March 2010

Mets-Marlins lineups

Josh Johnson was scheduled to start against the Mets on Friday, but he was scratched due to a stomach virus. Hayden Penn will make the start for Florida at Roger Dean Stadium.

The Marlins and Mets meet at 1:05 p.m. ET.







1) Angel Pagan, CF

2) Luis Castillo, 2B

3) David Wright, 3B

4) Jason Bay, LF

5) Daniel Murphy, 1B

6) Jeff Francoeur, RF

7) Alex Cora, SS

8) Rod Barajas, C

9) Nelson Figueroa, P







1) Chris Coghlan, LF

2) Cameron Maybin, CF

3) Hanley Ramirez, SS

4) Ronny Paulino, C

5) Gaby Sanchez, 1B

6) Donnie Murphy, 3B

7) Hector Luna, 2B

8) Bryan Petersen, RF

9) Hayden Penn, P

— Joe Frisaro


Is Leo tipping his pitches?

To Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire, something didn’t look right when Leo Nunez faced the Cardinals on March 11.

In that game, the Florida closer was tagged for five runs (three earned) in two-thirds of an inning. Nunez was looking to collect a save, but instead, he was slapped with the Grapefruit League game loss to the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

The way the Cardinals were on Nunez, ripping four hits, had St. Claire wondering if the closer was tipping his hand.

As it turns out, he was.

“He was tipping his pitches,” St. Claire said. “It looked like these guys knew exactly what was coming. The way they hit the fastball, the way they stayed on the changeup, all of it.

“I went in to look at it, and it was really, really obvious from the video. So we’ve been working on it his last couple of outings.”

The way Nunez was positioning his glove made it clear to keen-eyed opposing hitters who detected the closer was telegraphing what he was throwing.

“It was easily recognizable,” St. Claire said. “Older, veteran lineups like the Cards picked up on it.”

Since then, the Marlins are checking to see how Nunez’s hand is going into his glove before delivering his pitches. Nunez struggled a bit on Wednesday against the Twins in Fort Myers, giving up one run on two hits in one inning. He had a strikeout and two walks.

St. Claire detected the tipping by reviewing video from this spring and last year. As it turns out, Nunez was also tipping at times in 2009.

Nunez has appeared in six games, and he’s thrown 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander has given up six runs on six hits with six strikeouts and four walks.

Nunez is in the process of adjusting his glove to prevent hitters from knowing what pitch is coming.

— Joe Frisaro


Lates on Lowell, rumors

All of his credentials speak for themselves.

Mike Lowell is a three-time All-Star, a two-time World Series champion, a World Series MVP. But is the 36-year-old a fit for the Marlins?

The question was raised again on Thursday when the Marlins visited the Red Sox at City of Palms Park.

mike-lowell-rounds.jpgAs popular a move it would be to bring back Lowell, there continues to be strong indications that there is minimal Marlins interest, at best.

In fact, the interest is said to be “barely above zero.”

In recent weeks, there has been speculation about the Marlins showing interest in acquiring Lowell in a trade. A scout from Florida recently watched him work out.

“I know it’s a feel good story,” Lowell said on Thursday. “But they’re rumors. That’s about it.”

Miami-raised, Lowell is one of the most popular players in Marlins history. He is Florida’s all-time home run leader with 143.

Lowell was a Marlin from 1999-2005, and he was a key member of the Marlins 2003 World Series title team.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez was Florida’s third base coach in 1999, Lowell’s first year in the big leagues.

“For me, he was always one of those guys who only needed an opportunity,” Gonzalez said. “He came to the right place to get that opportunity. If he had stayed with the Yankees, he might now even have gotten that opportunity. The Marlins gave him an opportunity to play.”

Lowell was drafted in the 20th round by the Yankees in 1995.

“He’d be a good addition for any ball club, including the Red Sox,” Gonzalez said.

Health-wise, Lowell says: “I feel good. Better than last year.”

A career third baseman, Lowell has been taking ground balls at first base. He may have to make the switch to prolong his career.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins-Red Sox lineups

The Marlins and Red Sox face off at 1:05 p.m. at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers. Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad will look to secure a rotation spot. The Red Sox are going with knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield.







1) Chris Coghlan, LF

2) Cameron Maybin, CF

3) Dan Uggla, 2B

4) Jorge Cantu, 3B

5) John Baker, C

6) Mike Lamb, DH

7) Wes Helms, 1B

8) Bryan Petersen, RF

9) Brian Barden, SS







1) Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

2) Marco Scutaro, SS

3) Victor Martinez, C

4) Kevin Youkilis, 1B

5) David Ortiz, DH

6) J.D. Drew, RF

7) Adrian Beltre, 3B

8) Jeremy Hermida, LF

9) Bill Hall, 2B

— Joe Frisaro



Carroll strains left oblique

In batting practice, Brett Carroll felt some discomfort.

Not wanting to give up a start in right field, however, the Marlins outfielder stayed in the game. But after it was clear that something was wrong during his at-bat in the second inning, Carroll was replaced.

Shortly afterwards, the team announced that Carroll is hampered with a left oblique strain.

091209carroll1_t300.jpgThe injury actually occurred in batting practice before the Marlins lost, 4-1, to the Twins at Hammond Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

“In my last round of BP, I just felt a little aching,” Carroll said. “My first swing of my first at-bat, I fouled the ball off and I didn’t feel right.”

Carroll ended up striking out, and before the bottom of the second inning started, Bryan Petersen went to right field.

“I’d never experienced this before,” Carroll said. “I’ve never experienced an oblique. It’s mild. We’ll see. It’s one of those things I can’t control.”

With Opening Day slated for April 5, the timing of Carroll’s injury jeopardizes his chances of being on the team when camp concludes.

Carroll is in the mix for an outfield reserve job. A terrific defender, with one of the strongest outfield throwing arms in the game, Carroll has not been a lock to make the club.

For a while the team has considered carrying both Emilio Bonifacio and Brian Barden. Both are natural infielders who can play outfield. Bonifacio will make the team as a super utility player, capable of playing infield and center field.

Barden has enjoyed a strong Spring Training, and he is a candidate to be a backup infielder who also can play corner outfield.

Carroll, meanwhile, his batting .267 with three home runs and six RBIs in 30 Grapefruit League at-bats.

“It’s not near the rib, which is supposed to be ok,” Gonzalez said. “It’s still going to be a couple of days. I wouldn’t know until that thing settles down.”

— Joe Frisaro


Lineups vs. Twins

The Marlins face the Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers on Wednesday.

Anibal Sanchez is making the start for Florida, while Kevin Slowey is taking the mound for Minnesota.







1) Emilio Bonifacio, LF

2) Cameron Maybin, CF

3) Hanley Ramirez, SS

4) Jorge Cantu, 3B

5) John Baker, DH

6) Dan Uggla, 2B

7) Ronny Paulino, C

8) Brett Carroll, RF

9) Logan Morrison, 1B








1) Jacque Jones, RF

2) Alexi Casilla, SS

3) Jason Kubel, LF

4) Justin Morneau, 1B

5) Michael Cuddyer, CF

6) Jim Thome, DH

7) Brendan Harris, 3B

8) Wilson Ramos, C

9) Matt Tolbert, 2B

— Joe Frisaro


Stanton sent to Minors

Mike Stanton showed flashes of why so many feel he will be a future star.

But the 20-year-old outfielder, in the Marlins’ eyes, will need more seasoning. So on Wednesday, Stanton was re-assigned to Minor League camp.

Stanton is expected to open in Double-A Jacksonville.

“We sent him down, but he will let us know when he’s ready,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It’s a matter of getting him more at-bats.”

— Joe Frisaro

MacDougal released, Jones optioned

Struggling to throw strikes this spring, the Marlins on Tuesday morning cut ties with veteran reliever Mike MacDougal.

The hard-throwing right-hander was released on Tuesday morning, after appearing in five Grapefruit League games for Florida. In his most recent outing, on Sunday against the Nationals, MacDougal worked two-thirds of an inning, giving up three runs while walking three.

In 4 2/3 innings of Grapefruit League play, MacDougal walked seven and struck out two.

The Marlins on Tuesday also optioned lefty Hunter Jones to Triple-A New Orleans. with Jones out of camp, Florida’s lefty reliever situation is cleared up. Renyel Pinto and Dan Meyer — both out of options — are projected to be the situational left-handers.

MacDougal signed a Minor League contract with Florida a couple of days before Spring Training began. Last year, he split time between the White Sox and Nationals. With Washington, he had 20 saves in 21 chances. But after the season he had surgery on his left hip.

MacDougal has been at his best when his fastball is in the upper 90s. On Sunday, it reached as high as 94 once, but for most of Spring Training it’s been clocked about 91-92 mph. Command has been an issue with the right-hander in the past.

Even with his 20 saves last year, he walked 31 and struck out 31 with the Nationals.

Because MacDougal has closing experience, he had been considered a candidate who could fill in at closer if Leo Nunez struggled or was injured.

Nunez is firmly established as the closer. But in case of an emergency, candidates to close would be Brian Sanches, Jose Veras, Meyer and Seth McClung, if he makes the team.

Veras and McClung are signed to Minor League deals. Both have clauses to opt out on April 1 if they don’t feel they are part of Florida’s plans.

— Joe Frisaro

Sim Game in the Rain

They started off throwing in a light drizzle. About 30 minutes later, when the conditions worsened under a steady rain, they were shut down.

Bottom line for Clay Hensley and Andrew Miller is they both got their work in on a day that didn’t seem possible.

hensley23ag.jpgWith the Marlins having their lone off day of Spring Training, Hensley and Miller were scheduled to pitch. Initially, they were called in on Monday to throw in a scrimmage on Field 2 of the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

Because of the rain, the scrimmage didn’t take place, and instead, the two threw to batters in a simulated game that lasted about 30 minutes. Batters were hitting under a cage, and the two pitchers dealt with messy conditions. There weren’t any fielders.

Hensley, a non-roster invitee, continues to improve his chances of winning a rotation spot. In three innings — including a four-out inning due to a low pitch count — he didn’t allow a run. Of his 32 pitches, 18 were for strikes.

On a couple of occasions the right-hander slipped after throwing a pitch. A sinker-ball pitcher, Hensley induced nine groundballs out of the 11 batters he faced. He struck out two. His fastball topped out at 88 mph, and he was mainly throwing in the 85-86 mph range. Velocity isn’t a major issue with him, as long as his sinker is breaking downward, which it has all camp.

“He commands all his pitches,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’s putting himself into position where he can fill a role easy.”

The Marlins are looking for two remaining rotation spots. Miller and Hensley are candidates, along with Chris Volstad, Rick VandenHurk and Hayden Penn.

Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco have been named the Nos. 1 and 2 starters, and Anibal Sanchez is regarded as the No. 3 starter, although that hasn’t been announced. Volstad is a frontrunner to be the No. 4 starter.

Gonzalez added that Hensley, if he is not in the rotation, could still win a bullpen spot.

The left-handed Miller threw 43 pitches with 23 strikes, and he had four strikeouts and two walks in the sim game.

Miller’s velocity was 92-93 mph in wet conditions on Monday.

When they were done throwing on the field, Miller and Hensley threw some more pitches under a covered bullpen. 

Either Henlsey or Miller could start on Saturday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Johnson, meanwhile, will face the Mets on Friday at Roger Dean Stadium. Because Johnson will pitch against New York on the April 5 opener at Citi Field, the team doesn’t want to showcase him too much to the Mets before Opening Day.

The way Johnson’s rotation schedule is shaping up, however, he was in face them on Friday and on March 31 at Port St. Lucie.

Gonzalez said on Monday that Johnson will not face the Mets twice to close out Spring Training. But he will see them once, on Friday in Jupiter. On March 31, Johnson most likely will throw in a Minor League game.

Typically, in their last Spring Training appearance, starting pitchers have their pitch count scaled back to about three innings. Johnson threw 80 pitches on Sunday against the Nationals. He could go to about 100 pitches on Friday.

— Joe Frisaro


Jimenez returned to Boston

The Marlins on Sunday morning offered Rule 5 claim Jorge Jimenez back to the Red Sox.

jorgejimenez.JPGJimenez was obtained from the Astros as part of the Matt Lindstrom trade in December. The Astros picked Jimenez off Boston’s Double-A roster and sent him to Florida, where he was competing for a third base job.

With Jimenez out of camp, the Marlins now appear to be leaning toward Gaby Sanchez winning the first base job. One scenario was for Jimenez to win the third base job, which would have meant Jorge Cantu would switch back to first base.

Now, Cantu appears to be remaining at third base.

For a Rule 5 pick to remain with a club, he must be on the active roster. The Marlins didn’t feel the left-handed hitting third baseman fit their plans. He had 18 at-bats in Spring Training.

To purchase a Rule 5 pick at the Major League phase is $50,000. If he is returned, the cost is $25,000. So the cost for Jimenez was $25,000 for Florida

— Joe Frisaro