May 2013

Flynn may turn out being sleeper of trade with Tigers

MIAMI — when the Marlins traded Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers last July, the headline players in return were Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly.

Turner, after opening the season at Triple-A New Orleans, made his first start with the Marlins on Friday night against the Mets. And Brantly is being groomed as the every-day catcher.

While these two have received a bulk of the attention from the trade, the sleeper of the deal could be Brian Flynn.

If Marlins fans haven’t heard much of Flynn yet, in time, you will.

The 23-year-old left-hander stands 6-foot-7, 240-pounds. He opened the season at Double-A Jacksonville, and made four starts. After that, he was promoted to Triple-A New Orleans, where he has seven starts. In his combined 11 starts, he record may be 2-5, but his ERA is 3.17.

In 65 1/3 innings, Flynn has 69 strikeouts and 15 walks.

Flynn is gaining valuable innings at the Minor League level, and don’t be surprised to see him get a shot sometime in the second half, or September. If not, he promises to factor into the rotation mix for 2014.

The Tigers selected Flynn out of Wichita State in the seventh round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins join in “Live Like Bella” campaign

LiveLikeBellaMIAMI — The inspiring story of a young girl’s battle with cancer reached Marlins Park on Wednesday.

The organization paid tribute to the courage and spirit of Bella Rodriguez-Torres, who passed away on Tuesday at age 10 after a six-year bout with cancer.

To honor her memory, the Marlins hung a jersey with “#LiveLikeBella” on it in their dugout before they faced the Rays at Marlins Park.

Bella’s bout with the disease made news, and prompted Miami Heat superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to recognize her determination during the NBA playoffs.

James and Wade wore shoes with “Live Like Bella” written on them for Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference Finals matchup on Tuesday night against the Indiana Pacers.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond’s life was changed by cancer when he lost his father to the disease in 2000.

“You guys obviously know about my experience with cancer and my father,” Redmond said. “Being a part of the community down here I know this has been a story that’s touched so many peoples’ lives. I just thought it was appropriate we got a jersey for her and kind of honored her. It has affected my life, cancer, losing my dad. A story like that out of such a young girl, 10-years-old, obviously, touched me. We just felt it was the right thing to do, the appropriate thing to do to honor her.”

Joe Frisaro

Green designated, Lucas gets first big league shot

MIAMI — The Marlins have switched up their utility infielder role.

Nick Green on Wednesday was designated for assignment, and Miami selected the contract of Ed Lucas from Triple-A New Orleans.

Green, a natural middle infielder, had been seeing action at first base against left-handed starters. Lucas, 31, is more of a natural corner infielder, who played mostly third base at New Orleans.

Lucas, 31, an eighth-round pick of the Royals in 2004, has never played in the big leagues. He has seen action in 10 Minor League seasons, and got the call after batting .304 with five home runs and 14 RBIs for the Zephyrs.

Green batted .236 in 18 games for Miami.

Joe Frisaro

Sanabia heading to disabled list

ST. PETERSBURG — It was another painful loss on Sunday for the Marlins in more than one way.

Right-hander Alex Sanabia is heading to the disabled list with a strained right groin. The team officially announced the move on Monday morning. And the team is calling up lefty reliever Dan Jennings from Triple-A New Orleans.

Sanabia threw four innings and gave up four runs in Sunday’s 5-3 setback at the White Sox.

After being swept at Chicago, the Marlins on Monday will be opening a two-game set with the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Sanabia has dealt with a sore groin since his start early in the month at San Diego. The right-hander is 3-7 with a 4.88 ERA.

Because the Marlins won’t need another starter until Friday at home against the Mets, the team is going with another reliever. Jennings, 26, is 3-2 with a 1.80 ERA for New Orleans. He has an 0.68 ERA in his last 10 outings.

The Marlins have a few days before bringing in another starting pitcher.

Barring any setbacks, Nathan Eovaldi is expected to fill the rotation spot.

Eovaldi is on the 60-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He is eligible to be reinstated on Thursday.

Eovaldi on Saturday threw his first rehab assignment game for Class A Jupiter.

If the team opts to give Eovaldi another rehab start or two, Wade LeBlanc and Duane Below are spot start options.

Joe Frisaro

Slowey exits with left lat strain

MIAMI — Kevin Slowey is the latest Marlins’ starter to deal with an injury.

After five impressive innings on Wednesday night, Slowey took the mound to warm up for the sixth inning. But before throwing a pitch, manager Mike Redmond and assistant trainer Mike Kozak were called to check up on the 29-year-old right-hander.

The Marlins announced Slowey has a left lat strain, and he is listed as day to day.

Slowey was replaced by lefty Wade LeBlanc, who entered in a game the Marlins trailed 1-0 to the Phillies.

In five innings, Slowey gave up a solo homer to Delmon Young in the fourth inning. It was the lone run he allowed, as he struck out six while allowing six hits.

LeBlanc had been warming up in the previous inning.

Slowey has been one of the Marlins’ steadiest starters. The right-hander, who formerly was with the Twins, has a 3.30 ERA in 57 2/3 innings.

A non-roster invitee in Spring Training, Slowey pitched his way onto the Opening Day roster, and he was Miami’s No. 2 starter.

Joe Frisaro

Sanabia in spotlight for spitting

MIAMI –- As Domonic Brown was circling the bases after homering on Monday night, a bit of controversy swirled around Alex Sanabia.

Unintentionally, Sanabia found himself receiving spitting scrutiny.

After Brown’s homer in the second inning of Miami’s 5-1 win over the Phillies, home plate umpire Sam Holbrook tossed Sanabia a new baseball.

Immediately, the Marlins right-hander spit on it and then repeatedly rubbed the ball. The incident was captured by a TV camera.

The incident went pretty much undetected on Monday night, but the video clip made it a visible topic on Tuesday.

Sanabia declined comment.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said he was unaware what exactly Sanabia did until he saw the video on Tuesday.

“I had no idea,” Redmond said. “Somebody showed me the video, and I had no idea. I didn’t see it. I watch those guys like a hawk out there. I never saw it one time.”

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on Monday didn’t make an issue, and on Tuesday he added it was no big deal.

“I think it probably was unintentional,” Redmond said. “He was rubbing the ball. I don’t think it was an intentional thing. I think he just did it probably without even knowing. Joe saw it and threw the ball out.”

Redmond added that no one from MLB has contacted the Marlins regarding any infraction or possible suspension for doctoring the baseball.

In recent years pitchers were instructed that if they go to their mound while not on the rubber, they have to wipe their hand before gripping the baseball.

Initially, Redmond believed crew chief Joe West, who was umpiring first base, threw out the ball that Sanabia spit on. But on Tuesday West was asked about the incident, and noted that he didn’t see Sanabia spit on the ball. But later in the game, West did notice Sanabia went to his mouth improperly, and that ball was discarded.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins closer situation unsettled

MIAMI — Matchups may determine who next gets the save opportunity for the Marlins.

Steve Cishek, who has five of Miami’s six saves, has struggled, especially against left-handed hitters. So, for now, Cishek isn’t automatically getting the call to close first.

Chad Qualls polished off the ninth inning in a non-save situation for the Marlins on Monday night in their 5-1 victory over the Phillies. But had it been a save chance, Qualls was coming in. He began warming up when it was a 2-1 game before Miami scored three times in the eighth.

“We’d used [Cishek] a couple of days, and we’re trying to get him into some situations, get him more consistent than he’s been,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Qualls hadn’t pitched in five days, and we were planning on using him tonight anyway. It just worked out that we could use him in the ninth.”

Qualls last had a save in 2010 when he was with the D-backs. He had 12 that season, and 24 in 2009 in Arizona.

Pressed on who is the closer, Redmond was more direct: “We’re going to use everybody. We’re going to use Cishek. We’ll use Qualls. We haven’t had that many save opportunities, and we need those guys to pitch. And we need Cishek to go down there and log some innings. He’s still going to close games. Qualls might close some games. [Mike] Dunn might close some games. We need these guys to pitch. We need them to stay sharp. They’re all going to contribute.”

Dunn wasn’t available on Monday because he has been used in setup situations of late, and on Sunday, he logged the save after Cishek was lifted with two outs in a 2-1 win over Arizona.

“We were trying to stay away from Dunn tonight,” Redmond said. “He pitched four out of five games, so we were trying to give him a break tonight.”

Joe Frisaro

Diaz to DL, Brown added to roster

MIAMI — The Marlins are dealing with yet another injury.

On Monday afternoon, the team placed Matt Diaz on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee bone contusion. Filling Diaz’s roster spot is Jordan Brown, who had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans.

Diaz has seen minimal playing time since being selected from New Orleans on May 2. In 10 games, the 35-year-old has appeared in 10 games and is 3-for-18 (.167).

Diaz was a right-handed bat off the bench option who could play left field. Now, the club has added another left-handed bat in Brown.

Brown has been used mostly at first base at New Orleans, and he also is an option for left field. He is back in the big leagues for the first time since 2010.

Brown, 29, has 26 games of MLB experience while with the Indians in ’10. He batted .230 in 87 at-bats with seven doubles and two RBIs.

The California native was a fourth-round pick of Cleveland in 2005.

At New Orleans, Brown is hitting .261 with six doubles, one home run and 12 RBIs in 37 games.

Joe Frisaro

Double trouble for Marlins’ offense

MIAMI — Scoring runs hasn’t been the only problem at the plate for the Marlins. Staying out of double plays has been another.

Three times in Friday’s 9-2 loss to the D-backs, the Marlins bounced into double plays. And on Thursday, the team has a bases-loaded, one-out situation thwarted by an inning-ending double play in a loss to the Reds.

“It’s the cycle that we’re in,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Every time it seems like we get into an RBI situation, we ground into a double play. It’s guys coming off the bench, it’s guys in the game, it’s the same thing. It’s frustrating, obviously, when you’re sitting there watching it.”

The Marlins now have grounded into 43 double plays, which is the third most in the Majors. The Angels are first with 46, followed by the D-backs (44).

The difference is Los Angeles and Arizona have had substantially more at-bats — 1,465 and 1,446, respectively. Miami has 1,392 at-bats.

“I know the guys are frustrated,” Redmond said. “Believe me, nobody wants to ground into a double play when they’ve got a chance to drive in a run. At the same time, too, I’m running out of words. We’ve been talking about the same thing almost the whole year. At the end of the day guys have to step up and start driving in runs. That’s their job. Their job is to drive those guys in. If not, you know the situation there.”

Joe Frisaro

Rauch designated, Below recalled

MIAMI — After losing 9-2 to the D-backs on Friday night, the Marlins made a couple of roster moves.

Reliever Jon Rauch was designated for assignment, and lefty reliever Duane Below was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.

Miami has dropped six straight, and in relief on Friday Rauch was charged with two runs on four hits in one inning.

Rauch made 15 appearances and he was 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.

Below, 27, has MLB experience as a reliever with the Tigers. A year ago, he was 2-1 with a 3.88 ERA in 27 relief appearances at the big league level.

The lefty made four starts for New Orleans, posting a 2-2 record with a 3.38 ERA with 15 strikeouts and six walks in 21 1/3 innings.

Joe Frisaro