June 2013

Mathis connects on franchise HR 3000

MIAMI — In Marlins’ history, Jeff Mathis technically can be known as Mr. 3000.

When the 30-year-old catcher belted his walk-off grand slam on Sunday, the drive to left also reached a franchise milestone.

The home run was No. 3000 in club history. Two of them are by Mathis, who has just 36 in his career.

The blast came in the Marlins’ 3,252nd game, making the organization the third fastest franchise to reach the 3,000 HR plateau. Colorado did it in 2,618 games and the Mariners reached it in 3,237 games.

Joe Frisaro

Nolasco may have made final start for Miami

MIAMI — After giving up four straight hits to start the sixth inning on Friday night, Ricky Nolasco handed the ball Marlins manager Mike Redmond and he trotted towards the dugout.

The Marlins Park crowd gave the 30-year-old a nice applause in what just might have been his final appearance in a Miami uniform.

Nolasco, a free agent after the season, had a rough night in a 9-2 loss to the Padres. But the veteran right-hander has enough of a track record to draw plenty of interest on the trade market.

It is no secret Nolasco is expected to be dealt by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

It certainly appears a deal will get done well before the end of July,, and it could be made before Nolasco’s next scheduled start, which would be Wednesday at Atlanta.

The Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Orioles and Pirates are among teams interested. The Dodgers are believed to be the frontrunner.

Nolasco, the Marlins’ all-time leader in wins, is 80-72 in eight seasons with the organization. He also holds franchise marks in a number of categories, including games pitched (212), starts (196), innings pitched (1,218 2/3) and strikeouts (994).

Nolasco is well aware he could be on the move soon. The right-hander just doesn’t know if Friday’s loss was his final game with Miami.

“I’m the wrong person to answer that question,” Nolasco said. “That’s for the front office and stuff. I’m not thinking like that. I’m just thinking day by day, coming in, doing my work and getting ready for every fifth day.”

Another indicator that Nolasco may indeed be moved within a few days is the fact Henderson Alvarez is ready to join the rotation. Alvarez, acquired from the Blue Jays last November, had another impressive rehab performance for Double-A Jacksonville.

The right-hander also threw on Friday, tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks against Mobile. In two rehab games with the Suns, Alvarez has threw 14 1/3 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Alvarez opened the season on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Healthy, he is lined up to replace Nolasco in the rotation.

For Nolasco, the Marlins will likely receive a mid-to-upper range prospect. The return could come down to how much of the remaining roughly $6 million Nolasco is owed for the rest of the season.

While Nolasco is on the verge of being traded, the Marlins are showing signs of keeping Giancarlo Stanton. It appears not just through the end of the season, but for 2014 as well.

Stanton is eligible for arbitration next year, and the club plans on approaching the slugger about a long-term contract. Even if Stanton isn’t looking to get locked up to a multi-year deal, the Marlins have internally discussed that fact the right fielder could basically fill the salary slot Nolasco has this year.

Nolasco is making $11.5 million, and Stanton could approach $7 million to $10 million in arbitration.

A portion of that $11.5 million the team also could put towards retaining first baseman Logan Morrison next year, when he also reaches arbitration for the first time.

Joe Frisaro

Draft pick Krook failed recent physical

MIAMI — More details are surfacing regarding Matt Krook’s decision to pitch for the University of Oregon rather than sign with the Marlins.

A source confirmed reports that the left-hander from St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco recently failed his physical.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the two sides had agreed to terms, and Krook declined a reduced offer. And the Miami Herald added Krook is hampered by a left shoulder ailment.

Technically, Krook could change his mind, and either accept the reduced offer or continue negotiations. All teams have until July 12 to sign all their Draft picks. So, the left-hander has until then to reconsider.

However, a source added there is “no chance” of that happening.

The Marlins continue to negotiate with their first round pick, third baseman Colin Moran from the University of North Carolina.

Miami is confident a deal will get done with Moran, the sixth-pick overall in the First-Year Player Draft.

Krook was a Competitive Balance Round A selection the Marlins acquired from the Pirates as part of a trade made last July. Miami sent Gaby Sanchez to Pittsburgh for Gorkys Hernandez and the pick.

Joe Frisaro

McKeon-esque move to start Ruggiano

Mike Redmond’s decision to start Justin Ruggiano on Sunday was a move straight out of the Jack McKeon playbook.

Before the Marlins beat the Giants, 7-2, in the series finale on Sunday at AT&T Park, Redmond explained why he started Ruggiano instead of Juan Pierre.

Of late, Ruggiano has started against left-handed pitchers, with Pierre getting the nod against right-handers. Since the Giants started Matt Cain, even Ruggiano didn’t think he would be in the starting lineup, especially after he was hitless in five at-bats in Saturday’s 2-1 loss in 11 innings.

But Redmond opted to go with Ruggiano, a power threat in left field.

Redmond noted that since the team was playing so many close, low-scoring games, Ruggiano could deliver a run with one swing of the bat. Redmond noted that Cain is a fastball pitcher, which plays to Ruggiano’s strengths.

The decision turned out to be brilliant.

Leading off, Ruggiano belted a home run on Cain’s second pitch of the game. And in the ninth inning, Ruggiano connected again, delivering a two-run shot that iced the victory.

Reminded of his reasoning postgame, Redmond quipped: “That was McKeon-esque.”

Redmond’s reference was to McKeon’s gut-decisions that repeatedly worked when he managed the 2003 Marlins to a World Series championship.

So now what does Redmond do as the Marlins move forward? Stay with Ruggiano or go back to Pierre?

The easy answer is to say Redmond will go with the hot hand, and based on Sunday, it was Ruggiano, who paces the team with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs.

That said, Pierre is hitting .316 in June, and he had a 14-game hitting streak snapped over the weekend.

Most likely, Redmond will stick with Ruggiano as long as he is producing. If not, look for him to go back to Pierre.

Also consider Ruggiano’s splits at home and on the road. All 11 of his home runs, and 19 of his RBIs, have come away from Marlins Park. At home, Ruggiano is batting .200 with four doubles and nine RBIs in 90 at-bats.

Pierre is hitting .260 with a .305 on-base percentage at home.

Pretty much, Ruggiano will start against left-handers.

Otherwise, matchups will decide, unless someone simply takes off and secures the left field job.

Joe Frisaro

Alvarez makes impact with arm, bat

Henderson Alvarez pretty much did it all in his rehab assignment start for Double-A Jacksonville on Sunday.

The right-hander threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the Suns’ 11-2 victory over Huntsville.

Along with a making an impact with his arm, Alvarez also did damage with his bat. At the plate, he went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.

Alvarez is close to being reinstated from the 60-day disabled list. The right-hander, who is battling back from shoulder inflammation, is could be less than two weeks away from joining the Marlins.

He may make one more rehab start.

The Marlins have yet to see Alvarez in a big league game. Acquired from the Blue Jays last November, the Venezuelan native opened the season on the disabled list.

Previously playing in the American League, Alvarez didn’t get many chances to hit. Now in the National League, that will be part of his game.

Along with his big day at the plate, Alvarez struck out six and allowed three hits and no walks.

– Joe Frisaro

Stanton seen as building block, not trade chip

SAN FRANCISCO — Trade rumors and Giancarlo Stanton go hand in hand.

So naturally, the closer we get to the All-Star Break, and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the more you will see Stanton’s name pop up in speculation. It’s inevitable.

Rumors are as much a part of the game as the All-Star Game itself.

Of course, they create lively conversation. Bloggers have a field day, as do web sites and talk radio shows.

The fact the Marlins have a history of dealing their big name players naturally fans the flames.

Still, when you peel back the speculation, and you explore the actual facts, you will find that in Stanton’s case, the 23-year-old is not on the market. Taking it a step further, he might not be for quite a while, meaning at least another couple of years.

According to two well connected sources, the Marlins consider Stanton as a building block, not a trade chip.

One source called recent Stanton trade speculation, “laughable and lies.”

Before the season, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria stated publicly that the organization eventually intends to make a substantial, multi-year contract offer to Stanton. It just wasn’t intended to happen during this season.

Indications are Stanton isn’t ready to accept a long-term deal with Miami, and perhaps that will be his stance for months or years to come. If and when that happens, the team will decide which direction they will go. For now, and a while, they Stanton as a fixture on their roster.

Now, obviously, the Marlins are open to trade talks regarding all their players. In Stanton’s case, the pending offer would pretty much have to clean out another club’s farm system, as well as bring back proven big league talent. Even that might not be enough.

Remember, Stanton is still under club control, and he is making $537,000 this season. A bargain. There is no urgency to move him. He will reach arbitration next season, but the slugger isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.

It’s no secret the Marlins are hurting for offense, and they are looking for Stanton to help change that. They rank last in the Majors in runs scored with 221, which is 32 off the pace of the game’s next lowest-scoring team — the Dodgers.

In May, the Marlins saw what life was like without Stanton when he missed the entire month with a right hamstring strain. The Marlins scored 79 runs total in May, the fewest in the league.

With Stanton back in June, they have 69 runs in the month, tied for 18th out of 30 teams.

The Marlins appear to have plenty of outfield prospects on the rise, but there are still questions. Marcell Ozuna already is in the big leagues, and he actually plays right field, defensively, better than Stanton. Ozuna also has power potential. But keep this in mind, Ozuna isn’t Stanton. Rather than substract Stanton, the organization is wanting to see how its offense produces with a lineup that includes Stanton, Ozuna and Logan Morrison in the middle.

Christian Yelich, the top prospect, is currently on the Minor League disabled list with an abdominal strain. Yelich is a terrific hitter but not the power threat of Stanton. Jake Marisnick also is on the rise, but he too is developing at the plate. Marisnick also has had injuries, missing April with a broken left hand. And the other night, he was struck in the same hand by a pitch. So, his health is an issue.

Miami, quite simply, needs as much depth as possible.

In home runs, the Marlins also are last in the Majors with 37, and Stanton has seven of them, despite missing more than a month due to injury.

The Marlins may indeed have the worst record in the game, but they also are showing signs of improvement. They beat the Giants, 2-1, on Thursday and are 9-8 in June.

If you are looking for the most likely Marlin to be moved, it is Ricky Nolasco.

Nolasco is in the final year of his contract, and it is expected he will be with a contending club by the end of July.

Joe Frisaro

Nolasco addresses trade rumors

SAN FRANCISCO — Ricky Nolasco is the Marlins’ all-time leader in victories and strikeouts. The 30-year-old, in the final year of his contract, also is well aware that his tenure with the organization could be over by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Nolasco’s name has already been raised in trade speculation, with the Orioles, Yankees and Giants being possible landing spots.

A Southern California native, Nolasco would welcome an opportunity to pitch in San Francisco, or in his home state. But he adds that is out of his control, and his immediate focus is his start for Miami on Friday night against the Giants at AT&T Park.

“I know what’s going on, talking to my agent and stuff like that,” Nolasco told a small group of reporters on Thursday. “I’m not in free agency yet, so I don’t have a choice. I don’t have a say in what goes on right now. I’m just going to block that out. I’m trying to stay level-headed, and I’m just trying to throw the ball well. Things are out of my control right now, so I’m trying not to think about them.”

Nolasco has enjoyed great success pitching at AT&T Park, where he is 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in four starts.

“I wish I could tell you what it was,” the right-hander said. “If I knew what it was, I’d try to do it in every ballpark.”

The Marlins acquired Nolasco from the Cubs at the 2005 Winter Meetings for Juan Pierre. Since, he’s set a number of Marlins’ records, including wins (80) and strikeouts (987).

If his time in Miami is coming down to a final few starts, he knows that is the nature of the business.

“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Nolasco said. “Don’t try to control what you can’t control. I’m going about my business every day. If it happens, when it happens, it happens. I’ll adapt to wherever I go, or wherever it is. If it does happen, wherever I go, it will sink in after I get settled in over there. I can’t be thinking about stuff like that until it actually happens.”

With the Marlins in San Francisco, Nolasco was asked directly about the possibility of pitching for the Giants.

“I think it would help anybody to be able to pitch in a place like this, when the crowd is behind you, it’s huge,” Nolasco said. “I think anybody would like that. I don’t think anybody would be disappointed to come to San Francisco.”

As for AT&T Park, the right-hander added: “I like everything about this place. The mound is nice. It’s a good place to pitch. The crowd is great. Great team. What’s there not to like?”

Joe Frisaro

Marisnick stuck by pitch; X-ray negative

At a time Jake Marisnick is heating up at the plate, the 22-year-old Double-A Jacksonville outfielder faces the possibility of missing more games due to a left hand injury.

Marisnick exited Wednesday’s 9-4 win over Huntsville after he was struck by a pitch. An X-ray was taken, and the initial report is encouraging. It came back negative.

Marisnick is listed as day to day.

There is concern because in Spring Training, Marisnick was sustained a fracture to the same hand after being pegged by a Trevor Rosenthal fastball in a Grapefruit League game against St. Louis. He missed all of April.

Marisnick was 2-for-3 with a double on Wednesday before he was struck by Eric Marzec’s pitch.

In MLB.com’s updated rankings, Marisnick is Miami’s No. 2-rated prospect.

Marisnick is regarded as the organization’s top defensive outfielder. He is a speedster who roams plenty of ground in center field.

The Marlins feel Marisnick is big league-ready defensively. What the organization is looking for is consistency at the plate.

Marisnick has shown tremendous strides with his hitting, especially in June, where he is batting .367 in the month.

For the season, Marisnick is batting .289 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs. Earlier this season, he enjoyed a game where he belted two grand slams and drove in nine runs.

The Marlins acquired Marisnick from the Blue Jays last November as part of their blockbuster deal that sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and John Buck to Toronto.

Joe Frisaro

Stanton joins Marlins’ Century Club

When Giancarlo Stanton belted two home runs on Monday night at Arizona, the 23-year-old became just the 10th player in Marlins’ history to reach 100 home runs.

Stanton’s milestone came in his 400th big league game since he was called up from Double-A on June 8, 2010.

Barring injury, Stanton is primed to move up swiftly in the franchise’s all-time home run list. Dan Uggla is the franchise leader with 154, followed by Hanley Ramirez (148).

MARLINS HR LEADERS

1) Dan Uggla, 154
2) Hanley Ramirez, 148
3) Mike Lowell, 143
4) Miguel Cabrera, 138
5) Derrek Lee, 129
6) Gary Sheffield, 122
7) Jeff Conine, 120
8) Cliff Floyd, 110
9) Preston Wilson, 104
10) Giancarlo Stanton, 100

Joe Frisaro

Drawing blood helps Marlins win argument

MIAMI — It wasn’t exactly the bloody glove being evidence, but a bloody hand did assist the Marlins in their 5-4 win over the Cardinals on Friday night.

In a game that Jose Fernandez established himself as All-Star-worthy, a key moment came in the fifth inning when Ed Lucas revealed a cut on his hand.

The Marlins scored twice in the fifth on Giancarlo Stanton’s two-run double off Jake Westbrook.

Before Stanton stepped up to the plate, Lucas was awarded first base on a critical hit by pitch.

But initially, home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled foul tip.

Lucas was attempting to sacrifice bunt Juan Pierre, who doubled, to third. Westbrook ran a 90 mph sinker that drifted in on the batter’s hands.

Initially, Cuzzi believed Lucas fouled the ball off. But replays clearly showed the pitch struck Lucas’ right hand.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond came out to discuss the situation with the home plate umpire.

Lucas removed his batting glove, revealing a slight tear of the skin and some blood.

“There was a little cut there, and it was bleeding,” Redmond said. “It wasn’t a tough sell.”

With visible proof, Cuzzi awarded Lucas first base.

“He says, ‘Ok, I’ll give it to you,’ ” Redmond said of his conversation with the umpire.

The Marlins held on for a one-run win.

Joe Frisaro

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