Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

Marlins staying the course

Tuesday night’s 8-2 loss to the Red Sox aside, the Marlins feel they are primed to make a run.

In an up-and-down season, the Marlins have closed to within two games of .500, and the organization doesn’t think the club has played its best baseball yet. The team also has its pitching rotation lined up, after some injuries early in the year.

If everything starts to click, the Marlins believe they are well situated for a second-half postseason push. If Florida has any advantage over the first-place Phillies it is overall starting pitching depth.

There also is encouragement at the top of the order now that Chris Coghlan has secured the leadoff spot. With Coghlan getting on base, the offense has been more productive.

Hopeful that the pieces are in place to start playing more consistently, the Marlins are not thinking about making any major trades before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At least, they aren’t close to pulling the trigger in terms of shipping off some of their arbitration-eligible players.

Now, everything is subject to change if the team flops in the next five or six weeks. But as of now, the Marlins feel they are definitely in the playoff mix. For that reason, players like Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida and Cody Ross aren’t actively being shopped.

You will hear and read rumors of other clubs making inquiries. That happened a few weeks ago when the Braves called about Ross. The Braves also asked about Hermida, and they were believed to be offering outfielder Jeff Francoeur and pitcher Charlie Morton. The Marlins said no.

Morton ended up being dealt to the Pirates as part of the Nate McLouth trade.

Keep in mind, the Marlins always seek pitching back in any trades they consider.

The Braves have had their eye on Ross for a while. One reason is he does so well against them. In 42 career games, Ross is hitting .328 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs vs. Atlanta. Hermida, meanwhile, is a native of Marietta, Ga.

Atlanta is definitely looking to add more offense.

Both Hermida and Ross have made big contributions to the Marlins of late, and both are expected to remain in Florida — barring a collapse before the end of July.

— Joe Frisaro

Cubs honor Maddux, Jenkins

Before Sunday’s series finale between the Marlins and Cubs at Wrigley Field, a couple of the greatest right-handed pitchers ever were honored.

The Cubs did a joint retirement of the No. 31, worn by Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins and future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.

During the ceremony, from the Marlins dugout, the entire team paid close attention as both pitching greats recognized.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, formerly a Braves coach when Maddux was in Atlanta, tipped his cap to the right-hander who retired with 355 wins.

In his storied career, Maddux made 42 starts against the Marlins. His record was 19-15 with a 2.92 ERA.

— Joe Frisaro

Bonifacio learned from Butler

A few years ago when Emilio Bonifacio was advancing in Arizona’s Minor League system, he learned a lot about the game from a pretty good former big leaguer.

Brett Butler, a speedster and an excellent bunter in his 17-year MLB career, was Bonifacio’s manager at high Class A and Double A.

“He was my manager for two years, in high A and Double-A,” said Bonifacio, a native of the Dominican Republic. “He talked to me about how to bunt. I like him.”

Butler these days is managing Arizona’s Triple-A Reno.

With 17 years of big league seasons and 2,375 career hits under his belt, Butler offered plenty of advice to the speedy Bonifacio.

Bunting is a part of Bonifacio’s game that continues to develop. Florida is looking for the speedster to find ways to get on base, and make things happen.

After a scorching start, Bonifacio has quieted the last two games in Atlanta. He has gone hitless with seven strikeouts in his last 10 at-bats.

On Friday night at Washington, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez gave Bonifacio a day off. Cameron Maybin replaced Boni in the leadoff spot.

Gonzalez said the 0-for-10 stretch wasn’t the breather.

“That’s not the column, I’m worried about,” Gonzalez said. “The strikeouts. It’s the Ws that I’m worried about.”

With Washington starting lefties John Lannan on Friday and Scott Olsen on Saturday, Gonzalez was leaning toward giving Bonifacio one of the two days off.

It happened to be Friday.

Maybin also has struggled at the plate. The two youngsters are still learning.

Bonifacio says he started chasing pitches up in the zone, citing that for a reason for his slight slump.

“I have to see better pitches,” Bonifacio.

Early in the season, Bonifacio said he was effective hitting pitches down in the zone. An adjustment some pitchers are making are to elevate in the zone.

“There is a lot of scouting out there,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve said it from the very beginning, [Boni] and Maybin, we’re going to be patient with them. They’re going to go ups and downs.

“Yeah, there are going to be some adjustments. It’s hard on veteran guys.”

— Joe Frisaro

No errors in Atlanta

Don’t allow any extra outs is something the Marlins have been preaching for years. They saw the importance of that in their sweep over the Braves at Turner Field.

In the three games, Florida didn’t commit one error. Atlanta, meanwhile, was hurt on Thursday in the second inning. Second baseman Kelly Johnson dropped the ball on a tailor-made double play grounder off the bat of Dan Uggla. So instead of having two outs and no one on, the Marlins had two on and no outs.

Cody Ross followed with a three-run homer that provide a lead the Marlins never gave up.

“Pitching and defense can win games,” shortstop Hanley Ramirez said. “That’s what we’ve been doing lately. We’re putting those things together.”

The Marlins are playing all-around ball, which is raising the team’s confidence.

“I think everybody is together,” Ramirez said. “Everybody is playing as a team. It’s what we’ve got to keep doing all year long — stay together.”

— Joe Frisaro

Volstad hot and cold

On the mound, Chris Volstad was on fire on Tuesday night. In the dugout, he was pretty cold.

The game-time temperature was 56 degrees, and it got colder at Turner Field as the night went on. Still, Volstad worked seven terrific innings in beating the Braves, 5-1. The 6-foot-8 right-hander allowed three hits and gave up one run.

A Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., native, Volstad isn’t used to cold weather. So in between innings, he huddled by the heater in the Marlins dugout.

“It’s cold to me. I was sitting near that heater the whole game between innings,” Volstad said.

Yet, when he pitched, he didn’t wear long sleeves. Instead, he had the three-quarters sleeves under his jersey.

“I can’t throw in sleeves,” Volstad said. “Growing up in Florida, I never had to. I’ll throw in short sleeves. I throw in short sleeves, no matter how cold it is.”

Asked if he had to pitch in the playoffs in October, Volstad joked about maybe having to wear two jackets.

— Joe Frisaro 

Ohman, Cordero on radar

Florida continues to have interest in left-handed reliever Will Ohman, who looks like he will not return to the Braves.

Speculation that Ohman could sign with the Marlins surfaced recently on For the right price, the lefty could wind up in Florida.

Early reports said Ohman is seeking $1.5 million, but the thinking is he could be obtained for less. The question is whether the Marlins decide to put their limited financial resources into a situational lefty, or do they still hold out hope of signing catcher Ivan Rodriguez?

Adding a lefty to the bullpen is something the team is exploring. Renyel Pinto, expected to make the team, has been sick the past couple of days.

The Marlins also recently attended a workout to watch right-handed reliever Chad Cordero. About 15 teams observed Cordero, who is battling back from a right shoulder problem. The reports are Cordero likely won’t be ready until perhaps the second half. His fastball was clocked around 80 mph, and the ball wasn’t coming out of his hand like it did when he was healthy pitching for Washington.

— Joe Frisaro