March 2011

Infante is fine, Wise ready for Friday

Marlins second baseman Omar Infante received a scare in the seventh inning on Thursday when he was struck in the left elbow by a fastball.

Infante was plunked by St. Louis right-hander Jason Motte, and he left the game.

It appears that the second baseman will be fine. He was hit on the protective elbow pad that covered his elbow.

Although Infante immediately left the game, he could be back in the lineup on Friday. Manager Edwin Rodriguez noted that the second baseman was going to be lifted for a pinch runner that inning anyway.

If Infante gets Friday off, Rodriguez said, it likely will be because he was just being given a breather.

Outfielder Dewayne Wise, a non-roster invitee, informed Rodriguez on Thursday that he has a minor toe bruise. It’s nothing serious, and chances are he will be available on Friday.

Emilio Bonifacio started in center field on Thursday.

The Marlins have Chris Coghlan and Mike Stanton playing in Minor League games as they recover from their ailments.

Both had five at-bats. Stanton (right quad strain) had three hits, including a double, and he didn’t play the field. Stanton was pinch-run for after reaching base.

Coghlan (right shoulder tendinitis) played center field and had three fly balls hit to him. He didn’t do any strenuous throwing. At the plate, he was 2-for-4 with a walk.

– Joe Frisaro

Marlins lineup vs. Cardinals

JUPITER, Fla. — Plans to start Chris Coghlan in center field in back-to-back Grapefruit League have been scrapped.

Due to tendinitis and inflammation in his right shoulder, Coghlan will be playing in Minor League games for at least a while. Emilio Bonifacio started in center field on Thursday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Initially, manager Edwin Rodriguez was set to go with another lineup, which included a number of backups. But Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante and Gaby Sanchez all approached the manager and said they wanted to play, and an adjustment was made.

“The regular players all came in and said they wanted to play,” Rodriguez said. “That was good to see.”

Josh Johnson will be making the start for the Marlins. Jake Westbrook is throwing for the Cardinals.

MARLINS

1) Emilio Bonifacio, CF
2) Omar Infante, 2B
3) Hanley Ramirez, SS
4) Gaby Sanchez, 1B
5) Logan Morrison, LF
6) John Buck, DH
7) Matt Dominguez, 3B
8) Brett Hayes, C
9) Scott Cousins, RF

CARDINALS

1) Matt Carpenter, DH
2) Colby Rasmus, CF
3) Albert Pujols, 1B
4) Matt Holliday, LF
5) Lance Berkman, RF
6) David Freese, 3B
7) Dan Descalso, 2B
8) Gerald Laird, C
9) Tyler Greene, SS

Joe Frisaro

Coghlan to play Minor League games

JUPITER, Fla. — Claiming that his right shoulder isn’t fully healthy, Chris Coghlan will be playing center field in Minor League games for at least a little while.

Coghlan has been dealing with inflammation and tendinitis in his rotator cuff, and he was attempting to play in back-to-back games in Grapefruit League action.

Beginning on Thursday, Coghlan was set to play in center on a back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex. He will still work on the timing of his jumps and reads on balls in the outfield. But he’s been instructed not to make any strenuous throws.

Whether Coghlan will be ready for Opening Night on April 1 remains to be seen. But playing in Minor League games would give the Marlins the option to retro-active the 25-year-old on the disabled list, should he not be ready for the season opener.

“We’re going to be able to play the outfield down there,” Coghlan said. “I can still play the field, but I told [manager Edwin Rodriguez], ‘I can’t keep going out there and babying my arm.’  I’ve got to get healthy.”

Coghlan said he had an MRI on his shoulder about 10 days ago. On Wednesday, in a Grapefruit League game with Tampa Bay, there was a play that could have tested Coghlan’s shoulder.

It came in the sixth inning on Matt Joyce’s fly ball to center with Elliot Johnson on third.

Johnson didn’t tag and go, and Coghlan simply threw the ball back to the infield instead of throwing all the way to the plate.

That throw as telling, showing that Coghlan’s shoulder isn’t right.

“I could have probably made a little bit [stronger throw], but I’m not 100 percent,” Coghlan said. “I couldn’t throw it all the way home and try to throw that guy out. I told [Rodriguez], ‘I can’t just keep on going out there and doing that.’ He said, ‘I totally understand.’ “

Coghlan also is recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. His knee is doing fine, as evident by the triple he hit on Wednesday.

Right now, it’s getting his arm strength ready for the season.

Emilio Bonifacio started in center field on Thursday against the Cardinals.

Joe Frisaro

Time to kick it into gear

JUPITER, Fla. — Jeffrey Loria on Wednesday sat through the Marlins’ ninth-straight loss, and the team owner isn’t happy.

With the season set to open in 2 1/2 weeks, Loria says it is time for the team to play with more urgency.

“It’s time to kick it into gear, because the switch doesn’t turn on the first day of the season,” Loria told MLB.com after Florida lost 6-3 to the Rays at Roger Dean Stadium. “I’m here 10 days and I haven’t seen us win one game.”

The Marlins made 11 roster moves prior to Wednesday’s game, getting the number down to 41 in camp. The plan is for the regulars to see more playing time in the two-plus weeks before the opener.

“I see a lack of energy at the moment, and it doesn’t make me happy,” Loria said. “We have some extremely skilled athletes here, and hopefully they’ll come out of it when the season starts. … Our players are not ready to play yet.”

Joe Frisaro

Manny in lineup vs. Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. — Manny Ramirez is among the Rays regulars on the travel roster to Roger Dean Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

The Marlins look to snap their eight-game Grapefruit League losing streak. Chris Volstad takes the mound for Florida, while Tampa Bay is going with Cory Wade.

RAYS

1) John Jaso, C
2) Elliot Johnson, CF
3) Manny Ramirez, DH
4) Matt Joyce, RF
5) Felipe Lopez, 3B
6) Casey Kotchman, 1B
7) Sean Rodriguez, 2B
8) Reid Brignac, SS
9) Sam Fuld, LF

MARLINS

1) Chris Coghlan, CF
2) Omar Infante, 2B
3) Hanley Ramirez, SS
4) Gaby Sanchez, 1B
5) Logan Morrison, LF
6) John Buck, C
7) Wes Helms, DH
8) Matt Dominguez, 3B
9) Emilio Bonifacio, RF

Joe Frisaro

Short takes from Edwin

No matter what time of year it is, losing eight straight is disappointing.

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez, who is handling the rough spell with care, notes that if he had a more veteran club, he would be more vocal.

But with a young team, he is watching his tone because a number of players are still learning. Keeping his sense of humor, Rodriguez said he’s often collected himself by counting to 10 before addressing a player.

“As a manager, you have to pick your spots,” Rodriguez said on Wednesday morning. “Then again, I have to realize, I consider this whole situation like ‘growing pains.’ We have a very young team. I think they’re learning, and they’re maturing from this whole situation.

“I don’t want to give them the impression that there is panic. So if I say something, I really have to watch what I say, because if I say something, they might take it the wrong way. I want them to perform the way they should be performing, but I have to be very careful in how I say all that. And the tone.”

Some other items of note from Rodriguez’s morning session with the beat reporters:

* Chris Coghlan is expected to start back-to-back games in center field on Wednesday and Thursday.

* Mike Stanton continues to do only light jogging, and the hope is he can play the final seven-to-10 Grapefruit League games. So as of now, the team is cautiously optimistic Stanton will be ready for Opening Night.

* Javier Vazquez is throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday, and he should be ready for Saturday.

* Anibal Sanchez is throwing a bullpen session on Thursday, and he should be ready for Sunday.

* Wednesday’s game will be the first of five straight Marlins games on 790 The Ticket.

Joe Frisaro

 

Marlins make roster moves

JUPITER, Fla. — The Marlins started off Wednesday by making a number of roster moves.

Outfielder Chris Lubanski was released.

Kyle Skipworth, Vinny Rottino, Tom Koehler and Shawn Hill were reassigned to Minor League camp.

Steve Cishek, Sean West, Alex Sanabia, Dustin Richardson and Bryan Petersen were optioned to Triple-A New Orleans, while Sandy Rosario was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville.

Joe Frisaro
 

Marlins have unanswered questions

JUPITER, Fla. — With Opening Day just 2 1/2 weeks away, the Marlins still have a number of unanswered questions, including a couple they had entering Spring Training.

Here’s a quick list of issues that remain unresolved:

1) Chris Coghlan’s transition to center field remains unclear, simply because he hasn’t had much game time at the position. Initially, the team eased him back from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. As his leg continued to heal, Coghlan also dealt with a sore right shoulder.

The ailments have limited Coghlan to playing center field in just four Grapefruit League games, the last one coming on March 7. He also played a couple of innings in center in the Feb. 27 exhibition with the University of Miami.

Coghlan is in the starting lineup in center field on Wednesday.

2) Will Mike Stanton be ready for Opening Night? The strained right quad has kept him out of all the Grapefruit League games. He suffered the injury on Feb. 27 in the scrimmages with UM.

If the 21-year-old can be back for the final seven or so Grapefruit League games, he probably would be fine for the April 1 opener. Even so, you have to wonder how effective will he be early due to lost time.

Foremost they need Stanton healthy. The reason they aren’t rushing things is the team doesn’t want the injury to linger throughout the year.

3) How are Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson doing? Johnson missed the final few weeks of 2010 with back/shoulder problems. He’s healthy, and the life is returning to his fastball. But JJ hasn’t been particularly sharp so far. Not to worry, right now he is working on his changeup, a pitch he will count on to keep hitters honest.

Johnson’s slider remains nasty, and he can use it as an out-pitch on a regular basis. So he is working in a changeup, as he did in an effective start last Saturday against the Red Sox. JJ was throwing his changeup in hitters’ counts, and situations that he wouldn’t use it during the regular season.

As for Nolasco, he’s missed the final month of ’10 with a torn meniscus in his right knee, which required surgery. The right-hander also missed the first half of Spring Training with a sprained right thumb. He was wild in his March 13 debut with the Nationals. His velocity was about 89 mph.

The outing was a rough one, which isn’t totally unexpected. It may take him several starts in Spring Training, and even the early part of the regular season, to get the feel of all his pitches.

4) Who will bat cleanup is Stanton is out? It looks like Gaby Sanchez would get the first call. Sanchez had a strong rookie year in 2010, and he would be a prime candidate to bat fourth until Stanton is ready to return.

5) Has the defense improved? For a few weeks, it looked like it had. Then there was a collective breakdown last Friday in Port St. Lucie. There were more defensive lapses on Tuesday in Port Charlotte.

The organization has gone through great strides to improve in the field. Highly respected infield coach Perry Hill was brought back to get the defense on track. Now it’s up to the players to make the plays that should be outs.

6) Is the rotation healthy? Javier Vazquez (mild right elbow soreness) and Anibal Sanchez (right shin) were each scratched from their scheduled starts on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

Both should be back this weekend.

Joe Frisaro

Has Dominguez secured a spot?

So far, so good for Matt Dominguez.

The 21-year-old, who is looking to bypass Triple-A and jump from Double-A to the big leagues, is currently passing the audition in terms of winning the Marlins’ third base job. If the season opened today, Dominguez would be in the starting lineup.
dominguezm1.jpg
A first-round pick in 2007, Dominguez has lived up to the billing in the field. He is playing third base at a high level, which improves the overall infield defense. The plan is to keep Omar Infante at second base, and Dominguez makes that possible.

What the Marlins really have been looking at is Dominguez’s hitting. A good sign is, at the plate, he hasn’t been overmatched. In his first 11 Grapefruit League games, he’s hit a respectable .269 with two homers and 10 RBIs. He’s seeing pitches, and stringing together quality at-bats.

Another factor — and this also is telling — is body language. In that regard, Dominguez also is handling himself well. Not in a cocky way, but the California native is walking and acting like he belongs.

As an organization, the Marlins are looking at everything before they make their final decision.

There also are indications the Marlins are planning on breaking camp with Dominguez at third base.

With that said, these final 2 1/2 weeks are crucial for Dominguez. As Opening Day approaches, so does the intensity level, especially from veteran players.

Pitchers, who spent the first half of camp working on things, start to game plan. It still remains to be seen if Dominguez will be able to handle the breaking and off-speed pitches.

It’s easy to be deceived in Spring Training, and the Marlins’ front office will be carefully watching to make sure Dominguez isn’t rushed too fast. As an organization, there is the danger of demoralizing a young player.

If the team decides Dominguez needs some Triple-A seasoning, Donnie Murphy, Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs are options to fill in at third. Or the club could explore a trade.

So while Dominguez may be earmarked to be the third baseman today, these next few weeks will ultimately decide if he wins the job.

Joe Frisaro

Sanchez scratched, West to start

Still bothered by a bruised right shin, Anibal Sanchez will not be making his scheduled Grapefruit League start on Tuesday.

The Marlins instead are sending left-hander Sean West to the mound in hopes of snapping their seven-game losing streak.

The Marlins are having a rough time gaining consistency, and part of the problem is nagging ailments.

On Monday, the Marlins were blanked 9-0 by the Twins in Fort Myers. Alex Sanabia made the start in place of Javier Vazquez, who was scratched due to a mild sore right elbow. The team is hopeful that Vazquez will misses just the one start and is ready to go on Saturday.

Now on Tuesday, West will get the start against the Rays in Port Charlotte.

Sanchez is nursing a right shin contusion after he was struck with a comeback liner against the Mets last Thursday.

Joe Frisaro

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