July 2009

Marlins Thursday lineup

The Marlins have gone with their primary left-handed hitting lineup on Thursday in their series opener with the Phillies at Land Shark Stadium. With Jamie Moyer starting for Philadelphia, Chris Coghlan is sitting, and Emilio Bonifacio is leading off.

1) Boni, 3B

2) Hermida, LF

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Uggla, 2B

6) Paulino, C

7) Ross, CF

8) Carroll, RF

9) Volstad, P

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins set series rotation

With the All-Star Game completed, the Marlins rotation for their four-game series with the Phillies also has been set.

The Marlins will send Chris Volstad to the mound on Thursday against Philadelphia’s Jamie Moyer.

In the remaining three games, Florida will go with Ricky Nolasco on Friday night, Josh Johnson on Saturday night, and left-hander Andrew Miller on Sunday.

The Marlins had been waiting to see where they’d slot Johnson, who was at the All-Star Game. Johnson comes off a victory last Sunday at Arizona, and he would have been lined up to start on Friday.

Even though he didn’t pitch for the National League on Tuesday night in the All-Star Game, the right-hander is getting an extra day of rest for the big showdown with the Phillies.

Philadelphia is starting Cole Hamels on Friday, Joe Blanton on Saturday and J.A. Happ on Sunday.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins add Ayala

Veteran reliever Luis Ayala was added to the Marlins on Sunday.

The Marlins selected Ayala’s contract from Triple-A New Orleans, filling the roster spot vacated when lefty Sean West was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville.

The Marlins recently signed Ayala to a Minor League contract.

The Marlins won’t need a fifth starter until Monday, July 20, when they are at San Diego.

— Joe Frisaro

Marlins Option West to Double-A

The Marlins optioned rookie Sean West to Double-A Jacksonville on Saturday night after the 23-year-old left-hander endured his third straight rough start.

West, who joined the rotation on May 23, made his 10th start on Saturday against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. He surrendered five runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Overall, his record is 3-4 with a 4.91 ERA.

In recent starts, West said he has struggled with his off-speed pitches — his slider and changeup.

“I have to improve on some things,” West said after the Marlins lost 5-1 to Arizona. “I agree 100 percent with their decision. There is stuff I have to work on. That’s a decision they had to make.

“If a big leaguer knows you don’t have your secondary pitches working, they’re going to sit on a fastball. I’ve been struggling with that the last two starts. I’ll go down to Jacksonville, improve on some things and see what happens. Just off-speed, in general.”

The Marlins will announce on Sunday who is being called up.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins 'want to add'

Phone calls are being made, and the Marlins certainly are looking to improve themselves before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

For now, whether anything gets done is a wait-and-see proposal.

“We don’t want to take away, we’d like to add,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.

The Marlins feel they are very much in the National League East race, and specifically, they’d like to add relief help. If a closer could be obtained, they’d be interested.

“We’d like to improve just like all the other teams looking to improve,” Beinfest said. “We recognize, we’re heading into the All-Star Break, and we’re in the race for the division. So you want to see what’s out there to improve yourself the best you can.

“There are so many teams in it, that it’s tough to make trades. They don’t want to take from their team. They want to add to it. In terms of your prospects, you have a threshold on what to give and not to give.”

Closer Matt Lindstrom is on the disabled list with a right elbow sprain. Beinfest is not optimistic that the right-hander will be back by the July 31 trade deadline.

“We’ll make due with what we have,” Beinfest said of the bullpen. “Those are good arms, and by and large, they’ve done a good job. We’d like to get Matt back. We hope he’s on the mound here in the next week or so, and start that progression.”

With Lindstrom, Beinfest added: “I don’t know. We’ll see the progression. We’ll have him on the mound, and we’ll have a better idea. You can deal with what if? But we’ll look at everything, and move on, and hope that he comes back.”

Recently, the Marlins signed veteran right-hander Luis Ayala to a Minor League contract. Ayala could help the team after the Break, after he gets some work in the Minor Leagues.

In terms of possible trades, Beinfest said the landscape changes daily.

“We’ll see what happens. It changes from day to day,” he said. “An injury today, or something happens. Or you have a bad week. You’re in. You’re out. It always gets dicey when you get to the end of the month.”

— Joe Frisaro





Setting post-break rotation

Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Marlins are still kicking around some ideas as to how to set their pitching rotation.

The Marlins open a four-game set with the first-place Phillies at Land Shark Stadium on Thursday, July 16. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has already noted that Chris Volstad will pitch in that game.

So Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Andrew Miller will round out the series with Philadelphia.

The question remains: In what order?

Key in how to set up the rotation is Johnson.

J.J. pitches on Sunday at Arizona, and then he will head to the All-Star Game. If he doesn’t pitch in the All-Star Game, then J.J. could possibly start against the Phillies on Friday. If he does pitch an inning at the Midsummer Classic, then Johnson would not go until either Saturday or Sunday.

— Joe Frisaro


Winning first half for Marlins?

If the Marlins can win at least one of the final two games in their series with the Diamondbacks, they will guarantee themselves a winning record at the All-Star Break.

At 45-43, the worse they can finish is an even .500.

Seven times in their history they’ve had winning records at the Break. Last year, the team was 50-45.

Courtesy of the Marlins’ public relations staff, here’s the other years they posted winning records: 2005 (44-42), 2004 (45-43), 2003 (49-46), 2002 (45-43), 2000 (45-43) and 1997. Of those seven seasons, the team went on to finish with a winning record five times: 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 1997.

— Joe Frisaro


Hanley used Carroll's bat

In Florida’s record-setting 10-run eighth inning on Thursday night, they collected eight total hits. Two of them were delivered by the same bat.

In an exchange that went unnoticed, Hanley Ramirez delivered his pinch-hit single to right field using Brett Carroll’s bat. Ramirez, who hadn’t played since July 4 because of a tight right hip flexor, brought one bat to the dugout.

On a foul ball, he broke his bat while facing hard-throwing Juan Gutierrez. For a few seconds, there was a scramble looking for another bat. 

Carroll’s bat, which is 34 ounces and 31 1/2 inches, was flipped to Ramirez, who singled to load the bases.

Two batters later, Carroll stepped up against lefty Scott Schoeneweis. With the same bat, Carroll smacked a three-run homer that gave the Marlins an 8-7 lead.

The irony is, on the home run, Carroll actually broke the bat.

“It didn’t sound right when I hit it,” he admitted on Friday.

On Thursday, Carroll didn’t mention that the bat was broken on the upper part of the handle. But when Schoeneweis told reporters that the bat broke, Carroll spoke about it the next day.

“I knew the ball got in on me, and it [the hit] kind of sounded funny,” Carroll said.

Carroll is thinking of giving the cracked bat to a family member. It was his first pinch-hit home run.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins lineup Friday

Hanley Ramirez is back in the starting lineup for the first time since July 4. The All-Star shortstop has been nursing a tight right hip flexor.

Ramirez saw action on Thursday night, pinch-hitting in Florida’s 10-run, eighth inning. Ramirez had a single, and had a second plate appearance, drawing a walk.

Lineups vs. Diamondbacks:

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Boni, 3B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Gload, 1B

5) Uggla, 2B

6) Hermida, RF

7) Ross, CF

8) Baker, C

9) Nolasco, P


1) Lopez, 2B

2) Drew, SS

3) Upton, RF

4) Reynolds, 3B

5) Montero, C

6) Parra, CF

7) Romero, LF

8) Tracy, 1B

9) Haren, P

— Joe Frisaro


Cantu ends home run drought

For a few seconds in the sixth inning on Thursday night, Jorge Cantu didn’t know what to think.

Cantu belted a two-run homer off Yusmeiro Petit in the sixth inning, which triggered Florida’s record-tying comeback victory.

It was Cantu’s 10th home run of the season and first since June 3. The Marlins cleanup hitter had gone 118 at-bats between circling the bases. The Marlins erased a seven-run deficit, and went on to a 14-7 victory.

After hitting his homer, Cantu joked with second baseman Dan Uggla.

“I know. It’s been a while,” the Florida first baseman said. “I even forgot how to trot the bases. I didn’t know what to do. I told Danny, ‘I don’t know what to do with myself, I just hit a home run.’ “

Cantu has been a solid run producer, despite his long home run drought. He now has 51 RBIs.

“It feels good. I know I’m a streak guy,” Cantu said. “I’m going to go out there and keep swinging. You don’t make any changes technically. It will come. I know it will come.”

Rallying from being down by seven to victory matches a franchise record. On June 23, 2003 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Marlins battled back from 9-2.

The Marlins scored a team record 10 runs in the eighth inning to pull away.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other teams in MLB history have won by seven or more after trailing by seven or more in the sixth inning or later. The Cardinals in 1911 against the Reds (trailed 8-0, won, 15-8) and the Indians in 1999 against Tampa Bay (trailed 10-2, won, 20-11).

“It was crazy,” Cantu said.

— Joe Frisaro