May 2012

Jennings’ hectic journey to his first MLB win

MIAMI — Getting his first big league win will always be memorable for Marlins reliever Dan Jennings.

But getting to the ballpark on Friday was perhaps even more challenging for the left-hander.

Jennings was called up from Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday night, and the 25-year-old had a 7 a.m. flight out of Reno, Nev., to Miami on Friday morning.

“It was a cold one [Thursday], like 40 degrees,” Jennings said. “Wind blowing. It was a late game. They told me after the games, 7 o’clock flight. You get there at 6. My first thought was, ‘Ok, routine goes out the window.’ ”

The whole day actually was a scramble.

His girlfriend, Courtney, picked him up at the airport in Miami, and they headed smack into rush-hour traffic to Marlins Park.

Jennings got to the ballpark about 30 minutes before the first pitch. He played catch a few minutes, starting at 6:55 p.m. ET.   “I changed as quickly as possible,” he said. “I wanted to be out there before the game started to throw. I knew if I didn’t, I’d be limited to throwing in the bullpen, which is 65 feet, at best.”

All players stretch out by throwing at distances way more than 90 feet. They routinely progress to 120 feet or more.

So if Jennings didn’t get a few minutes of throwing in before the first pitch, he would have been confined to a much shorter distance throwing in the bullpen.

“I’d throw 120 feet, and for a 7 o’clock game, that’s normally at 3 o’clock,” Jennings said.

Once the game started, Jennings found himself getting ready to pitch in the sixth inning after Josh Johnson was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

Jennings threw a perfect sixth inning, recording his first big league strikeout.

The frantic day was worth it, as Jennings picked up his first MLB strikeout and win on the same day.

Joe Frisaro


Solano makes first big league start

MIAMI — Looking to get another right-handed bat in the lineup, Donovan Solano will make his first MLB start on Saturday, and it will be at a position he’s just now getting used to.

A natural middle infielder, Solano will start for the Marlins in left field against the Giants at Marlins Park.

Normally, Miami goes with Austin Kearns in left field when facing a lefty. But with Kearns on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, Solano will fill the spot. In the past few days, Solano has taken fly balls at the position.

Chris Coghlan, who belted a three-run homer on Friday night, will be in center field in the third of four games with the Giants. The teams have split the first two of the four-game set.

The Marlins are 17-7 in May, which establishes a club mark for the most wins in the month.


1) Reyes, SS

2) Infante, 2B

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Morrison, 1B

6) Solano, LF

7) Coghlan, CF

8) Buck, C

9) Buehrle, P

Joe Frisaro


Oviedo expected in Jupiter on Monday

MIAMI — Juan Carlos Oviedo is close to clearing up all his legal issues.

The 30-year-old right-hander has got his visa approved on Friday, and he is expected to arrive at Jupiter, Fla., on Monday.

Once he is removed from MLB’s resticted list, Oviedo is expected to receive an eight-week suspension.

Oviedo, formerly Leo Nunez, was placed on the restricted list last September when it was revealed that he was playing under a false identity. He returned then to the Dominican Republic, and it has taken months to resolve the matter.

“I am very happy to get a U.S. visa this morning,” Oviedo told the Dominican newspaper, Listin Diario. “I’ve decided to leave for Jupiter, Fla., next Monday. I wish to be with my mother on Mother’s Day.”

Mother’s Day in the Dominican Republic is recognized on the last Sunday of May.

On Monday, he will head to the Marlins’ Spring Training complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Joe Frisaro

Boni undergoes thumb surgery

MIAMI — Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio had his surgery on Friday morning.

Bonifacio had surgery to repair ligament damage to his left thumb. Recovery time is four to six weeks.

On Bonifacio’s Twitter account, @Elboni_1, he tweeted a picture of himself after surgery. His spirits are up, and Boni is giving the “lo viste” sign with his right hand. His left arm was in a sling.

Joe Frisaro


Jennings expected to get called up

MIAMI — The Marlins are expected to replace one left-handed reliever with another.

Mike Dunn was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans after Thursday’s 14-7 loss to the Giants. The team didn’t announce who was getting called up, but it is expected to be lefty Daniel Jennings.

Jennings is enjoying a solid season at New Orleans. In 15 games, he has an 0.95 ERA. The lefty has 17 strikeouts and five walks in 19 innings.

Jennings has made two appearances with the Marlins this season, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

Joe Frisaro


Stanton sends baseball into bar

MIAMI — Giancarlo Stanton didn’t quite send his latest home run into orbit. But he did launch the drive into Budweiser Bar, located well beyond the wall in left center.

Giancarlo Stanton’s home run on Thursday night landed in the Budweiser Bar area at Marlins Park.

Stanton connected on a no-doubt blast of Ryan Vogelsong of the Giants in the second inning at Marlins Park.

Miami’s 22-year-old slugger now has 10 home runs on the season, with nine in May.

The estimate on the drive was 434 feet.

Stanton is wearing out Marlins Park of late. On Monday against the Rockies, he smashed a grand slam off Jamie Moyer that took out light panels on the video scoreboard down the left-field line.

That shot was estimated at 438 feet.

Joe Frisaro


Bonifacio to undergo surgery

MIAMI — Emilio Bonifacio will undergo surgery on Friday to repair a ligament in his left thumb.

The Marlins center fielder, who paces the Majors with 20 steals, is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Bonifacio injured his thumb while attempting to steal second base at Cleveland on May 18. Using a head-first slide, Bonifacio was thrown out for the only time this year. On the play, his thumb jammed into the base.

Bonifacio initially thought he would only need the 15-days on the DL to recover. But a second examine and MRI revealed the ligament tear.

Injuries are starting to catch up to the Marlins.

Also on Thursday, the team announced Austin Kearns has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. Kevin Mattison was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.

Chris Coghlan, Bryan Petersen and Mattison can all play center field.

Kearns is a big loss because he was a right-handed bat off the bench. Now, Donovan Solano likely will take on more of a role. The infielder is taking fly balls in left field, and he is an option to play the position against a left-handed starter.

Solano is using one of Bonifacio’s outfield gloves.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins open four-game set with Giants

MIAMI — After taking two of three from the Rockies, the Marlins open a four-game set with the Giants on Thursday at Marlins Park.

Anibal Sanchez gets the start for Miami, while the Giants are going with Ryan Vogelsong.


1) Reyes, SS

2) Infante, 2B

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Dobbs, LF

5) Stanton, RF

6) Morrison, 1B

7) Hayes, C

8) Coghlan, CF

9) Sanchez, P

Joe Frisaro


Good or bad, Zambrano keeps his cool

MIAMI — For a brief moment on Wednesday night, Carlos Zambrano almost let his temper get the best of him.

It was after he struck out, stranding a runner at third base in Miami’s 8-4 loss to the Rockies.

Frustrated, Zambrano raised the bat above his knee as if he would try to snap it in two. It didn’t happen.

Zambrano calmed himself and simply walked back to the dugout. There was no bat swipe at the water cooler. The pitcher just put his bat and helmet away.

The outbursts Zambrano showed in the past, during his tenure with the Cubs, are becoming things of the past.

Zambrano is more at peace with himself these days, and he credits his faith in God for changing his life. While pitching, Zambrano will regularly point to the sky. He’s also smiling more on the field.

“It’s easy when you’re doing good to talk about God, and [point to the sky], or if you hit a home run,” Zambrano said. “And then when you strikeout, you don’t do nothing. It’s easy to have a 1-something ERA, and pointing to God, but when you’re struggling, you don’t talk about God.

“I believe in God and I give thanks for being in this game. I will still talk about him because he changed my life. Even if I do a good job or I do a bad job, I glorify his name.”

Joe Frisaro



Low-key Nolasco takes record in stride

MIAMI — About the most emotion you will see out of Ricky Nolasco is a small fist pump after recording a big out.

Other than that, the Marlins right-hander stays low key.

Ricky Nolasco sets Marlins’ record.

So setting the franchise record for most wins in Marlins history isn’t going to get him too pumped up.

“It’s not that important right now,” Nolasco says.

Nolasco on Tuesday became the club leader in wins when the Marlins beat the Rockies, 7-6, at Marlins Park.

Nolasco is now 69-53 in his big league career. Dontrelle Willis is second with 68 wins, and Josh Johnson is third with 50 wins.

“He always gets it done,” Johnson said of Nolasco. “It couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

The Marlins acquired Nolasco from the Cubs after the 2005 season as part of the Juan Pierre trade.

Nolasco and Johnson were both rookies in 2006. The two actually first met during the Double-A All-Star Game in Mobile in 2005.

Johnson was with the Marlins’ Carolina affiliate, while Nolasco pitched for West Tennessee.

Even as a Minor Leaguer, Nolasco always had a knack for winning. In the Cubs’ system, he was 43-22.

“I remember the first time I met him was at the Double-A All-Star Game,” Johnson said. “We were about the same age, and I went up trying to talk to him. And he didn’t say two words. I was like, alright. And I don’t say anything. I’m trying to make conversation. I was like, ‘Man, this guy is worse than I am.’ I was like, ‘Oh well, I’ll go sit over here.’ ”

“We were both quiet guys,” Nolasco said. “I didn’t know anybody there really. I just kind of stuck to my own. I guess my people skills were a lot worse back then.”

When Johnson learned Nolasco was becoming a Marlin, he knew the organization was getting a talented pitcher.

“As soon as I found out he was on our team, I knew what he was going to do,” Johnson said. “He was going to start off in the big leagues, and be up here a long time.”

Nolasco and Johnson actually were set to pitch in the first game of the Double-A playoffs in 2005. But the night before Game 1 of the series, the Marlins called JJ up to the big leagues.

“They called my cel phone, like 11 or 11:30,” Johnson said. “I was pitching the next night against Ricky. They were like, ‘Hey, you’re going to the big leagues.’ ”

Behind Nolasco, West Tennessee pitched a shutout in Game 1.

Joe Frisaro