May 2012

RBI single big hit for JJ’s son

MIAMI — Josh Johnson emerged as the winning pitcher on Wednesday night, which was big for the Marlins to get their ace to work six innings on a night he had to battle.

The Marlins rallied to beat the Nationals, 5-3, completing a three-game sweep at Marlins Park.

But the highlight of the night for Johnson’s 4 1/2 year old son, Cash, was not the pitching performance. Instead, it was JJ’s RBI single in the fourth inning.

“All he cares about is the Marlins winning and hitting,” Johnson said.

Cash regularly is in the Marlins’ clubhouse after games. He’s usually in full baseball uniform, and often wearing a batting helmet.

Johnson’s first hit of the season ended up being important. It was a broken-bat RBI single, which tied the game. Also in the inning, JJ was asked to run the bases.

First base coach Gary Thurman gave the pitcher the run sign.

“You’re kidding, right?” Johnson asked Thurman. “He said, go. He said, ‘really, go.’ I said, alright, and I took off.”

So JJ went on a hit-and-run, and Jose Reyes singled to center. At first Johnson thought about going to third, but after a wide turn around second, he thought otherwise. It was a good thing, because he would have been out easily.

To get back to second safely, Johnson dove in head-first, getting his uniform dirty.

“I know my son is going to be pumped,” JJ said. “That’s all he asks about is hitting, sliding and trying to steal a base. He loves it.”

With his interest in hitting, it’s not surprising that Cash’s favorite Marlin is Giancarlo Stanton.

“When he comes in here, he will go over to Stanton, for sure,” Johnson said.

The other night, Cash sat in the weight room postgame as Stanton work out.

“He was in there,” Stanton said. “He couldn’t get enough. JJ told him that he needed to go with his mom, but he didn’t want to. He wanted to stay with me.

“It’s funny, because last year, he still liked me a lot, but he would just be so nervous when I came in. I was like, ‘What’s up, Cash?’ And he’d [turn away]. When I’d leave, he’d say, ‘Daddy, he said hi to me.’ ”

Joe Frisaro

Which player is must-see on TV?

MIAMI — If you’re a South Florida sports fan on Wednesday night, you have some options.

You can watch the Marlins-Nationals or the Miami Heat against Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs.

The two teams will be playing a couple of miles apart. Marlins Park will be busy, as will AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the Heat.

If you’re watching at home on TV, what do you do? Most likely, you’ve got your remote control in hand.

Say you’re flipping back and forth between the two games, what would you absolutely not want to miss.

Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton falls into the category of “must see.”

Stanton has 11 home runs and 29 RBIs in May, and the 22-year-old is a threat to do something special every time he steps to the plate.

Preston Wilson, the former Marlins player who now is a pregame and postgame analyst on Fox Sports Florida, makes it a point to watch when Stanton is at-bat.

“When I’m looking at that lineup, and I see Stanton is coming up, I make sure I don’t miss him,” Wilson said when he is at home and not working.

There are a handful of players Wilson doesn’t want to miss when they hit. Stanton, Joey Votto, Matt Kemp,  Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard are on his list of current players.

“Those guys are those rare guys, who can not only hit, they can hit for power,” Wilson said. “For a while, there were like 40 of those guys. Now, they’re like 10 in each league, who are legitimate power.”

Joe Frisaro

Marlins close out May vs. Nationals

MIAMI — May is about to come to a close, and the Marlins probably don’t want to bid farewell to the month too quickly.

With their 3-1 win on Tuesday night, the Marlins set a franchise record with 20 wins in the month. That’s the most victories for the franchise in any month, topping the 19 posted in August of 1997.

Miami is 20-8 in May, and they enter Wednesday night with a 6-3 mark in their 10-game homestand.

The Marlins seek a sweep over the first-place Nationals at Marlins Park.

Jose Reyes is riding a 10-game hitting streak.

A reminder that Wednesday’s game will air on Majic 102.7 FM due to a conflict with the Miami Heat, who will be on 790 The Ticket.


1) Reyes, SS

2) Infante, 2B

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Morrison, 1B

6) Petersen, CF

7) Buck, C

8) Coghlan, LF

9) Johnson, P

Joe Frisaro


Several Marlins make appearance at Heat game

MIAMI — AmericanAirlines Arena is about five or so Giancarlo Stanton-sized home runs away from Marlins Park.

So the Marlins and Miami Heat share a close proximity. On Monday night, a number of Marlins made their way to the AAA to check out the Heat in the playoffs.

A few months ago, LeBron James bumped into Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria at a Heat game.

The way the schedule fell on Monday, the Marlins played a Memorial Day afternoon game at 1:10 p.m. ET. And the Heat were at home that night to take on the Boston Celtics in the first-game of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

Six Marlins attended the game.

Stanton and Ricky Nolasco sat courtside with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and his wife, Julie.

Josh Johnson also was at the playoff game. In another section were Steve Cishek and Austin Kearns. Logan Morrison also was there.

Johnson, who stands 6-foot-7, played basketball all the way through high school. He marvels at the athleticism of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

“It’s amazing to watch LeBron play,” Johnson said. “He takes like three steps and he’s across the floor. It’s amazing how fast and quick they are. He and D-Wade are probably the best of [fastbreaks]. We’re lucky here in Miami to watch them night in, night out. I don’t know how they do it. But it’s fun to watch.

“I played basketball until my senior year, but I couldn’t do anything close to that. I’d catch an alley-oop, but not like that.”

Cishek, 6-foot-6, was at the game supporting the Celtics. A native of Falmouth, Mass., the reliever wore a Ray Allen jersey. He was sitting with Kearns five rows behind the Heat bench.

Cishek likes the Heat, but he grew up a huge Boston fan.

“Ray Allen is one of my all-time favorite athletes,” Cishek said. “I like the way he plays the game. Stand up guy.”

Cishek also played basketball in school. But he didn’t dunk in high school. Instead, his game was from the perimeter, where he was a good 3-point shooter. That’s why Reggie Miller and Allen are two of his favorites.

Although Cishek is becoming an elite reliever in the big leaguers, he’s yet to become recognized around town. At the Heat game, he wasn’t noted for being on the Marlins. He did stand out wearing a Celtics jersey, and a fan asked how he was able to get such prime seats.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins in position to take series

MIAMI — The Marlins on Tuesday have a chance to take the series against the Nationals at Marlins Park.

Presidents race bobbleheads on display at Marlins Park.

Miami is coming off a win on Monday in the first of three with first-place Washington.

Anibal Sanchez gets the starting nod, and Edwin Jackson is going for the Nationals.

Miami has won 19 games in May, which ties a club record.


1) Reyes, SS

2) Infante, 2B

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Morrison, 1B

6) Petersen, CF

7) Buck, C

8) Coghlan, LF

9) Sanchez, P

Joe Frisaro

Marlins banking on Bell to save

Juan Carlos Oviedo met with the media on Tuesday morning at the Marlins’ complex in Jupiter, Fla.

The 30-year-old reliever is serving an eight-week suspension due to issues regarding his identity.

Oviedo, formerly Leo Nunez, has been the Marlins’ closer in the past. But when he is eligible to be reinstated on July 23, his role projects to be a seventh or eighth inning setup reliever.

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters in Jupiter today that the team is counting on Heath Bell to close.

“We have a closer. I know he’s been in the news quite a bit — he did a great job yesterday — but he’s our closer,” Beinfest said.

Manager Ozzie Guillen is sticking with Bell in the closer role. On Monday, the right-hander saved his eighth game in 12 chances in Miami’s 5-3 win over the Nationals.

Beinfest was asked about Bell’s up and down season.

“It’s been an interesting go,” Beinfest said. “I don’t think anybody anticipated when you go out and get a guy that has had the success that Heath’s had the past three years as a closer. … You don’t anticipate the struggles that he’s had, but it’s happened and Ozzie believes in him, we believe in him as an organization.

“He just needs to go out and do it and feel good about himself. Change can be good, and I know that’s a thing out there, but maybe the change has been a little bit different for him with the new ballclub and coming to the East Coast, but it’s no excuse. The quality of the pitches is still there and you can see he can do the job. He just needs to do it consistently.”

Bell struck out two and retired the side in order on Monday.

“Let’s hope he can get that consistency going and that yesterday will be the start of that and we’ll move forward,” Beinfest said. “You never want to lose some games that you’re leading in the ninth inning, and that’s why he was hired, to maintain that lead for us.”

Joe Frisaro


Marlins-Nationals in crucial showdown

MIAMI — Some may say the season is still early, but the Marlins are in a “must win” mindset.

Miami came out on top, 5-3, against the Nationals on Monday afternoon at Marlins Park.

The Marlins trail the first-place Nationals by 2 1/2 games, and all the teams in the division are over .500.

“This division is very hard, very tough,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Great pitching staffs. Good athletes. For us, like I say, every game is a must-win game. I think everybody in the division should be thinking like that. I don’t think anybody is going to walk away, run away with this division. There’s so much good pitching here.”

The Marlins are now 1-2 with Washington, with two more games set this week.

“Like I say, if you want to win your division, you’ve got to beat your own division, because those are the teams you play more than anybody else,” the Miami manager said. “We know they’re good. We know that. We’re going to try to compete against them.”

Closer Heath Bell calls the NL East the best in baseball.

“This division is ridiculous,” Bell said. “It’s the best division in baseball, plain and simple. Hands down. You could have said that with the American League East. Right now, everybody is above .500, everybody is beating each other up.

“We can’t take anybody lightly. We’re happy about today’s win, but we’re going to forget about it. We’re going to enjoy our night off, kind of. Sleep in tomorrow and go out there and try to win tomorrow.”

Joe Frisaro



Oviedo suspended until July 22

MIAMI — Marlins reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo on Monday was handed an eight-week suspension by Major League Baseball for engaging in age and identity fraud.

Oviedo’s suspension is effective as of Monday, the day the 30-year-old returned to the United States after spending nearly eight months in the Dominican Republic resolving the issue of his identity.

Oviedo, formerly known as Leo Nunez, reported to the Marlins complex in Jupiter, Fla., on Monday.

The suspension will run through July 22.

According to the league, Oviedo is eligible to participate in extended Spring Training during the period of his suspension.  In addition, during the period of the suspension, Oviedo will be eligible for one rehabilitation assignment to a Minor League affiliate not to exceed 16 days.

In late September of last year, Oviedo was placed on the restricted list. He returned to the Dominican Republic to resolve issues relating to his identity.

Joe Frisaro


Zambrano vs. Zimmermann in Game 1

MIAMI — The Marlins take on the first-place Nationals in the first of three games on Monday at Marlins Park.

Carlos Zambrano vs. Jordan Zimmermann is the pitching matchup. The first pitch is 1:10 p.m. ET.

Miami split a four-game set with the Giants.

The Marlins are 4-3 in their 10-game homestand.


1) Reyes, SS

2) Infante, 2B

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Morrison, LF

6) Petersen, CF

7) Buck, C

8) Coghlan, LF

9) Zambrano, P

Joe Frisaro

Ruggiano adds right-handed hitting depth

MIAMI — The Marlins on Sunday added another right-handed bat to their bench.

A day after acquiring Justin Ruggiano in a Minor League trade, the outfielder was headed to the big leagues.

Ruggiano, a right-handed hitting outfielder, was obtained on Saturday from the Astros for Minor League catcher Jobduan Morales.

The Marlins on Sunday announced they selected Ruggiano’s contract. The team also optioned outfielder Kevin Mattison to Triple-A New Orleans. To make room on the 40-man roster for Ruggiano, right-hander Jose Ceda was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

In 39 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Ruggiano batted .325 with five home runs and 29 RBIs.

Ruggiano, 30, has big league experience. Last year with Tampa Bay, he appeared in 46 games and he hit .273 with four home runs and 13 RBIs.

He’s appeared in a total of 98 MLB games. He also saw limited action with the Rays in 2007 and 2008.

On Sunday, the Marlins look to take three of four from the Giants at Marlins Park.

Ricky Nolasco gets the start for Miami, with San Francisco going with Matt Cain.


1) Reyes, SS

2) Infante, 2B

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Morrison, 1B

6) Petersen, CF

7) Buck, C

8) Coghlan, LF

9) Nolasco, P

Joe Frisaro