March 2012

Chipper’s legacy against the Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. — News that Chipper Jones is retiring after the season certainly will impact the future of the National League East.

Once he is gone, the Braves will be minus a player with Hall of Fame credentials.

The Marlins first-hand know how tough an out Jones has been in his brilliant 18-year career.

No opponent has homered more (40) or driven in more runs (161) against the Marlins than Jones. His 45 doubles also are a high.

Jones has faced the Marlins 236 times. Only the Nationals (254 games) have seen him more.

Jones, a .304 career hitter, has a lifetime average of .299 against the Marlins.

From a personal standpoint, Jones’ 161 RBIs are his most against any team. His home runs are tied with Washington for third most versus an opponent. He’s homered 48 times off Mets’ pitching, and 46 times against the Phillies.

Joe Frisaro

ESPN to televise Marlins’ opener

JUPITER, Fla. — We’re down to two weeks until Opening Night, when the Marlins will face the Cardinals at Marlins Park.

ESPN will nationally televise the game.

Josh Johnson is set to start for the Marlins. And the Cardinals announced on Wednesday that Kyle Lohse will pitch in the opener because of Chris Carpenter’s neck/right shoulder injury.

The April 4 opener will be a Wednesday night version of ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, which will handle the telecast. Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Terry Francona will broadcast the one-game series.

The game will provide national attention to the grand opening of the Marlins new retractable-roof ballpark.

On Wednesday, ESPN held a conference call to address the upcoming season.

A question was asked if the Marlins have a chance to dethrone the Phillies in the National League East.

Here’s what the analysts had to say:

OREL HERSHISER:  I love the acquisitions of the Marlins.  Spent a lot of money and brought in a lot of talent.  And I think the first issue will be melding these guys together and creating some chemistry.  So they’re all pulling on one end of the rope.

I think the Phillies are definitely vulnerable with the injuries with Utley’s knee and with Howard’s Achilles and now the infection.  It would be really important for the Marlins to get off to a fast start, I think, because then Philadelphia has a pretty easy schedule early on the first month or two, but they’ll have a very weak roster as far as when they have a chance to be at full strength.

And they’re always going to be in it as pitchers they have, but the Marlins can pitch right with them, and they’ve got a lot of exciting players and Hanley Ramirez looks poised to have a huge year, even an MVP type year.

And I think it’s going to be a very tight race.  And I think the Phillies might end up more like the Giants where they just outpitch and don’t score much.  Their bullpen will be a key.  And I think the Marlins have a chance to have a very good all‑around team.

TERRY FRANCONA:  From my side of it, I think the NL East has become intriguing, and Orel and I talked so much about it the last couple of days, along with Dan, that we probably share a lot of the same sentiments.  It was really neat this winter to see the Marlins become really relevant during the winter meetings.

And that doesn’t ensure you’re going to win the division, but they made a lot of interesting acquisitions, and they became a player.

And like Orel said, Philadelphia is a little bit beat up.  Now they have tremendous pitching.  That’s not going away anytime soon.  Atlanta basically has the same team that had one of the best records in baseball until August 25th, and the Nationals are really trying to be relevant in that division also.

So it’s going to be interesting.  I tell you what; it’s going to be a lot more competitive than it’s been in the past with those four teams I just said.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins featured on MLB Network

JUPITER, Fla. — Some more national attention is being given to the Marlins.

At 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Miami is being featured on the MLB Network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days series.

The one-hour show is being hosted by Greg Amsinger, who will be joined by analysts John Hart and Al Leiter.

There also will be a segment of Josh Johnson talking with John Smoltz.

Here are some soundbites that will air tonight:

Logan Morrison on Ozzie Guillen:

“Love him.  He’s going to tell you how it is…You don’t walk away wondering if he’s telling you the truth or not.  He’s not gonna pull any punches and he is really enthusiastic about the game of baseball, and that’s awesome.”

Josh Johnson on what he learned from his injury:

“I think the main thing is this game is so fragile.  As soon as you get away from it, you definitely tell how much you miss it and how easy it can be taken from you just like that.  I love this game.  I’ve wanted to be a big league ballplayer since I was three years old.”

Ozzie Guillen on Hanley Ramirez:

“Hanley has got a chance to be MVP.  I don’t think right now he’s going to win a Gold Glove, but he has a great chance to do it because he’s a good athlete and has lots of abilities.”

John Hart on Hanley Ramirez:

“Hanley Ramirez, offensively, is exactly what you want as a three-hole hitter.  Number one, he can still run, he can still move, so this guy can go.  He hits the ball out of the ballpark.  He squares balls up.  He makes loud contact.  He hits home runs to all parts of the park.  They have what I consider to be a prototype number three hitter.  I think he’s gonna handle the move to third base.

Al Leiter on Hanley Ramirez moving to third base:

“Yes, there was probably a little bit of a pride thing of, ‘Wait a minute, I’m a shortstop.  I know Jose Reyes is a great player.’  But, he’s starting to realize that this is gonna potentially prolong his career, going to third base, less taxing on his body [versus] the versatility needed as a shortstop, as you know.  I think really, now, he’s looking at this lineup and he’s a number three hole hitter with [Emilio] Bonifacio and Jose Reyes at the top.  You talk about the RBI potential of what could happen on this team with having Hanley Ramirez as three and then Giancarlo Stanton as four.”

Al Leiter on the Marlins’ offseason:

“No team in baseball, in my opinion, did as much as what the Marlins have done here.  Yes, in payroll, yes, adding two starters that potentially could be great, they have a closer and one of the most exciting players in the game.  I think [with] that balance of what they added and the young players that they have, this is going to be a very exciting ball club.”

Joe Frisaro

Broadway Joe visits Roger Dean Stadium

JUPITER, Fla. — Winning the Manager of the Year award certainly has its perks.

Tampa Bay’s Joe Maddon, the 2011 American League Manager of the Year, walked off the bus at Roger Dean Stadium on Tuesday with football legend Joe Namath, who was sporting a Rays’ uniform.

Namath sat in the Rays dugout during a 3-2 win over the Marlins. The Hall of Famer also represented the team by handing the lineup card at home plate.

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was pleasantly surprised to see Namath at the ballpark.

“That’s the way Joe Maddon rolls,” Guillen said. “I’m walking into the stadium with [bench coach] Joey Cora, and the manager of the year is walking with legends. I hope I win this year, and I’ll walk in with Gloria Estefan. When you win, you roll like that. When you lose, Joey Cora walks next to you.”

Guillen, a football fan, called Namath an inspiration. The Marlins manager recently watched an HBO documentary on Broadway Joe.

“I saw the HBO show a few days ago,” Guillen said. “It’s amazing how that guy went to the field, and he got beat up. With all the trouble he had, and to still be a legend. I think he inspired a lot of people. I didn’t know him that well. I knew he played for the Jets and stuff. But until I saw that HBO show, he was pretty amazing. It’s nice to meet people like that. It’s nice to see a football legend come and watch baseball.”

Before the game, Marlins third base coach Joe Espada exchanged the lineup card with Namath.

“I didn’t know it was him, until he got up close,” Espada said. “That’s the second Hall of Famer I got this year. Lou Brock was the other. When I looked up and Joe Namath showed up, I was pumped. That’s a big one. That was really cool.”

Joe Frisaro

Stanton, LoMo, Dobbs injury update

JUPITER, Fla. —  After visiting the doctor on Tuesday, three key Marlins were cleared to begin baseball activities.

Giancarlo Stanton (left knee), Logan Morrison (right knee) and Greg Dobbs (left hamstring) were examined in the morning, and they were not at Marlins camp at Roger Dean Stadium.

“The doctor said to go ahead and start baseball activities,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We’re going to start them [designated hitting] in a few guys. We’ll sit down with the coaches and see how we’re going to make it work. Obviously, it’s going to be Minor League at-bats. For now, they will be the DH.”

All three have been given the green light to start light running. Stanton is regarded as a little more behind the other two.

The Marlins are off on Wednesday, and the players will get another day to rest before beginning activities on Thursday.

“Stanton is going to be a little bit slower, but everyone is going to do baseball activities,” Guillen said. “They’ll run a little bit.”

Joe Frisaro

 

 

Marlins lineup for Thursday

JUPITER, Fla. — The Marlins will have their lone Spring Training day off on Wednesday. The team will return to action on Thursday, facing the Braves at Lake Buena Vista.

Ricky Nolasco will make the start for Miami, while Atlanta will start Brandon Beachy.

MARLINS at BRAVES, Thursday

1) Reyes, SS

2) Infante, 2B

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Buck, C

5) Petersen, LF

6) Rowand, CF

7) Cousins, RF

8) Tiffee, 1B

9) Nolasco, P

Joe Frisaro

 

Solano a sleeper in Marlins’ camp

JUPITER, Fla. — If you’re looking for a sleeper at Marlins’ camp, glance no further than Donovan Solano.

A non-roster invitee with six years of Minor League experience in the Cardinals system, Solano is in contention for the utility infield job. The team also is considering Donnie Murphy, who is under contract and on the 40-man roster, and Nick Green, a non-roster invitee with big league experience.

“He’s in the mix,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of Solano. “He’s playing very, very well. He’s doing everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been great on the field, and hitting. He’s opening a lot of people’s eyes here, especially mine, and my coaching staff. We’re going to put him in the mix, and see what happens.”

Solano is 9-for-22 (.409) in 11 Grapefruit League games.

The 24-year-old is from Colombia, and he’s striving to make the big leagues for the first time.

“We’ve got two weeks to decide what we’re going to do,” Guillen said.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins lineups Monday, Tuesday

JUPITER, Fla. — The Marlins will send Anibal Sanchez to the mound on Monday to face the Astros at Roger Dean Stadium.

In his second Grapefruit League start, Sanchez is scheduled to throw about 50 pitches. He threw 29 in his first outing.

Sanchez dealt with tightness behind his right shoulder early in camp.

MARLINS vs. ASTROS, Monday

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) G. Sanchez, 1B

5) Infante, 2B

6) Cousins, LF

7) Rowand, RF

8) Hayes, C

9) A. Sanchez, P

MARLINS vs. RAYS on Tuesday

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Solano, SS

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Sanchez, 1B

5) Buck, C

6) Kearns, RF

7) Petersen, CF

8) Murphy, 2B

9) Johnson, P

Joe Frisaro

Knee still an issue for Stanton

JUPITER, Fla. — It remains unclear if Giancarlo Stanton will be ready for Opening Day.

The 22-year-old slugger is hopeful, but he isn’t fully confident his knee will respond in time.

“I’m just hitting, not running,” the right fielder said on Monday morning.

The Marlins are set to open against the Cardinals on April 4 at Marlins Park.

Stanton hasn’t played since he was struck on his left wrist by a pitch against the Mets on March 11. A couple of days after he was resting the wrist, it was learned that his left knee had been bothering him.

An MRI revealed inflammation. Stanton said there was swelling in two areas of the knee. He added that there are no tears to any ligaments, tendons or his meniscus.

“The pain has died down a little bit, but there is still some inflammation,” he said.

Stanton has nine at-bats in Grapefruit League play.

Joe Frisaro

Zambrano helps himself with the bat

JUPITER, Fla. — Carlos Zambrano takes hitting very seriously.

It shows by the fact he is a career .241 hitter in the big leagues with 23 homers. With the Cubs a year ago, he batted .318 with two home runs.

Zambrano also is a switch-hitter, wanting to produce on both sides of the plate.

“You have to be able to bunt, run the bases,” Zambrano said. “We’re in the National League. That’s why I take this so seriously. Bunt. Run the bases, anything to make my team win the ballgame.”

Zambrano will be either the Marlins’ fourth or fifth starter. But he strives to help himself at the plate.

On Sunday, he hit for the first time in Spring Training.

Zambrano helped account for an unearned run off St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright in the third inning at Roger Dean Stadium.

With runners on first and second, he dropped a bunt, that was fielded by first baseman Lance Berkman, who threw to third base for a force out. The bunt ended up working out, as third baseman Daniel Descalso threw wildly to first base. On the error, one run scored and Zambrano advanced to second.

Zambrano wasn’t pleased with the bunt, because he didn’t push it to the third base side enough.

“When I step into the box, I’m a hitter,” he said. “I try to be tough and a difficult out.”

The irony is, Zambrano has had success batting, but growing up in Venezuela, he wasn’t used in the middle of the lineup. In fact, he said, when he started playing, the coach would put him at the bottom of the order.

“When I started playing when I was 14, I was a right fielder, but I signed as a pitcher,” Zambrano said. “I was a No. 8, No. 9 hitter. I was so bad growing up. I played for a team where the manager used to wait when he made the lineup. He’d wait until somebody else would come, and he would put somebody in the lineup, and I was on the bench. Or I was the No. 9 hitter. If five minutes before the game, if he didn’t see anybody, he’d say, ‘Let’s put Zambrano in.’ ”

Manager Ozzie Guillen is more worried about Zambrano the pitcher than Zambrano the hitter.

“The only thing I want Carlos to do is get three at-bats, that means he is pitching pretty well,” Guillen said. “If Carlos gets three at-bats, that means he’s pitching well and we’re in business.”

Joe Frisaro

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