Results tagged ‘ Dodgers ’

Renteria in managerial mix

Another potential candidate to manage the Marlins in 2011 has surfaced, and he is someone familiar with the organization.

Rich Renteria, currently the first base coach of the San Diego Padres, is on the Marlins’ radar to possibly manage the club next year.

Renteria managed four seasons in the Marlins’ Minor League system. He was at Class-A Brevard County in 1998, and Class-A Kane County in 1999. Renteria also managed Double-A Portland from 2000-01.

The 49-year-old former second baseman played with the Marlins in 1993-94.

Previous big league managing experience, however, is viewed as a plus in the managerial search.

Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, who was AL Manager of the Year with the Royals in 2003, is considered a very strong candidate.

But sources say Renteria is highly respected, and considered a viable choice.

The Marlins will address their manager situation after the season. Edwin Rodriguez, who has guided the club since Fredi Gonzalez was dismissed in June, is under consideration. Bobby Valentine also is in the mix. And reports say Larry Bowa and Wally Backman are candidates, but those names have not been confirmed.

One high profile possibility, however, is not regarded as a candidate. On Friday, the Dodgers announced that Joe Torre will not return in 2011, and that Don Mattingly will take over in Los Angeles.

Don’t look for Torre, who is 70, to be in the Marlins’ mix. The Marlins are looking for a fit to develop their young talent to reach the next level. Veterans like Torre tend to enter situations where the team is on the verge of winning immediately.

— Joe Frisaro


J.J. making Saturday start

The Super Saturdays Concert Series starts up on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium. The singer Nelly will be the headliner post game.

During the game, the Marlins will be sending out their ace, Josh Johnson.

JoshJohnsonawe.jpgThere had been some uncertainty as to when J.J. would next pitch. The 26-year-old suffered the loss in Monday’s 7-1 opener with the Mets.

Because of Tuesday’s off day, the Marlins were playing it safe before determining who would take the mound on Saturday against the Dodgers. Johnson threw 99 pitches in five plus innings on Monday at Citi Field.

He gave up four runs on five hits. He says he has worked on a minor mechanical change in his delivery, and he is feeling better.

Johnson has had a busy week in New York. On Tuesday morning, he was a guest on the “Today Show,” representing the People “All-Stars Among Us” program.

The Marlins now will start Johnson on Saturday, and go with Anibal Sanchez on Sunday in Miami. Sanchez is available to pitch out of the bullpen on Wednesday. If he isn’t used at New York, then he will throw off the mound before Thursday’s game.

— Joe Frisaro


Special gift for Hanley

Draped around Hanley Ramirez’s neck as he left the ballpark on Saturday was a memento the Marlins shortstop will carry with him for a lifetime.

About 20 minutes before the Marlins faced the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium, team owner Jeffrey Loria presented Ramirez with a special gift for winning the 2009 N.L. batting title.

hanleyjewelry.jpgLoria handed Ramirez a diamond-studded chain with 342 inscribed on it. The necklace also reads: “Hanley Ramirez 2009 N.L. Batting Champ.”

On the back is the wording: “Congratulations — Jeffrey Loria.”

“It was a special accomplishment,” Loria said. “I just feel inspired from time to time to do things that players deserve, and players appreciate. Hanley did something magnificent last year. I thought about it at the end of the year, and I wanted to do something for him. We don’t wear jewelry on the field, but I know Hanley wears it off the field.”

Ramirez proudly walked out of the park with his new piece of jewelry.

“It means a lot. It’s something I never expected from him,” Ramirez said. “I’m going to keep it forever. I’m really honored.

“It meant a lot to him. From the first day, he showed me that love. Everybody loves him. We have a lot of respect for him. I think my whole family is going to be excited.”

Ramirez set a franchise record with his .342 average.

There are 394 diamonds, including a special teal diamond that represents the dot before the 342 batting average.

hanleygift1.jpgThe Marlins are making the chain part of their Opening Night home promotion. On April 9, when the Marlins open against the Dodgers at Sun Life Stadium, the first 5,000 fans will receive a replica of the necklace.

About a week ago, Ramirez caught wind that something may be going on. Loria, who has been working on the gift for three months, played along.

“He came to me last week, and he said, ‘Are you doing something for me?’ I said, ‘Yeah, what’s your shirt size?’

“I put it in a box the size of a shirt. I said, ‘You realize there is no shirt in here.’ He was very surprised. I like doing nice things for good people, and we have a lot of good people around here.”

On the picnic tables behind the clubhouse, Loria surprised Ramirez with the present. 

One of the most talented players in the game, Ramirez finished second to Albert Pujols in the MVP voting a year ago.

Early in his career, Ramirez batted leadoff, and he was a table setter. Now, he is hitting third, and he’s become a feared run producer.

“What I really enjoy now is listening to the ball off the bat,” Loria said of watching Ramirez hit. “It sounds differently. It moves more quickly. And it gets there in a hurry. He really punishes a baseball.

“He’s got this amazing talent. There is really no telling what the limits are for Hanley. The sky is the limit, and he will determine his own future, obviously. But he’s a great kid.”

— Joe Frisaro

(photo Denis Bancroft/Florida Marlins)



Weighing early rotation

A scheduled off day on April 6 gives the Marlins some rotation flexibility entering the season. As of now, the team is weighing how to set up its pitchers.

joshjohnson-532x778.jpgAn option the team has is to come back with Josh Johnson on Saturday, April 10 against the Dodgers, or to use whoever is the fifth starter on that day.

Johnson will pitch in the April 5 opener against the Mets. Because of the off day, Johnson could pitch the first and fifth games.

“We haven’t decided what to do yet,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

The Marlins have yet to set their five-man rotation. The only other pitcher officially announced is Ricky Nolasco, who will pitch in the second game on April 7.

Most likely, Anibal Sanchez will be the No. 3 starter, throwing on April 8 at New York.

The Marlins will have their Opening Night at Sun Life Stadium on April 9, with the Dodgers in town for a 7:10 p.m. ET start.

If Johnson stays on his regular five-day schedule, he would pitch the first Super Saturday concert series home game. If the Marlins opt to use their fifth starter on April 10, then Johnson would throw on Sunday, April 11.

Because the Marlins platoon their catchers, Ronny Paulino is expected to catch on Opening Day. The Mets will be throwing lefty Johan Santana.

— Joe Frisaro


Meet Scott Strickland

This time, Scott Strickland said yes.

So often in the past, the 33-year-old waved no thanks to the offer. That changed when he agreed to a Minor League deal with the Marlins with an invitation to Spring Training.

Strickland, who last pitched in the big leagues in 2005 with the Mets, has been bouncing around with various Triple-A clubs the past four years. He was in the Pirates system in 2006, followed by the Padres in ’07, and the Yankees in ’08, and finally the Dodgers a year ago.

After being turned away so many times before, the Marlins finally landed Strickland, who broke in with the Montreal Expos in 1999. Because Marlins management previously owned the Expos, team officials have known Strickland for more than a decade.

“They’ve been trying to get me the last three or four years,” the right-hander said. “For whatever reason, I’ve always gone somewhere else. Every year, they’ve tried to sign me, and I’ve always gone somewhere else. I don’t know exactly why. Whether it was money, or whatever else. This year I didn’t wait to compare offers. I was like, ‘You know what, these guys came to me quickly like they’ve always done, and I’m going to sign.’ “

Strickland has six years of MLB service time, and he’s appeared in 236 games. In each of the past two seasons, he’s made at least 50 Minor League appearances.

“I’ve been looking for an opportunity to come back to the big leagues,” he said. “I’ve been to Triple-A. I’ve been with the Pirates, San Diego, Yankees, Dodgers and now here. I’ve been throwing well. It seems there has never been an opportunity.”

Perhaps his luck will change with the Marlins.

— Joe Frisaro

Amezaga agrees with Dodgers

One of the most versatile players to wear a Marlins uniform in recent years has found another job.

Alfredo Amezaga has reached agreement on a Minor League deal with the Dodgers. The 31-year-old utility player has an invitation to big league camp.

If Amezaga makes the Dodgers, he will earn $650,000, and if he meets all his incentives, he can earn another $800,000.

The 31-year-old has been with the Marlins since 2006. A switch-hitter, Amezaga has a career batting average of .251 with a .311 on-base percentage. A knee injury limited him to 27 games last year, and over the summer he underwent microfracture surgery after experiencing a bone bruise.

He was cleared to run in January, and worked out recently for four clubs. 

The Marlins maintained interest in bringing Amezaga back. While Amezaga enjoyed his tenure with Florida, he felt this was his best opportunity.

Because Amezaga is recovering from microfracture surgery to his left knee, the Marlins felt it was too risky to tender him a contract in December. A natural middle infielder who is an above average defensive center fielder, Amezaga made $1.3 million this past year and he appeared in just 27 games.

At the Winter Meetings in December, the Dodgers and Cubs explored acquiring Amezaga in a trade. But Amezaga wasn’t medically cleared at that time.

A natural middle infielder, Amezaga saw substantial time in center field. And he played every position but pitcher and catcher as a Marlin.

Emilio Bonifacio is the frontrunner to assume Amezaga’s utlity role.

— Joe Frisaro




Marlins considering Smoltz

As expected, John Smoltz was released by the Red Sox on Monday afternoon. Once he clears unconditional waivers on Wednesday, the 42-year-old right-hander will become a free agent.

Strong indications are the Marlins are interested in Smoltz to be a starter in their rotation. It is believed that about six teams are weighing the prospect of signing Smoltz. The Cardinals, Dodgers, Rangers and Astros also have been mentioned.

The Red Sox designated Smoltz for assignment on Aug. 7. With Boston, the veteran was 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA.

In 20 years with the Braves, Smoltz won 210 games and had 154 saves.

The Marlins are looking for bullpen depth, but it appears they are interested in Smoltz to start.

— Joe Frisaro


Smoltz-Marlins update

The Marlins are looking for pitching help, and John Smoltz is exploring new job opportunities.

Whether the two sides come together remains a long-shot at this point. But that doesn’t mean the organization isn’t considering the prospect of adding the veteran right-hander, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Aug. 7.

If he is not traded before 2 p.m. ET on Monday, Smoltz becomes a free agent. If the Marlins swing a deal for Smoltz, they’d be looking at picking up the remainder of his salary. The daily breakdown would be about $35,000, unless the Red Sox agree to pick up a large bulk of the remaining contract.

According to a source, teams believed to have interest in Smoltz are the Marlins, Cardinals, Dodgers and Rangers.

The 42-year-old right-hander could be open to either starting or pitching out of the bullpen. The Marlins have a need for both.

Smoltz last pitched on Aug. 6 in the Red Sox’s loss to the Yankees. He threw 3 1/3 innings that day, giving up eight runs while walking four. He was 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA in eight starts for Boston.

In his stellar career, which started in Atlanta in 1988, Smoltz has a 212-152 record with a 3.32 ERA. He also has 154 saves.

In Atlanta, he worked closely with Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, who formerly was the Braves third base coach.

“I think he’s a tremendous competitor and a good guy,” Gonzalez said of Smoltz, noting that he couldn’t say anything regarding the Marlins possibily acquiring the veteran.

— Joe Frisaro


Hermida capitalizes on matchup

As Jeremy Hermida was loosening up to pinch-hit in the seventh inning on Friday night, right-hander reliever James McDonald was on the mound.

In the bullpen, lefty Brent Leach was loosening up.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told Hermida, “You’re probably going to get the lefty.”

That was the case. The Dodgers went with Leach to face the left-handed hitting Hermida. The matchup, this time, worked in Florida’s favor.

On an 2-0 pitch, Hermida ripped a two-out RBI single to right field. The run snapped a tie, and the Marlins went on to win 6-3 over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.

“It was big for us to be able to come off the bench and do that,” Hermida said.

Gonzalez credits Hermida with the big hit to spark the victory.

“The big knock, for me, was Hermy’s,” Gonzalez said.

Entering the at-bat, Hermida was hitting .179 against left-handed pitching.

“For some reason I haven’t had the same success off lefties as I’ve had in the past,” Hermida said.

After the at-bat, Hermida’s average against left-handers rose to .188 (18-for-96) with three home runs and nine RBIs. Against right-handed pitching, he is hitting .276 with eight homers and 28 RBIs.

A year ago, Hermida enjoyed more success off left-handers — .240 average with five homers and 17 RBIs.

When you look at 2007, you see that he was consistent against left-handed and right-handed pitchers. When going against lefties, he batted .292, compared to .297 off righties.

Until he shows he can produce regularly off left-handed pitchers, the Marlins will be leaning toward giving Brett Carroll more starts in right field. Hermida isn’t in a strict platoon situation, because rookie Chris Coghlan, another left-handed hitter, also has struggled against left-handed pitching.

— Joe Frisaro

Ayala absent on Monday

The Marlins will be without reliever Luis Ayala on Monday night at San Diego.

The veteran right-hander returned to his home in Arizona to be with his wife, who gave birth to a baby boy when the Marlins were traveling to San Diego after Sunday’s game in Miami.

Ayala is expected to rejoin the team on Tuesday.

Florida’s bullpen already is thin after six relievers combined to throw 5 1/3 innings in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Phillies.

The Marlins are currently carrying 13 pitchers, and the team likely will keep that number, at least through the rest of the road trip, which begins in San Diego on Monday and wraps up in Los Angeles on Sunday.

— Joe Frisaro