March 2013

Coghlan gets start in center at Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — On another chilly day at Tradition Field, the Marlins will take on the Mets at 1:05 p.m. ET

The morning temperature at the park is 53 degrees.

Chris Coghlan is getting a look in center field, which is an open competition right now. Ricky Nolasco will start for Miami, and New York is going with Matt Harvey.


1) Juan Pierre, LF
2) Nick Green, SS
3) Rob Brantly, C
4) Joe Mahoney, DH
5) Chris Valaika, 2B
6) Chris Coghlan, CF
7) Casey Kotchman, 1B
8) Chone Figgins, RF
9) Zack Cox, 3B

Joe Frisaro

Polanco scratched from starting lineup

Gorkys Hernandez drops a bunt in drills.

Gorkys Hernandez drops a bunt in drills.

JUPITER, Fla. — After taking a couple of days to rest back spasms, Placido Polanco was hopeful to be in the Marlins’ starting lineup on Wednesday against the Cardinals.

But after taking batting practice on Wednesday morning, Polanco experienced some discomfort and he was scratched.

Initially, Polanco experienced back tightness after workouts last Saturday.

The veteran felt fine doing drills on Tuesday, and he said he was ready to go on Wednesday.

The Marlins are starting Tom Koehler on Wednesday, while St. Louis is going with Jake Westbrook.

Marlins lineup: Yelich, LF, Marisnick, CF; Solano, 3B; Mahoney, 1B; Downs, 3B; Petersen, RF; Kearns, DH; Hechavarria, SS; Skipworth, C.

Worth noting:

* Expect Chris Coghlan, who had four hits against Venezuela on Tuesday night, to see more time in center field in the upcoming days. Coghlan is putting himself in the picture to start in center field on Opening Day. Justin Ruggiano, who has not played in games yet due to a low back strain, is less than a week away from being game ready.

* Now that Minor League camp has opened, Friday is a likely day the Marlins will make their first round of cuts.

* Not that Spring Training results mean anything, but on Tuesday, Miami rallied back twice from three runs down to beat Team Venezuela, 6-5. Earlier, the Marlins overcame a four-run deficit and beat the Mets. During last season, the Marlins came back from as many as four runs down to win three times — May 21 vs. Colorado (four runs); July 4 at Milwaukee (four runs) and at Arizona on Aug. 21 (five runs).

* An American League scout told me if the Marlins were carrying their absolute best players right now, Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez would be on the Opening Day roster. The two touted prospects will be starting the year off a Double-A Jacksonville. What they’ve shown in Spring Training is they likely will be called up to the big leagues, perhaps as early as midseason.

* Reminder, FS Florida will televise its first of four Marlins Grapefruit League games on Friday when Miami faces the Yankees at Roger Dean Stadium.

Joe Frisaro

LeBlanc starting vs. Venezuela

JUPITER, Fla. — Left-hander Wade LeBlanc gets the starting nod for the Marlins on Tuesday night against Venezuela at Roger Dean Stadium.

It’s a rare Spring Training night game for Miami.

Venezuela, tuning up for the World Baseball Classic, is starting former Marlins’ right-hander, Carlos Zambrano.

Placido Polanco, bothered by a tight lower back since Saturday, is not in the starting lineup.

The lineup: Pierre, LF; Solano, 2B; Brantly, C; Kouzmanoff, DH; Kotchman, 1B; Hechavarria, SS; Coghlan, RF; Figgins, 3B; Mattison, CF.

Venezuela’s lineup: Andrus, SS; A. Cabrera, DH; M. Cabrera, 1B; Sandoval, 3B; Gonzalez, RF; Montero, C; Prado, LF; Parra, CF; Scutaro, 2B.

Joe Frisaro

Turner throws two scoreless in B Game

JUPITER, Fla. — Jacob Turner on Tuesday morning took a positive step in regaining his timing on the mound.

The Marlins’ right-hander threw two scoreless innings in a B Game against the Mets on Field 2 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex. He walked two and struck out one.

Turner threw 23 pitches, with 13 strikes. He capped off his morning by throwing some more pitches in the bullpen.

“I think every time out, you’re just trying to get a little bit better,” Turner said. “I felt more comfortable this time out. I felt there were a couple of times, I may have got a little out of sync, timing-wise. Other than that, I threw a lot of good, quality pitches that I wanted to throw.”

Turner was pleased that he got ground balls on his fastball, including one that was turned for a 4-6-3 double play to end the second inning.

Projected to be in the top of the rotation, Turner has been working on improving his timing. He was off the mark in his first Grapefruit League outing, where he gave up six runs (including a grand slam) in one-third of an inning in a loss to the Cardinals.

Turner’s velocity topped at 91 mph.

Joe Frisaro

Big Z gets start for Venezuela

JUPITER, Fla. — Big Z will be taking the mound on Tuesday night against his former team.

Carlos Zambrano, part of the Marlins’ rotation at the beginning of 2012, will be back at Roger Dean Stadium on Tuesday. Only this time, the veteran right-hander will be pitching for Team Venezuela.

The Marlins take on Venezuela in an exhibition at 7 p.m.

Miami will be sending left-hander Wade LeBlanc to the mound.

Venezuela is beginning its series of exhibitions in preparation for the World Baseball Classic.

Zambrano has not yet signed with any big league teams, so the Classic will be a chance for the right-hander to showcase himself.

One current Marlin is on the Venezuelan team, right-hander Henderson Alvarez.

One of the second rounds of the Classic will be played at Marlins Park, from March 12-16.

For the Marlins last year, Zambrano was 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA in 35 games, with 20 starts.

Joe Frisaro

Getting ahead of the autograph line


Rob Brantly signs for a kid.

Rob Brantly signs for a kid.

JUPITER, Fla. — Marlins catcher Rob Brantly has signed plenty of autographs, but on Sunday, he had a first.

Brantly scribbled his signature on the top of an 11-year-old’s head.

Polanco sits with tight back

JUPITER, Fla. — Marlins third baseman Placido Polanco is getting a couple of days off to rest some tightness in his back.

The 37-year-old, who spent time on the disabled list last year with low-back inflammation, insists the back spasms he is dealing with isn’t of major concern.

Polanco felt some discomfort after practicing on Saturday. Rather than chance anything, he was given Sunday off.

The Marlins are off on Monday, and Polanco says he is hopeful to be back on Tuesday to face Team Venezuela in an exhibition at Roger Dean Stadium.

“Just a back spasm,” Polanco said. “It’s not bad. I’m feeling good right now.”

Polanco is off to a fast start, batting .400 (4-for-10).

A year ago, when Polanco was with the Phillies, he appeared in 90 games.

“It has nothing to do with what I’ve had before,” Polanco said.

Perhaps the chilly weather had something to do with it. On Saturday, the temperatures didn’t reach 60 degrees.

“Maybe,” Polanco said. “I felt it right after practice yesterday.”

Because of his past history of back issues, manager Mike Redmond said the team will closely monitor the veteran.

“We’re definitely going to have to monitor him,” Redmond said. “He and I have talked several times about letting me know how he’s feeling, and how his body is. I feel like we are on the same page. We have a good program for him.”

Chris Valaika started at third base on Sunday against the Mets.

Also on Sunday, the Marlins assigned left-handed pitching prospect Andrew Heaney to rehab due to a lat strain.

Heaney, Miami’s first-round pick last year, did not pitch in any spring games.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins renew Stanton at $537,000

JUPITER, Fla. — Major League Baseball’s service time system has made Giancarlo Stanton one of the biggest bargains in the game.

The 23-year-old slugger had his contract renewed by the Marlins on Saturday at $537,000. The league minimum is $490,000.

This is the final season the Marlins have leverage with Stanton, who will be eligible for arbitration in 2014.

Players who renew receive the offer that the team presents.

Next year, that changes.

Considering the numbers Stanton has already posted, his salary next year could surpass the $7.4 million Miguel Cabrera made in 2007, his first year of arbitration.

Stanton finished second in the National League in home runs last year with 37.

Since breaking into the big leagues in June of 2010, Stanton has a career .270 batting average with 93 home runs, 232 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .553 in 373 games.

In a similar service time frame, Cabrera — called up by the Marlins in June 2003 — had a .300 average with 78 home runs, 290 RBIs and a .523 slugging percentage.

It’s common for players with less than three seasons of MLB service time to make modest salaries. The Angels just renewed All-Star Mike Trout at $515,000.

Logan Morrison, for example, renewed at $491,500. And Steve Cishek will be making $505,000 this year.

Joe Frisaro