

“It’s America,” Swoboda said. “Everything turns into a parking lot, eventually.”

Asked if his catch was the best ever in the World Series, the 64-year-old former outfielder said: “It makes a few lists. When you’re as long as past your playing career, that’s nice to have something memorable, aside from running over the shortstop on a short fly on the left side when you forgot to call it. Which I did to Buddy Harrelson a couple of times.”

— Joe Frisaro

Swoboda's silhouette




Sunday's lineup at Citi Field

Not a whole lot was different in the Marlins’ lineup on Sunday in their series finale with the Mets at Citi Field.

As expected, Chris Coghlan was leading off and Emilio Bonifacio was hitting second. John Baker was back in the lineup after getting a day off on Saturday.

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Boni, 3B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Hermida, RF

6) Uggla, 2B

7) Baker, C

8) Ross, CF

9) Volstad, P

— Joe Frisaro

Revamping top of order

When Chris Coghlan hit in the leadoff spot last Monday at Philadelphia, it was considered a one-time thing to give Emilio Bonifacio a day off.

On Saturday, Coghlan was atop the Marlins batting order for the second time. Manager Fredi Gonzalez says the 23-year-old could remain there for a little while.

Looking to ignite the top of the order, Coghlan was slotted first and Bonifacio second against the Mets at Citi Field.

Basically, Coghlan and Bonifacio are flip-flopping. Previously, Coghlan had hit in the second spot, behind Bonifacio.

“We’re just trying something new with Cog, and keep Boni there in the two-hole, where he can still use his speed a little bit,” Gonzalez said.

A look at the one-base percentages is a reason for the change. Coghan, who played his 20th MLB game on Saturday, has a .342 on-base percentage to go along with a .217 batting average. However, in his last five games, he is 7-for-18 (.389) with five walks.

Bonifacio, meanwhile, is hitting .245 and his on-base percentage is .284. In 60 at-bats, Coghlan has 12 walks. Bonifacio has drawn 12 bases on balls, but in 204 at-bats.

Because speed is such a big part of Bonifacio’s game, the Marlins are wanting him to attempt at least one bunt a game. In Friday’s loss, Bonifacio had a bunt single, but it wasn’t a conventional one. In the eighth inning, he slap bunted the ball into left field.

— Joe Frisaro



Hanley at 80 percent

During pregame warmups on Saturday, Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez was in a familiar spot — fielding ground balls hit directly at him and in both directions.

The 25-year-old All-Star was moving around pretty well.

Asked if he was at full strength, Ramirez responded: “No.”

Manager Fredi Gonzalez estimates Ramirez was at 80 percent.

That was good enough for the Marlins to make the decision to return the Dominican Republic native to the starting lineup for the first time since Tuesday at Philadelphia.

Ramirez has not started due to a tight right groin suffered while he beat out an infield single in the third inning on May 26. He missed two starts, but on Friday night, he pinch-hit, and grounded out to shortstop in the 10th inning.

Florida lost 2-1 to the Mets in 11 innings.

Ramirez arrived early to Citi Field on Saturday morning for treatment. Gonzalez was at the park about 9 a.m., ET, and the shortstop walked in about five minutes later.

“He’s OK enough to play,” Gonzalez said. “He’s not 100 percent. I think he’s got to run, and stay within himself. If you had to put a percentage on it, I’d say 80 or 85.”

The Marlins won’t be expecting Ramirez to run at full-speed, and they want him to be careful in the field.

“We’re going to have to keep an eye on him,” Gonzalez said. “If he starts favoring it, then we’ll make a decision on him.”

The Marlins are hopeful Ramirez can go the distance because veteran Wes Helms has flu-like symptoms.

Helms is available to pinch-hit, but he didn’t go through pregame drills.

If Ramirez did have to exit the game early, Emilio Bonifacio would slide from third base to shortstop. If Helms isn’t ready to play in the field at third base, Jorge Cantu could be switched to third base, and Ross Gload would play first base.

— Joe Frisaro


Coghlan leads off, Hanley back

For the second time this season, Chris Coghlan is getting a leadoff nod. Also, Hanley Ramirez returned to the starting lineup, batting third.

The Marlins lineup on Saturday vs. Mets:

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Bonifacio, 3B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Hermida, RF

6) Uggla, 2B

7) Ross, CF

8) Paulino, C

9) Johnson, P

— Joe Frisaro


Another day at ballpark


Walk from 7 train to the new park. Still odd that Shea is a parking lot.


Cantu at Citi Field

In the middle of a slump, Jorge Cantu is hoping to reverse his fortunes at a field where he’s already enjoyed great success.

Entering Friday night, the Marlins first baseman was 2-for-11 on the road trip — or first three games at Philadelphia.

The Marlins opened a three-game set with the Mets at Citi Field. When the Marlins first played in the new ballpark — April 14-16 — Cantu had a big series. In those three games, he ws 5-for-9 with three home runs, seven RBIs, four runs scored and three walks.

“Everything was clicking then,” Cantu said.

Still leading the team with 35 RBIs, Cantu attributes this current slump to missing good pitches to hit, along with his right hand occasionally dipping, causing him to lift the ball. That’s a minor wrinkle in his swing that he’s ironing out.

“I’m missing my pitches lately,” Cantu said. “That’s what I’m doing, missing my pitches.

“It’s a bad streak. It started in that last homestand. For some reason, in the blink of an eye, it’s amazing how this game changes, in a second.”

— Joe Frisaro


Amezaga still resting

Alfredo Amezaga is eligible to come off the disabled list on June 1. The Marlins all-purpose utility player may need another 7-to-10 days after that.

“You’d be safe saying 7-to-10 days,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Actually, there is no real timeline.

Amezaga is out with a left knee contusion, which actually is a bone bruise to the inner part of his left knee.

The only baseball activities he’s done since is play catch at Philadelphia a couple of days ago.

The MRI revealed a good sized bruise, roughly the size of a golf ball.

Until Thursday, Amezaga said he felt a pinch in his left knee. But he hasn’t experienced that feeling the past two days.

“It feels a lot better,” he said.

Before being activated, Amezaga is expected to play three or four rehab assignment games.

When that will be has not been determined.

— Joe Frisaro  

Measuring interest in Cabrera

Daniel Cabrera’s struggles to throw strikes may ultimately shy the Marlins away from signing the right-hander, who was designated for assignment by the Nationals on Wednesday.

The Marlins are exploring whether to sign the 27-year-old. Working against him is the fact he has almost as many walks as innings pitched. With Washington, Cabrera walked 35 in 40 innings.

According to a source on Friday, Cabrera may have a difficult time landing immediately with another MLB team. There is a strong possibility that he could sign a Minor League contract, where he could work on his command first.

The Marlins Minor League pitching depth is thin, and that may be where he would fit immediately, if he is obtained by the organization.

Marlins pitching coach Mark Wiley previously worked with Cabrera when the right-hander pitched for the Orioles.

Cabrera was 0-5 witha 5.85 ERA in nine games with eight starts for the Nationals.

Along with his 35 walks, he’s struck out 16. He’s also had 10 wild pitches, and two hit batters, including plunking Jorge Cantu on the back of the left hand on April 8.

— Joe Frisaro