June 2009

Lindstrom dealing with adversity

No one can accuse Matt Lindstrom of ducking the issues.

After he allowed four straight singles with two outs and no one on in the ninth inning on Tuesday, the Marlins closer was sitting at his locker waiting for reporters.

The hard-throwing right-hander has been a standup player from the time he joined the Marlins in 2007. Right now, he’s going through a difficult stretch.

In the month of June, Lindstrom’s ERA is 7.56 — seven earned runs in 8 1/3 innings. While the Marlins beat the Orioles, 7-6, in 12 innings on Tuesday, Lindstrom was upset at himself for not being able to record the final out in the ninth inning.

He entered with a three-run lead, but the Orioles did all their damage with two outs. Manager Fredi Gonzalez replaced Lindstrom with Brian Sanches with a runner on third. Sanches was seeking his first MLB save, but he allowed the game-tying single, setting up extra innings.

“It’s difficult to get that 27th out,” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to keep running [Lindstrom] out there.”

Having a bad outing or two is nothing new to anyone in the big leagues. On Sunday, Lindstrom faced a similar situation in a 6-5 win over the Yankees. He recorded two quick outs to New York, and then gave up two runs, before working out of the jam, stranding a runner at third.

“It’s a tough growing process, that’s for sure, especially when you get the first two outs like that,” Lindstrom said.

Typically, when a player struggles as much as Lindstrom, it makes one wonder if he is healthy. Thus far, no one has said Lindstrom is not, and his velocity was at 98 mph on Tuesday. Still, he had no command of his offspeed pitches, and threw a number of four-seam fastballs, which are less stressful to his arm. 

It doesn’t take hitters long to realize that only fastballs are coming.

Lindstrom has appeared in 32 games this year, and he’s 2-1 with a 6.52 ERA. He is 14 of 16 in save chances. He didn’t get the missed save on Tuesday, that went to Sanches.

In Spring Training, Lindstrom dealt with a rotator cuff strain at the World Baseball Classic, and he missed almost all of the preseason games.

The Marlins bullpen already is dealing with some injury issues. Kiko Calero is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. On Wednesday afternoon, he was throwing catch on flat ground with Anibal Sanchez, who is on the DL with a shoulder injury.

And Leo Nunez, a fallback closer option, has an injury concern. Nunez left Tuesday’s game after facing two batters in the eighth inning due to a sprained right ankle. He is day-to-day.

If Lindstrom is indeed feeling some discomfort, the Marlins bullpen be even more shorthanded.

A possible option in the Minor Leagues is right-hander Rick VandenHurk, who is in the rotation for Triple-A New Orleans.

— Joe Frisaro  

Nunez sprains right ankle

Marlins reliever Leo Nunez was removed in the eighth inning on Tuesday night with a right ankle sprain.

Florida’s primary setup right-hander, Nunez faced two Orioles’ batters, surrendering a home run to Matt Wieters and a single to Robert Andino. Immediately, trainer Sean Cunningham and manager Fredi Gonzalez came to the mound.

Nunez has appeared in 37 games, and he’s been the bridge reliever to closer Matt Lindstrom. Nunez was replaced by left-hander Dan Meyer.

— Joe Frisaro


Yankees protest denied

After sweating it out for a couple of days, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez had some relief on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Major League Baseball sent a fax to the Marlins, informing them that the Yankees’ protest, officially filed on Monday, was denied. Therefore, the result of Sunday’s game stands, with Florida claiming a 6-5 win.

— Joe Frisaro

Marlins lineup for Tuesday

Marlins lineup for Tuesday vs. the Orioles:

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Boni, 3B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Hermida, RF

6) Uggla, 2B

7) Ross, CF

8) Baker, C

9) Miller, P

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins-Yanks TV numbers

Big crowds were on hand when the Marlins played host to the Yankees this weekend at Land Shark Stadium. The series also attracted a large television audience in South Florida.

The three-game set, televised on FOX Sports Florida and Sun Sports, drew a 5.2 overall Nielsen TV household ratings number, the highest of any Marlins three-game series since July of 2008.

Father’s Day on Sunday brought in the biggest numbers — a 6.2 average TV household rating (95,289 households) in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market. More viewers on average watched the Marlins game on Sunday than they did the second highest rated show of the day in the market — CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which posted a 4.4.

As the drama of the Marlins game built in the later innings, the TV numbers also grew. From 8-8:15 p.m. ET, the game had a ******** 8.8 average — more than 135,000 TV homes.

Saturday’s game also was widely watched. it produced a 5.6 average (87,245 households), and was the most watched cable program of the day. Friday night’s numbers were 3.8 (59,246).

— Joe Frisaro

Celebrity Marlins fans



According to celebrity-gossip.net, Drew Barrymore and Justin Long were at Sunday’s Marlins game against the Yankees at Land Shark Stadium.

— Joe Frisaro

Volstad all evened out

Talk about seeing double.

Entering Sunday afternoon’s game against the Yankees, Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad was virtually identical in his performances at home and on the road. Not that all the numbers were pretty, but they were strangely coincidental.

Place Volstad’s home/road splits side by side and this is what you saw:

* Home ERA: 4.75; Road ERA: 4.75.

* Home Innings pitched: 41 2/3: Road IP: 41 2/3.

* Home earned runs: 22; Road ER: 22.

* Home home runs allowed: 7; Road HR: 7.

* Home WHIP: 1.30; Road WHIP: 1.30.

Not everything was perfectly lined up, as Volstad had a 2-4 record at home, compared to 2-3 on the road.

Taking the mound on Sunday, something had to give, and it did. Volstad tossed six innings, allowing three runs and collecting the win.

So now, his home ERA is 4.72, while his innings pitched are 47 2/3, earned runs are 25, and WHIP (walks-hits per innings pitched) is 1.26.

At 6-foot-7, Volstad is a sinkerball pitcher, who tries to use his leverage to throw downhill. When he’s at his best, he’s getting a lot of ground balls.

“I’m getting back to that two-seamer, I was throwing it a lot,” Volstad said of his sinker. “If I can get back to that two-seam, they should just roll over it. I got plenty of ground balls off that.”

— Joe Frisaro



Meyer maturing on the job

There is still a bit of on-the-job training for Marlins lefty Dan Meyer, but with each passing game he is learning more about himself.

Once a touted prospect as a starter in the Braves system, Meyer is establishing himself as a strong situational lefty coming out of the bullpen.

Saturday night he cleared another personal hurdle. Entering in relief of Leo Nunez in the eighth inning with the potential tying run at third base, Meyer struck out Johnny Damon, who couldn’t hold back on a high fastball.

Damon was the only batter Meyer faced, but the sequence helped secure the Marlins, 2-1, win over the Yankees.

“It just doesn’t get much better as far as being a competitor,” Meyer said. “I got out there early, I was a little nervous. It was funny. Something just kind of hit me. My previous years when I was with Oakland, I would get a little nervous.

“But for some reason, maybe it was the 2-0 pitch or the 2-1 pitch, I said to myself, ‘This is what you play for. To play before 45,000 people, some of them for us, some of them against us. Johnny Damon at the plate. Me versus him. That’s what you play for.’ It was a lot of fun.”

The Marlins claimed Meyer off waivers from Oakland last November, and they’ve developed him in a key bullpen role.

“There is so much more for me to learn in this game, especially coming out of the bullpen,” he said. “Every time I go out there it’s a learning experience.”

Getting Damon at a pivotal moment was another step forward. The previous night the two faced each other in the eighth inning. Meyer threw a slider that Damon slapped into right field for a single.

“I threw a lot of them [sliders] last night, and he had a base hit off me [Friday] night,” Meyer said. “I just said, ‘I wanted to stay with the fastball here.’ I guess I missed my spot by so much that he chased it. For me, that was a lot of fun.”

— Joe Frisaro




Hanley dealing with groin strain

For weeks, Hanley Ramirez has been playing through a right groin strain. Some days are better than others.

In the fourth inning on Saturday night, Ramirez tweaked his groin while scrambling back to first base. Ramirez singled off A.J. Burnett to open the inning. With Jorge Cantu at bat, Ramirez took off for second base in a steal attempt on an 0-1 pitch. He got a great jump, but Cantu fouled the pitch off.

Ramirez returned to first. Cantu struck out, and Dan Uggla came to bat. Again, Ramirez attempted to steal, but he lost his footing. Immediately he headed back to the base. Catcher Jorge Posada threw down to first, and Ramirez extended to get back safely. It took him a few seconds to recollect himself. 

“I don’t want to come out of the game,” Ramirez said. “I want to stay in the game, keep competing, and help my team win.”

On a wild pitch while Uggla was batting, Ramirez moved slowly down to second base.

In the sixth inning, Ramirez had to push it on the bases. After walking, he scored from first on Cantu’s drive to left field that was misplayed by Johnny Damon for a two-base error.

Reminded that he had to run full speed, Ramirez joked: “That always happens.” 

— Joe Frisaro


Proctor on the mend

Veteran reliever Scott Proctor, who underwent season-ending Tommy John ligament replacement surgery six weeks ago, has been out of his cast since last Monday.

Proctor is sporting a zipper scar on his right elbow. It will be another 10 or so weeks before he starts throwing.

Formerly with the Yankees, Proctor signed with the Marlins in the offseason, but he was injured early in Spring Training, and he opened the season on the disabled list.

His goal is to be ready for Spring Training of 2010. If the Marlins are receptive, he’d like to pitch for Florida.

“I’d love to come back here,” Proctor said. “I really enjoy the guys. The coaching staff is phenomenal. The front office is outstanding. I signed here to pitch. I didn’t sign here to rehab for a year. And to show them what they signed me for, pitching-wise. That’s obviously the goal.”

Ultimately, that decision will be made in the offseason, when the Marlins evaluate their objectives for 2010, and Proctor weighs his options.

— Joe Frisaro