Results tagged ‘ Fredi Gonzalez ’

Where to bat Stanton?

Creating an easy transition for Mike Stanton is a primary objective of the Marlins as an organization and Fredi Gonzalez as manager.

For weeks, Gonzalez has said Stanton likely would start off batting seventh, or perhaps second.

stanton4a44.jpgThe recent offensive struggles may have prompted a change of thinking. Hanley Ramirez batted leadoff on Sunday in a 7-6 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.

Ramirez was hitless in two at-bats with three walks, including one intentionally. One of his outs was a crushed liner to deep right field that Jeff Francoeur made a terrific running catch.

Gonzalez noted that Ramirez leading off wasn’t a definite guarantee. But will the All-Star bat first on Tuesday night at Philadelphia? That may have now changed with Stanton officially called up.

Stanton batted third at Double-A Jacksonville. His numbers spoke loudly, 21 homers, 52 RBIs and a .311 average in 52 games.

Don’t be surprised is Stanton is batting sixth or second on Tuesday.

It was seem unlikely to put the 20-year-old in a prime power spot like No. 3 in his first big league game, especially since Dan Uggla belted his 13th homer while hitting third on Sunday.

If Stanton hits sixth in his big league debut, Ramirez would go back to batting third. A possible lineup that way, at least against right-handed starting pitching, would be Chris Coghlan, Gaby Sanchez, Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, Uggla, Stanton, Cody Ross, Ronny Paulino and Chris Volstad, Tuesday’s starter.

Ross already has produced batting seventh, while Uggla has been having a solid season batting mostly fifth.

Perhaps a better option is hitting Stanton second right away is Sanchez has already shown he has the discipline to bat eighth. Paulino is more of an aggressive hitter, and may not be best suited to hit in front of the pitcher.

One thing to consider about Ramirez batting second is if a base is open, like it was Sunday at New York, teams will likely intentionally walk him to get to Coghlan. The Mets did that with a runner on second and two outs. Then they brought in lefty Pedro Feliciano, who struck out the lefty hitting Coghlan. With Ramirez hitting third, he is protected by Cantu, a proven run producer, .

If Stanton were hitting second and Ramirez third, opposing teams couldn’t match their lefty reliever in those spots.

Earlier this season Gonzalez asked Bobby Cox why he put Jason Heyward, Atlanta’s 20-year-old sensation, second.

Cox said it was out of necessity because Yunel Escobar wasn’t hitting. Heyward has thrived batted second.

Perhaps that will be the best fit to start Stanton, and then see how the lineup comes together.

— Joe Frisaro


Tracking the D-Train

Before the deal to send Dontrelle Willis to Arizona was finalized, the Marlins expressed interest in luring the D-Train back to South Florida.

Ultimately, the Tigers dealt Willis to the D-backs for right-hander Billy Buckner.

dontrelle1.jpgWith Arizona, Willis gets a chance to remain in the rotation. Had the Marlins obtained the 28-year-old left-hander, he would have been an option to throw out of the bullpen.

The Marlins and Tigers were unable to find a match for a deal, so none was made. But could Willis eventually wind up with the Marlins? Don’t rule it out.

The scenario that could land Willis back with the Marlins is if his struggles follow him to Arizona. If he is designated again, the Marlins likely would have interest.

The Marlins are looking for reliable left-handed relief help. Renyel Pinto is on the disabled list. When healthy, Pinto has not consistently thrown strikes. Dan Meyer was designated for assignment last week, and on Tuesday he was outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans. Hunter Jones is a lefty at New Orleans, who had a brief callup.

Taylor Tankersley is the lone lefty in the bullpen. Thus far, he is doing a nice job. Ideally, manager Fredi Gonzalez prefers two lefties in the pen.

Willis has a track record and a history with Florida. Perhaps, he is more suited for a bullpen role.

During his five seasons with the Marlins, Willis set the franchise record for victories with 68. In each of his last three years with the organization, he topped 200 innings pitched. And in 2005, he was 22-10, and he remains the only player in franchise history to be a 20 game winner.

Even in his best days, Willis had an inconsistent delivery. Deception was his biggest strength when he was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003. He also was an All-Star that year and a big reason why the Marlins won the World Series.

His high leg kick and abundance of energy made him unique. Then there was the delivery, which always was a reason many scouts and pitching coaches wondered if he could continue being successful.

From start to start, his arm slot and leg kick would vary. When a pitcher has a cleaner delivery, like Josh Johnson, it is easy to point out what is wrong and then fix it.

The Marlins thinking is Willis can be more effective as a reliever because he doesn’t have to go through a lineup three or four times. For an inning or two, pitching mechanics may not be as big a deal.

Willis grew up in the Oakland, Calif., area, and he recently bought a home near Phoenix. So he is happy to be going out West. If pitching in Arizona doesn’t pan out, returning to South Florida, where he enjoyed his greatest success, could be his next option.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins option Petersen

Bryan Petersen, who has seen limited playing time, was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans after the Marlins’ 7-3 loss to the Braves on Wednesday night.

The team didn’t announce who would get brought up. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the team would announce who is getting the call up on Thursday.

A source said it will be lefty reliever Taylor Tankersley.

At Triple-A New Orleans, Tankersley is 3-2 with a 4.19 ERA. In 19 innings, he has struck out 17, while walking six.

If the Marlins consider adding a position player, among position players in line to be called up are Emilio Bonifacio, who is at Triple-A New Orleans. And Mike Lamb, who is not on the 40-man roster. Bonifacio is on the 40-man. It is still a week or two too early for Mike Stanton to get the call.

Petersen was 1-for-16 with the Marlins, with his lone hit coming in his first MLB at-bat.

“He’s a young player, sitting on the bench, and pinch-hitting every once a game, that’s not what you want to have with a young player,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez joked afterwards when asked if the initials of the player being called up is M.S, “You mean Mike Schmidt.”

— Joe Frisaro


Payback Sunday, tensions mount

Warnings were issued in the seventh inning on Sunday, and some controversy surfaced after the game.

A side story in the Marlins 13-0 victory over the White Sox was a beaning incident that stemmed from Brett Carroll stealing second base in the fourth inning with the Florida ahead by seven runs.

The Marlins had built a big lead off Freddy Garcia, who was lifted after 2 1/3 innings at U.S. Cellular Field.

Garcia surrendered three home runs before he exited.

To open the fourth, reliever Scott Linebrink beaned Carroll.

Carroll stole second base, and also in the inning, Gaby Sanchez had a steal.

Feeling the game was out of hand, the White Sox weren’t happy to see Florida stealing. In the fifth inning, Randy Williams also hit Carroll with a pitch.

In the seventh inning, Florida’s Dan Meyer hit A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch.

At that point, home plate umpire Adrian Johnson issued warnings.

“It’s 7-0. It’s not a good thing to go out and steal a base,” Garcia said. “That’s no respect for the other team. So whatever happened, happened. Stealing second up seven runs, I think that’s bad baseball.”

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Carroll missed a sign and stole on his own.

“We had nothing going on, sign wise,” Gonzalez said.

Meyer insisted he wasn’t throwing at Pierzynski.

“I wasn’t throwing at anybody,” Meyer said. “I was trying to get outs.”

— Joe Frisaro


Moving past the controversy

It’s the nature of sports these days. Controversy comes, speculation follows.

Such is the case of Hanley Ramirez and his rift this week with manager Fredi Gonzalez. Since Monday, when the All-Star shortstop was benched for not hustling, a firestorm brushed through the organization and became a hot-topic in the sports world.

When Ramirez apologized to his teammates on Wednesday, it put an end to the story, at least internally. It didn’t take long, however, for the rumors to surface. Would the Marlins now consider trading their two-time All-Star?

The answer flatly is no. The Marlins never say never on any player. Their company line is “some players are more likely to be traded than others.” Ramirez is in the less likely category.

Through inquires, it was confirmed the Marlins have no interest in moving Ramirez. Some reports say teams called Florida, and were told the same thing.

The Marlins now consider the matter said and done. The front office backed Gonzalez, as did the players. Ramirez spoke individually to his teammates, expressing his regret, and now they move forward.

Gonzalez noted earlier in the week, that if handled right, this could become a positive. It may indeed make Ramirez more focused. It certainly put all the players on alert to give maximum effort.

Bottom line is the Marlins need Ramirez to perform at his highest level to contend for the playoffs. The hope is, he will indeed do so. A year ago, when Ramirez and Dan Uggla had a run in, Ramirez went on a hot streak.

The Marlins are trying to catch the Phillies, or reach the playoffs. They want their star players performing on the field, not being involved in off-field distractions.

As for trade rumors, they always seem to follow Marlins players whenever they are caught up in something controversial. We saw it in the offseason with Josh Johnson. When talks of a contract extension broke off last November, immediately speculation ran rampant that the Marlins were going to deal the ace of their staff.

Two months later, the Marlins held a news conference, announcing Johnson had agreed to a four-year contract.

Time heals.

Incidents where players clash with either each other or their managers appear to occur more than the public realizes. Normally, they are not in the public eye. Often times they are dealt with, amends are made, and all parties move on.

The Marlins have moved on. But will the trade rumors stop?

— Joe Frisaro



Lesson in leading by example

At what point does a player feel an injury is impacting his effort on the field?

In recent days the Marlins are dealing with an internal cloud storm created when Hanley Ramirez was removed from the game on Monday for lacking effort.

An inning after taking a foul ball off his left leg, just above the ankle, Ramirez trotted after a ball in the field that led to manager Fredi Gonzalez pulling the All-Star from the game.

Ramirez, who is among the faster players in the game, on Tuesday said he gave it all he had at the moment.

Veteran Wes Helms says if an injury is hurting the team on the field, then the player shouldn’t be out there. In Ramirez’s case, many on the team, and those who watched the replays, feel the effort was lacking.

“I’m a guy who pretty much plays until it’s broken,” Helms said. “But if you have an incident where it is going to affect the team, and you can’t give the right effort, you shouldn’t be out there,” Helms said. “If that was the case, then that’s different. But to just kind of not hustle is a different thing. There are two different things there.”

Ramirez has since offered harsh criticism of Gonzalez, pointing out the fact that his manager was never in the big leagues.

Not every manager enjoyed big league success. Jack McKeon, who guided the Marlins to the 2003 World Series, didn’t play in the Major Leagues either.

“He’s right,” Gonzalez said. “But I know how to play the game. I played six years in the Minor Leagues. I know what it takes to play this game. I know the effort to play this game. I know it’s hard to play this game.”

By his nature, Gonzalez stands up and defends his players. Rarely does he criticize them publicly. And pulling Ramirez out of the game was one of his toughest decisions since taking over the team in 2007.

There have been occasions where managers have pulled players off the field during an inning. Gonzalez clearly didn’t want to do that to Ramirez on Monday night.

“You guys have covered me know I’ve tried to do things the right way,” Gonzalez said. “Believe me, we’ve handled things behind closed doors. Usually, I like to do that. Most of the time. We’ve handled stuff behind closed doors that you guys don’t even know about.

“It’s hard to take a guy out, that’s embarrassing enough. To take a guy out in the middle of an inning? There has got to be some kind of history there.”

Before Ramirez returns to the lineup, Gonzalez wants his star shortstop to address his teammates.

Based on his immense talents, Ramirez has the ability to lead by his play. The Marlins want him to also lead by example.

“The caliber of player he is, he definitely needs to be the leader of this team. Physically. Mentally. Vocally. Everything,” Helms said. “For me, to be a leader of a team, you have to lead by example. If you just lead vocally, and don’t back it when you play the game, it won’t work.

“I’m not just saying you have to hit .300 or don’t make errors. It’s the way you play the game. The way you handle yourself. That right there is what a true leader is. He definitely has the play to back it, being a leader. You want him to lead by example. That’s what we’re looking for and hope he becomes.”

— Joe Frisaro




It’s our team. I’m just the guy who makes the lineup. It’s our team.


Hanley vents back

The morning after being benched, Hanley Ramirez helped fan the flames by venting back at manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Ramirez told reporters on Tuesday that he was trying to play through pain, and he wasn’t loafing after a ball in left field.

Then, the All-Star shortstop noted that Gonzalez never played in the big leagues.

“It’s ok. He doesn’t understand that. He never played in the big leagues,” Ramirez said. “That’s fine. That’s the example that he set. It started with me. Let’s see how far it goes.”

Ramirez and Gonzalez spoke briefly in the clubhouse on Tuesday morning, and the shortstop was not in the lineup against Arizona.

Gonzalez said Ramirez will play again after he settles the situation, and speaks to the team. The Marlins are at St. Louis on Wednesday and Thursday. Perhaps after the dust settles in a few days, the shortstop will be in the lineup on Friday, when the Marlins begin their Interleague play at the Chicago White Sox.

“When he handles that the right way, we’ll be fine,” Gonzalez said. “It’s one of those things where it could be good.”

Ramirez was benched after the second inning in Monday’s 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.

In the first inning, he fouled a ball off, just above his left ankle on the shin. In the second inning, Ramirez jogged casually after a ball he accidentally booted into the left field corner. The incident occurred on Tony Abreu’s bloop single, that was kicked away by Ramirez. Two runners scored and Abreu ended up on third.

Ramirez said he was in a lot of pain, but he wanted to keep playing.

“We expect an effort from 25 guys on this team, when that doesn’t happen, we’ve got to do something,” Gonzalez said on Monday.

On Tuesday, Ramirez was asked if he lost respect for his manager.

“A little bit. That’s fine,” Ramirez said. “We’ve got 24 more guys. Hopefully they can do the same thing I do. They wear the Marlins uniform.”

Gonzalez noted: “Whatever feels he has with me or does not have with me are fine and dandy. We don’t have to get along, but I think he has to get along with the 24 other guys on this team.”

— Joe Frisaro




Hanley benched for lack of effort

Hanley Ramirez fouled a ball off his lower left leg in the first inning on Monday night, and an inning later, he was out of the game.

The reason he was removed, manager Fredi Gonzalez said, was a lack of effort after he was shaken up.

“We expect an effort from 25 guys on this team, when that doesn’t happen, we’ve got to do something,” Gonzalez said after the Marlins lost 5-1 to the Diamondbacks.

On the foul ball, the Marlins All-Star shortstop was hobbled, and although he continued to play, he wasn’t right.

Gonzalez didn’t rule out Ramirez not playing on Tuesday.

Ramirez fouled a 93 mph fastball from Arizona’s Edwin Jackson. Initially he was trying to walk it off, until he stopped and hunched over. Gonzalez and assistant trainer Mike Kozak tended to Ramirez, who resumed his at-bat.

He collected himself on the next pitch, he bounced into a 6-4-3 double play.

In the second inning, Ramirez was involved in a play where he was clearly slowed. The Diamondbacks put runners on first and second with no outs. Tony Abreu lifted a soft popup that dropped in short left field.

With left fielder Chris Coghlan charging in, Ramirez was sprinting out for the ball. As the shortstop reached for the ball, he inadvertently booted it into the left field corner.

Not at full speed, Ramirez slowly chase on the ball, as two runners scored and Abreu ended up at third base. He was charged with an error, and the Diamondbacks scored three runs in the inning, with two earned.

When the Diamondbacks half of the second inning ended, Ramirez and Gonzalez had a few words before the shortstop headed to the clubhouse.

Brian Barden replaced Ramirez at the top of the third inning.

Ramirez is batting .293 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs on the season.

— Joe Frisaro


Preserving Hanley on bases

The days of Hanley Ramirez swiping 40 to 50 bases a season may be over.

Not that you rule out anything regarding Ramirez, one of the most gifted athletes in the game. But the 26-year-old is now entrenched as a No. 3 hitter, and his body is bigger and stronger than his first few big league seasons.

Ramirez has two stolen bases this season, and he’s been caught twice. He swiped a bag on Opening Day, and added his last one on April 17 at Philadelphia.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would rather Ramirez win another batting title and again drive in 100 runs rather than steal more bases.

Since his third season, Ramirez has seen a decline in his steals. He swiped 51 in each of his first two years. Then in 2008, he had 35. All those came when he was primarily a leadoff batter.

Ramirez slid to No. 3 in the order a year ago, and had 27.

“I’m not going to say no, but it’s probably less likely that he won’t get back to the 50s,” Gonzalez said.

A more realistic number could be 25 to 30.

The Marlins would prefer Ramirez steal less bases, and stay healthy. Ramirez has dealt with some hamstring issues, and he is preserving himself.  

“That takes a toll on the body,” Gonzalez said. “He’s not built for that any more.”

— Joe Frisaro


State of the Union speech

In a stadium that you can view the Capitol building from the upper deck, it was a fitting setting for a “State of the Union” speech.

Well, manager Fredi Gonzalez noted it was a “State of the Union” address. Basically, it was the “State of the Marlins” at this point.

Before Friday’s 4-2 win over the Nationals, the Marlins had a team meeting. Gonzalez’s message to the team was to not get too down. Florida was coming off a 3-6 homestand, including being swept by the Giants.

“He was just encouraging us and telling us, it’s not that bad,” outfielder Cody Ross said. “We were two games under. We haven’t played up to our potential. We weren’t clicking on all cylinders. We had to stay positive, and not to get down.

“Everyone knows we’ve got a tough division, and we’re playing a division team. We can make up ground.”

Gonzalez touched on not getting too emotional.

“He said, let’s play the game we know how, and try to stay away from the errors,” Ross said.

As fate had it, the Marlins snapped their losing streak with a win. Chris Volstad tossed seven strong innings.

So was it the speech that motivated the Marlins?

“I think you are making way too much of the address,” Gonzalez said. “Give the credit to Volstad. It’s not easy to face a team in back-to-back starts, and be successful like he was.”

— Joe Frisaro