February 2014

Jose fine with leadership label

JUPITER, Fla. — A 21-year-old with one year of big league experience isn’t your typical team leader.

Not much is according to the book when it comes to Jose Fernandez.

Jose warms up in front of his teammates.

Jose warms up in front of his teammates.

The 21-year-old has established himself as the ace. He has yet to officially be announced as the Opening Day starter, but he is lined up to pitch every five days. Where that plays out is March 31, the season opener against the Rockies at Marlins Park.

Fernandez did his thing on Friday in the Marlins’ 5-4 win over the Cardinals. He tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

The Marlins feel they are building a solid foundation, and Fernandez certainly is a major piece. If he is asked to be a leader, he will do so. Last year, he looked up to veteran Ricky Nolasco. And in 2012, when he was around the club, he followed the examples that Josh Johnson showed when he was the ace.

“Last year, I was looking up to Ricky,” Fernandez said. “When J.J. was here, I was looking to see what he was doing. If I’ve got to be a leader, I’ve got no problem with it. It’s a little hard, because I’m the youngest. And I’m always joking around. I leave that to Salty, Jeff and those old guys. I’m the fun guy. Goofy.”

Veteran like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jeff Mathis and Rafael Furcal are more traditional leaders by example and their words.

Overall, the Marlins played a solid game.

Highlights

Garrett Jones’ two-run homer, Jake Marisnick’s RBI triple, Derek Dietrich’s defense at third base, and Ty Wigginton added an RBI double.

There also was solid pitching from relievers Mike Dunn, Dan Jennings and Chris Hatcher.

Marisnick’s triple was encouraging for several reasons. For one, he is spending a lot of time in camp working on improving his load, and timing, which is aimed at shortening his swing. The triple came off a changeup.

Also, the triple was a chance to test out his knee. He had surgery to repair a meniscus tear after the 2013 season.

“We’ve run around the bases, and in the sim games, I got a chance to run a couple of times,” Marisnick said. “That’s probably the first time I had a chance to open it up a little bit. It felt great. I just have to get the slide going. It was more of a fall than a slide.”

Catchers

Saltalamacchia, who caught Fernandez on Friday, will be off Saturday. Jeff Mathis will catch Nathan Eovaldi on Saturday against the Cardinals in Jupiter. At the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Rob Brantly will catch Kevin Slowey.

Some of the players making the trip to Port St. Lucie are Jeff Baker, Dietrich, Casey McGehee, Christian Yelich and Marisnick. Manager Mike Redmond will also be on the trip.

Bench coach Rob Leary will manage the team in Jupiter.

Joe Frisaro

Grapefruit League season underway

JUPITER, Fla. — Aside from Rafael Furcal and Marcell Ozuna getting a day off, the Marlins’ lineup closely resembles how it may look on Opening Day.

Miami opens its Grapefruit League schedule on Friday with Jose Fernandez getting the start against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Adeiny Hechavarria is leading off in place of Furcal, and Brian Bogusevic got the nod in center field in place of Ozuna, who played Wednesday and Thursday in the college exhibitions.

St. Louis is starting Carlos Martinez.

MARLINS

1) Hechavarria, SS
2) Yelich, LF
3) Stanton, RF
4) Jones, 1B
5) Saltalamacchia, C
6) McGehee, 3B
7) Wigginton, DH
8) Bogusevic, CF
9) Lucas, 2B

Joe Frisaro

Hech goes one-on-one with The Rock

JUPITER, Fla. — One afternoon before Spring Training, Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria had a chance to go one-on-one with The Great One.

Actor Dwayne Johnson was doing some filming at Marlins Park several weeks ago when Hechavarria was working out. The star-struck shortstop grew up in Cuba watching Johnson in films and wrestling.

The Rock and Adeiny Hechavarria

The Rock and Adeiny Hechavarria

“I had a chance to watch him in movies in Cuba and here,” Hechavarria said.

The two have something in common. They don’t live far from each other in Weston, Fla.

“He lives in Weston, too, close to me, about four or five minutes away,” Hechavarria said. “It was a great experience just to shake the hand of someone so famous.”

A former University of Miami football player, Johnson became a sports entertainment icon as The Rock on WWE. His “millions and millions of fans” watched him become a wrestling superstar turned into movie star.

“He was filming a show or something at the stadium and I was there training,” Hechavarria said. “I didn’t really talk to him. I just said ‘How are you doing? I live close to your house.’ He just said ‘Okay.’ “

Joe Frisaro

Nicolino gets start against FIU

JUPITER, Fla. — For the second straight day there will be a bit of a collegiate atmosphere at Roger Dean Stadium.

The Marlins will be taking on Florida International University, Mike Lowell’s alma mater, at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Lefty prospect Justin Nicolino will make the start for the Marlins. FIU is going with freshman right-hander Chris Mourelle, who attended Southwest Miami High School.

Miami on Wednesday defeated the University of Miami, 5-2.

Once again, the Marlins are resting most of their regulars. Giancarlo Stanton and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will not play in either college game.

LINEUP

1) Solano SS
2) Dietrich 2B
3) Ozuna CF
4) Baker 3B
5) Dobbs 1B
6) Wigginton DH
7) Johnson LF
8) Angle RF
9) Skipworth C

On Friday, the Marlins open their Grapefruit League season against the Cardinals. They will be the visiting team at Roger Dean Stadium. Jose Fernandez will start against Carlos Martinez.

On Saturday, the Marlins have a split-squad day. Nathan Eovaldi will pitch against the Cardinals in Jupiter. Miami will be the home team. And Kevin Slowey will face the Mets at Port St. Lucie. Brad Hand will start on Sunday at the Nationals in Viera.

Joe Frisaro

Alvarez dealing with right leg infection

JUPITER, Fla. — Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez will be out for several days to rest a right shin infection.

The infection had been bothering Alvarez for a couple of days, and when it wasn’t getting better, he went to the hospital to get it drained.

“He’s obviously down for a few days,” manager Mike Redmond said. “He had to have it cleaned out. We’re expecting him to be fine in a couple of days. He’s probably out at least for three or four days.”

Alvarez pitched live batting practice last Saturday. On Sunday, he wasn’t in camp because he was feeling under the weather. He wasn’t feeling well due to the infection.

Projected as the Marlins third starter, Alvarez was scheduled to pitch on Sunday against the Nationals in Viera. Lefty Brad Hand will now make that start.

Alvarez entered Spring Training having already thrown Winter Ball in Venezuela.

With the infection being treated so early in camp, the Marlins are confident Alvarez will have plenty of time to get ready for the season.

“It shouldn’t affect him,” Redmond said. “He obviously won’t make that start on Sunday. But he’s pitched quite a bit. It shouldn’t affect him as far as how much time it will take him to bounce back. He will get his pitches in and get him ramped up for Opening Day.”

Joe Frisaro

Exhibition games begin against Hurricanes

JUPITER, Fla. — The Marlins open their exhibition season on Wednesday with their annual game against the Miami Hurricanes.

Actually, the teams didn’t play last year because of the expanded Spring Training due to the World Baseball Classic.

Prospect Angel Sanchez will get the start for the Marlins for the 1:05 p.m. ET contest.

LINEUP

1) Solano 2B
2) Yelich LF
3) Ozuna CF
4) Jones 1B
5) McGehee 3B
6) Wigginton DH
7) Bogusevic RF
8) Lucas SS
9) Brantly C

The Marlins play two straight days against college teams. On Thursday they will face Florida International University. Justin Nicolino will start that game.

Giancarlo Stanton isn’t scheduled to play against either college team. Stanton is getting ready for Friday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Cardinals.

Rafael Furcal is getting a day of not throwing on Wednesday to keep his arm fresh. Furcal missed all of last year due to Tommy John surgery, and the team is giving him periodic days of taking it easy.

Joe Frisaro

Jose on the GoPro cam

JUPITER, Fla. — MLB Productions picked the right player to follow at Marlins camp on Tuesday.

Jose Fernandez sporting a GoPro camera on cap. (Denis Bancroft/Miami Marlins)

Jose Fernandez sporting a GoPro camera on cap. (Denis Bancroft/Miami Marlins)

Jose Fernandez, always upbeat and animated, was being shadowed by the MLB Productions for a segment to run at a later date. To gain the ultimate players’ perspective, Fernandez was wired with a microphone and sported a GoPro camera on his cap.

Fernandez went through his drills on the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium.

But there were only a few drills he was wired up.

For the more advanced drills, he was without mic or cap cam.

Fernandez also threw one inning in a simulated game, a tuneup against hitters before he takes the mound on Friday in Miami’s Grapefruit League opener against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. Miami is the visiting team.

The Marlins have a split-squad on Saturday, against the Cardinals in Jupiter, and at the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Nathan Eovaldi likely will pitch on Saturday in Jupiter.

Cishek effective: For the first time this spring, closer Steve Cishek faced hitters. Earlier in camp, the right-hander was hampered by a stiff neck. Cishek, who saved 34 of 36 chances last year, looked sharp against four hitters. He got Marcell Ozuna on a fly ball to left field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia swung threw a slider for a strikeout. Giancarlo Stanton worked out a walk, and Adeiny Hechavarria tapped to third.

Exhibition starters: The exhibition schedule is about to begin. On Wednesday, the Marlins face the University of Miami at Roger Dean Stadium. Angel Sanchez will start for the Marlins, while UM is going with Javi Salas.

Sanchez was acquired from the Dodgers last July as part of the Ricky Nolasco trade. Sanchez projects to open the season at Double-A Jacksonville.

On Thursday, Justin Nicolino, the seventh best lefty prospect in the Majors according to MLB.com, will get the start. Chris Mourelle, a freshman from Southwest Miami High, will pitch for Florida International University.

Workout availability: A number of fans have e-mailed or Tweeted regarding times of workouts and availability. Now that the games are starting up, the players will not be on the back fields as much as before. Fans still can watch on the back fields, but the team won’t be out there very long. Players are usually on the field around 9:30 a.m. ET.

Joe Frisaro

Fernandez’s first Spring start will be Friday

JUPITER, Fla. — Jose Fernandez, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, will waste little time getting seeing game action.

Manager Mike Redmond on Saturday announced Fernandez as the starting pitcher for the Marlins’ first Grapefruit League game, which is next Friday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. Miami will be the visiting team. St. Louis is starting Carlos Martinez.

Coming off one of the best rookie seasons since Dwight Gooden in 1984, Fernandez has not seen game action since Sept. 11, when he beat the Braves. But after that game, the club shut the hard-throwing right-hander down due to an innings limit.

The Marlins have yet to officially announce Fernandez as their Opening Day starter. But that is considered a formality.

Miami opens its exhibition season on Wednesday against the University of Miami in Jupiter.

Angel Sanchez, acquired from the Dodgers last July in the Ricky Nolasco trade, will get the nod against the Hurricanes.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins call for peace in Venezuela

JUPITER, Fla. — The threat of violence in Venezuela led to Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez bringing his wife and two-month-old daughter to South Florida on Thursday night.

Marlins players, including Henderson Alvarez, call for peace in Venezuela.

Marlins players, including Henderson Alvarez, call for peace in Venezuela.

A Venezuelan native, Alvarez initially was planning on having his family join him later in Spring Training. But he worked it out where they could leave the country early due to two incidents where his family was impacted by tear gas.

At Marlins camp on Saturday morning, Alvarez, accompanied by several teammates, posed for pictures while holding the Venezuelan flag. Several players held up hand-written signs with the word “Paz” (Peace in Spanish).

“With the picture, I’m hoping to send a message to Venezuela to have peace,” Alvarez said. “To leave the violence behind.”

Alvarez is from Valencia, and his other family members there are fine.

“My daughter is the one who was affected, she was affected by tear gas, twice, so I sent for her,” Alvarez said. “I sent for her and my wife to go to Miami.”

The message the Marlins sent is similar to what the Tigers did on Friday. Detroit players, including Venezuelan natives Miguel Cabrera and Anibal Sanchez, also took pictures holding their country’s flag as a sign of solidarity.

With the popularity of baseball in Venezuela, Alvarez is hopeful that the big leaguer’s plea for peace can help end the violence in the country.

“As baseball players our message has more of a potential to be reached,” Alvarez said. “Detroit sent out a picture [Friday].”

Not just Venezuelan players posed in the Marlins’ picture.

Cuban born Jose Fernandez, Arquimedes Caminero of the Dominican Republic and A.J. Ramos, from Texas, were among those standing in support.

Joe Frisaro

Yelich standing out early in camp

JUPITER, Fla. — It’s only been a couple of days, but it’s not too soon to detect that Christian Yelich came into camp ready to swing the bat.

The 22-year-old left fielder has impressed with his overall approach, and his swing ranks up there with anyone on the team.

Christian Yelich working on his bunting.

Christian Yelich working on his bunting.

Yelich has been spraying line drives all over the field, and handling pitches in every part of the zone.

He’s also working on his short-game. Around 8:30 a.m. ET, Yelich was part of a group working on bunting. Third base coach Brett Butler is conducting the drills before practice gets going.

Yelich, Donovan Solano, Rafael Furcal and Adeiny Hechavarria were in the bunting group.

Jones shows plenty of power: Garrett Jones was belting batting practice pitches onto the street, well beyond the right field fence on the back field on Friday. The 32-year-old first baseman is known for having great natural power. A left-handed hitter, Jones was getting his BP looks off Butler, who throws from the left side.

More protein: Marcell Ozuna also was crushing pitches well over the fence in left field on Friday. The 23-year-old, who is the frontrunner to be the center fielder, is recovered from surgery to his left thumb. He keeps the thumb wrapped under his batting glove.

Ozuna is known for being energetic and fun-loving on the field. He was in a hitting group with Reed Johnson. When Johnson drove the ball to the warning track, Ozuna quipped: “More protein.”

Fish bites

* Steve Cishek threw off the mound for eight minutes on Friday, and the closer is easing back to full workouts. Cishek has been dealing with a stiff neck the past few days. It caused him to miss two bullpen sessions. He had hoped to play catch on Thursday, but it was pushed back a day.

* Infielder Juan Diaz officially joined the team on Friday, a day after the first full-squad workout. Diaz was delayed one day due to a visa issue. There are still two relief pitchers who have yet to report due to visa holdups – Henry Rodriguez and Jesus Sanchez. There still is no definitive time set for their arrival.

* The Marlins open their exhibition schedule against the University of Miami on Wednesday. The starting pitcher is expected to be named perhaps as early as Saturday.

* With 36 pitchers on the roster, the Marlins are looking to get enough innings for all. So the team has worked out a B Game against the Mets on March 10. The club is hopeful of another B Game in early March.

Saturday schedule

Full-squad workouts begin at 10 a.m. ET and run until roughly 1 p.m.

Joe Frisaro

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