February 2010

MacDougal delayed a day

The Marlins entered Spring Training on Saturday in pretty good shape, physically.

One reliever, however, was not at the first workout because he was completing his physical. Mike MacDougal, who signed a Minor League contract a couple of days ago, was taking an MRI on Saturday.

The MRI was to double check a previous injury. Last October, when he was still with the Nationals, MacDougal underwent arthroscopic surgery to his right hip.

The Marlins also noted that reliever Renyel Pinto was excused by the team from working out. The left-hander is expected back on Sunday.

— Joe Frisaro


Meet Hunter Jones

One of the new faces in Marlins camp is certainly no stranger to South Florida.

Lefty reliever Hunter Jones, acquired from the Red Sox as part of the Jeremy Hermida trade in November, is in the mix for a bullpen job.

The 26-year-old grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, and he went to Florida State.

The Marlins opened Spring Training on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium. Other lefty relief candidates are Renyel Pinto, Dan Meyer and Taylor Tankersley.

Last year, Jones got a taste of the big leagues, appearing in 11 games for the Red Sox. The experience was rewarding and humbling. He posted a 9.24 ERA, and he was taken deep three times in 12 1/3 innings. Jones struck out nine and walked seven.

But two rough outings caused his ERA to inflate. Against Tampa Bay on May 9, he was tagged for four runs in two-thirds of an inning. And on Sept. 28 against the Blue Jays, he was charged with four runs in 1 2/3 innings.

On the flip side, he also enjoyed some success.

Jones showed he can be effective last April, when in four appearances, he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings.

In the offseason, he has worked on getting more movement on his fastball, along with fine tuning his slider.

The Marlins are known for providing opportunity to young relievers. Jones hopes to continue the tradition.

“They’ve had a great track record, and hopefully I can add to that,” Jones said. “I feel like I’ve already had a fair shake. I look forward to going out there and competing.

“I feel the opportunity is greater for me here to compete. With that being said, being that I had pitched last year, and knowing what I needed to do to come into this season. I feel I’m better prepared.”

Growing up in South Florida, Jones was initially a Braves fan, because at the time, the Marlins and Rays weren’t around. And the Braves made West Palm Beach their Spring Training home. Jones attended a number of Spring Training games, and he would see players like Dale Murphy at the park.

Now he is in position where his family and friends can watch him in Jupiter.

“I feel the Marlins are definitely believing in me,” Jones said. “Whenever you get traded, you feel there is a better opportunity.”

The day Jones joined the Marlins was a hectic one. He learned he was being mentioned in the deal while preparing to catch a flight from Palm Beach to Las Vegas to attend his friends bachelor party.

“I was obviously excited,” he said. “It was kind of crazy because I was going to my best friends bachelor party in Vegas. I left a Red Sox and landed a Marlin. When I got there, everybody already knew. It was pretty cool. They all knew before me.”

— Joe Frisaro

Workouts begin on Saturday

The first tosses of Spring Training will take place about 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

The Marlins officially open camp at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., and the workouts are open to the public. There is no charge.

On the back fields of the complex, the Marlins pitchers and catchers will get their drills underway roughly at 1:30 p.m.

Earlier in the day, players will be getting their physicals.

Full squad workouts get underway on Feb. 24.

— Joe Frisaro


Ross wins arbitration case

After enjoying his best MLB season, Cody Ross was in line for a hefty pay raise.

On Tuesday, the Marlins outfielder found out exactly how much.

At an arbitration hearing in St. Petersburg, Fla., a panel ruled in favor of Ross. Their decision means Ross will make $4.45 million in 2010, instead of the $4.2 million the Marlins offered.

Ross will receive a $2.225 million raise from a year ago, or double what he earned in 2009, when he made $2.225 million.

Ross and the Marlins had their hearing on Monday. It is common for the decision to be made a day later.

— Joe Frisaro


Tickets on sale on Saturday

FanFest on Saturday marks the start of selling individual game tickets for the 2010 Marlins season.

Tickets for Florida’s home games go on sale at noon at www.marlins.com and at Sun Life Stadium.

The only scheduled home games not available beginning on Feb. 13 are for the June 28-30 series against the Mets. While it hasn’t officially been announced yet, that three-game series with New York is being moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

So those games will not be available at this time to fans seeking seats for the 2010 season.

FanFest runs from noon to 6 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium, and it is an opportunity to meet players and get autographs.

Select-a-seat opportunities also are available for those seeking season tickets.

This will be the second to last FanFest at Sun Life Stadium, because the Marlins will be moving into their new ballpark in 2012. Fans who purchase season tickets now will receive priority seating at the new ballpark.

Admission to FanFest is free, but there is a $5 parking fee. That moneny, however, can go toward the purchase of a ticket.

— Joe Frisaro


Caravan togetherness

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Caravan for Earth continues

The Marlins “Caravan for Earth” continues through Friday. On Wednesday, players like Cody Ross and Chris Volstd took part in making a Little Havana home more energy efficient.

“Green” is the theme of the caravan, as the organization is taking on initiatives to educate people on being more environmentally friendly. Thanks to Marlins photographer Robert Vigon for the photo.


Marlins out of options

Who is out of options factors into finalizing every big league roster.

A year ago, because shortstop Robert Andino was out of options, he became a primary trade target because he was blocked by All-Star Hanley Ramirez. So late in Spring Training 2009, Andino was dealt to the Orioles for right-hander Hayden Penn, who also was without options.

The Marlins currently have seven players who are out of options, which means they have to be on the 25-man roster, or the club risks losing them.

When a player has options, he can be sent up and down to the Minor Leagues all season.

Here are the seven Marlins without options for 2010: Penn, Dan Meyer, Renyel Pinto, Brian Sanches, Wes Helms, Cody Ross and Leo Nunez.

Rule 5 addition Jorge Jimenez also must make the 25-man roster, or he will have to be offered back to Boston.

— Joe Frisaro


No interest in Branyan

The Marlins are not seeking to bring in veteran first baseman Russell Branyan, which was speculated a few days ago in an ESPN.com report.

According to a source, the Marlins didn’t make an offer to Branyan. The team didn’t even have a serious conversation with the slugger, who was with the Mariners in 2009.

The Marlins are in the market for a left-handed bat off the bench. The club is planning on having Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison compete for the first base job.

— Joe Frisaro


Amezaga agrees with Dodgers

One of the most versatile players to wear a Marlins uniform in recent years has found another job.

Alfredo Amezaga has reached agreement on a Minor League deal with the Dodgers. The 31-year-old utility player has an invitation to big league camp.

If Amezaga makes the Dodgers, he will earn $650,000, and if he meets all his incentives, he can earn another $800,000.

The 31-year-old has been with the Marlins since 2006. A switch-hitter, Amezaga has a career batting average of .251 with a .311 on-base percentage. A knee injury limited him to 27 games last year, and over the summer he underwent microfracture surgery after experiencing a bone bruise.

He was cleared to run in January, and worked out recently for four clubs. 

The Marlins maintained interest in bringing Amezaga back. While Amezaga enjoyed his tenure with Florida, he felt this was his best opportunity.

Because Amezaga is recovering from microfracture surgery to his left knee, the Marlins felt it was too risky to tender him a contract in December. A natural middle infielder who is an above average defensive center fielder, Amezaga made $1.3 million this past year and he appeared in just 27 games.

At the Winter Meetings in December, the Dodgers and Cubs explored acquiring Amezaga in a trade. But Amezaga wasn’t medically cleared at that time.

A natural middle infielder, Amezaga saw substantial time in center field. And he played every position but pitcher and catcher as a Marlin.

Emilio Bonifacio is the frontrunner to assume Amezaga’s utlity role.

— Joe Frisaro