April 2012

Infante scratched from Wednesday’s lineup

MIAMI — Omar Infante, off to a sizzling start, was scratched from the lineup on Wednesday.

In his place, Donnie Murphy is starting for Miami against the Cubs at Marlins Park. Infante has dealt with a left groin strain in recent days. He tweaked his groin on his double on Tuesday night.

Infante will be given the next two days off, and he hopes to be back on Friday at Washington.

The Marlins are sending Mark Buehrle to the mound, while the Cubs are countering with Matt Garza.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Morrison, LF

5) Stanton, RF

6) Sanchez, 1B

7) Buck, C

8) Murphy, 2B

9) Buehrle, P

Joe Frisaro

JJ regains his tap and tempo

MIAMI — A little glove tap just may be a big step forward for Josh Johnson.

For more than a month, the Marlins ace has been scuffling to find his tempo and timing.

Kelly Gavin/Miami Marlins

On Tuesday night, something clicked. Mainly it was adding a simple tap of the ball in his hand into this glove just prior to delivering his pitch.

“Having a little tap or at least moving,” Johnson said helped him regain his rhythm. “I’ve been doing that my whole career. Getting away from that now is bad.”

So much of pitching is making sure everything is moving together properly. For JJ, that tap mechanism helps keep him in line.

Johnson didn’t feel right in his first two starts, both losses. His second outing was at Philadelphia. The day after that game, he played catch at Citizens Bank Park. Something came to him during a simple throwing session. Perhaps it was muscle memory, but the tap returned.

He wondered why throwing catch felt better than when he was on the mound.

So he watched video with pitching coach Randy St. Claire, and noticed when he separated his hands, he came straight back.

Although Johnson didn’t get the win on Tuesday when Miami beat the Cubs, 5-2, the right-hander did go seven innings, and he had an encouraging outing.

Strikeouts still are down right now for Johnson, who had three on Tuesday. But he feels that the more he is comfortable with his mechanics, the more strikeouts he will collect.

“Oh yeah, [the adjustment] made my slider a lot sharper,” he said. “Later in the game, it was even better. My changeup was actually pretty good, and curveball was better too.”

Returning from a shoulder injury, Johnson’s velocity right now isn’t in the upper 90s as it was in the past. It’s more in the 92-94 range.

It’s taking a little while for his slider to get sharp. It’s tended to move more side-to-side than breaking downward. In the fourth inning on Tuesday, that pitch started to get better.

Perhaps the biggest positive to come out of the shoulder injury was the addition of a curveball.

Johnson got out of the sixth inning on Tuesday when Alfonso Soriano tapped a curveball into a 5-4-3 double play. Catcher John Buck pointed out to Johnson that he needed a slower pitch to keep the hitters honest.

“It’s to slow guys down,” Johnson said. “Buck came out, said, ‘We need something softer.’ Once I get more comfortable again, I’ll be able to throw my slider at different speeds.”

The curveball gives him another pitch to go along with his fastball, sinker, changeup and slider.

Getting fully back to his All-Star form is a work in progress, but JJ is getting there.

Joe Frisaro

 

Marlins shake up lineup as Ozzie returns

MIAMI — The first order of business for manager Ozzie Guillen on Tuesday was to shake up the lineup.

The Marlins’ manager dropped Giancarlo Stanton to sixth in the order, and moved Logan Morrison into the cleanup spot at Marlins Park.

Josh Johnson will start against Ryan Dempster.

CUBS

1) DeJesus, RF

2) Barney, 2B

3) Castro, SS

4) Soriano, LF

5) Stewart, 3B

6) Clevenger, C

7) LaHair, 1B

8) Byrd, CF

9) Dempster, P

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Morrison, LF

5) Infante, 2B

6) Stanton, RF

7) Sanchez, 1B

8) Buck, C

9) Johnson, P

Joe Frisaro

Ozzie returns for series with Cubs

MIAMI — After a day off on Monday, the Marlins open a three-game set with the Cubs on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.

Tuesday also marks the return of manager Ozzie Guillen, who has completed his five-game suspension. The team went 2-3 with bench coach Joey Cora filling in as manager.

Josh Johnson seeks his first win of the season, and first since April 19, 2011. The right-hander is 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA.

Chicago counters with former Marlin, Ryan Dempster, who is 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 16 career appearances against the Marlins.

The Marlins enter the series having won two of three from the Astros, claiming their first series victory of the young season.

Miami beat the Astros, 5-4, in 11 innings on Sunday.

The Marlins are the first team since the 1995 Rockies to break in their new ballpark with their first two wins being in walk-off fashion.

Joe Frisaro

Adjustments get Hanley back on track

MIAMI — What a difference two days can make.

For Hanley Ramirez, it’s made a dramatic difference. Showing how quickly numbers can escalate early in the season, the Marlins third baseman raised his batting average from .133 to .282 in two days.

Kelly Gavin/Miami Marlins

Since going 0-for-5 on Friday against the Astros, much has changed. Ramirez got rid of the red-orange hair, coloring it black. That’s the cosmetic change. The actual baseball adjustment, Ramirez credits to hitting coach Eduardo Perez.Working with Perez, Ramirez lowered his hands a bit at the plate and moved them closer to his body.

It’s hard to argue with the results since.

Ramirez went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer and a walk-off single in the 11th inning to help lift the Marlins to a 5-4 win over the Astros on Sunday at Marlins Park.

On Saturday, the first day with the new hair and altered swing, he was 3-for-4.

So after going 7-for-9 the past two days, Ramirez’s season average raised to .282.

What the Marlins are starting to see is the Hanley of old.

Last year, he was injury-plagued, and Ramirez’s numbers reflected that he wasn’t healthy. In the first half, he was hindered by a lower back injury, and he missed the final two months after undergoing left shoulder surgery.

The fact that Ramirez is hitting .282 after 10 games is a positive sign, especially when you consider his batting average never was that high after any game for all of last year.

Due to a slow start, Ramirez reached a high of .256 on April 14, and he finished at .243.

Ramirez had no homers and nine RBIs in April last year. He’s already at two homers and seven RBIs. Actually, his numbers should be a bit better. If not for strong wind conditions at Philadelphia and on Friday night at Marlins Park, he would likely have two more homers to center. Instead, those long drives were both loud outs.

Ramirez’s blast on Sunday was estimated at 443 feet by ESPN’s Home Run Tracker. It’s the fifth longest shot in the big leagues this season.

For Ramirez, Sunday’s walk-off hit was the second of his career. And now the Marlins are the first team since the 1995 Rockies to open their new ballpark with their first two wins being in walk-off fashion.

Joe Frisaro

 

 

 

Infante is first Marlin to bring sculpture to life

MIAMI — At last, the home run sculpture sprung into action.

It took 31 innings to bring the display to life. It finally occurred in the second inning on Sunday afternoon when Omar Infante connected on a home run to left field, marking Miami’s first home run at its new ballpark.

The home run set the 73-foot home run feature into action, prompting mechanical marlins to spin, and water to splash. Infante’s drive landed in the Clevelander pool-side area behind the wall in left. The drive came in the Marlins fourth home game at Marlins Park.

The ball was caught by 32-year-old Doug Grey of Fort Lauderdale.

Infante paces the Marlins with four home runs. He also hit the team’s first of the season, with a shot at Cincinnati last Saturday.

A year ago, Infante had seven home runs, with six coming in his 57 games after the All-Star break.

Joe Frisaro

 

 

Infante back in series finale

MIAMI — One day is all Omar Infante needed to be rested and ready.

Infante returned to the Marlins’ lineup on Sunday in their series finale with the Astros at Marlins Park.

The Miami second baseman tweaked his left groin on Friday night, and he sat out on Saturday.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Infante, 2B

6) Morrison, LF

7) G. Sanchez, 1B

8) Buck, C

9) A. Sanchez, P

Joe Frisaro

 

Buehrle receives Gold Glove trophy

MIAMI — As part of Saturday’s pregame ceremonies, Mark Buehrle was presented with his 2011 Gold Glove Award.

While with the White Sox, the left-hander ran off three straight Gold Glove awards.

Robert Vigon/Miami Marlins

 

Infante rests a sore left groin

MIAMI — A sore left groin is keeping Omar Infante out of the starting lineup on Saturday night, but the Marlins are hopeful the veteran second baseman is ready on Sunday.

Infante felt some discomfort during his final two swings in Friday’s 5-4 win in 11 innings against the Astros at Marlins Park.

Infante is available to pinch-hit on Saturday. Donnie Murphy got the start at second base.

“He’s available, but we don’t want to take any chances,” said Marlins bench coach Joey Cora, filling in as Ozzie Guillen serves his five-game suspension. “If we need him today, he will be there. And hopefully tomorrow he will start.”

The day of rest is more of a precaution.

“It’s not worth it. It’s too early in the season,” Cora said. “He came up at the end of the game, and he was sore. He came out today, saying he’s ok. We decided it ain’t worth it. Probably, if it was September, and we were in the middle of the pennant race, he’d be out there. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Joe Frisaro

 

 

Infante gets breather on Saturday

MIAMI — Omar Infante, Miami’s hottest hitter with a .367, was given his first day off on Saturday night.

infante was shaken up on Wednesday night at Philadelphia when he collided with Hunter Pence, who was ruled out on interference.

The Marlins on Saturday, in their second game against the Astros at Marlins Park, gave Donnie Murphy the start at second base.

Giancarlo Stanton, who is nursing a sore left knee, was given Saturday off, while Logan Morrison was back in the lineup.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Morrison, LF

5) Sanchez, 1B

6) Coghlan, RF

7) Murphy, 2B

8) Hayes, C

9) Zambrano, P

Joe Frisaro

 

 

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