February 2013

Chilly morning in Jupiter

JUPITER, Fla. — On a chilly, 43 degree morning, Marlins players took the field on Sunday at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

It’s the second full-squad workout, and on Monday, the weather is supposed to warm up a bit. The pitchers will be facing batters on Monday.

As for Sunday, it’s a day of basic drills.

Marlins take the field on a cold, blustery day.

Marlins take the field on a cold, blustery day.

No introductions necessary

JUPITER, Fla. — In case Jose Fernandez needed to be reminded, introductions were once again in order.

The first day of Spring Training, the Marlins top prospect was asked by a reporter from Miami’s WPLG Local 10 about manager Mike Redmond.

“Who?” said Fernandez, baffled by the question.

Once informed Redmond was the manager, Fernandez replied: “Oh, ok. I don’t know his name. I just met him a little bit ago.”

Like so many around the team right now, Fernandez is getting acquainted with new names and new faces — big league manager included.

Redmond, who likes to keep things light, found the incident amusing.

“I didn’t really have a reaction,” he said. “He’s a young kid. He’s in his first big league camp. It may have caught him off guard a little bit. I just told him, ‘Hey, you just go out there and do what you do — throw strikes. I’ll take that 95 [mph fastball]. Don’t worry about my name. We’ll worry about that later.”

Since Tuesday, Fernandez clearly knows who the manager is now.

“I know who he is, you’re not going to get me,” the 20-year-old pitching sensation said.

To make sure there is no more doubt, Redmond re-introduced himself again.

“Twice,” Redmond laughed. “I think he’s got it now. It’s all good.”

Joe Frisaro

Finally! Rain-free workout

JUPITER, Fla. — News flash! The weather held up.

Juan Pierre signs for fans.

Juan Pierre signs for fans.

Early on Saturday it was overcast, but the sun came out and the Marlins were able to have their a rain-free day of workouts.

After two straight soggy, rainy days, the full-squad was on the field about 9:30 a.m. ET, and they got a few hours of work done.

Casey Kotchman, who signed a Minor League deal on Friday, was in his first day of drills. The veteran went through infield drills, and he took batting practice.

Manager Mike Redmond, asked about the center field competition, noted that Justin Ruggiano certainly can play the position. The manager added that Juan Pierre could get a look in center during the spring. Pierre, of course, played center for the Marlins from 2003-05. He lacks arm strength, and in recent years has mostly played in left field.

Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton

Pitchers will face batters on Monday.

Hitters on Saturday morning were able to take batting practice on the field, after being confined mostly to the batting cages.

One injury of note, lefty Grant Dayton was assigned to rehab after undergoing a scope on his throwing elbow.

Joe Frisaro 

Redmond recants personal experiences

JUPITER, Fla. — Mike Redmond can certainly relate with many of his players.

The 41-year-old Marlins’ manager experienced breaking in with a team that went through a major transition. In 1998, the year after the organization won its first World Series title, Redmond was brought up to the big leagues on a young squad.

Mike Redmond addresses club. (Denis Bancroft/Miami Marlins)

Mike Redmond addresses club. (Denis Bancroft/Miami Marlins)

The 2013 Marlins on Friday began their first full-squad workout with a youthful squad trying to beat the odds.

Before taking the field, Redmond informed his players about his own experiences.

“I talked a little bit about my story and the opportunity that I got in ’98,” Redmond said. “You try to think about opportunity. There is really only so many ways you can talk about it. I felt like, ‘Hey,  I can give a personal experience of an opportunity and how it worked out for a guy in sort of a similar situation.’

” I just kind of told them about my story, and how I came up, and I was fortunate to get to the big leagues in ’98. I reminded them that in my Major League debut that I was 3-for-3 with a home run, in case they had forgotten or didn’t know. It was good. It was fun.”

It’s indeed true. On May 31, 1998, Redmond had  three hits, a homer and he scored twice in a 7-6 loss at Milwaukee.

The overall message the his club was to make the most of the opportunity.

“We’ve got lots of spots open,” Redmond said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys mixed with veteran guys. We are hoping some of these younger guys rejuvenate some of these older guys. We talked about a lot of things. We talked about winning. We talked about being accountable. With the goal of getting this team and this organization back in the direction it was when I played, a winning direction. It was great. It was fun. Now we get down to baseball, which is the fun part.”

The Marlins took the field early Friday afternoon, but rain and wet conditions limited their work. They did get infield drills going. At third base were Placido Polanco and Zack Cox. Adeiny Hechavarria and Nick Green were at shortstop, while Donovan Solano and Chone Figgins fielded grounders at second base. Joe Mahoney and Greg Dobbs were at first.

Kotchman signs: More first base experience is joining Miami in camp. On Friday, Casey Kotchman signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. A left-handed hitter, Kotchman will report on Saturday. The 29-year-old played for the Indians last year. He provides more depth as Logan Morrison has yet to be cleared to run.

Morrison is recovering from right knee surgery.

More on Morrison’s status will be known on Tuesday, when he gets checked out by Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo.

Saturday workout: The Marlins will be on the field at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Joe Frisaro

Stanton ready to push forward

JUPITER, Fla. — At 6-foot-5, 250-pounds, Giancarlo Stanton is a definite presence. What he isn’t going to be on a youthful Marlins’ club is a distraction.

Stanton on Friday addressed his feelings to the media for the first time since the organization made sweeping roster moves. A few months ago, the slugger made it clear he wasn’t happy. That was then, he said. Now it is time to play ball.

“You’re not going to linger on something and cry about it all day,” Stanton said. “You let it be known how you feel, and push forward.”

If Stanton has any bitterness, he didn’t show it while talking to a gathering of reporters at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

“Offseason is my time,” he said. “I’m not really going to dwell on it too much. I got what little words were out there to let it be known, and that was that. We’re here now, and turn the page.”

The 23-year-old, who belted 37 homers a year ago, is ready to do his part to help the Marlins get better.

The offseason moves changed the roster, but also upset many fans.

Asked how to win back the fans, Stanton said: “The team, in general, has never stopped playing hard. To win back those fans we may have lost, it’s more of just showing how hard we’re out there playing and fighting every night.”

A year ago, with a high-priced collection of players, the Marlins slumped to a last-place finish, going 69-93. Now, substantially younger, the team has little expectations.

“We’re going to have to play it out and see how it goes,” Stanton said. “We obviously know the rosters of everybody now. We have guys who are here, and guys we’re not too sure about. It’s more about how we bring them all together, and how we’re going to come as one.”

Stanton is a year away from reaching arbitration and he won’t have the service time to be a free agent until the 2016 season. The Marlins have not approached him about a long-term contract. And the All-Star right fielder didn’t speculate as to whether he would be willing to sign one.

“I haven’t been offered one,” he said. “So that decision isn’t ready yet.

“We know what has to go down. I’m here to win. My competitive level is not going to change at all.”

Stanton missed a month last year after undergoing surgery to his right knee. He is fully healthy and ready for a big season.

“We’re good. We’re ready to go,” he said. “We’ve put all that knee surgery stuff and problems behind me and pushed forward.”

Because of all the moves the Marlins made, people have frequently told Stanton they feel sorry for him. One thing the slugger doesn’t want is sympathy.

“I’m not one to, ‘Hey, everyone, feel sorry for me.’ What is there to feel sorry for me about?” he said. “I’m in the big leagues. I play a game for a living.”

Joe Frisaro





Special guests to show up at Marlins’ camp

JUPITER, Fla. — As part of changing the culture around the Marlins, manager Mike Redmond is planning on having a couple of the most popular players in franchise history attend Spring Training.

Luis Castillo

Luis Castillo

Redmond has reached out to Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo about spending some time in camp to interact with the players.

No firm dates have been set, but sometime in March, Lowell and Castillo could be in uniform, on the field and in the clubhouse.

“We’re working on it,” Redmond said. “It’s not 100 percent sure, but we’re trying to lock down some dates for those guys. I think it’s important, when we talk about things like changing the culture.

Mike Lowell

Mike Lowell

“For me, it’s important to bring back good guys. Guys that I’ve played with. Guys who are good guys, and were great players with the Marlins. Guys who are great players in the community. Those two guys meant so much to our team, to our franchise. I want to bring those guys back and have them on the field, even if it is just for a couple of days. Just for them to be around.”

With the Marlins, Lowell and Castillo were World Series champions, All-Stars and Gold Glove winners.

Redmond says the two wouldn’t have any responsibilities other than to be themselves.

“Just being on the field, and just be there to talk and maybe tell a couple of stories,” Redmond said. “That’s why I want to bring those guys around. A lot of teams have former players around. I think it’s important to have former players around.”

Joe Frisaro

Soggy day at Roger Dean Stadium

JUPITER, Fla. — Steady rain pushed the Marlins inside on Thursday morning.

Rainy morning in Jupiter.

Rainy morning in Jupiter.

Due to the weather, pitchers and catchers threw on the mounds that are in the batting cages. Ricky Nolasco was among the starting pitchers to toss his bullpen session under cover.

Miami opened Spring Training on Tuesday, and the first two days were hot and sunny. The weather changed in the morning, and players had to improvise to get their work done.

Friday will mark the first day of full-squad workouts at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

Already a number of position players have been in camp, getting in some early work.

Before the pitchers took over the cages, many hitters took their swings inside.

Joe Frisaro


Variety of pitching options in Marlins camp

JUPITER, Fla. — So many variables will weigh in how many pitchers the Marlins end up carrying.

Depending on how the Opening Day roster shapes up, the organization may opt to carry 13 pitchers and 12 position players. Or it could go with the more conventional, 12 pitchers and 13 position players.

Giancarlo Stanton, Perry Hill and Juan Pierre stand around the batting cage.

Giancarlo Stanton, Perry Hill and Juan Pierre stand around the batting cage.

Because Miami has so many young pitchers who haven’t logged a huge amount of MLB innings, the front office and staff may recommend going with another arm.

“We could,” manager Mike Redmond said. “That’s something that I think is way too early to talk about. How many pitchers we’re going to carry. We just have to see how it all plays out. This is just the second day. There are a lot of different scenarios that can happen between now and then.”

Obviously, there could be injuries, and performances will weigh heavily in the evaluation process.

Another possibility is carrying two long relievers because the rotation will be so young. If the starters aren’t working deep into games, it will tax the bullpen.

Getting in shape

All 38 pitchers in camp have so far thrown off the mound.

Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, who is getting aquainted with everyone on the roster, is viewing the first few days of camp as the time for pitchers to get warmed up for the grind that is about to follow.

“Basically, the first two or three bullpens, I just want them to get through them feeling healthy, and get their feet on the ground,” Hernandez said. “I don’t put too much stock in it, whether it is good, bad or different. As we start getting closer to game time, and we start doing some game-situations and splitting guys up and having one on one times with bullpens, that’s when it really starts to erupt.”

Right now, pitchers are lining up in a row of six mounds and throwing.

“I’ve never been too good at coaching six,” Hernandez said, meaning having six pitchers throwing at once. “And I don’t evaluate six at once well either. There are things that I look for and watch for, and you take your notes when you come in. We’ve got a few days to figure it out.”

Early batting practice

Redmond was pleased to see more than 20 position players already on the back fields, taking batting practice and doing basic fielding drills.

Giancarlo Stanton already is putting on a show, swatting a number of BP fastballs over the fence. Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco and Chris Coghlan were in Stanton’s group.

Redmond compared Stanton’s force with that of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a ball jump off a bat like that since watching those guys play,” Redmond said. “He gets that extension and leverage that very few guys are able to do. That’s why everybody talks about him the way that they do. He’s one of those special guys.”

Thursday workout

The Marlins will be back on the field at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The first full-squad workout is Friday.

Joe Frisaro





Positive energy fills first day at Marlins’ camp

JUPITER, Fla. — Body language is being observed at Marlins camp.

Manager Mike Redmond noticed it, and was looking for it, during the first day of Spring Training workouts at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

Pitchers and catchers were on the field from 10 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. A number of pitchers threw off the mound. Those who didn’t worked on fielding their position. And on a back field, a number of position players who are at camp early, went through informal infield and outfield drills.

Full-squad workouts get underway on Friday. But a number of players, including Giancarlo Stanton, Juan Pierre, Justin Ruggiano, Bryan Petersen, Chris Coghlan, Zack Cox, Joe Mahoney, Derek Dietrich, Kevin Mattison, Christian Yelich and Kyle Jensen, already are hitting and fielding.

For Redmond and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, Tuesday was the first time to see Ricky Nolasco, Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn and top pitching prospect Jose Fernandez throw off the mound.

“It was a long wait for the first day,” Redmond said. “I think things went great. Pitchers got some work in, and we got to move around out there a little bit. It was a beautiful day, not a lot of wind out there. For the first day, I was real happy with the energy and the way guys threw.”

Redmond has already spoken to the team about what to expect, but his first full team meeting will be on Friday, when everyone takes the field.

The first few days, Redmond and his staff are watching players ease into things.

“I’m just watching to see how guys react,” Redmond said. “How they go about their business. How they work. That’s about it. How they throw. Energy levels. It’s a long spring. We’re here a long time. So we’re easing into it. But I can feel a good energy out there. A lot of young guys. I think they understand what’s at stake, and the opportunity, and kind of the sense of urgency. That’s a good thing.”

Fernandez, 20, is a prospect that will be closely watched. The right-hander is among the top Minor League players in the game.

“He’s good,” Redmond said. “He kept the ball down. I tried to back off to the side a little bit. I tried not to stand right behind him, and get him amped up too much. But I was watching him. He’s very confident. Good stuff. You can tell. He has that great mound presence from a good pitcher.”

* Non-roster invitee catcher Craig Tatum has decided to retire. The 29-year-old, who last played in the big leagues in 2011, decided on Monday that he is ready to walk away as a player. The Marlins now have six catchers in camp and 73 players overall.

* Miami has four players on their 40-man roster who are out of options — Justin Ruggiano, Gorkys Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc and Mike Dunn. Basically, if the Marlins release any of them, they would have to clear waivers to rejoin the organization. Before it reached that point with any of them, the club would likely seek a trade. All four have an excellent shot at making the Opening Day roster.

* With 38 pitchers in camp, the Marlins are planning on adding some B Games and scrimmages in the next couple of weeks.

* Wednesday’s workouts at Roger Dean Stadium begin at 10 a.m. ET, and they are open to the public.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins gearing up for start of Spring Training

JUPITER, Fla. — Throughout Monday morning, players filtered into Roger Dean Stadium in anticipation of the start of Spring Training.

Marlins pitchers and catchers took their physicals in the morning, as well as a number of position players.

Ricky Nolasco and Giancarlo Stanton arrive at camp.

Ricky Nolasco and Giancarlo Stanton arrive at camp.

All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton arrived with Ricky Nolasco, the projected Opening Day starter, to get his physical.

New manager Mike Redmond was eager to get things started. The 41-year-old, who retired as a player in 2010, was at the Roger Dean Stadium complex around 5 a.m. ET, beating early-riser Juan Pierre, who showed up about 6.

“All I cared about is I beat JP here,” Redmond joked with reporters mid-morning.

Pitchers and catchers will be on the field on Tuesday at 10 a.m., and the workouts are free and open to the public. Full-squad workouts get underway on Friday.

Redmond says the slate has been wiped clean, and he and his staff are ready to move the franchise forward.

“It’s a great opportunity for guys,” Redmond said. “I know every guy in that clubhouse right now is going, ‘Man, this is a great opportunity for me to go out and do something.’ We’ll see who steps up.”

The Marlins will have 74 players in camp, including 38 pitchers. Health-wise, the team is in good shape. None of the pitchers at this point will be on any injury limitations.

Redmond already is thinking about what he will tell his young club in their first meeting.

“I haven’t rehearsed it,” he said. “I’ve written some things down. I’m always better when I’m just me talking. I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned, not only through playing, but through managing, I’m always better when it just comes from the heart. It will have a direction. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”

Joe Frisaro