CHICAGO — When the Marlins acquired Mike Dunn, the team noted that the hard-throwing left-hander had the potential to become a future closer.
Since joining the team after the 2010 season, Dunn’s role has primarily been in setup relief.
Now that Miami manager Ozzie Guillen is going by matchups and availability, all of the relievers may get a chance. Dunn was the latest to close, and he came through on Monday night. With runners on first and second, he struck out Adam LaRoche to lock down a 5-3 win over the Nationals at Marlins Park.
This isn’t to say Dunn will be moving into the closer spot, but it showed Guillen has confidence in the left-hander in any situation.
What Dunn did on Monday also was a rarity in Marlins’ history.
The franchise has 757 total saves, with just 24 of those being turned in by a left-hander. Two of those have been this season as Randy Choate had the other.
It’s not like the team’s all-time left-handed saves leader has that many. For those curious, Taylor Tankersley holds the distinction with four.
Marlins lefties to record a save
Taylor Tankersley 4
Michael Tejera 3
Armando Almanza 2
Vic Darensbourg 2
Felix Heredia 2
Dan Meyer 2
Renyel Pinto 2
Franklyne Gracesqui 1
Randy Choate 1
Mike Dunn 1
Yorkis Perez 1
Arthur Rhodes 1
Rich Rodriguez 1
Ed Vosberg 1
– Joe Frisaro
The Marlins will not have the services of Juan Carlos Oviedo any time soon.
On Monday, the team announced the 30-year-old reliever has a sprained ulnar collaterial ligament in his right elbow. There is no timetable for his return.
Oviedo, formerly Leo Nunez, experienced tightness in his throwing elbow on Saturday night while appearing in a rehab game for Triple-A New Orleans. He returned to Miami, and on Monday was examined.
The right-hander’s eight-week suspension ends on July 22, and the team had been anticipating Oviedo being with the big league club on July 23. Now, it is unclear when he will be ready.
Oviedo was the Marlins closer from 2009-11, but in September of last year, he was placed on MLB’s restricted list due to issues over his identity. He returned to the Dominican Republic, where he spent months trying to resolve legal issues surrounding his playing with a false name.
Miami had hoped to have Oviedo in its bullpen later this month because he offers depth to either pitch in a setup role or fill in at closer.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The stitches in Giancarlo Stanton’s right knee are scheduled to be removed on Monday.
It’s another step in the slugger’s road to recovery from arthroscopic surgery that was performed on July 8.
The timeline for Stanton to return remains four to six weeks, that hasn’t changed. But time is becoming crucial for a Marlins’ team struggling to score runs.
With the club sinking in the standings, they hope their playoff hopes remain intact by the time Stanton returns sometime in August.
What the first three games of the series with the Nationals have shown is Stanton is greatly missed.
Miami has scored three runs total, and remarkably won one of them, thanks to Mark Buehrle’s brilliant pitching performance on Saturday.
But on Sunday, the Marlins were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position, and they were shut out for the ninth time this year.
With Stanton out, the Marlins are looking for others to step up.
Many eyes are turning to Hanley Ramirez.
But the former three-time All-Star, like many on the team, is having his own difficulties.
For the season, Ramirez is batting .246 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs in 87 games.
A year ago, when Ramirez missed substantial time with a left shoulder injury, he finished at .243 average with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 92 games.
Ramirez is pretty closely mirroring those numbers in a season he has been healthy. Entering Monday, he had 334 at-bats, compared to his 338 total in 2011.
In July, Ramirez is 5-for-37 (.135) with one homer and three RBIs.
Ideally, manager Ozzie Guillen would like for Ramirez to hit third, but he noted the third baseman has to earn that place in the lineup. Thus far, he has struggled when not slotted in that prime position.
In 19 games hitting second, he was hitting at a .211 clip in 76 at-bats. Since the All-Star Break, he’s been moved to the fifth spot. The results have been spotty, 2-for-11 (.182).
When he was batting third at the beginning of the season, Ramirez hit .259 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs.
With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaching, the Marlins are scrambling to get back to .500, and into contention.
If they can do that, getting Stanton back will become more imperative. But if the team falls completely out of the race, the club may feel there is no need to rush their most feared hitter.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Juan Carlos Oviedo exited Saturday’s rehab game due to right elbow discomfort.
Oviedo is heading to Miami to be examined by Marlins’ physicians. The setback could push back his return to the big leagues.
Formerly Leo Nunez, Oviedo is winding down an eight-week suspension for playing under a false identity.
Since July 9, Oviedo has pitched in Minor League games. He started off throwing for Class A Jupiter. On Saturday, he was making his first appearance for Triple-A New Orleans.
He faced three batters, getting one out while issuing a hit and a walk, before exiting with tightness in his elbow.
Oviedo is eligible to be activated by the Marlins on July 23. That date could be in jeopardy.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Mark Buehrle, the Marlins most dependable starter in the first half, will look to get the club back on track on Saturday night.
Miami has dropped three straight, including Friday night’s series opener with Washington.
On Saturday, Buehrle gets the nod against All-Star Gio Gonzalez at Marlins Park.
Miami has loaded the lineup with right-handed hitters against Gonzalez.
1) Reyes, SS
2) Infante, 2B
3) Lee, 1B
4) Ruggiano, RF
5) Ramirez, 3B
6) Bonifacio, CF
7) Solano, LF
8) Buck, C
9) Buehrle, P
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins open their second half on Friday night with the first of four games against the Nationals at Marlins Park.
Josh Johnson gets the start for Miami, while Washington goes with Jordan Zimmermann.
Some highlights from the pregame session.
* Giancarlo Stanton was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday. The slugger was in the clubhouse pregame, walking without crutches for the first day since his surgery on Sunday. Stanton had two cartilage chips removed from his right knee. He expects to get the stitches removed on Monday, a tentative date. Stanton is unsure when he will return. The time frame is four to six weeks.
* Emilio Bonifacio was reinstated on Friday, and the speedster will wear a protect case over his left thumb, which required surgery on May 25.
* Manager Ozzie Guillen dropped Hanley Ramirez to fifth in the order. The hope is Ramirez will pick up his game, and eventually move into the third position. Ramirez had been hitting mostly second of late. Guillen says the team would be better if Ramirez was hitting third, but he has yet to produce to reclaim that spot in the lineup.
* Jose Reyes spent the All-Star Break taking his children to Disney World. The four-time All-Star shortstop attended The Lion King exhibit, and for the show, when they were looking for volunteers, Reyes was selected to provide an elephant noise. He did it, and noted many in attendance knew who he was.
* Lineup: Jose Reyes (SS), Omar Infante (2B), Carlos Lee (1B), Logan Morrison (LF), Hanley Ramirez (3B), Justin Ruggiano (RF), Emilio Bonifacio (CF), John Buck (C), Josh Johnson (P).
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — You can call it the ceremonial first throw out.
The Marlins are simplying referring to it as a tribute to catcher Ivan Rodriguez.
On Saturday night, before Miami faces the Nationals at Marlins Park, Rodriguez will be honored.
Rodriguez, who retired this year, will be recognized on the field. Instead of having Rodriguez throw out the first pitch, he will re-create the famous play at the plate that ended the 2003 NL Division Series.
In a memorable finale, the Marlins eliminated the Giants when Jeff Conine in left field threw a one-hopper to the plate that Rodriguez gathered in time to tag out a charging J.T. Snow.
Snow plowed over the former Marlins catcher, who held onto the ball, securing the series win.
Conine, now a Marlins special assistant, will go to left field on Saturday night and throw home to Rodriguez.
Trivia buffs will recall Jeffrey Hammonds singled to left off Ugueth Urbina in the ninth. Snow tried to score the tying run from second, but the series ended in dramatic fashion with one of the most famous playoff collisions at the plate.
The first pitch on Saturday is set for 7:10 p.m.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Marlins fans can get ready for some more behind the scenes looks at the club.
On Friday night, Fox Sports Florida will air the fourth episode of “Inside the Marlins,” featuring manager Ozzie Guillen.
The show is set to run on 10:30 p.m. ET, or immediately after the telecast of the Marlins-Nationals at Marlins Park.
The segment features Guillen in a one-on-one interview with FS Florida’s Frank Forte. The 30-minute show will include Guillen reflecting on his playing days, as well as his experiences as a big league coach and manager.
Guillen played 16 seasons in the big leagues. He is a former American League Rookie of the Year. In 2003, he was the third base coach on the Marlins’ World Series championship team.
In 2005, he was the AL Manager of the Year, and guided the White Sox to the World Series title that season.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Deals have a way of getting done at deadlines.
That appears to be the case with the Marlins and their top pick.
According to a source, on Friday morning, the Marlins have reached agreement with their No. 1 pick, left-hander Andrew Heaney, who has agreed to a $2.6 million bonus, which is $200,000 under the slot for the No. 9 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
Miami is using that extra $200,000 to lock up their third rounder, shortstop Avery Romero, who is expected to agree for at least $700,000.
The deadline to sign Draft picks is 5 p.m. ET on Friday.
The Marlins also are expected to sign their 19th rounder, third baseman Cody Gunter, who could sign for around $200,000.
By locking up all three means, the Marlins will reach agreement their first 19 rounds of picks.
On Thursday, there was an impasse with Heaney, who had been seeking the $2.8 million slot. Reports said negotiations had been cut off, but they resumed Thursday night and became finalized on Friday.
While the Marlins have a policy to have a full physical on their picks before they officially sign, the players have been told they can reach agreement on Friday, and their deals can be voided if they don’t pass their physicals.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Perhaps the grass will be greener for the Marlins in the second half.
The organization certainly hopes so.
Literally, keeping the grass green, and growing properly has been a challenge at Marlins Park since the Celebration bermuda sod was rolled onto the field a few months ago.
Brown spots and dead patches have constantly been dealt with by the grounds crew.
Since the Marlins have been away for two weeks, the roof has remained open to provide plenty of sunshine and rain to help the grass grow.
“I think the grass sort of reflects our season,” Marlins president David Samson said. “It’s brown right now, but getting greener.”
It’s not uncommon for fields in retractable-roof parks to take some time to grow. Over the past few months, the club has tried everything, calling agronomists, argiculturists, various grounds crews. Experts who work to maintain golf courses have been consulted.
“We’ve called them all,” Samson said. “They feel like this break we’ve had right now is going to help. That’s just an indication that we’ve spoken with everybody, and they all say the same thing. This Celebration grass should be the right grass. It’s been a little weird. The weather pattern was off. The rainy season started early, and we had to close the roof. We had a lot of day games. But it’s getting better.”
Samson admits a problem was the grass didn’t initially have enough time to grow. It was installed on schedule as construction was nearing completition.
“It did not have enough time, there is no doubt about it,” Samson said. “It’s roots didn’t grow. We did everything that golf courses do. We’ve tried everything.”
On Friday the field will get tested again as the Marlins face the Nationals to begin the second half.
– Joe Frisaro