June 2012

Battier takes BP at Marlins Park

MIAMI — A pitcher when he was younger, Shane Battier said he gave up baseball because he couldn’t hit a curveball.

Shane Battier of the Miami Heat takes BP at Marlins Park.

Opting for basketball certainly wasn’t a bad fallback play, as he has the distinction of winning titles at Duke and now with the Miami Heat.

Battier turned his attention to basketball, and after 11 seasons in the NBA, he finally experienced winning a championship. The veteran forward played a key role on the Miami Heat’s title team.

A guest of the Marlins on Saturday, Battier took some swings at Marlins Park. Facing Miami first base coach Gary Thurman, he connected on a couple of balls that reached the warning track in left field.

Battier also threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Chris Bosh also was at the ballpark, but he did not take part in any pregame festivities.

Marlins Park, Battier says, is a beautiful place to play. As an athlete, he added playing in a new building can be uplifting for a player.

“I think it often makes a difference,” he said. “You see that with other teams, when they go into a new building, and you feel like you’re in a professional outfit and you feel like ‘yeah, we’re with the big boys, and if we’re with the big boys then let’s play like the big boys.’ It’s a beautiful park, it really is. It’s my first time here today, so I’m excited to watch a game here.”

A number of Marlins attended Heat playoff games. Battier recalls seeing Giancarlo Stanton at AmericanAirlines Arena.

In high school, Stanton played basketball. Could Stanton have played hoops if he gave it his full attention?

“Yeah,” Battier said. “That guy is pretty athletic. I think he’d be all right.”

Joe Frisaro

Mujica sustains fracture to right pinky toe

MIAMI  — On a night the Marlins celebrated a victory, their bullpen suffered a blow.

Right-hander Edward Mujica sustained a fracture to his right pinky toe. The 28-year-old was injured after being struck by a comeback grounder off the bat of Placido Polanco in the seventh inning of the Marlins’ 6-2 win over the Phillies.

Mujica went to the hospital after Friday’s game, and an X-ray revealed the fracture. He is wearing a walking boot, and hopes to return shortly after the All-Star Break.

Mujica feels he will be back in two weeks. The Marlins had yet to place their late-inning setup right-hander on the disabled list as of Saturday afternoon.

“I got hit, and right away I didn’t feel my foot,” Mujica said. “I thought something happened. I had two warmup throws, and I felt it.”

Polanco had a single on the play, but Mujica, remained in the game and got out of the inning.

“I got out of it,” he said. “I came back to the dugout, and I started feeling it.”

With Mujica out, Ryan Webb and Steve Cishek are the candidates to fill the seventh and eighth inning right-handed setup roles.

“Today, it feels a little bit better,” Mujica said. “Last night, I can’t walk. It was hard for me to walk. I got this boot right after the doctor told me I got a fracture. I feel a little bit better today.”

Mujica has appeared in 35 games and he has a 4.46 ERA, but he’s been one of the teams most dependable and durable relievers.

Getting hit by comeback shot is a concern for all pitchers. Recently, Andy Pettitte of the Yankees suffered a fracture to his foot, and he’s out for about six weeks.

“We’re close to the hitter,” Mujica said. “Line drives over there, they are scary moments.”

Joe Frisaro

 

 

Infante’s play similar to Castillo’s in 2003 playoffs

MIAMI — You don’t see the groundout combination happening often, but what took place in the ninth inning on Wednesday night at Marlins Park also occurred for the Marlins in the 2003 playoffs.

A quick refresher.

Against the Cardinals on Wednesday night, Heath Bell issued a leadoff single to Matt Carpenter, bringing up pinch-hitter Yadier Molina.

Bell induced a routine tapper to the mound. In hopes of starting a double play, or at least getting the lead runner, he threw to second. But shortstop Jose Reyes wasn’t yet at the bag, and the throw appeared headed for center field. Before that could happen, second baseman Omar Infante, who was backing up the play, collected the throw several feet behind the bag.

Carpenter was easily safe at second, but Infante threw to first and got Molina for the out. For those keeping score at home, it goes as a 1-4-3 groundout.

Marlins fans with a good memory may recall a similar play during the 2003 playoffs. In Game 3 of the NL Division Series with the Giants at Sun Life Stadium, Luis Castillo showed why he was a Gold Glove winner that year.

In the sixth inning, Mark Redman was on the mound for the Marlins. The inning started off with back-to-back singles by Barry Bonds and Edgardo Alfonzo.

Andres Galarraga stepped up, and bounced a ball to the mound. Redman fielded it cleanly and threw to second, but the throw went by shortstop Alex Gonzalez. However, Castillo was trailing the play.

Castillo collected the throw that wasn’t intended for him, and he went with his only option, throwing to first, where he nabbed Galarraga.

In both cases, it helped that the batter was a slow runner.

The Giants did score two runs in the sixth that inning, but Castillo’s great play saved more damage, and the Marlins won, 4-3, in 11 innings.

Like Castillo nine years earlier, Infante was at the right spot at the right time, making a heads up play.

Joe Frisaro

 

Marlins open series with Phillies

MIAMI — Off on Thursday, the Marlins are back in action on Friday night, facing the Phillies at Marlins Park.

It’s Philadelphia’s first visit to the new ballpark.

The Marlins are fourth in the NL East, and the Phillies are in fifth.

Friday night features a strong pitching matchup, with Josh Johnson going against Cliff Lee.

The Marlins loaded up their lineup with right-handed hitters against Lee.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Ramirez, 3B

3) Stanton, RF

4) Morrison, LF

5) Ruggiano, CF

6) Infante, 2B

7) Sanchez, 1B

8) Buck, C

9) Johnson, P

Joe Frisaro

 

Ozzie keeping his cool during tough time

MIAMI — Timing is everything when it comes to Ozzie Guillen’s temperament.

The Marlins manager has a reputation for speaking his mind and occasionally losing his cool. Because the Marlins have a number of young players, Guillen is being cautious when it comes to handling his clubhouse. He wants to make sure he doesn’t say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

“People think when I was with another team that I was crazy every day,” Guillen said. “No. At times I am crazy, but that’s saying stuff that needed to be said. The different thing is, some managers say it one way. I say it my way.

“I don’t think right now is the moment to do it. First of all, I have some kids here, I don’t know how they will react.”

If and when the time comes, Guillen likely won’t hold back.

“I don’t hold back on anybody,” he said. “I will be myself, no matter where I may be. I can manage everywhere. In a convent, with priests and nuns, I will be the same guy. I will curse, and stuff. That’s my style, that’s my way. That’s the way I grew up.”

One aspect of the game that Guillen is especially forgiving is errors. A former infielder, he is tolerant of physical errors. It’s the mental errors that he will get upset about.

“As soon as I see that, then I will erupt,” he said. “We’re just playing lousy defense. It seems like every time we make errors, it costs runs. But like I say, I will never criticize the players for fielding errors. I will criticize them for mental errors. Field errors, that’s the reason they’re there. I played. when somebody makes errors, I don’t think they try to make errors. I will never criticize my players for physical errors, mentally, yes. Physically, I can’t. That’s a cheap shot on them.”

Joe Frisaro

 

 

Marlins look to avoid being swept

MIAMI — St. Louis spoiled Opening Night for the Marlins in April, and the Cardinals have taken the first two in their current series at Marlins Park.

The Marlins on Wednesday night look to avoid being swept.

Anibal Sanchez will pitch for Miami, while the Cardinals go with right-hander Joe Kelly.

The first 15,000 fans at the ballpark will receive a Josh Johnson bobblehead.

Giancarlo Stanton belted his 17th home run, with 10 coming at Marlins Park.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Ramirez, 3B

3) Stanton, RF

4) Dobbs, LF

5) Ruggiano, CF

6) Infante, 2B

7) G. Sanchez, 1B

8) Buck, C

9) A. Sanchez, P

Joe Frisaro

 

Ozzie: Bell doesn’t need to apologize

MIAMI — Understandably, Marlins closer Heath Bell took Monday’s 8-7 loss to the Cardinals in 10 innings hard.

Bell allowed four runs in the ninth inning, and St. Louis tied it on Yadier Molina’s two-out, two-run homer. An inning later, the Marlins lost.

Afterwards, Bell shouldered the blame. He said he apologizes to his teammates for letting the game slip away.

On Tuesday, manager Ozzie Guillen said Bell didn’t need to do that.

“We know it was a very tough one, a very painful one, a very embarrassing one,” Guillen said. “But that’s in the past. It’s on the back page. This is a new page. We’ve got to look at it the same way. If those guys think about what happened last night, and carry it over to the next game, they’re wrong. Especially Bell. I  hope Bell just turns the page and moves on.

“He apologized to his teammates, but he don’t have to. Every time he saves a game for us, we don’t appreciate that. Hey, if you blow the game, you blow the game, you don’t have to apologize.”

Guillen admires the fact Bell accepted accountability, but added in the big leagues nothing is owed.

“You don’t owe anybody anything,” the manager said. “We just lost a game we shouldn’t be losing. That’s it. He’s got a tough job. My expectation is, if he goes back out there today, he’s got to be a little bit better. That’s all he can do. He’s going to be back out there, and that’s it. This game is about day in, day out, it’s not about months. You’ve got to be tough enough to do that.”

Joe Frisaro

 

Zambrano looks to reverse Marlins’ fortunes

MIAMI — Coming off perhaps their toughest loss of the season, the Marlins on Tuesday night will try to bounce back against the Cardinals at Marlins Park.

The Marlins, losers of seven of eight, send Carlos Zambrano to the mound. The right-hander seeks his first win since beating the Phillies on June 3 at Citizens Bank Park.

The Cardinals counter with Kyle Lohse, who beat the Marlins on Opening Day.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Ramirez, 3B

3) Stanton, RF

4) Morrison, LF

5) Dobbs, 1B

6) Infante, 2B

7) Cousins, CF

8) Buck, C

9) Zambrano, P

Joe Frisaro

 

JJ bobblehead giveaway on Wednesday

MIAMI — The first 15,000 fans at Marlins Park on Wednesday night will receive a Josh Johnson bobblehead.

Miami will wrap up its series with the Cardinals at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Anibal Sanchez will get the start that day, while St. Louis counters with Joe Kelly.

 

Joe Frisaro

 

Hanley initiated players-only meeting

MIAMI — Hanley Ramirez usually likes to let his performance do the talking.

But on Saturday, after the Marlins lost their sixth straight game, Ramirez felt the need to speak up.

So after the Marlins gave up six runs in the ninth inning and lost 7-1 to the Blue Jays, it was Ramirez who prompted a players-only meeting.

Asked on Sunday morning who called the meeting, Ramirez replied: “I did.”

The seven-year veteran didn’t elaborate on specifics of the meeting. But several players aired out their thoughts.

“It’s our thing,” Ramirez said. “It’s for the players. We’re going to keep this between ourselves.”

It also was the first time in Ramirez’s seven seasons with the Marlins that he’s initiated a team meeting.

“I don’t like to talk too much,” he said. “I joke a little bit, but I don’t like to speak. But sometimes you’ve got something [on your mind] and you want to say it.”

A three time All-Star shortstop in the past, Ramirez is a centerpiece on the Marlins. But like the rest of the team, he’s lacked consistency this year. He is batting .258 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs.

In June, he’s batting .213 with three home runs and five RBIs.

“I’m still working,” Ramirez said. “That’s not me. I’m better than that. I’m not going to give up. I know what kind of player I am. I’ve got to find myself and start producing, every day.”

Ramirez certainly isn’t the only Miami player struggling. All phases of the team, hitting, pitching and defense have broken down.

“Every team in big leagues is going to struggle,” Ramirez said. “We’re going through it right now. Some get out of it quick. Others, it takes a little bit longer. It’s been too long for us. The talent we have here, it shouldn’t be this long.

“We are trying to do too much. We’re putting too much pressure on ourselves. When you’re young, you want to do good, instead of going out there, relaxing and playing hard. You want to produce every at-bat, every pitch. You put too much pressure on yourself, your tendons get tight. I think that’s what we’re going through right now.”

The Marlins responded on Sunday with a 9-0 win, snapping their six-game slide.

Jose Reyes felt Saturday’s meeting made a difference in how the team played.

“That was important. What better person than Hanley?” Reyes said. “He’s been around this ballclub for a long time. He knows what is going on here. It was good for him to speak up. He’s a big piece of this ballclub.

“We had some energy right from the get-go. That’s something we didn’t see the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, we can continue to play the same way the next couple of games.”

Joe Frisaro

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