PITTSBURGH — As he was being carted off the field on Thursday night, Marlins reliever Dan Jennings raised his right hand to signal he was going to be alright.
It was the symbolic thumbs up that prompted a loud ovation from the stunned-silent crowd at PNC Park.
After being tested at a local hospital, it appears Jennings indeed is going to be just fine.
A CT scan came back negative, and Jennings was diagnosed with a concussion after being struck on the left side of the head on a comeback liner by Jordy Mercer.
The incident brought PNC Park to complete standstill in the seventh inning of the Pirates’ 7-2 win over the Marlins.
Jennings never lost consciousness, and he responded to questions, knowing where he was and what day it was.
After being tested at the hospital, Jennings used social media to express his gratitude to the fans and all those who have reached out to him.
On his @LtDanJennings Twitter account, Jennings tweeted: “@Pirates fans showed amazing support tonight – as always @Marlins fans supporting too.”
DJ also tweeted a medical update: “The scans were negative-it seems I’m going to be ok. The support shown tonight has been unbelievable, speechless. God is amazing.”
Another tweet read: “God was definitely watching over me tonight.”
Jennings’ injury is the latest reminder of how players risk so much every time they step on the field.
Miami pitcher Brian Flynn, who also has been a teammate of Jennings in the Minor Leagues, noted that he says a quick prayer before every inning.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who dealt with a concussion on a foul tip earlier in the season, says the time is now for baseball to explore more ways to protect pitchers, who are less than 60 feet from home plate after delivering a pitch.
“Hopefully they can find something that works that will protect pitchers,” Saltalamacchia said. “I know they’ve done a pretty good job protecting catchers. I think it’s time we need to start worrying about those guys, too.”
— Joe Frisaro
PITTSBURGH — PNC Park has some special meaning to Christian Yelich.
As a rookie last year, the Miami outfielder connected on his first big league home run at the home of the Pirates. It was an opposite-field shot to left.
On Wednesday night, Yelich went deep yet again at PNC Park, blasting a no-doubt, two-run drive to right field off Jeff Locke.
It was the 22-year-old’s ninth blast of the season, and first off a left-hander. The left-handed hitting Yelich has 13 career home runs, with two off southpaws.
A year ago Yelich had his struggles while facing left-handers, batting .165 against them, compared to .362 off righties.
This season, the numbers have changed a bit.
Yelich’s splits are a little surprising. The leadoff hitter is batting .301 (28-for-93) off lefties, compared to .260 (75-for-288) vs. right-handers.
But his on-base percentage is about the same against both — .359 (LHP), .351 (RHP).
— Joe Frisaro
PITTSBURGH — Jarred Cosart paid a price for his first big league hit. The Marlins right-hander ended up tweaking his left oblique during the at-bat, and now he has been scratched from his start on Thursday at Pittsburgh.
The injury isn’t believed to be serious, and Cosart will not be headed to the disabled list. The club anticipates he will start on Tuesday against the Cardinals at Marlins Park.
Brian Flynn will start in place of Cosart on Thursday.
Miami hasn’t announced Saturday’s starter, but it is expected to be Brad Penny, who is currently at Triple-A New Orleans.
Cosart was acquired from the Astros on July 31. He made his first start for Miami on Aug. 1. Making the transition to the National League means Cosart now has to bat. In his start against the Reds, he had an infield single, which was his first big league hit. He ran hard to first base, and in the process ended up with a sore left oblique.
The Marlins rotation already is without Henderson Alvarez, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Alvarez played catch on Wednesday and he is progressing nicely. The expectation is the All-Star will be reinstated on Aug. 14, the first day he is eligible to return. Miami faces Arizona that day.
Also, reliever Kevin Gregg on Thursday is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow.
— Joe Frisaro
PITTSBURGH — Cutting loose a promising 23-year-old right-hander is never an easy decision. But where the Marlins are in the here and now, the organization felt it had no other choice but to designate Jacob Turner for assignment on Tuesday.
Still with time to make up ground in the standings, the Marlins felt an urgency to make a difficult move.
Even though it may be a long shot, the Marlins still have playoff aspirations. To stay in the race as long as possible, they are looking for those who give them their best chance.
Because Turner is out of options, the club felt the time was now to move in another direction. So Turner was designated, and lefty Brian Flynn was called up from Triple-A New Orleans.
Don’t look for Flynn to make the start on Saturday at Cincinnati. The Marlins have yet to announce who will get the nod that day, but expect it to be Brad Penny.
Of course Penny is not part of the club’s long-term future. But the veteran has pitched in playoff chases before. He’s a former All-Star, and you may recall, he won two games for the Marlins in the 2003 World Series.
Penny may not ultimately be the answer to help the Marlins reach their playoff goal this year, but he will bring a veteran presence to a young staff. Penny also may wind up logging valuable innings down the stretch, which will ease the work load of the rest of the staff.
If the Marlins were completely in rebuilding mode, like a year ago, the club absolutely would have stuck with Turner. In 2013, when the club finished up 62-100, the front office had more patience. The season was about development and seeing what players could do.
In that scenario, then you ride it out with Turner and see how he performs.
Right now, Turner’s tenure with Miami basically ended because he was out of options, and the club was out of patience. Forced to either retain him on the 25-man roster or let him loose, there was no middle ground to allow the right-hander to go down to the Minors to polish up his game.
The Marlins tried Turner in the bullpen and rotation. He struggled in both roles.
Frankly, Turner was rushed to the big leagues at age 20 by the Tigers. He was dealt to the Marlins a year later in a trade that is now even more unpopular with Marlins fans. Turner, Flynn and Rob Brantly came to Miami in 2012 for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.
Bad deal? Absolutely.
In those situations, you can do a couple of things. You can hang on and hope, or you can cut your losses, and move forward.
Miami, too, moved Turner quickly to the big leagues, speeding up his service time clock.
Not every high school talent is ready to be in the big leagues two or three years after they graduate. Turner found himself in that situation.
The lesson the Marlins have learned from pitchers like Turner is to give their other prospects more time to develop.
That’s why this season we’ve seen Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani promoted from Double-A to Triple-A. Both made their big league debuts this season, and both showed they needed more seasoning. So they are back at New Orleans.
In years past, the Marlins had a philosophy of promoting pitchers directly from Double-A to the big leagues. It worked with Dontrelle Willis and Josh Johnson. It wasn’t as successful with Scott Olsen, Chris Volstad and others.
The objective of the organization now is to stop developing at the big leagues, and focus on winning. To achieve that goal, bold moves are sometimes made along the way.
— Joe Frisaro
PITTSBURGH — Organizational depth put the Marlins in position to pull off a trade with the Astros last week that should help the big league roster for at least the next few seasons.
The downside of the deal is it weakened the system from a position player standpoint.
But that’s the nature of trades. You have to give to receive. The Marlins did yield quite a bit when they sent outfielder Jake Marisnick and third baseman Colin Moran to the Astros.
The Marlins and Astros finalized a six-player deal less than 30 seconds before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Miami also sent Minor Leaguer Francis Martes and a 2015 competitive balance Draft pick to Houston.
In return, the Marlins acquired right-hander Jarred Cosart and infielder/outfielder Enrique Hernandez, plus Minor League outfielder Austin Wates.
Ultimately what the trade did was help solidify the rotation for the short and long term.
Cosart, according to several scouts, profiles as a No. 4-caliber starter. His ceiling could be a solid No. 3. Plus, he is big league tested.
All along the Marlins said they wanted a starter with controllable years before reaching free agency. Cosart steps right into the rotation, and he provides a boost for the rest of this season.
Plus, heading in 2015, the Marlins are bracing to be without Jose Fernandez until around the All-Star Break.
Until Fernandez is ready, the organization feels better positioned with a rotation of Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Cosart, Tom Koehler and perhaps Brad Hand or Jacob Turner.
It’s an impressive young group that will be pushed by prospects like Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino.
Hernandez also is part of the big league plans. The infielder can play second, short and third base, as well as center field. He also can hit.
Moving forward, Hernandez is an option to fill in for Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop and Casey McGehee at third.
Hernandez also could be a candidate to win the second base job in 2015.
A couple of other things to keep in mind regarding the trade.
* It solidifies McGehee has Miami’s third baseman for 2015, and perhaps beyond. McGehee is arbitration-eligible next season. But the club also is open to signing the 31-year-old to an extension.
Although Moran was the sixth overall pick in 2013, he wasn’t projected to be big league ready next year.
* By dealing Marisnick, Miami’s outfield of Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton are expected to remain together at least through 2015.
If the Marlins had been leaning towards trading Stanton, they only would have done so if they were confident Marisnick was ready to play every day in the big leagues. Obviously, Miami could seek an outfielder in any deal involving Stanton, but that is not what the organization is considering at this point.
Signing Stanton to a long-term deal remains the Marlins’ priority. That’s not a given, because the slugger will have to agree this is the place he wants to be for at least five or six more years.
Even if Stanton wants to sign year-to-year until he becomes a free agent after 2016, the Marlins appear to be in no rush to make a trade. The return the Red Sox got for Jon Lester has redefined what the market could look like for a rental.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — On Thursday, the Marlins welcomed Jarred Cosart as a newcomer to their rotation. But on Friday, the club suffered a hit when it placed All-Star Henderson Alvarez on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
Jacob Turner will step in to replace Alvarez in the rotation, and pitch on Sunday in the series finale with the Reds.
Alvarez (8-5) is coming off a win against the Nationals on Tuesday, tossing seven shutout innings. During that game, with the bases loaded and no outs, Alvarez appeared to show some sort of discomfort. Manager Mike Redmond and assistant trainer Mike Kozak went to the mound, but Alvarez stayed in the game, got out of the jam, and made it through seven innings.
Redmond said that Alvarez’s shoulder bothered him late Thursday and on Friday, the 24-year-old informed pitching coach Chuck Hernandez that his arm was hurting.
Alvarez is expected to have an MRI.
The Marlins are hoping they caught the inflammation early, and it won’t lead to a prolonged injury.
Alvarez is on the DL, retroactive to July 30.
Miami is looking to make a playoff push, which is a reason it acquired Cosart from the Astros on Thursday. When that deal was made, Turner was set to move to the bullpen. But Turner will remain in the rotation.
The Marlins will have to make a corresponding move, adding a reliever to the active roster.
— Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — So much for the notion teams get less for rentals.
If anything, what has transpired on non-waiver Trade Deadline day is impact players will command a high price, no matter when they are moved. The Red Sox, Athletics and Cardinals all proved that in one of the most fascinating deadline days in years.
Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance pick? This deal alone showed what the return on a two-month rental can be. Then, John Lackey, technically not a rental, for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly?
Moving proven players, some with World Series experience, for each other has moved the trade thinking away from the belief prospects are dealt for veterans. And you have to trade arbitration-eligible players to maximize your return well before they become free agents.
How does this impact the Marlins? Well, it should further remind the organization that there is zero urgency to trade Giancarlo Stanton. Not just now, but for another year or two, if the club wishes.
Stanton isn’t eligible for free agency until after 2016. If the Marlins, who are improving, feel they can make a serious playoff run in 2015 and ’16, they may very well decide to retain their All-Star right fielder, regardless of whether he is under a long-term contract or not.
The common belief is Stanton’s value will be at his highest this offseason. Maybe it will be. But to think that Miami can’t bring in a big time haul if they wait, even up to the Trade Deadline in 2016, is nonsense. Any doubters should simply pay attention to what occurred before noon today.
The reality is, the Marlins can literally see where they are in the standings in 2015 and up to half of 2016 before deciding to deal Stanton. This logic only applies if Miami feels it can’t sign their slugger to an extension before then.
Now, this won’t stop the rumors, because the rest of the league repeatedly makes calls to the Marlins regarding Stanton. As for what the team is thinking now, they have no intentions of moving Stanton any time soon, and that includes 2015.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Scratch Jon Lester’s name off the board. So that leaves, John Lackey, Wade Miley, Tommy Milone and John Danks as names connected to the Marlins.
Actually, scratch Milone’s name, too, off the list. Milone, too, is off the board.
The clock is ticking towards Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Miami is expected to be active. But can the front office complete a deal?
The big splash of the morning came with reports that the Red Sox had sent Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes.
About two hours after the Lester deal broke, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, reported Milone has been dealt to the Twins.
The Red Sox have been looking for big league ready outfielders, and they got one in Cespedes. Which explains why, from the Marlins, they were eyeing Christian Yelich.
Miami has no interest in moving any core players off its 25-man roster. So there wasn’t a fit for Lester.
The search is for a starting pitcher with controllable years. Milone right now may make the most sense of pitchers available, mainly because the A’s clearly have a surplus of starters.
Still, there is competition for starters, as Miami saw with Milone. The 27-year-old lefty s 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA, and he is 32-22 (3.84) in 80 big league appearances with 78 starts.
His contract status is favorable to Miami, because he becomes arbitration eligible for the first time in 2015.
Danks, 29, is being mentioned. The lefty with the White Sox is signed through 2016 for $14,250 million in each of the next two years. It’s hard to imagine the Marlins would pick up that entire salary.
Miami has prospects and a competitive balance pick in 2015 that could be used as trade pieces.
Boston also is probably leaning heavily towards moving Lackey, who has a favorable contract for 2015 (league minimum). That said, the Red Sox are seeking to return to glory in 2015 and they are asking for big pieces. But perhaps a close to big league ready pitching prospect could complete a deal?
If Miami is to make a statement and a push, it will need some more pieces. An experienced starting pitcher would send a strong signal to a re-energized roster.
— Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The last call was made around 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, shortly before Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill left the ballpark. The first message Hill received after he woke up was about 8:37 a.m.
Numerous calls are coming in, and the Marlins are weighing all options as Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
The Marlins are working hard to make a trade or two before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. A controllable starting pitcher remains a priority, but a rental remains possible, but not at the cost of mortgaging the future.
“Not ideal for what we’re trying to do,” Hill said of a rental. “It’s something that we’ve entertained and have dipped our toe in the water. It all depends on the cost to acquire a rental and if it sidetracks what we’re trying to do in the long term.”
That may rule out Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, who would with the club for the rest of the season.
Miami made it back to .500 (53-53) by beating the Nationals on Tuesday night. Hill was working the phones all the way until he left Marlins Park, which was about 1 a.m.
“These guys in this room know we believe in them, and believe in the talent in this room,” Hill said Wednesday morning. “Whether we’re able to make a deal or not, I think they know we have their back. We’re supportive of what they’re trying to do. We’re going to do what’s best to try to upgrade. But we’re not going to be foolish. We’re not going to be short-sighted. I think we understand where we’re at as an organization, but we also understand where we’re trying to go.
“I think that’s the balance that you strike at this time of year. We’ll see what happens these next two days. But there’s been a lot going on. You try to work through it, and see if what you’re trying to do makes sense, not just in the near term, but in the long term.”
Starting pitching is the priority. Second base also could be addressed, but it is not as big an objective as a controllable starter.
Miami also is not planning on taking any core player off its big league roster.
If need be, the club will take on salary.
“I would say we’re looking at everything,” Hill said. “Money deals. Prospects deals. We’re looking at everything.”
— Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Young team coming together that is dreaming the big dream.
Sound familiar, South Florida?
It should. The youthful Marlins of 2014 have some similarities to the miracle Marlins of 2003. The team, which in the words of Juan Pierre, “shocked the world!”
Monday’s 7-6 comeback win, after trailing by six, was the team’s most impressive late-rally since the ’03 squad came back from 9-2 down at Boston.
The Marlins of ’14 have been a stunning surprise, reaching the .500 mark (53-53) after losing 100 a year ago.
Hopeful of making a push that would “shock the world” once more, the Marlins’ front office is in full buyer mode as Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
Miami has put its name in the hat for Boston’s Jon Lester. If the asking price is too high (which is obviously is), there may not be a fit for Lester in Miami. Lester for Christian Yelich? No thanks.
However, if Lester goes out West to the Dodgers, then other potential trade chips may surface.
Say Lester does go to the Dodgers, what’s next for Miami? Why not make a pitch for one of the greatest names in Marlins’ history?
The Marlins should at least give consideration to returning Josh Beckett to the place where he was the World Series MVP 11 seasons ago.
Lester’s arrival could mean the Dodgers don’t have room for Beckett in their rotation. If that’s the case, Beckett could be a natural to help Miami attempt another improbable run.
Becket is a former teammate of Miami manager Mike Redmond. Beckett still has an affection for the Marlins, the team that made him the No. 2 overall pick in 1999.
Clearly not the overpowering right-hander he was at age 23 in ’03, but at 34, Beckett knows how to pitch. Let’s not forget, he no-hit the Phillies earlier in the season. He’s not throwing 95-plus any more, but he has become a crafty pitcher. The fierce competitor is still there, and he has had success pitching more off his breaking ball.
Beckett would be a good influence on a young rotation that would certainly benefit by the presence of a proven veteran.
Beckett has publicly said he isn’t sure if 2014 will be his final season. If it is, why not let the two-time World Series champion go out playing for the organization where it all started?
— Joe Frisaro