March 2010

Lowell returning? Maybe not

Mention the name Mike Lowell, and there automatically is intrigue.

Raised in Miami, and one of the most popular Marlins ever, Lowell’s name has been floated in trade talks for months. To some degree, the Marlins have interest. The team had a scout on hand to watch Lowell recently, as he is recovering from injury with the Red Sox.

mike-lowell-on-rt.jpgThe question is how much interest do the Marlins have.

There are strong indications, the level isn’t that strong at this point. From what the 36-year-old third baseman has shown is he is a ways from physically being his old self.

The Marlins are in no rush to part with a prospect or more to bring Lowell back. In fact, there may not be a fit, even though he is getting some work at first base.

Gaby Sanchez appears to be the front runner to being the Marlins first baseman. But it is too early to count out Logan Morrison.

Lowell would provide leadership. Bringing him back would be popular. For now, based on what the veteran has shown, the team would need to see more before making a trade happen.

The Marlins are in the process of figuring out their infield, and reserves. In the mix are Rule 5 pick Jorge Jimenez, who may wind up playing third if he makes the club. Jimenez’s strong arm and solid fielding have stood out.

So if Sanchez or Morrison aren’t at first, Cantu may wind up there.

There also are strong indications that Brian Barden will make the club as a utility infielder. Emilio Bonifacio also is expected to make the team.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Lineups vs. Braves on Wednesday

The Marlins will face the Braves on Wednesday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium.

Back in the lineup for the first time since March 7 is Cameron Maybin, who is slated to play center field. Maybin has been out with a strained left groing. Jorge Cantu, out since Saturday with flu-like symptoms, also is scheduled to play.

Today’s game will be televised on Fox Sports Florida.

 

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1) Nate McLouth, CF

2) Martin Prado, 2B

3) Chipper Jones, 3B

4) Troy Glaus, 1B

5) Brian McCann, C

6) Yunel Escobar, SS

7) Jason Heyward, RF

8) Matt Diaz, LF

9) Tommy Hanson, P

 

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1) Chris Coghlan, LF

2) Cameron Maybin, CF

3) Hanley Ramirez, SS

4) Jorge Cantu, 3B

5) Logan Morrison, 1B

6) Hector Luna, 2B

7) Bryan Petersen, RF

8) Brad Davis, C

9) Andrew Miller, P

– Joe Frisaro

 

Turnbow released, other moves

Derrick Turnbow, who injured his right shoulder on Tuesday, was released early Wednesday morning.

Signed to a Minor League deal, Turnbow was bothered by shoulder tendinitis for most of Spring Training. On Tuesday against the Nationals in Viera, he threw 10 pitches, with just two strikes. On his last pitch, he winched in pain, and said afterwards that he feels he will be shut down for a while, if not need surgery.

Turnbow said he will spend a few days in Florida, before heading to his home in Nashville. He plans on visiting either Dr. James Andrews or Dr. Lewis Yocum. Turnbow is open to surgery.

“More than likely I’ll try to have surgery and get it fixed,” Turnbow said. “Unless it is something that is just going to take forever to come back.”

Turnbow added that the Marlins said they were open to giving him another chance down the road, after he recovers.

In other moves on Wednesday, the Marlins optioned Jay Buente and Brett Sinkbeil to Triple-A New Orleans. Kris Harvey was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville.

Re-assigned to Minor League camp were Dan Jennings, Matt Dominguez, Matt Peterson, Chris Schroder, Chris Hatcher, Matt Dominguez and Ozzie Martinez.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Turnbow exits with injury

Derrick Turnbow was removed in the eighth inning after hitting a batter with a pitch.

The right-handed reliever, who is trying to make the Marlins as a non-roster invitee, favored his right shoulder on a day he struggled to throw strikes.

Turnbow walked Pete Orr on four pitches, and his sixth pitch to Danny Espinosa hit the Nationals shortstop.

Twice in the inning, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez and trainer Sean Cunningham came to the mound. The second visit, Turnbow was removed for lefty Taylor Tankersley.

Turnbow has battled shoulder tendinitis this spring.

Eight of the 10 pitches Turnbow threw were balls.

In 2001, Turnbow suffered a broken right elbow.

“This pain is 10 times worse than that broken elbow,” Turnbow said.”Whatever it is, I’m going to be shut down for a while. My chance for the big league team is over, either way.”

– Joe Frisaro

 

Hanley back, Stanton stays back

Hanley Ramirez is back in the lineup after resting a tight right groin. But prospect Mike Stanton was held back in Jupiter with a sore left elbow.

Stanton was initially scheduled to travel to Lake Buena Vista on Tuesday to face the Braves. Had he gone, two of the top three prospects in the game would have been together. Atlanta’s Jason Heyward is regarded as the No. 1 prospect, with Stanton ranked No. 3.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Stanton is a little sore after his four at-bat performance on Monday against the Twins. The slugger had a two-run homer, and struck out three times.

Ramirez, meanwhile, was in the starting lineup against the Braves.

In other injury news, Cameron Maybin is running the bases on Tuesday in Jupiter. If he doesn’t feel any discomfort, he could be back in the lineup on Wednesday. Maybin has been out since March 7 with a strained left groin.

Jorge Cantu, out since Sunday with flu-like symptoms, stayed in Jupiter on Tuesday. He is feeling better and may be in the lineup on Wednesday.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Marlins lineups for Tuesday

The Marlins have a split-squad day on Tuesday, with half the team in Viera to face the Nationals, and the other half in Lake Buena Vista to take on the Braves.

Hanley Ramirez, who missed Monday due to a tight right groin, was in the lineup against the Braves.

Jorge Cantu, who has been recovering from flu-like symptoms, stayed back in Jupiter.

Mike Lamb, meanwhile, was scheduled to start at first base against the Braves. But he was scratched with an upset stomach. Gaby Sanchez instead made the start.

Lineup vs. Nationals:

 

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1) Jai Miller, CF

2) Brian Barden, SS

3) Dan Uggla, 2B

4) Logan Morrison, 1B

5) Cody Ross, RF

6) Brett Carroll, LF

7) Jorge Jimenez, 3B

8) Brett Hayes, C

9) Rick VandenHurk, P

 

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1) Willy Taveras, CF

2) Willie Harris, RF

3) Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4) Adam Dunn, 1B

5) Kevin Mench, LF

6) Pete Orr, 2B

7) Danny Espinosa, SS

8) Wil Nieves, C

9) Craig Stammen, P

 

 

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1) Chris Coghlan, LF

2) Brian Petersen, CF

3) Hanley Ramirez, SS

4) Gaby Sanchez, 1B

5) Ronny Paulino, C

6) Wes Helms, 3B

7) Scott Cousins, RF

8) Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

9) Josh Johnson, P

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

 

 

Stanton, Heyward set for Tuesday

It’s not by coincidence that the Marlins are bringing Mike Stanton to Lake Buena Vista instead of Viera on Tuesday.

There is intrigue to see two of the top three prospects in the big leagues on the same day. So the Marlins are bringing their young phenom to face the Braves, who feature one of the brightest young talents the game has seen in years, Jason Heyward.

stanton3a4.jpgThe Marlins have a split-squad day on Tuesday. Half the club is facing the Braves, while the other is taking on the Nationals.

According to MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospects, compiled by Jonathan Mayo, Heyward is the No. 1 prospect in the game, while Stanton ranks third. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals is second.

Both Stanton and Heyward are 20-years-old. Both were taken in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and both play right field. A difference is Heyward bats left-handed, while Stanton hits from the right side.

Stanton has been the talk of Marlins camp, showing flashes of his power potential. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound former high school football, baseball and basketball star, connected on his third Grapefruit League home run on Monday. Stanton lifted an opposite field shot off Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano.

All three of his blasts have been off big league pitchers. He also had an opposite-field liner off Bobby Parnell of the Mets, and a monster drive to left off Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez says he frequently jokes with Stanton about Heyward.

“I say, ‘Hey, you’re the No. 3 prospect. Heyward is the No. 1 prospect in the Minor Leagues,’ ” Gonzalez said. “Early in camp, we were kind of taking it easy with Stanton because of his shoulder. I said, ‘Heyward played again today.’ “

Gonzalez says he hasn’t ruled out keeping Stanton on the Opening Day roster. However, the odds are pretty strong that he will open in Double-A Jacksonville, and remain there at least a couple of months. A realistic callup date is about June 1. Don’t discount the fact that the longer Stanton remains in the Minor Leagues, he prolongs starting his arbitration clock.

However, if he is tearing it up in the Minor Leagues, and there is a need on the big league club, the Marlins wouldn’t rule out an earlier promotion.

What’s impressed Gonzalez most about Stanton is his character.

“When you’re dealing with young players, they have a tendency not to be focused,” Gonzalez said. “To me, the way he has handled himself, he came in here trying to take someone’s job. He didn’t come here to just get looked at. This guy came in here looking to get someone’s job.”

First base coach Dave Collins is so impressed by Stanton, he told Gonzalez: “This guy may hit 25 homers and drive in 90 just trying to figure it out in the big leagues.”

According to Gonzalez, Stanton’s makeup is “off the charts.”

In 2007, the Marlins actually had a chance to select Heyward. If they hadd, they could have had both of the young sluggers.

Heyward was the 14th overall pick, and Stanton was picked in the second round. With the 12th pick, Florida went with third baseman Matt Dominguez.

So what happened in 2007?

Even though the possibility existed to take Heyward, the reality is he may not have been an option, after all.

There were a couple of issues with Heyward at the time. Word around the league was the McDonough, Ga., native badly wanted to sign with the Braves, and wouldn’t sign with anyone else. The feeling was if another team picked him, he would opt for college. So signability was a concern.

From a technical, playing standpoint, there were some minor concerns about Heyward’s swing.

Heyward ended up signing for $1.7 million, which was for above the slot for that year. Dominguez, meanwhile, signed for $1.8 million.

Looking on it now, Stanton was a bargain. His bonus was $475,000.

– Joe Frisaro

(Photo courtesy of Denis Bancroft/Florida Marlins)

 

Lineup vs. Twins

The Marlins and Twins will play at 1:05 p.m. ET at Roger Dean Stadium.

With the game in a National League park, neither team is using the designated hitter. So Twins pitcher Franciso Liriano and Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad are in the lineup to bat.

 

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1) Denard Span, CF

2) Nick Punto, 3B

3) Jason Kubel, RF

4) Brock Peterson, 1B

5) Delmon Young, RF

6) Wilson Ramos, C

7) Matt Tolbert, SS

8) Alexi Casilla, 2B

9) Francisco Liriano, P

 

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1) Emilio Bonifacio, CF

2) Jorge Jimenez, 3B

3) Mike Stanton, LF

4) Dan Uggla, 2B

5) Cody Ross, RF

6) Gaby Sanchez, 1B

7) Ronny Paulino, C

8) Donnie Murphy, SS

9) Chris Volstad, P

– Joe Frisaro

 

Ross in lineup

For the first time since March 4, the Marlins Grapefruit League opener, Cody Ross is in the lineup to play the field.

Out with a strained left groin, Ross is scheduled to start in right field on Monday against the Twins at Roger Dean Stadium.

Last Saturday against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Ross had three at-bats as the designated hitter.

Not wanting to push it, Ross will get two at-bats and play the field for a few innings. If all goes well, he will again be in the field on Tuesday.

In other injury news, the team is targeting the weekend for the possible return of John Baker and Cameron Maybin.

Maybin, who has been out for a week with a strained left groin, is scheduled to test his leg by running the bases on Tuesday. Baker, who has been getting at-bats but he hasn’t caught, is recovering from a strained right forearm muscle. His last hurdle will be throwing the ball to the bases on Thursday.

“Maybin, he’s going to run the bases tomorrow, and we’re shooting for this weekend,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Baker is probably about the same.”

If Maybin returns by the weekend, Gonzalez feels confident that he will have enough chances to get his timing back at the plate.

“We still have got some time lef,” Gonzalez said. “The biggest thing we want to know about are the at-bats. As soon as we get those Minor League games going, we can get him all the at-bats we want. We can lead him off every inning. I’m not worried about the time left.”

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

 

West, Ceda optioned

The Marlins rotation is coming a little more into focus.

Left-hander Sean West, who has struggled with his command, on Monday was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

Sending West down trims a candidate for a rotation spot.

seanwest5a3.jpgIn another move, right-handed reliever Jose Ceda, who missed all of last year with a shoulder injury, was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville.

West has had difficulties throwing strikes. In a B Game on Saturday against the Orioles in Sarasota, the 23-year-old walked seven.

“[We want West to] just pitch and get his command down,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He came up and won eight games as a young pitcher last year. He will be back. There is no question in my mind. He’s going to be a big part of our rotation.”

Subtracting West from the mix, means the Marlins now have Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad, Andrew Miller, Rick VandenHurk and Hayden Penn fighting for spots. Another name to keep an eye on is Clay Hensley, who has big league experience.

The way the Marlins are talking, it appears Sanchez is a lock to be the No. 3 starter. Sanchez threw four scoreless innings on Sunday against the Mets.

“If Sanchez pitches the way we’ve seen in ’06 [his rookie year], you’ve got something to work with,’ Gonzalez said.

Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are the Nos. 1 and 2 starters.

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

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