July 2009

Hanley still not ready

The Marlins set their lineup for Thursday, and All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez isn’t in it.

Needing at least one more day of rest for his right hip flexor, Ramirez missed his fifth straight start. Emilio Bonifacio once again was starting at shortstop in the series opener at Arizona.

Ramirez was expected to test his hip more on Thursday in pregame workouts, and the team is hopeful he can start on Friday.

Marlins on Thursday:

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Boni, SS

3) Uggla, 2B

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Ross, CF

6) Hermida, RF

7) Baker, C

8) Helms, 3B

9) Miller, P

— Joe Frisaro


Calero back from DL

On Thursday, the transaction became official as reliever Kiko Calero was reinstated off the disabled list. The right-hander had been out since June 18 with shoulder inflammation.

Reliever Tim Wood, who was doing a nice job, was optioned back to Triple-A. Even though Wood was sent back down, the Marlins saw promise from the right-hander. He likely will get called back up in the second half.

Calero’s return helps solidify the bullpen, which is starting to shape up. The 34-year-old has appeared in 36 games, and he will help out in a setup role, either in the seventh or eighth innings.

The Marlins also recently added veteran Brendan Donnelly. More veteran relief help promises to be on the way after the All-Star Break. On June 26, the Marlins signed right-hander Scott Williamson to a Minor League deal. Williamson last pitched in the big leagues in 2007, and he’s getting himself back into shape in Jupiter.

Shortly after the All-Star Break, closer Matt Lindstrom (right elbow sprain) may be ready to return.

Luis Ayala, who also signed a Minor League contract recently, is another relief option.

The Marlins open a four-game set with the Diamondbacks on Thursday in Arizona. In the final two games at San Francisco, Florida’s bullpen worked only one inning, so they should be rested.

— Joe Frisaro


Amezaga season over

All-purpose Alfredo Amezaga, one of the top utility players in the big leagues, will undergo microfracture surgery on his left knee on Monday and he will miss the remainder of the season.

Amezaga has been one of the most versatile Marlins since he joined the team in 2006. But the 31-year-old infielder/outfielder has been on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his left knee.

The team revealed on Wednesday that Amezaga will have the season-ending surgery performed by Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Co.

Amezaga last played on May 16, and he’s appeared in 27 games this season, batting .217. A switch-hitter, he has a .251 career batting average, but his value to the club has been his ability to play above-average defense in the infield and center field.

The Marlins initially placed Amezaga on the 15-day disabled list on May 21, retroactive to May 17. On Thursday, he was transferred to the 60-day disabled list, and infielder Andy Gonzalez had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans.

Amezaga played in the World Baseball Classic for Mexico, but he suffered a right knee injury in the first round.

Last week, Amezaga had an initial visit to Dr. Steadman.

— Joe Frisaro



Hanley scratched from lineup

Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez was scratched from the lineup on Sunday with a tight right hip flexor. Ramirez has been playing through a tight right groin for about a month, and the discomfort has moved into the hip area.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez says Ramirez is day-to-day, and he would consider pinch-hitting him on Sunday in the series finale with the Pirates.

Ramirez tweaked his hip flexor on a third-inning single, when he rounded first base. He came in early on Sunday for treatment, and felt some tightness.

The Marlins are hopeful Ramirez will be in the starting lineup on Monday at San Francisco.

1. Andrew McCutches, CF
2. Jack Wilson, SS
3. Brandon Moss, RF
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Garrett Jones, LF
6. Andy LaRoche, 3B
7. Ramon Vazquez, 2B
8. Jason Jaramillo, C
9. Ross Ohlendorf, RHP
1. Chris Coghlan, LF
2. Emilio Bonifacio, SS
3. Dan Uggla, 2B
4. Jorge Cantu, 1B
5. Jeremy Hermida, RF
6. Cody Ross, CF
7. John Baker, C
8. Wes Helms, 3B
9. Ricky Nolasco, RHP
— Joe Frisaro

Marlins sign reliever Donnelly

The Marlins announced on Sunday that they’ve signed veteran right-handed reliever Brendan Donnelly, who was activated for the series finale with the Pirates at Land Shark Stadium.

To make room for Donnelly, right-hander Chris Leroux was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

Donnelly last pitched in the big leagues for the Indians in 2008, appearing in 15 games. The veteran broke in with the Angels in 2002, and he has 318 career appearances.

— Joe Frisaro


Calero on rehab assignment

Kiko Calero’s first rehab assignment appearance was an impressive one.

The Marlins right-hander tossed a scoreless inning for Class A Jupiter on Saturday night, striking out one. Calero threw 12 pitches.

On the disabled list since June 21 with right shoulder inflammation, Calero is scheduled to throw another inning for Jupiter on Monday. If that goes well, the right-hander could rejoin the team on the road at Arizona, perhaps as early as July 9.

— Joe Frisaro

Wood offered needed relief

Not to be overlooked in the Marlins’ 7-4 loss to the Pirates on Friday night were three shutdown relief innings from Tim Wood, a recent callup from Triple-A New Orleans.

“He went three innings and 36 pitches,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He was very effective with his pitches. He really saved us. He really, really saved us, picking up those three innings. And he kept us in the ball game.”

Because of a 45-minute rain delay in the bottom of the third inning, starter Chris Volstad didn’t return for the fourth inning. That meant the bullpen needed to pick up some extra innings. Two days before, long reliever Burke Badenhop, tossed 2 2/3 innings in relief of Josh Johnson on Wednesday against the Nationals.

Long relief isn’t a role that Wood normally handles. But because Badenhop wasn’t available, Wood assumed long relief duties on Friday.

It marked the most innings he’s thrown since he returned from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery to his right elbow in 2006.

“I’ve made spot starts, but I didn’t go three innings,” Wood said on Saturday.

Friday was Wood’s third MLB appearance since being brought up.

He retired the first eight batters he faced before allowing a single to Adam LaRoche followed by a walk to Garrett Jones. Wood was able to escape the jam by getting Andy LaRoche to tap a ground ball to shortstop.

Admittedly, Wood felt fatigued in his third straight inning.

“I was definitely getting tired,” he said. “I was getting winded a little bit. I was able to bear down and make some pitches.”

Wood held the score at 4-0 after six innings.

The Marlins are in need of bullpen help due to some injuries. Closer Matt Lindstrom (sprained right elbow) and Kiko Calero (right shoulder inflammation) are out.

The Marlins have come to terms with veteran reliever Luis Ayala to a Minor League contract. Ayala will get some work at Triple-A New Orleans before joining the club.

Lindstrom threw off flat ground for the second straight day, and he could be back shortly after the All-Star Break. Calero, who is scheduled to pitch in a rehab assignment game for Class A Jupiter on Saturday, may be ready to join the team late next week at Arizona.

Wood is striving to help out whenever he is called upon.

“I’m noticing that you have to throw strikes,” he said of how to achieve big league success. “You’ve got to be ahead in the count. You can’t fall behind and be in fastball counts. These guys are professional hitters. They don’t miss fastballs in fastball counts.”

— Joe Frisaro



Marlins-Pirates Saturday lineups

With the Pirates throwing lefty Zach Duke on Saturday, the Marlins are going with a slightly different lineup.


1) Boni, 3B

2) Hermida, LF

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Uggla, 2B

6) Ross, CF

7) Paulino, C

8) Carroll, RF

9) Miller, P


Pirates lineup:

1) McCutchen, CF

2) Wilson, SS

3) Young, RF

4) Adam LaRoche, 1B

5) Jones, LF

6) Andy LaRoche, 3B

7) Diaz, C

8) Vazquez, 2B

9) Duke, P

— Joe Frisaro



Rainbow over Miami



Lovely rainbow over the stadium during the rain delay.

— Joe Frisaro



J.J. looking to regroup

Perhaps Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez put it best when he summed up Josh Johnson’s outing on Wednesday afternoon.

“He’s human,” Gonzalez said.

Considering how impressive Johnson has been all season, anything less than a quality start raises eyebrows.

Johnson exited on Wednesday against the Nationals after a season-low 3 1/3 innings. While the 6-foot-7 right-hander gave up just one run, and he wasn’t involved in the decision, his pitch count reached 89. He uncharacteristically walked four, with one intentional, and he struck out three.

The good news is Johnson physically is fine. You could chalk the outing as just an offday.

Johnson is 7-1 with a 2.76 ERA, and his 114 1/3 innings are behind only Arizona’s Dan Haren, who has 115.

Because the Marlins won on Wednesday, they improved to 14-3 when he starts.

In trying to pinpoint what was off against the Nationals, Johnson says he thinks he was landing too far apart on the mound. He plans on double checking on Saturday when he plans on watching video of his last outing.

Johnson is slated to throw his between starts bullpen session on Saturday, and he expects to review his delivery on video beforehand.

“I think I was getting too far out there,” Johnson said, meaning his front leg landing wider than normal. “When I land too far apart, it leaves you open, you slide.”

The glitch is very minor. But being slightly off can hinder a pitcher’s command of the strike zone.

Johnson is making a strong case to be an All-Star. He will know on Sunday. His next start is on Tuesday at San Francisco.

If Johnson does make the All-Star team, it is doubtful that he would be the National League’s starter. He’s also scheduled to pitch on July 12 in Arizona, which is the final game before the Break.

— Joe Frisaro