April 2012

LoMo launches texting campaign

MIAMI — You can make a difference with one simple text message.

Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison, in cooperation with the American Lung Association, has launched a text messaging campaign to combat cancer.

Already, the cause has picked up steam.

Launched less than two weeks ago, more than $68,000 has been raised for the American Lung Association.

To make a $10 donation, simply text LOMO to 32020. A $10 charge will be billed automatically.

In return for your donation, you will receive an autographed wallpaper/screener of Morrison that will automatically be texted to your phone.

Morrison lost his father, Tom, to lung cancer in December of 2010.

The Marlins outfielder has embarked on a number of initiatives to fight the disease, including his LoMo Camp for  a Cure, an annual camp at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins-Phillies lineup for Thursday

PHILADELPHIA — The Marlins and Phillies conclude their three-game set on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Miami is starting lefty Mark Buehrle, while the Phillies are going with Joe Blanton.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Morrison, LF

6) Sanchez, 1B

7) Infante, 2B

8) Buck, C

9) Buehrle, P

PHILLIES

1) Victorino, CF

2) Polanco, 3B

3) Rollins, SS

4) Pence, RF

5) Mayberry, LF

6) Wigginton, 1B

7) Ruiz, C

8) Galvis, 2B

9) Blanton, P

Joe Frisaro

 

Are JJ’s struggles a sign of rust … or more?

PHILADEPHIA — History has repeatedly shown us that the Marlins don’t lose much when Josh Johnson starts.

So naturally it’s a bit alarming when the Miami ace gets slapped around in his first two starts, dropping both contests.

In Wednesday’s 7-1 loss at Philadelphia, the right-hander gave up five runs on a career high 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.

He struck out one, and has raised concern for Marlins’ fans everwhere.

Now, the questions are being asked: Is he healthy? Is he nibbling? Is he just rusty?

Could it be all of the above?

At least publicly, Johnson and the Marlins are not indicating heath is an issue.

A true professional, Johnson awaited reporters on Wednesday night, making no excuses.

Physically, he says he’s fine, which is the best news of the night. He looked and sounded confident that his shoulder is strong and healthy.

Granted, the windy, cold conditions weren’t ideal for his second start. His fastball was in the 92-93 mph range, occasionally reaching 94. Obviously, it’s down from the 95-97 mph plateau of the past.

But, it’s early in the season. And even the hardest throwers in the game don’t always start off at their peak. Velocity often increases with more throwing and when the temperatures heat up.

Remember, Johnson missed substantial time in 2011 with shoulder inflammation. It may be a matter of it taking some time.

Also, it’s not like he’s throwing 88-89. Many pitchers see a gradual dip in velocity through the years, but remain effective pitching in the lower 90s.

With all the time missed, it could be Johnson’s sharpness will gradually develop.

As long as he’s healthy, that likely will occur.

What is clear right now is JJ has yet to be the JJ of old.

Consider:

* He’s allowed 21 hits in 9 2/3 innings in two starts. In April of 2011, Johnson gave up 18 hits in 41 innings and he was 3-0 with a 0.88 ERA.

* JJ has lost two straight starts for the first time since June 18-29, 2007, when he dropped three in a row. That year, he was shut down and eventually had Tommy John surgery.

* JJ struck out one on Wednesday night, his fewest since not fanning anyone at the White Sox on May 23, 2010.

* The 3 2/3 outing was his shortest stint since tossing that many on Aug. 13, 2010 at Cincinnati.

* Johnson also hasn’t won since April 19, 2011, a span of seven starts.

From the Phillies clubhouse, Shane Victorino offered this view: “I think he’s still trying to get back. He missed almost a whole year. I wouldn’t use the word rusty, but he’s still trying to get into a rhythm and back into game mode. It’s about taking advantage of a guy that’s – I’m not saying he’s not 100 percent, he might not be – not on top of his game.”

Maybe that’s it. JJ isn’t yet on top of his game.

Joe Frisaro

 

Ozzie speaks from heart with team

PHILADELPHIA –  At 4:15 p.m. prompt, Ozzie Guillen stood inside the Marlins clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park addressing the Marlins for five to 10 minutes.

Suspended for five games, Guillen exited the ballpark afterwards, and didn’t watch the Marlins-Phillies play on Wednesday night at the ballpark.

“It’s been tough,” said bench coach Joey Cora, who is filling in for Guillen. “But he’s ok.”

Guillen returned to Philadelphia a day after he met with the media on Tuesday at Marlins Park.

“He feels very sorry that he’s not going to be here for five days,” Cora said. “He signed with the Marlins to manage the whole season. He really feels that he’s let the team down because he’s going to miss five days for something outside of the field. If it was a melee or an argument with an umpire, baseball stuff. Maybe it would have been a little bit different. He feels like he’s let the team down by missing these five games.

“He wants to be here, managing the team. We didn’t go through all of Spring Training and all of the things we went through for him to miss five games. I think that’s what hurts him the most with the players. As far as the players go, he’s very sorry that he won’t be here for five games.”

Cora added that he expects Guillen to be more careful with his words in the future, and not comment on touchy topics outside of baseball.

His meeting with the team lasted, five to 10 minutes, Cora said.

“He knew exactly what he wanted to say,” the bench coach added. “He came right in, at 4:15, and he let everybody know what happened and how he felt. Plus, they pretty much all saw the press conference. If they didn’t see it, pretty much every time they put on ESPN, it was on every five minutes. Everybody knew what was going on. He talked from the heart. Hopefully he comes back on Tuesday, and we’re doing well, and we keep on going.”

Joe Frisaro

 

Stanton returns to lineup

PHILADELPHIA — The Marlins will have their Opening Night lineup going on Wednesday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Giancarlo Stanton, who was scratched from the lineup on Monday due to left knee pain, is back hitting cleanup for Miami.

The Marlins are facing Phillies ace Roy Halladay.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Morrison, LF

6) Sanchez, 1B

7) Infante, 2B

8) Buck, C

9) Johnson, P

Joe Frisaro

 

Ozzie addressing team in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA — Before the Marlins are scheduled to stretch and taking batting practice on Wednesday afternoon, manager Ozzie Guillen will address the team at Citizens Bank Park.

Guillen is serving a five-game suspension without pay. Bench coach Joey Cora will manage the team in Guillen’s absence.

During his press conference on Tuesday morning at Marlins Park, Guillen apologized for his remarks about Fidel Castro. He also said he would express his remorse to the Marlins’ players.

“I will talk to the team [Wednesday],” Guillen said on Tuesday. “I will express the way I feel. I will apologize to the ballclub because we have everything going on right now. Everybody’s happy. I don’t think the team supported what I did but I think the team will be behind me to play good when I’m not there.”

Guillen is not expected to meet with the media on Wednesday.

The Marlins are playing the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The pitching matchup is a good one, Josh Johnson vs. Roy Halladay.

The game will be televised on ESPN2 and FS Florida.

Joe Frisaro

Time to play ball, time for a group lo viste

PHILADELPHIA — It was a dramatic off day for the Marlins on Tuesday, as manager Ozzie Guillen was handed a five-game suspension.

On Wednesday, it’s back on the field for the Marlins, who can claim a series win if they can beat the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The pitching matchup is a marquee one, as Josh Johnson seeks to rebound from an Opening Night loss to the Cardinals. Philadelphia is going with their ace, Roy Halladay.

It’s been an emotionally draining few days for the Marlins, as the Guillen story gained steam since last Friday.

One of the Marlins’ rallying signals this year is giving the “lo viste” sign, which is two fingers spread sideways over one eye. Lo viste is Spanish for, “See that?”

Emilio Bonifacio and Jose Reyes have given fans plenty to see in the first five games.

Bonifacio, with four stolen bases, is tied for the Major League lead. And Reyes has hit safely in all five games.

Lo viste is gaining momentum, and catching on with fans of all ages.

Joe Frisaro  

Costas reacts to Guillen suspension

PHILADELPHIA — Suspending manager Ozzie Guillen for five games was swift and necessary action, says broadcaster Bob Costas.

Costas and Jim Kaat will be calling the Marlins-Phillies game on Thursday night on the MLB Network.

During a media conference call on Tuesday, Costas weighed in on Guillen’s suspension.

“I think the Marlins had to react,” Costas said. “They had to react forcefully without any ambiguity. Their original statement had no wiggle room – ‘There’s no reason to respect or admire Castro…’ – this was even before they made the decision about the suspension. I think most people will view that as fair and appropriate and, if anything, I think there’s some people who probably would’ve thought that the suspension would last longer than that, but five games seems equitable to me. It seems reasonable to me. I think there’s also an implication here that regardless of Ozzie’s shoot-from-the-hip history, he better keep it holstered on anything that goes outside baseball. People will just say ‘Hey that’s Ozzie,” if he’s talking about something that happened on the ball field, or he gets mad at one of his players, or he gets mad at someone on the opposition and he speaks colorfully about that, fine. But just keep it between the lines. The other stuff, I don’t think he has very much wiggle room anymore. [Chicago White Sox owner] Jerry Reinsdorf was pretty indulgent through the years in Chicago, but Ozzie’s painted himself into a corner now.”

Joe Frisaro  

 

Marlins players tuned in from Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA — As Ozzie Guillen was addressing the media in Miami on Tuesday, many of the Marlins players were tuned in watching at the team hotel in Philadelphia.

The Marlins on Tuesday announced Guillen will be serving a five-game suspension for this controversial comments regarding Fidel Castro.

“He was sincere in his apology,” Miami native Gaby Sanchez said. “It was good to see him out there apologizing, trying to set everything straight.

“He looked very sincere to me. We just have to move forward and keep going. We’ve just got to go out there and play baseball and have another good game against the Phillies and win.”

Until Guillen returns next Tuesday, when the Marlins are at home against the Cubs, bench coach Joey Cora will manage the team.

“Joey is involved with the everyday operations,” catcher John Buck said. “[Ozzie] and Joey are pretty tightly-knitted to where stuff is run through Joey quite a bit already. The fact [Ozzie] won’t be there, that’s the only thing that’s different. The baseball stuff, I don’t think will change much.”

Since the Time magazine story broke online last Friday, Guillen has clearly not been himself.

“You can see how it has affected him the last couple of days, how sincere he really is,” Buck said. “You don’t get Ozzie sincerely apologizing about anything. To see him affected this greatly and how bad it has hurt him, for him to say one thing and have it kind of get misinterpreted, that’s the part you feel for him. You see how hard it is on him.”

Joe Frisaro

 

Marlins suspend Ozzie five games

The Marlins on Tuesday morning announced they are suspending manager Ozzie Guillen for five games, effective immediately.

In a statement sent to the media, the Marlins said: “The Miami Marlins announced today the suspension of manager Ozzie Guillen for five games effective immediately. The Marlins acknowledge the seriousness of the comments attributed to Guillen. The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized especially in a community filled with victims of the dictatorship.”

Bench coach Joey Cora will manage the club in the interim. The Marlins are off on Tuesday, and will resume their three-game series at Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Guillen returned to Miami after Monday’s game at Philadelphia, and he addressed a large media gathering at Marlins Park on Tuesday morning. About 30 protesters were outside the stadium.

Guillen addressed the media, first in Spanish and then in English.

In English, he said about the suspension: “I can’t control that. The way I feel right now, I cannot say it’s unfair or fair. They make that decision. To me, it’s a very sad situation because I’m leaving the ballclub and they’re playing pretty good right now. … But that decision is made. They made that decision. I will take it, whatever they want me to do. I cannot complain about anything because right now I’m not in a position to complain or disagree with what they think about me.”

Guillen will not be paid for the five games. But he said he isn’t worried about the money, he is committed to repairing his image within the Cuban community.

“It’s not going to happen today. It’s what’s going to happen in the future,” Guillen said of mending his relationship with South Florida. “I expect to be here for a long time. I live in Miami. My family is in Miami, and I will do everything, and I’m willing to do everything to try to make things better. I will help the Cuban community and the Latino community, like I always do. I hope I get better and people understand my situation. I’m willing to do everything in my power and the Marlins power to help this community like I always do.”

Guillen added that he let the Marlins organization and the ballclub down by his comments to Time magazine regarding Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

“It was misinterpreted. What I mean in Spanish, when he asked me in Spanish, I was thinking in Spanish,” Guillen said. “The thing I say, ‘I cannot believe somebody who hurt so many people over the years is still alive.”

Guillen noted that he was hired to manage the Marlins, not talk about politics.

During the suspension, he expects the club to perform on the field.

“I will apologize to the ballclub,” the manager said. “I expect my coaching staff to do what they have to do without me. I’m very disappointed and very sad. I let those guys down. I let the ballclub down.”

Joe Frisaro

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