March 2013

LoMo on DL til end of May

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Logan Morrison’s injury and expected recovery time, coupled with the need to free up 40-man roster space, led to what transpired on Sunday.

In one of the wildest Opening Day Eve’s in team history, the Marlins announced they have selected the contracts of seven players. That’s right, seven players in camp on non-roster invitations are on the 25-man roster, which was set on Sunday.

You can actually say the number was eight, because catcher Miguel Olivo, a non-roster invitee who was in Spring Training with the Reds, signed a one-year deal with Miami on Friday. But technically, seven were added on Sunday, the day before the Marlins open against the Nationals.

Needing to make tough calls, the Marlins opted to place Morrison on the 60-day disabled list, which means he won’t be able to play until May 31, at the earliest.

Morrison is recovering from right knee surgery, and he missed all of Spring Training. The left-handed hitting first baseman had been running on an anti-gravity treadmill, and he is starting to swing the bat in the cages. In April, he will increase his baseball-related activities.

Best case scenario was that he would be ready in early May. But that deadline was not looking realistic, so the team instead decided to place him on the 60-day DL, which will keep him out the first two months.

All along, the plan was for Morrison to be fully recovered and not rush back. While the Marlins will be without his services for a couple of months, he still could be a big factor in the final four months of the season.

The Marlins are looking for a left-handed hitter with power. A healthy Morrison still may provide that.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins set their Opening Day lineup

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Before Sunday’s workout at Nationals Park, Marlins manager Mike Redmond set his Opening Day lineup.

The Marlins take on the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday in the season opener. Ricky Nolasco gets the start for Miami, and Stephen Strasburg gets the nod for Washington.

MARLINS

1) Juan Pierre, LF
2) Chris Coghlan, CF
3) Giancarlo Stanton, RF
4) Placido Polanco, 3B
5) Rob Brantly, C
6) Donovan Solano, 2B
7) Casey Kotchman, 1B
8) Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
9) Ricky Nolasco, P

NATIONALS

1) Span, CF
2) Werth, RF
3) Harper, LF
4) Zimmerman, 3B
5) LaRoche, 1B
6) Desmond, SS
7) Espanosa, 2B
8) Ramos, C
9) Strasburg, P

Joe Frisaro

Fernandez called up on wild transaction day

Jose Fernandez signs his first big league contract.

Jose Fernandez signs his first big league contract.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Fernandez is on the Marlins’ Opening Day roster after all.

The decision to promote their top prospect was made largely because of injuries to the rotation. The startling transaction came on arguably the wildest day before a season opener in franchise history.

Fernandez, ranked seventh on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect List, has not pitched above Class A ball. But the hard-throwing right-hander, the team’s No. 1 draft pick in 2011, got the nod because Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez were placed on the disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation.

Alvarez is on the DL, retroactive to March 27, while Eovaldi’s stint is retro to March 24.

The injuries have forced the Marlins to scramble their rotation. Eovaldi was initially set to pitch on Wednesday at Washington, while Alvarez was lined up to go on Friday at New York.

Now, the revised rotation has Ricky Nolasco on Opening Day on Monday. Kevin Slowey, initially scheduled to be the fifth starter, will pitch on Wednesday against the Nationals, and Wade LeBlanc will close out the series on Thursday.

Miami on Sunday also recalled right-hander Alex Sanabia, who will start at the Mets on Friday. Nolasco will start on Saturday, and Fernandez will make his MLB debut on April 7.

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Fernandez will be on an innings limit and pitch count limit this year. The right-hander will be between 150-170 innings. Beinfest didn’t give the specifics on pitch count.

“This has been tugging at us a little bit,” Beinfest said of how quickly to promote Fernandez. “We watched him in big league camp. We watched him last year. We watched him go down to the Minor Leagues. He’s been just outstanding.”

On Sunday, the Marlins announced they have selected the contracts of seven players — Fernandez, Austin Kearns, Casey Kotchman, Chad Qualls, Kevin Slowey, Chris Valaika and John Maine.

Because Miami’s 40-man roster had been at 40, the team needed to clear up space. In doing so, the Marlins placed Logan Morrison (right knee), Alfredo Silverio (right elbow) and Jose Ceda (right elbow) on the 60-day disabled list.

“We’ve never seen anything like this, in terms of selecting seven guys,” Beinfest said. “It’s not even close. You usally get a couple of guys. The number on the DL is high. The number designated for assignment is probably a record with what I have been involved with. In the last 72 hours, the number of different plans that we had in regards to pitching I think will be up there as well.”

First baseman Joe Mahoney (oblique) and catcher Jeff Mathis (broken collarbone) were placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The club also designated for assignment infielder Zack Cox, outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, lefty reliever Scott Maine and right-hander Evan Reed.

Joe Frisaro

Gorkys informed he will not be on the team

JUPITER, Fla. — The Marlins have informed Gorkys Hernandez that he will not be making their Opening Day roster.

In the next few days, the Marlins will explore possible trade options for the speedy outfielder. If a deal isn’t worked out, he will be outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans.

“We made a few more decisions,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. “We let Gorkys Hernandez know that as of now he’s not on the club. When we talk to these guys at this time of Spring Training, it’s all with the disclaimer that things can change. There are still a few days to go. But out of courtesy, we’re breaking camp today. We are letting guys know where they are at.”

The Marlins acquired Hernandez from the Pirates last July for Gaby Sanchez.

The Marlins also are planning on going with Chris Valaika as their utility infielder. Valaika won the job over Wilson Valdez, who signed last week after being released by the Giants.

Valdez is expected to open the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

Non-roster invitees Kevin Slowey and John Maine are both in camp, and they are both in strong position to make the club. Slowey is scheduled to be the fifth starter.

Teams have until 3 p.m. ET on Sunday to set their 25-man rosters. Miami plans on having that done by Saturday.

The team is exploring its backup catcher position. Kyle Skipworth, who has not yet played in the big leagues, is still in the mix. Koyie Hill, who has previous MLB experience, is another candidate. But the team is weighing all options, and Miguel Olivo, who is a free agent after being in camp this spring with the Reds, is a possibility.

Joe Mahoney, who has missed most of camp with a strained oblique, will open the season on the disabled list.

In Minor League news, Christian Yelich has been nursing a sore left heel, and he’s missed a few days. The hope is the 21-year-old outfielder will be ready for the Double-A openers.

Jacksonville’s outfield already is without Jake Marisnick (broken left hand) and Marcell Ozuna (broken left wrist).

Marisnick is getting closer to doing baseball activities, and Ozuna is a few weeks away.

Joe Frisaro

Ready! JP leaning towards new walk-up song

Juan PierreJUPITER, Fla. — Juan Pierre expects to be hearing a different tune each time he comes to the plate at Marlins Park.

In his second stint with the organization, Pierre is weighing a different walk-up song than he had in the past.

He hasn’t completely made up his mind, but the speedster is leaning towards “I’m Ready” by Thi’sl.

“That’s what I’m leaning towards,” Pierre said. “It still could be a game-time decision, but I think I’m pretty much going there.”

We will find out on April 8, the Marlins home opener against Atlanta.

One of the Marlins’ all-time fan favorites, Pierre’s trademark song from 2003-05 was “We Ready” by Archie Eversole.

For three years, fans became accustomed to hearing the catchy “We Ready!” chant. It was played before every at-bat he had at home from 2003-05, including the ’03 playoffs.

Pierre started in 242 home games in his previous three seasons with the organization. Fans would regularly sing along “We ready, for y’all.”

After being traded to the Cubs after the ’05 season, Pierre stopped using “We Ready” simply because Wrigley Field plays organ music.

Pierre is surprised by how many fans paid attention to what song he had played before he stepped to the plate.

“It was a good song,” Pierre said. “I never knew people paid that much attention to it.”

He added that people constantly come up to him asking if he is bringing back, “We Ready.”

Even with the expected change to “I’m Ready,” Pierre hinted that he may bring back “We Ready” one more time. Perhaps, he will treat fans at the home opener in his very first plate appearance.

“Maybe,” Pierre said. “I don’t want to tip my hand.”

Joe Frisaro

Olivo could be joining Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. — Crunch time on finalizing roster spots is approaching, and the Marlins are weighing all possibilities — inside and outside the organization.

Backup catcher is a position that is getting closely watched. And Miguel Olivo, who played with the Marlins in 2006-07, is a strong candidate to return.

With Jeff Mathis expected to miss at least the first month with a broken right collarbone, Miami currently has two young, left-handed hitting options — Rob Brantly and Kyle Skipworth.

Both are 23-years-old. Brantly, the starter, has 31 games and 100 at-bats of big league experience. Skipworth, a former first-round pick, has yet to have an MLB callup.

In recent days, the Marlins signed Koyie Hill, a switch-hitter, to a Minor League contract. Hill has some MLB experience while with the Cubs. He started and had two at-bats on Wednesday in the Marlins’ 5-1 win over the Red Sox at Fort Myers.

Hill is an option, but not the only one.

But on Wednesday night, Olivo accepted his release, and there are indictations he will wind up with the Marlins.

On Tuesday, the Reds decided Olivo would not be on their Opening Day roster. They are going with Devin Mesoraco as their backup catcher to Ryan Hanigan.

A non-roster invitee, Olivo was offered the $100,000 retention bonus to go to Triple-A Louisville. But with big league opportunities out there, the 34-year-old, who appeared in 21 Spring Training games with the Reds, decided to test the market.

Olivo played the last two years with Seattle.

The Marlins are going to have to clear up at least five or six spots on their 40-man roster to accommodate a number of non-roster invitees.

The team appears to be willing to create one spot by moving outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, acquired from the Pirates for Gaby Sanchez last July.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins finalize rotation

JUPITER, Fla. — Six days before Opening Day, the Marlins have at last finalized their pitching rotation.

Manager Mike Redmond set the order on Tuesday morning — Ricky Nolasco, Nathan Eovaldi, Wade LeBlanc, Henderson Alvarez and Kevin Slowey.

The rotation picture became clear early in the day when Jacob Turner, who came into Spring Training as a frontrunner to win a rotation spot, was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Slowey, a non-roster invitee, will be making the team and pitching in the fifth spot.

“We sent Turner down to get his command back,” Redmond said. “That was a tough one.”

Miami gets a serious test right off the bat.

On Monday, the Marlins take on Washington at Nationals Park. Nolasco will get the nod against Stephen Strasburg. Rounding out the series at Washington will be Eovaldi in Game 2 against Gio Gonzalez, and LeBlanc will go in the series finale, opposing Jordan Zimmermann.

LeBlanc is the lone lefty in the rotation, and he will split the starting five.

“That’s what we were looking to do, after Eovaldi, a big, power guy, mix in the lefty,” Redmond said. “LeBlanc is more of a control, finesse, guy. Give them a different look. We figured that was the best way to go. We’ll see how it is. After the first time, the numbers don’t really matter as far as what number you pitch in the rotation.”

Alvarez will pitch on April 5 at the Mets, and Slowey will go on April 6. Nolasco will close out the series in New York.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins-Nationals set for Tuesday

JUPITER, Fla. — The Marlins take on the Nationals on Tuesday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium.

Henderson Alvarez will get the start for Miami, while Dan Haren is getting the nod for Washington.

NATIONALS

1) Span, CF
2) Werth, RF
3) Harper, LF
4) Zimmerman, 3B
5) LaRoche, 1B
6) Desmond, SS
7) Espinosa, 2B
8) Suzuki, C
9) Haren, P

MARLINS

1) Pierre, LF
2) Polanco, 3B
3) Stanton, RF
4) Dobbs, 1B
5) Ruggiano, CF
6) Brantly, C
7) Valaika, 2B
8) Hechavarria, SS
9) Alvarez, P

Joe Frisaro

Turner sent to Triple A New Orleans

JUPITER, Fla. — A disappointing Spring Training ended with Jacob Turner receiving news he will open the season at Triple-A New Orleans.

Turner, 21, was informed on Tuesday morning that he would not be breaking camp with the big league club.

Turner was optioned to New Orleans, along with lefty reliever Dan Jennings. In all, Miami made seven moves in the morning. Nick Green, Matt Downs, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jordan Brown and Zach Phillips were reassigned to Minor League camp.

In 13 innings of Grapefruit League play, Turner was 0-3 with a 9.69 ERA.

Entering Spring Training, the right-hander was projected to be a fixture in the rotation. But he labored with command, and consistency with his delivery.

“Obviously, I had my chances,” Turner said. “I can’t blame them for that. It’s just something. I didn’t throw the ball as well as I’d have liked to. That’s disappointing.”

Joe Frisaro

Polanco to bat cleanup?

JUPITER, Fla. — Don’t expect a prototypical cleanup hitter on the Marlins.

Manager Mike Redmond is seriously considering using Placido Polanco in the fourth spot to bat behind Giancarlo Stanton, slated to hit third.

In Polanco, the Marlins are sacrificing classic power for contact.

“It’s one of those things where we’re going to have a lot of different guys hitting in probably a lot of different spots,” Redmond said. “I like Polanco hitting there. He gives you a veteran bat, a guy who puts the ball in play. He can hit behind runners, he can hit and run. He handles the bat well. He might be a nice fit behind Stanton.”

For most of Spring Training, Polanco has batted second, where he has by far had the most experience.

Polanco has appeared in just fourth spot in the lineup in nine games in his career, and he has seven at-bats in the spot.

The veteran also has 103 career home runs in 1,809 games.

What he offers is a good situational presence if teams are looking to pitch around Stanton.

“If they’re going to pitch around him, at least we know we’ve got a guy who can put the ball in play, and he can drive in runs,” Redmond said. “Sure, it’s not going to be via a home run. It’s going to be a professional at-bat, and a guy who can keep the line moving.”

Donovan Solano is the leading candidate to bat second. So the top four batters are shaping up to be Juan Pierre, Solano, Stanton and Polanco.

Joe Frisaro

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