September 2009

Hanley on brink of 100

Even though Hanley Ramirez didn’t get a hit in the Marlins’ 11-3 win on Saturday night against the Nationals, the All-Star shortstop did drive in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Now with 99 on the season, Ramirez is on the brink of his first 100 RBI campaign.

In his first three seasons, Ramirez was primarily a leadoff hitter, and he established franchise records for runs scored in a season with 125, which he did in 2007-08. He’s hit third this year.

Previously, his RBI high was 81 in 2007.

Ramirez is having an MVP-caliber season, although the frontrunner for the award is St. Louis’ Albert Pujols.

Still, Ramirez is enjoying a remarkable season, and worthy of serious MVP consideration. Now he’s shown he can be a big-time run producer batting in the third spot.

The last Marlin to reach 100 RBIs was Miguel Cabrera, who posted 119 in 2007.

Here’s Florida’s all-time 100 RBI leaders:

121 Preston Wilson 2000

120 Gary Sheffield 1996

119 Miguel Cabrera 2007

116 Miguel Cabrera 2005

115 Carlos Delgado 2005

115 Moises Alou 1997

114 Miguel Cabrera 2006

112 Miguel Cabrera 2004

105 Mike Lowell 2003

105 Jeff Conine 1995

— Joe Frisaro




Marlins Sunday lineup

The Marlins lineup on Sunday in the series finale with Washington:

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Johnson, 1B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 3B

5) Uggla, 2B

6) Ross, RF

7) Paulino, C

8) Maybin, CF

9) Volstad, P

— Joe Frisaro


Rain delay ticket policy

Heavy rain delayed the start of Saturday’s game by 2-hours, 34-minutes. The game was slated to begin at 6:10 p.m. ET, but instead got under way at 8:44 p.m.

Because the delay was more than 90 minutes, fans at the park on Saturday can use their ticket stubs to purchase a ticket, for $1, to any of the remaining Marlins home games this year.

— Joe Frisaro



Monitoring Josh Johnson

Based on numbers and pure talent, Josh Johnson has established himself as one of the elite starting pitchers in the game.

Considering how bright his future is, the Marlins are being especially careful with how they use the 25-year-old in the final weeks of the season.

The way the team has mapped out is rotation, Johnson is slotted to make four more starts this season, including one of the double-header games with the Phillies on Sept. 22, and the final game of the season, on Oct. 4 at Philadelphia.

With 188 1/3 innings this year, Johnson already is well over his previous high for a season — 157 as a rookie in 2006.

Johnson underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in August 2007, and he returned to the rotation in July 2008. Combined in 2007 and 2008, Johnson threw 154 total innings.

“You’ve got to keep an eye on those things,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Here’s a guy who has four more starts, and he’s going to be at 200-plus innings.”

Even if the Marlins fall completely out of contention, the Marlins do not want to shut down their talented right-hander. Now, if he shows signs of laboring, physically, they may have to. But the hope is that doesn’t happen.

“I really think he’s doing fine,” Gonzalez said. “We don’t want to pull the plug on him, because we’ve got to get him through those thresholds. We’ve got to keep an eye on those stressful innings.”

Johnson was lifted after five innings and 89 pitches on Friday night in a no-decision against the Nationals. He struck out eight and walked four.

“Historically, through the year, when he throws 90 [pitches] he’s through the seventh,” Gonzalez said. “The most he’s gone is 119 in Toronto, in a complete game. Sure, you might have been able to run him back out there in the sixth, but we felt we would probably have to go get him, the way the game was going.”

Johnson’s career high for pitches in a game was 119 at Toronto on June 14.

The 6-foot-7 Oklahoma resident prides himself on working at least seven innings. As Gonzalez noted, when he was regularly getting through the seventh inning, his pitch count was around 90 at that point. Now, he’s getting close to that number in the fifth.

“We’ve got to run him out there every fifth day, but it’s a fine line,” Gonzalez said. “I think we’re doing the right thing, there is no question in my mind, we’re doing the right thing for the [player] and the team.”

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins-Nationals lineups

The Marlins take on the Nationals on Saturday night in the second of three games at Land Shark Stadium.
Here are the complete lineups
1) Willie Harris, CF
2) Ian Desmond, SS
3) Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4) Adam Dunn, 1B
5) Josh Willingham, LF
6) Elijah Dukes, RF
7) Josh Bard, C
8) Alberto Gonzalez, 2B
9) Marco Estrada, P
1) Chris Coghlan, LF
2) Nick Johnson, 1B
3) Hanley Ramirez, SS
4) Jorge Cantu, 3B
5) John Baker, C
6) Dan Uggla, 2B
7) Cody Ross, RF
8) Cameron Maybin, CF
9) Anibal Sanchez, P
HP Jim Reynolds
1B Chad Fairchild
2B Bill Welke
3B Tim Welke

Stanton, Dominguez eyeing ring

They’ve been on the fast track since reaching pro ball, and now they are trying to win a ring.

Mike Stanton and Matt Dominguez, two of the top prospects in all of baseball, are gaining valuable experience playing for Double-A Jacksonville in the Southern League playoffs.

After winning the first two games in the best-of-five series at Birmingham, the Suns can clinch the Southern League championship on Saturday in Jacksonville.

Stanton and Dominguez are playing big parts in the title run. The two opened the season at Class A Jupiter, but have made the jump in midseason to Double-A.

Once the playoffs are completed, next month Stanton and Dominguez will representing the Marlins in the Arizona Fall League.

“we’re looking at it like it’s extending Double-A a little bit longer for them,” said Jim Fleming, the Marlins vice president of player development and scouting. “It’s more at-bats against the caliber of pitching they’ve seen at Double-A.”

Dominguez and Stanton are two prize picks from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Dominguez, a third baseman who has been compared to Mike Lowell, was taking in the first round. Stanton, an outfielder who has been mentioned as a Dave Winfield-caliber player, went in the second round.

Predictably, both have struggled a bit at Double-A.

“They’ve had some ups and downs,” Fleming said. “The jump from Jupiter to Double-A is a pretty good one.”
Stanton played in 79 games at Jacksonville and he hit .231 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs.

Counting his Class A numbers, Stanton finished witha .255 average with 24 doubles, five triples, 28 home runs and 92 RBIs.

Dominguez, meanwhile, played in 31 games at Double-A, and he had 97 at-bats, batting .186 with two homers and nine RBIs.

Yet in Friday’s 8-1 win at Birmingham, Stanton was 2-for-4 as the designated hitter, while Dominguez was 2-for-5.

Overall this year, Dominguez hit .247 with 13 homers and 62 RBIs.

Since Stanton is still 19 and Dominguez turned 20 a few weeks ago, the Marlins organization expected both to have some rough stretches.

“That’s what you want to do. You want to challenge them,” Fleming said. “You want them to have some tough spots in the Minor Leagues, and see them get through it. It’s not something you want to have them to have to first experience at the big league level. It’s part of the process, to keep them challenged, and push them a little bit.”

— Joe Frisaro

West lifted in fifth

Sean West became the second Marlins starter in the series to get shaken up and not be able to complete five innings.

While running the bases in the fourth inning, West stumbled and rolled his right ankle while touching first, and he fell a few feet beyond the bag. The incident occurred after he tapped a ground ball to shortstop Anderson Hernandez. But Hernandez didn’t throw to first base, instead he tossed Cody Ross out trying to advance from second base to third.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez and assistant trainer Mike Kozak headed toward West, who convinced them he was fine. But in the bottom of the fifth inning, West exited after facing two batters and not recording an out. West’s first pitch of the inning struck pinch-hitter Wilson Valdez. After Angel Pagan’s double, West was replaced by Burke Badenhop.

West insists he is fine, and he is slated to make his next start on Tuesday at St. Louis.

“That was just a pitcher running the bases right there,” West said. “I was watching the play unfold at third base. I wasn’t watching where I was going, and I just caught the corner of the bag. It startled me at first. I got up and I was fine. It’s just a little embarrassing, but I’m fine.”

The conditions weren’t ideal on Thursday, as a light rain began to fall in the fourth inning.

On Tuesday night in the series opener, Rick VandenHurk also exited after four innings due to stiffness in his back.

— Joe Frisaro

Coghlan saved by wrist pad

Saved by the wrist pad.

Along with wearing batting gloves, Marlins rookie Chris Coghlan also dons wrist padding when he comes to the plate.

It came in handy on Wednesday night.

In the second inning of the Marlins’ 6-3 win over the Mets, Coghlan was plunk on the left wrist by a Pat Misch fastball. Immediately he fell to the ground in pain, but quickly gathered himself and headed to first base.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez and assistant trainer Mike Kozak tended to the Rookie of the Year candidate, who convinced them he was well enough to continue playing.

“My whole hand went numb,” Coghlan said. “I thought I’d broken it. Then the shock wore off, and it felt fine.”

Coghlan credits the padding on his wrist from saving him from a serious injury.

“It hit on this wrist band, and then it hit on top of my batting glove too,” Coghlan said. “It saved me a bunch.”

What would have happened had Coghlan not had his wrist covered?

“It would have been bad,” he said. “It’s like a wrist brace, to give your wrist support, and not be protective by hit by pitches.”

— Joe Frisaro


VandenHurk decision pending

Pain free, Rick VandenHurk threw off flat ground on Thursday afternoon before doing his normal between starts bullpen session at Citi Field.

While the right-hander’s stiff back didn’t present any problems, the Marlins will wait at least one more day before deciding whether VandenHurk will start on Sunday at home against the Nationals.

“He felt better,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’re going to give him an opportunity to see how he feels.”

So at least for now, the Marlins are considering going with VandenHurk. Ultimately, the decision could change. If it does, Chris Volstad is also lined up to start if the tight back presents any problems for VandenHurk.

Gonzalez noted the team will be cautious with VandenHurk, and he still has to show he is fully ready.

VandenHurk started the series opener against the Mets on Tuesday at Citi Field. He was removed after four innings.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins-Mets Thursday lineups

After being plunked on the left wrist by a pitch Wednesday night, Chris Coghlan was back in the starting lineup for the Marlins on Thursday in their series finale with the Mets on Thursday.


1) Coghlan, LF

2) Johnson, 1B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 3B

5) Baker, C

6) Uggla, 2B

7) Ross, RF

8) Maybin, CF

9) West, P


1) Pagan, CF

2) Castillo, 2B

3) Wright, 3B

4) Francoeur, RF

5) Tatis, 1B

6) Evans, LF

7) Santos, C

8) Hernandez, SS

9) Parnell, P

— Joe Frisaro