MIAMI — The Marlins on Monday placed Placido Polanco on the seven-day concussion disabled list three days after he was drilled on the helmet by a pitch.
Replacing Polanco is Gil Velazquez, who had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans. To free up 40-man roster space, Marcell Ozuna was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
In the eighth inning on Friday night against the Giants, Polanco was plunked on the left side of his helmet by Santiago Casillas’ 94 mph fastball.
On Saturday, Polanco was upbeat and said he was feeling substantially better. He didn’t have a headache, but he admitted to feeling a little dizzy.
Polanco, 38, has split playing time at third base with Ed Lucas.
In 91 games, Polanco is batting .253.
Velazquez, 32, will be making his second stint with the Marlins. A year ago, the utility infielder appeared in 19 games with Miami in the second half.
Velazquez is batting .275 in 67 with New Orleans.
Ozuna is out for the season after undergoing surgery to his left thumb.
– Joe Frisaro
On Monday night, the 21-year-old sensation gets his biggest test to date, facing the surging Dodgers at 7:10 p.m. ET at Marlins Park.
Fernandez will be making his 24th start, and he enters with 139 2/3 innings.
With Fernandez, you have to keep a close watch on the innings total, because once it gets to around 170, the Marlins plan to shut him down for the remainder of the season.
Basically, Miami management is projecting its shut-down date based on an average of seven innings per start. If he indeed can go seven innings per outing, his final start would be on Sept. 4 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. That’s if the Marlins go with him every fifth game from this point forward.
At seven innings per start, Fernandez would be at 167 2/3 innings on Sept. 4.
If the club decided to give him an extra day, he could finish up on Sept. 6 at Marlins Park against the Nationals.
Fernandez’s story is well documented.
The hard-throwing right-hander made the leap from Class A to the big leagues at the start of the season. He logged 134 innings in the regular season in the Minor Leagues a year ago.
In 2012, Fernandez made his last start during the championship round of the Florida State League playoffs on Sept. 9. He worked five innings that day in Class A Jupiter’s victory over Lakeland.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — With a fastball that’s reached 100 mph, Arquimedes Caminero is a prospect who may profile someday to be a closer. Time will tell.
But for the 26-year-old, the time is now for his first big league callup.
The Marlins on Friday recalled Caminero from Double-A Jacksonville two days after reliever Steven Ames was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
A Dominican Republic native, Caminero is one of the hardest-throwers in Miami’s system. At 6-foot-4, 255-pounds, he is an intimidating presence.
At Jacksonville, Caminero was 5-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 42 appearances. He has 68 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings.
While he throws hard, Caminero hasn’t always consistently thrown strikes. For the Suns, he has walked 21.
The Marlins have been looking for candidates to work in the sixth and seventh innings. Ryan Webb, A.J. Ramos and lefty Dan Jennings are candidates. Caminero now likely will join them as he breaks into the big leagues.
If he progresses as expected, Caminero could work his way to an eighth inning setup role, which currently is being anchored by Chad Qualls and lefty Mike Dunn.
Steve Cishek has established himself as the closer.
In terms of pure stuff, Caminero may eventually emerge as a closer.
The organization’s philosophy on closers is they earn the job on performance, not projection.
Ames, 25, was acquired by Miami from the Dodgers as part of the Ricky Nolasco trade in early July.
The right-hander made four appearances for Miami, and he was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA (two earned runs in four innings). He struck out four and walked two.
At the Minor League level this year, Ames is a combined 2-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 41 1/3 innings with 34 strikeouts.
Ames is a candidate to rejoin the Marlins as a September call-up.
– Joe Frisaro
The Marlins already feature an All-Star pitcher and a slick-fielding shortstop who were born in Cuba. Perhaps the organization is prime to turn to a Cuban slugger on the international free agent market.
Jose Dariel Abreu, a power-hitting first baseman, is reportedly in Haiti after defecting from the Cuban national team.
Another report suggests the Marlins will make a big push for the 26-year-old once he is declared a free agent, a process that could take months.
ESPN’s Jim Bowden wrote the Marlins are “expected to go all out on Abreu.”
The slugger’s asking price could be in the six-year, $54 million range.
From what I’ve gathered, it is way too early to predict if the Marlins will indeed make a push for Abreu. The team is planning on sticking with Logan Morrison at first base, and Abreu may not be able to handle a corner outfield spot.
Abreu may be more suited to strictly play first base, or he could be an option for an American League club as a first baseman/designated hitter candidate.
More answers on Abreu will come in the ensuing months. Right now, it is way too early to speculate.
A couple of years ago, the Marlins offered Yeonis Cespedes six-years, $36 million before the power-hitting outfielder signed with the A’s for four-years, $36 million.
Abreu projects to be the latest prized-talent to come out of Cuba. A year ago, the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig for seven-years, $42 million, and the outfielder is a National League Rookie of the Year frontrunner.
The Marlins have two Cuban-born standouts — Jose Fernandez and Adeiny Hechavarria.
Fernandez, the 21-year-old pitching sensation, represented Miami in the All-Star Game. The right-hander defected CUba at age 15 five years ago, and he moved rapidly to the big leagues.
Like Puig, Fernandez is a serious candidate for top NL rookie honors.
Hechavarria, 24, is a terrific defensive player and is solidifying shortstop in Miami.
The Marlins are clearly looking for offensive help.
The organization is rich in pitching, which gives encouragement for a brighter future. But they’ve really struggled at the plate, sitting last in the Majors in runs scored, home runs and batting average.
Mark Reynolds, placed on release waivers by the Indians, is a player the Marlins are having internal discussions about.
At the Winter Meetings last December, Reynolds was a free agent the Marlins discussed before he opted for Cleveland. But the general feeling is Reynolds may be best suited for the American League.
In a rebuilding season, the Marlins are looking for their young players to develop. They’ve had stretches of promise, but more times than not, they’ve endured their share of disappointments. Currently, they’ve lost eight of nine heading into tonight’s game at Kansas City.
In the offseason, the Marlins are not expected to be active on the free agent market, at least for high-priced, established players. So pursuing an international talent like Abreu makes sense.
Another alternative to bringing in offensive help could be trading a pitching prospect or two for a power hitter.
Miami is building around a solid, young pitching staff. Four untouchables in that rotation are Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner. Aside from lefty, Andrew Heaney, now at Double-A Jacksonville, the club may consider dealing any other of their good, young arms for offensive help.
A hitting catcher appears high on Miami’s wish list.
Atlanta’s Evan Gattis would fit the mold, but don’t expect that to happen. Chances are the Braves will not move Gattis because Brian McCann is heading towards a big contract in free agency, leaving Gattis as their likely starter in 2014.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — Rob Brantly, the Marlins’ Opening Day starting catcher, has been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
The club made the decision after Thursday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings at Pittsburgh, and the official announcement came on Friday.
In a corresponding move, Koyie Hill had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans. Hill, 34, has previous big league experience, appearing in 313 games over nine seasons. In 2012, he appeared in 11 games with the Cubs.
Brantly, 23, has had his share of struggles, at the plate and in the field. He is batting .225 with one home run and 18 RBIs in 59 games.
For a few months, Brantly’s playing time was reduced as Jeff Mathis handled a majority of the catching duties.
The veteran Mathis has regularly been behind the plate for rookie phenom, Jose Fernandez.
Brantly’s most recent start was on Wednesday at Pittsburgh. He was hitless in three at-bats. Prior to then, he hadn’t started since Aug. 3 in a loss to the Indians.
Miami acquired Brantly, along with Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn, from the Tigers on July 23, 2012 for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.
A left-handed hitter, Brantly is a career .280 hitter in the Minor Leagues.
By being sent to Triple-A, Brantly will get a chance to play every day and refine his skills in the field and at the plate.
The Marlins promoted Brantly late last season, and in 31 games and 100 at-bats, he batted .290.
Hill provides a veteran backup presence to Mathis. With New Orleans, he batted .237 with one homer and 14 RBIs.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — The Marlins are in desperate need of offense, but their options are limited.
After being swept at Pittsburgh, the Marlins have dropped five straight as they prepare to face the Braves at Turner Field on Friday night.
In their losing streak, the Marlins have scored more than three runs once, and that was in Thursday’s 5-4 setback in 10 innings at PNC Park.
A lack of run support has been an issue all season, as the team is allowing a number of young players develop.
Immediate help would likely come from the Minor League system.
One internal candidate who could receive considerations is third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, the 32-year-old who has previous big league experience.
Kouzmanoff is batting .309 at Triple-A New Orleans. In 19 games since the Triple-A All-Star Break, he is batting .324 with three homers and 19 RBIs.
But Kouzmanoff isn’t on the 40-man roster, so the club would have to make room for him, if they felt he could be an option.
An interesting prospect is left fielder Kyle Jensen, who is on the 40-man roster. Jensen opened the season at Double-A Jacksonville, and he is now at New Orleans. Combined, he has 23 homers and 65 RBIs. But Jensen is kind of an all-or-nothing prospect. He is batting .231.
If Jensen were to play left field for Miami, that would mean Christian Yelich would move to center field. Then the club would have to ask if they want to send Jake Marisnick back to Double-A. The team may not be ready to option Marisnick, who has appeared in just 15 MLB games.
Bryan Petersen, who also isn’t on the 40-man roster, is batting .287 with eight homers and 46 RBIs at New Orleans. Petersen has played for Miami in the past.
At Double-A, Derek Dietrich is an option to return. The 24-year-old was optioned a few weeks ago, and he is 7-for-45 since the All-Star Break with two homers. Dietrich jammed a finger on Wednesday during a collision at home plate. An X-ray came back negative, and he should return to the lineup, perhaps as early as Friday.
Zack Cox, a left-handed hitting third baseman, is batting .291 at Jacksonville. Cox also isn’t on the 40-man roster. He is more of a platoon option, as he is batting .337 vs. RHP compared to .179 vs. LHP.
– Joe Frisaro
PITTSBURGH — It’s a week after MLB’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, and still speculation circles around Giancarlo Stanton.
The fact the Marlins are at Pittsburgh didn’t help them go away, because the Pirates are one of the teams that checked in on Stanton’s availability.
Shortly after the July 31 deadline, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the Pirates made a “substantial offer” for Miami’s 23-year-old slugger.
Recently, another report claimed the Pirates offered Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, James Taillon and Stetson Allie for Stanton, Steve Cishek and Justin Ruggiano.
If so, that would have indeed been a blockbuster trade, and in interesting one considering it would have meant the Pirates were willing to part with their prize young pitching propsect (Cole) and leadoff batter (Marte).
But the fact is, such an offer was never made.
Not one, not two, not three, but four high-placed sources all claim such a proposal never took place.
“Absolutely not,” one source said with conviction.
Clearly, a number of teams in search of pop in their lineup made inquires. Other teams that were on the fence, checked in, because they didn’t want to be “blindsided” if the Marlins were indeed shopping Stanton.
Face it, if Stanton was on the market, the Marlins would have opened up the bidding to far more than one or two teams. The Red Sox, after all, were primed to make their pitch. So were the Nationals, and others.
Basically, the Marlins told interested clubs Stanton was not available, and no names were exchanges. Perhaps some general concepts were tossed around, like, it would take a couple of established big leaguers and a top prospect or two. But nothing like moving two core players from a playoff frontrunner for Stanton and more.
What is very real is the Marlins are hoping to build around Stanton, and the plan on discussing a multiyear deal with him after the season.
Stanton is headed for arbitration in 2014, and he would qualify for free agency after the 2016 season. Even if he says no to signing long-term, and he wants to sign year-to-year through 2016, the Marlins are hopeful to have Stanton in the middle of their order next season.
Also, what’s very real is Stanton is struggling at the plate, and he is the first to admit it.
“I haven’t shown up to play, all season,” Stanton told MLB.com before Miami lost 4-3 to the Pirates on Tuesday. “And that’s the most frustrating thing in the world. I’ve probably had two 15 at-bat stints where I’ve played OK, and that’s it — all season. All [darn] season.”
Don’t misinterpret Stanton’s candor for him saying he hasn’t cared or properly prepared.
“Read it exactly how it is. I haven’t shown up to play,” the slugger said. “Did I prepare less? No. Did I care less? No. It just hasn’t been there. As the person that I am, and how prepared as I am, that’s unacceptable.”
– Joe Frisaro
PITTSBURGH, Pa. — A little offense could go a long way for the Marlins.
Sunday was another frustrating afternoon, as the Marlins were blanked, 2-0, by the Indians in their series finale at Marlins Park.
The Marlins have now been shutout an MLB-most 13 times.
Unable to manufacture even one run wasted an impressive start by Nathan Eovaldi, who remarkably has not had one run of support in any of his last four starts.
In seven innings, Eovaldi yielded one run on his way to a loss.
With an inexperienced squad, the Marlins are certainly enduring their growing pains. Even so, their pitching has performed way above expectations, while their bats have lagged.
Consider, the Marlins have played 110 games and in 72 of them they’ve scored three runs or less.
Miami is a mere 13-59 when scoring three or fewer runs.
Overall, the Marlins’ 354 runs scored are last in the Majors, 40 behind the White Sox, who rank 29th out of 30.
Boston paces the big leagues with 568, and the Cardinals have the most in the National League with 549 runs.
As frustrating as it’s been at the plate, the reason why there is tremendous optimism surrounding the ballclub is the pitching.
When the Marlins pitchers allow three or fewer runs, the team is 35-21.
Overall, the Marlins have given up 439 runs on the season, the 11th fewest in the Major Leagues.
Breaking down the pitching even further, since May 30, when the team started to come together and perform better, the Marlins have allowed 207 runs, the sixth fewest in the Majors. Over the same span, Pittsburgh has given up the least amount of runs, 196.
Clearly, in their rebuilding process, the Marlins have an abundance of arms to lead the way. Eventually, if they are to become contenders in another year or two, the bats will need to scrape up enough runs.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — At the rate Jose Fernandez is going, he should easily shatter the Marlins’ rookie strikeout record.
Barring any unforeseen setbacks, the 21-year-old will do so while not pitching at all in September.
Fernandez is currently third all-time on the Marlins’ rookie strikeout list with 138. The club leader is Scott Olsen, who had 166 in 2006. Dontrelle Willis is second at 142, so Fernandez should surpass that total next Wednesday at Pittsburgh.
Needing 28 strikeouts to catch Olsen over probably five more starts shouldn’t be an issue for Fernandez.
The Marlins have set a firm deadline to shut Fernandez down at around 170 innings. If he throws every fifth game, and he averages seven innings per start, the rookie’s last start could be Aug. 30 at Atlanta.
But that is assuming he isn’t pushed back because of off days or any other reason.
Fernandez turned in one of the greatest pitching performances ever by a Marlins’ rookie on Friday night. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out 14, a franchise rookie record.
Another Marlins’ milestone Fernandez reached is the most strikeouts in back-to-back starts. His 27 eclipsed Ricky Nolasco’s 23 in 2009.
Armed with a 97-mph fastball, coupled with breaking pitches he can throw for strikes in any count, should make Fernandez a candidate to post huge strikeout totals in his career.
“For sure,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He’s got his secondary pitches. His command is solid. He’s able to move the ball in and out. And he’s got the ability to throw his breaking ball at a couple of different speeds. He can flip it in there for strikes, and when he needs a strikeout, he can throw it a little bit harder and make it spin a little bit tighter. He’s going to be a strikeout pitcher, just for sure.
“He puts pressure on you when you’re hitting. He gets ahead of you. With a couple of at-bats with those guys, he gets to 2-0 and then he’s able to throw his breaking balls for strikes. Most guys aren’t looking for a 2-0 breaking ball in that count. You’re looking dead-red for a fastball. Now, you’re back to 2-2. It seems like he’s able to lock it in and get it to that next level, whenever he wants.”
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — “Jose Mania” continues to build.
Jose Fernandez, the Marlins’ rookie sensation, takes the mound on Friday night in the series opener against the red-hot Cleveland Indians, riding a season-best eight-game winning streak.
Fernandez, who turned 21 on Wednesday, is garnering more and more attention with every outing.
In many ways, the passion Fernandez is creating rivals when Dontrelle Willis broke on the big league scene as a 21-year-old in 2003.
“He’s similiar,” said Juan Pierre, who witnessed both pitchers. “Jose is a high-energy guy. He brings out a few more fans to the game when he was on the mound. Dontrelle, he brought everybody to the game when he pitched. So there are a lot of similarities.
“Being young and energetic — running off the field, staying in the dugout after he comes out of the game, signing autographs. He’s always upbeat with the fans. It’s refreshing to see, that’s for sure.”
Back in 2003, “D-Train Mania” was the rage, as the left-hander energized the Marlins on his way to receiving NL Rookie of the Year honors.
While the 2013 Marlins are a young team with emerging, young talent, Fernandez has been a spark to the club’s turnaround after going 14-41 in April and May. Since then, the Marlins are 28-24.
Fernandez has been a big part of the team’s improvement.
Like Willis, Fernandez was named an All-Star as a rookie.
Fernandez also is putting himself in the conversation for NL Rookie of the Year. Chances are, he is a long shot, largely because the Marlins plan on shutting him down when he gets close to 170 innings.
In his first 20 starts, Fernandez has 119 2/3 innings. His 124 strikeouts match St. Louis’ Shelby Miller for most among NL Rookies.
If Fernandez averages seven innings over his next six starts, chances are he will be shut down at just over 160 innings in late August.
Fernandez’s 2.71 ERA is the lowest among rookie NL starters.
Pierre is impressed with how Fernandez has handled himself at such a young age.
“He was probably a little more reserved before that, because he was new,” Pierre said. “Now, he is more like, everybody knows him and his personality. It’s fun to watch.”
– Joe Frisaro