September 2013

Marisnick to have meniscus tear repaired

MIAMI — Marlins prospect Jake Marisnick on Monday will undergo a scope on his left knee to repair a meniscus tear.

The 22-year-old outfielder has felt discomfort in the knee for several months, and he believes it was brought on by wear and tear.

Recovery time is four to six weeks.

Marisnick was promoted from Double-A Jacksonville in late July, and in 40 big league games he is batting .183.

Also, outfielder Christian Yelich will had a minor procedure on Monday to remove a stye from his right eye. The stye surfaced in July, around the time of the All-Star Game.

Like Marisnick, Yelich opened the season at Double-A Jacksonville before being promoted to the big leagues in late July. He’s become the regular left field, and is batting .288 since his promotion.

Donovan Solano, who was plunked on the back of his helmet by a pitch on Saturday night, is feeling fine. But as a precaution, the second baseman was not in the starting lineup on Sunday.

Solano was struck behind the left ear in the back of his helmet by a 95-mph Evan Reed fastball in the 10th inning.

Miami went to beat the Tigers, 2-1.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins to announce new front office

MIAMI — The Marlins have called a noon news conference for Sunday, where they are expected to announce the new structure of their front office.

Dan Jennings, according to sources, is in line to be promoted to oversee personnel decisions.

Michael Hill, the current general manager, also is expected to remain in the organization.

The Marlins on Friday dismissed Larry Beinfest as president of baseball operations. The club also let go of Jim Fleming, who was a special assistant to the president of baseball operations.

Jennings has been the vice president of player development and assistant general manager.

The Marlins on Sunday are wrapping up their fourth straight losing season. They carry a 61-100 record into the 1:10 p.m. ET contest with the Tigers.

Joe Frisaro

Still deciding roles in Marlins’ front office

MIAMI — A day after Miami underwent a front office shakeup, it was business as usual on Saturday at Marlins Park.

Still there is unfinished business to take care of, mainly finalizing how the front office will be restructured now that Larry Beinfest has been dismissed.

The Marlins on Friday afternoon announced, effective immediately, that Beinfest was being relieved of his duties as president of baseball operations. Also, Jim Fleming was let go as special assistant to the president of baseball operations.

No official announcements have been made on what moves are next.

According to several insiders, Dan Jennings, currently the vice president of player development and assistant general manager, is expected to be promoted to handle a number of baseball decisions. What exact title he will assume remains to be seen.

There are indications Jennings and vice president and general manager Michael Hill will share a number of responsibilities.

Team owner Jeffrey Loria met with Hill at Marlins Park for more than a hour on Friday. Insiders say it went well.

Jennings, meanwhile, was in Venezuela the past few days scouting players. He returned on Friday night to South Florida. It’s assumed that he met on Saturday with Loria.

One school of thought is Jennings will be more hands on in player evaluations, while Hill could be more involved in contract negotiations.

Jennings and Hill have worked together even before they both joined the Marlins. They were also together at Tampa Bay.

It is likely, the team will announce how the front office will be structured early next week.

The Marlins’ season comes to a close on Sunday.

Joe Frisaro

Retaining Stanton Miami’s priority

MIAMI — Speculation continues that the Marlins may be making front office changes after the season.

But there are strong indications that the club’s top slugger will be part of the team’s plans for 2014.

Sources say Giancarlo Stanton will remain with the Marlins.

Asked if there is any chance Stanton could be traded, a plugged in MLB source said: “I don’t see any scenario.”

Another insider added the Marlins are looking to build around Stanton.

Multiple sources see a likely scenario in which Stanton signs a one-year deal for 2014, mainly because the slugger is keeping his long-term options open. And the Marlins themselves have concerns over the slugger’s durability, because he has missed so much the the past two years.

Stanton, who turns 24 in November, is arbitration-eligible in ’14, and technically the Marlins could sign him on a year-to-year basis through 2016.

Miami is weighing whether to offer Stanton a multi-year contract. Ideally, that is what the club would like to do.

However, because of Stanton’s injury history there are reservations if the back-end base salary years are in the $20 million range.

Stanton played in 123 games in 2012, missing more than a month due to right knee surgery. Still, he pounded out 37 home runs, second most in the National League.

Stanton missed all of May this year with a strained hamstring.

The slugger enters the final weekend having played in 113 games, and he is at 24 home runs.

Few players in the game pose the threat of Stanton. Since there is no urgency to either trade or sign Stanton long-term, the Marlins are prepared to ride out his arbitration years. His arbitration figures to be around $7 million in ’14, which is highly affordable for the Marlins.

Miami’s payroll is expected to remain roughly where it was this year, around $37 million.

The Marlins play in a ballpark that ranks last in the Majors in total home runs. There have been 84 blasts at Marlins Park, and Miami players have just 36 of them. Stanton has 15 of that total.

Stanton may not want to sign a multi-year deal, and he could play out the string in Miami until he is up for free agency.

But for next year, the Marlins are looking to upgrade their offense, and build around Stanton.

If the Marlins are serious about signing Stanton long-term, they should seriously consider moving in the fences.

A couple of days ago, Stanton told about the difficulty of hitting home runs in Miami.

“You love to see scoring, but you love to see home runs as well,” Stanton said. “You don’t see them when you come here — from both sides.”

Stanton estimated he lost about 10 home runs this season due to how tough it is to hit the ball out at Marlins Park.

Because of his size and strength, the slugger has heard from fans and the media that he can hit the ball out anywhere. That may be true, but he also wants to be treated the same as any other hitter.

“I want the normal ones, too,” Stanton said. “Where I don’t have to crush it 500 feet all the time.”

Joe Frisaro

Doc Gooden is fan of Jose Fernandez

Doc Gooden meets Jose Fernandez

Doc Gooden meets Jose Fernandez

Dwight Gooden signs copies of his new book, "Doc" for fans on Friday at Citi Field.

Dwight Gooden signs copies of his new book, “Doc” for fans on Friday at Citi Field.

NEW YORK — The Doc is a fan of Jose Fernandez.

Dwight “Doc” Gooden, the former Mets great, is among the growing list of people inside the game with enjoy watching Fernandez, the Marlins’ rookie sensation.

Gooden was at Citi Field on Friday promoting his book, simply titled “Doc.” The pitching icon took a few minutes between signing books to talk about Fernandez.

Like Fernandez, Gooden broke into the league at a young age. In 1984, Gooden was a 19-year-old who went on to win National League Rookie of the Year honors.

Fernandez opened the season at age 20, and he turned 21 on July 31. The Marlins right-hander is a frontrunner to be named the Nationals League’s top rookie.

Gooden was born and raised in Tampa, and Fernandez settled into Tampa five years ago after he defected from Cuba.

Like Gooden, Fernandez wears No. 16.

Doc offers the Miami rookie some helpful advice: “The main thing with a guy like that is, on the field, continue to work hard and remember what got you there. Stick around the veterans. Always be a student of the game. There is always something you can improve on. I know he had a great year, but you always constantly challenge yourself to improve. Keep working hard.”

Gooden still has family in Tampa, and his nephew actually played high school baseball against Fernandez, who attended Alonso High School.

“As far as off the field, just understand that a lot of people may approach you,” Gooden cautions Fernandez. “A lot of them might not have your best interest.”

Fernandez was able to meet Gooden on Friday.

Gooden likes the energy the Miami rookie brings.

“The main thing that sticks out is his mound presence,” Gooden said. “He pitches like he’s been there a long time. He’s not afraid of the hitters. He likes pitching inside. He has a lot of confidence. I don’t think he’s cocky. Just a lot of confidence. That’s what really sticks out.”

Joe Frisaro

Treading line between passion and professionalism

MIAMI — Pitching with passion and emotion is a big part of Jose Fernandez’s game.

The energy, enthusiasm and excitement have made the 21-year-old one of the most dynamic pitchers in the big leagues.

To the Marlins, the rookie phenom has been their standout performer in an otherwise forgetful last-place season.

When he pitches, he raises the intensity level and makes the casual fan take notice.

As we saw on Wednesday night, the entire package that makes Jose Fernandez who he is can also rub othe opposition the wrong way.

The Braves certainly respect Fernandez’s immense skill set on the mound, but they take issue with some of his other antics.

The antics being, the way Fernandez smiles and reacts after yielding a hit. The perception that he may glare when getting a big out. Apparently that was the case, at least from the Braves’ vantage point, after Justin Upton was retired on a fly out.

Tensions bubbled up in the top of the sixth inning of Miami’s 5-2 win over Atlanta. Evan Gattis homered, stared in Fernandez’s direction, and the intensity level was about to rise.

TV replays showed Fernandez and Chris Johnson exchanging some words after a line out to left field.

In the bottom of the sixth, Fernandez crossed the line by flinging his bat and admiring his home run of Mike Minor before he circled the bases. Replays also showed Johnson and Fernandez each spitting in the direction of the ground as the Marlins rookie rounded third base.

Atlanta catcher Brian McCann had some words with Fernandez as he crossed home plate, and the benches cleared. After a few minutes of shoving, order was restored. There were no ejections, but warnings were issued.

Afterward, Marlins manager Mike Redmond expressed his displeasure with Fernandez’s reaction. Fernandez called his behavior “embarrassing.”

Bottom line from Miami’s point of view is the team is firmly in last place, has a bunch of young players still learning the game. The club has no reason to over celebrate anything.

The Marlins also want Fernandez to control his emotions, and take the high road.

Many are wondering why this escalated?

Fernandez has faced Atlanta twice. The first being at Turner Field on Aug. 30. The Miami rookie that day yielded a first-inning, two-run homer to Freddie Freeman, and the Braves held on to a 2-1 win.

Before that start, Fernandez was interacting pregame with a number of Atlanta players. He developed a friendship with Freeman and McCann at the All-Star Game.

During that game, Fernandez exchanged some playful words with Freeman after his home run and double. Basically, when Freeman was on second base, Fernandez turned and asked, “How can I get you out?”

Nothing was made of the light exchange.

Also Fernandez had a 14-pitch showdown with McCann, who kept fouling off pitches, before striking out. In the middle of the sequence, Fernandez was talking with McCann.

After that game, Fernandez said: “First of all, he’s my friend. It was fun, a 14-pitch at-bat. I’m throwing him every pitch that I have. I was like, ‘Hey, what can I throw you?'”

Again, no big deal, and the Braves won.

In the postgame interview, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Fernandez: “He reminds me of a guy that is pitching in his backyard. He’s having fun. He’s competing and he’s confident in his pitches. Why not? They’re pretty darn good.”

Move forward to Miami this week. On Tuesday, the day before Fernandez pitched, the Braves were taking the field for batting practice. A number of Braves, including former Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, had a friendly interaction with Fernandez. A number of Atlanta coaches also offered handshakes and hugs.

All was well.

Then on Wednesday, Fernandez had some smiles with Freeman. But a few innings later, Fernandez’s antics were not well received.

“I know Justin crushed a ball and it got caught,” Johnson said. “[Fernandez] was watching him go back to the dugout smiling and stuff like that. I think that was why Gattis was a little upset.

“The kid is a good pitcher,” Johnson said. “He’s got some other stuff going on too that upsets people sometimes.”

Bottom line is Fernandez’s passion can work both ways.

Following Wednesday’s game, Gonzalez noted youth may have been a problem.

“He’s a playful guy on the mound. He likes to have fun,” the Braves manager said. “We like to have fun, too. If he’s going to play that playfulness game, then he shouldn’t get upset when we hit a home run and have fun ourselves. It’s boys being boys after that.”

Joe Frisaro

Tight back may hinder Eovaldi’s start

MIAMI — Suddenly, there are some questions regarding the Marlins rotation.

Nathan Eovaldi, scheduled to start in Thursday’s series finale, is dealing with a tight back. If he isn’t good to go in the series finale against the Braves, set for 12:40 p.m. ET on Thursday, then lefty Brian Flynn will get the nod.

Flynn is currently scheduled to start on Friday in the series opener against the Mets at Citi Field. But if he goes on Thursday, which may be likely, then Brad Hand could get the nod on Friday in New York.

Hand has been slotted to pitch the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Citi Field.

The hope is Eovaldi will be fine, and still take the ball on Thursday. If not, he may need a few more days.

Sam Dyson is an alternative to start wherever he is needed.

After Wednesday, Jose Fernandez will be shut down, so he will no longer be part of the rotation. The Marlins have no intention of giving Fernandez more starts should Eovaldi be out an extended period.

Joe Frisaro

Jose to make closing argument on ROY case

Jose Fernandez making final start on Wednesday.

Jose Fernandez making final start on Wednesday.

MIAMI — All season, Jose Fernandez has dazzled Major League hitters with his blazing fastball, baffling breaking pitches and unwavering self confidence.

Few in the sport show as much fun, energy and enthusiasm as the Marlins’ 21-year-old right-hander.

Fernandez has become the face of the franchise as well as a serious frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.

On Wednesday night, the curtain will come down on Fernandez’s remarkable season. The Marlins are shutting down their young ace after he faces the first-place Braves at Marlins Park.

Because of his age, inexperience, Fernandez entered the season knowing he was facing an innings maximum of around 170. A year ago, he threw 134 innings at Class A, plus another 10 in the playoffs. So the plan was to increase him by roughly 30 innings in ’13.

Fernandez enters tonight at 165 2/3 innings, but he is free to go as far as he can. If it’s six, seven or eight will depend on how he performs.

Wednesday also is an opportunity for Fernandez to make his closing argument as to why he should be the NL Rookie of the Year.

Will not pitching through the end of the month hurt Fernandez’s chances?

To some, it may. But it really shouldn’t.

Fernandez opened the season with the Marlins, and he will be making his 28th start. Barring an unexpected short outing on Wednesday, he will finish with more than 170 innings, and his numbers are worthy of being in the Cy Young Award discussion, even though he likely wouldn’t be the favorite.

In 2003, the Marlins called up Dontrelle Willis from Double-A, and the D-Train made 27 starts and threw 160 2/3 innings. Willis ended up winning NL Rookie of the Year.

Fernandez is having a rookie season for the ages. Consider, since 1980, the 21-year-old’s 2.33 ERA is the lowest of any MLB rookie. He also ranks first in batting average against at .181.

And Fernandez’s 182 strikeouts are the ninth most in the majors since that span.

Some have suggested Fernandez’s rookie season brings back memories of Dwight Gooden in his 1984 rookie season. Gooden that year was 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA, and 276 strikeouts in 218 innings.

Bottom line is being shut down shouldn’t weigh against Fernandez any more than rookies being called up in late May or early June to delay their service-time clock.

While Fernandez’s season will be through with 18 games for the Marlins to go, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was called up on June 3. Puig has appeared in 86 games.

Puig not playing the first two months shouldn’t hurt his chances any more than Fernandez sitting out 18 games.

In 2012, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were voted top rookies in their respective leagues. Both opened in the Minor Leagues and appeared in the big leagues for the first time on April 28.

Chris Coghlan in 2009 became the Marlins’ third Rookie of the Year. He started playing on May 8 of that season, and appeared in 128 games.

Willis was an All-Star and a major reason why the Marlins won the World Series in 2003. The D-Train made his MLB debut on May 9.

Fernandez certainly has performed long enough, and effective enough to not have the day he throws his final pitch work against him.

Joe Frisaro

Jose makes case for best Marlins rookie pitcher ever

MIAMI — The greatest rookie season by a Marlins’ pitcher is one start away from being completed.

Jose Fernandez, the hard-throwing 21-year-old, is scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday night against the Braves at Marlins Park.

There will be no innings limited placed on the right-hander. If he is good to go six, seven or eight innings, he will be given a long leash. Pitch count, obviously, will be closely monitored, as will how he is holding up.

For the most part, Fernandez is under the directive to do what he can to win a ballgame.

Whenever Fernandez’s night is through, it will mark the completion of his stellar rookie season.

Before the season, Miami set an innings maximum of 170 innings. He now is at 165 2/3 innings, the club has given him some wiggle room to exceed his preseason number by a few innings.

What Fernandez has done is remarkable. He has become a serious frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.

Fernandez has already set the Miami rookie record for strikeouts (182), and his ERA of 2.23 is also a best among pitchers with at least 15 starts.

In franchise history, Dontrelle Willis (2003) is the lone Miami pitcher to be named NL Rookie of the Year.

Fernandez’s numbers stack up better than what the D-Train did a decade ago.

willis opened his rookie campaign at Double-A before he was called up in early May. Fernandez, meanwhile, was with Miami from the first day.

Willis was 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts and 160 2/3 innings. The lefty fanned 142, and batters hit .245 off him.

Fernandez is 11-6, 2.23 ERA in 27 starts. Opponents are limited to a .181 average off him.

Joe Frisaro

Stanton hampered with sore right foot

MIAMI — Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was replaced in the eighth inning on Saturday due to a sore right foot and ankle.

The 23-year-old experienced discomfort for most of the day, and in the second inning in Miami’s 9-2 loss to the Nationals, he started dealing with more pain.

With Miami trailing by five runs after seven innings, Stanton was replaced in the eighth inning. He had an X-ray taken on his foot and ankle, and it came back negative.

Stanton’s status is day-to-day, but it is likely he will be given Sunday’s series finale with the Nationals off.

Stanton initially rolled his right ankle while stepping on first base last Sunday at Atlanta in Miami’s 7-0 win over the Braves at Turner Field. He has played through some discomfort this past week.

“It was just one of those days,” Stanton said. “Today, it hurt, I don’t know why, more than almost the first day that it happened.”

There was not a specific play or moment that led to more intensified discomfort.

“A bunch of factors could have gone into it,” he said. “I’m just calling it a bad day, right now.”

Stanton is dealing with discomfort to both sides of his ankle, as well as his heel.

Justin Ruggiano moved from center field to right field to replace Stanton in the eighth inning, and rookie Jake Marisnick played center.

Stanton was hitless in three at-bats on Saturday, and he is batting .249 on the season with 19 homers and 46 RBIs.

Joe Frisaro