Results tagged ‘ Fredi Gonzalez ’

Stanton, Heyward set for Tuesday

It’s not by coincidence that the Marlins are bringing Mike Stanton to Lake Buena Vista instead of Viera on Tuesday.

There is intrigue to see two of the top three prospects in the big leagues on the same day. So the Marlins are bringing their young phenom to face the Braves, who feature one of the brightest young talents the game has seen in years, Jason Heyward.

stanton3a4.jpgThe Marlins have a split-squad day on Tuesday. Half the club is facing the Braves, while the other is taking on the Nationals.

According to’s Top 50 Prospects, compiled by Jonathan Mayo, Heyward is the No. 1 prospect in the game, while Stanton ranks third. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals is second.

Both Stanton and Heyward are 20-years-old. Both were taken in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and both play right field. A difference is Heyward bats left-handed, while Stanton hits from the right side.

Stanton has been the talk of Marlins camp, showing flashes of his power potential. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound former high school football, baseball and basketball star, connected on his third Grapefruit League home run on Monday. Stanton lifted an opposite field shot off Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano.

All three of his blasts have been off big league pitchers. He also had an opposite-field liner off Bobby Parnell of the Mets, and a monster drive to left off Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez says he frequently jokes with Stanton about Heyward.

“I say, ‘Hey, you’re the No. 3 prospect. Heyward is the No. 1 prospect in the Minor Leagues,’ ” Gonzalez said. “Early in camp, we were kind of taking it easy with Stanton because of his shoulder. I said, ‘Heyward played again today.’ “

Gonzalez says he hasn’t ruled out keeping Stanton on the Opening Day roster. However, the odds are pretty strong that he will open in Double-A Jacksonville, and remain there at least a couple of months. A realistic callup date is about June 1. Don’t discount the fact that the longer Stanton remains in the Minor Leagues, he prolongs starting his arbitration clock.

However, if he is tearing it up in the Minor Leagues, and there is a need on the big league club, the Marlins wouldn’t rule out an earlier promotion.

What’s impressed Gonzalez most about Stanton is his character.

“When you’re dealing with young players, they have a tendency not to be focused,” Gonzalez said. “To me, the way he has handled himself, he came in here trying to take someone’s job. He didn’t come here to just get looked at. This guy came in here looking to get someone’s job.”

First base coach Dave Collins is so impressed by Stanton, he told Gonzalez: “This guy may hit 25 homers and drive in 90 just trying to figure it out in the big leagues.”

According to Gonzalez, Stanton’s makeup is “off the charts.”

In 2007, the Marlins actually had a chance to select Heyward. If they hadd, they could have had both of the young sluggers.

Heyward was the 14th overall pick, and Stanton was picked in the second round. With the 12th pick, Florida went with third baseman Matt Dominguez.

So what happened in 2007?

Even though the possibility existed to take Heyward, the reality is he may not have been an option, after all.

There were a couple of issues with Heyward at the time. Word around the league was the McDonough, Ga., native badly wanted to sign with the Braves, and wouldn’t sign with anyone else. The feeling was if another team picked him, he would opt for college. So signability was a concern.

From a technical, playing standpoint, there were some minor concerns about Heyward’s swing.

Heyward ended up signing for $1.7 million, which was for above the slot for that year. Dominguez, meanwhile, signed for $1.8 million.

Looking on it now, Stanton was a bargain. His bonus was $475,000.

— Joe Frisaro

(Photo courtesy of Denis Bancroft/Florida Marlins)


Ross in lineup

For the first time since March 4, the Marlins Grapefruit League opener, Cody Ross is in the lineup to play the field.

Out with a strained left groin, Ross is scheduled to start in right field on Monday against the Twins at Roger Dean Stadium.

Last Saturday against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Ross had three at-bats as the designated hitter.

Not wanting to push it, Ross will get two at-bats and play the field for a few innings. If all goes well, he will again be in the field on Tuesday.

In other injury news, the team is targeting the weekend for the possible return of John Baker and Cameron Maybin.

Maybin, who has been out for a week with a strained left groin, is scheduled to test his leg by running the bases on Tuesday. Baker, who has been getting at-bats but he hasn’t caught, is recovering from a strained right forearm muscle. His last hurdle will be throwing the ball to the bases on Thursday.

“Maybin, he’s going to run the bases tomorrow, and we’re shooting for this weekend,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Baker is probably about the same.”

If Maybin returns by the weekend, Gonzalez feels confident that he will have enough chances to get his timing back at the plate.

“We still have got some time lef,” Gonzalez said. “The biggest thing we want to know about are the at-bats. As soon as we get those Minor League games going, we can get him all the at-bats we want. We can lead him off every inning. I’m not worried about the time left.”

— Joe Frisaro




Hensley quietly producing

From the first day of Spring Training, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez made it clear he is looking for strike throwers.

Clay Hensley certainly is doing that.

hensley1a.jpgIn two Grapefruit League long-relief appearances, Henlsey has struck out five in six scoreless innings without issuing a walk. The 30-year-old right-hander did hit a batter on Thursday on a pitch that appeared to be impacted by the 23 mph winds at Roger Dean Stadium.

A non-roster invitee who spent last year at Triple-A New Orleans, Hensley is a sleeper candidate to make the team.

Recently, Gonzalez said Hensley was an “interesting” pitcher in camp because, at worse, he could be a sixth-starter choice. He could make the club as a long reliever and spot starter. He also could open in Triple-A and be high on the list to bring up if there is a need for a starter.

However it plays out, Hensley foremost is pleased that he’s healthy. A torn labrum plagued him since 2007, a year in which he underwent shoulder surgery.

“The biggest thing now, for me, is I’m healthy and I’m 100 percent,” said Henlsey, who has had big league experience with the Padres. “I feel I’m back to my pre-injury form. It’s taken a one-and-a-half, two years. I know I spent last season in the Minors, but I needed it. I needed to get innings in. I needed to get my mechanics back. I needed to get my delivery right. It’s something we’ve worked on, and I feel healthy.”

Hensley has appeared in four big league seasons, the last with the Padres in 2008. The right-hander opened 2009 in the Astros system, but he eventually hooked up with the Marlins. At New Orleans, he made 20 starts and appeared in 25 games. He threw 124 innings, and was 9-4 with a 3.56 ERA.

In the offseason, he had offers from 12 clubs, but opted to return to the Marlins.

Even though he is on the outside looking in when it comes to a rotation spot, he is thus far capitalizing on his opportunity.

“That was the big reason to come back. We had a lot of offers this season,” Hensley said. “I felt a little obligated to come back because the Marlins gave me innings last year, and to get back on track. There was some familiarity with them last year. It wasn’t all new. We had a decent season last year. From what I see from the outside in, is there is some opportunity here. I’m trying to come in here, get people out, and see where the cards fall.”

— Joe Frisaro





Ross, Baker slated for Friday

Feeling no discomfort throwing, running and hitting, Marlins outfielder Cody Ross says he is “100 percent” ready to return to game action.

Hampered by a strained left groin the past few days, Ross is scheduled to travel with the club to Sarasota, Fla., and he’s ready to be in the lineup on Friday against the Orioles. On Friday and Saturday, the Marlins will be on the western part of the state. They face the Rays in Port Charlotte on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t go over there if I didn’t feel like it was 100 percent,” Ross said.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez is considering using Ross on Friday, perhaps in the outfield or maybe as the designated hitter. Some of that decision could depend on the health of catcher John Baker, who hasn’t played in any Grapefruit League games due to a strained right forearm muscle.

Baker also is making the trip. The Marlins plan on giving Baker at-bats as the DH. He hasn’t done any serious throwing in more than a week.

Ross on Friday took batting practice, and he ran without any discomfort.

“I am 100 percent confident. Why am I confident? I don’t feel it right now,” Ross said. “It feels like when I first started. It feels normal. If it was something that I feel would linger on, I wouldn’t go out there. I’d shut it down.”

Ross’ injury is less severe than center fielder Cameron Maybin, who also has a left groin strain, has been hitting and doing some drills on the field.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez projects Maybin to be back — at the earliest — in the middle of next week.

Also making the trip will be reliever Derrick Turnbow, who has been nursing right shoulder tendinitis. Turnbow is expected to pitch on Friday.

— Joe Frisaro 

Stanton in mix to make roster

Production may overtake patience when it comes to deciding if Mike Stanton is big league ready.

The way the Marlins 20-year-old outfield slugger is performing has the Marlins considering carrying him on their Opening Day roster.

stanton1z.JPG“Funnier things have happened,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Obviously, we’ll sit down and make sure it’s the right move, the right decision. But for me to say, “absolutely not,” I can’t do that right now. I can’t say that he’s not going to make the team. I can’t absolutely tell you, 100 percent that he won’t. We’ll sit down and decide how that plays out.”

There is a temptation to promote Stanton right now, especially after the way he’s produced. On Wednesday against the Astros in Kissimmee, the right fielder crushed a two-run homer off Wandy Rodriguez and he added an RBI groundout. Overall, he is batting .333 with two home runs and five RBIs.

Another factor are some health issues in the outfield. Cameron Maybin and Cody Ross have been nursing left groin strains. If say, Maybin, is slowed down to the point where he isn’t going to be either ready — physically or performance wise — then Ross could move to center field. In that scenario, Stanton could factor in playing right field.

“There are a lot of guys who came up in the big leagues as 19 and 20 year olds who have had Hall of Fame careers,” Gonzalez said. “I’m not ruling that he’s not going to make the team.”

From an organizational standpoint, the plan entering Spring Training has been to start off Stanton in Double-A, where he had 299 at-bats in 2009.

For the Marlins to promote Stanton this quickly, a number of factors must be addressed.

“Generally players will tell you when they’re ready or not,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. “I know that he’s looked good. It’s hard not to love him, and look at what he can do in his future. But we’ve got to do what’s best for him. Is the breaking ball recognition and all the things that we want him to be confident in, are they ready to go?”

There are some health issues, too. In the Arizona Fall League, Stanton was sent home with lower back stiffness. And he’s had an issue with his left shoulder, which is repeatedly iced after games.

Then there is the fact that in 299 at-bats at Jacksonville last year he hit .231, although he had 16 homers and 53 RBIs.

“There are a couple of things with Mike. He didn’t dominate in Double-A,” Beinfest said. “Then he’s had a little bit of an injury issue. We wanted to make sure that he’s strong, and he feels good. The rigors in the Major Leagues are tough on these guys. He’s had some shoulder things off and on. We want to make sure that he’s healthy, first and foremost. We want to make sure that he’s comfortable.”

The Marlins have had a strong track record of promoting young players. In 2003, Dontrelle Willis was 21 when he was called up from Double-A, and Miguel Cabrera was 20 that same year.

“How did we know when Dontrelle and Miguel were ready?” Beinfest said. “Or Hanley [Ramirez] and those guys in ’06. Sometimes you are right, and sometimes you’re wrong. Generally, they’ll tell you.”

One thing that is clear is Stanton projects to be in the big leagues, at least some point in 2010.

“It’s all coming. He really wants to do well,” Beinfest said. “He’s a great kid. He’s a student of the game. He’s learning very quickly. His learning curve is shorter than the other guys. He’s getting it. There are a lot of positives. Let him keep playing, and we’ll see what happens.”

Would the Marlins rule out Stanton being on the Opening Day roster?

“We never do,” Beinfest said.

— Joe Frisaro



Baker may DH over weekend

A strained right forearm muscle has kept John Baker out of action for the entire Grapefruit League season.

In recent days, however, the left-handed hitting catcher has taken some swings. On Wednesday, manager Fredi Gonzalez said Baker could travel with the team this weekend to the west coast of Florida.

johnbaker.jpgThe Marlins are considering using Baker as the designated hitter on Friday against the Orioles at Saturday against the Rays.

Baker is easing back into a throwing routine. The only game action he’s seen thus far has been On March 3 in the exhibition with the University of Miami. He had one at-bat in that game.

Gonzalez also didn’t rule out Cody Ross (strained left groin) getting into a game this weekend. That’s what the team is targeting, but they won’t rush things.

Gonzalez added that Ross’ ailment isn’t as serious as Cameron Maybin, who also has a strained left groin.

Baker, Ross and Maybin stayed in Jupiter on Wednesday, getting treatment and doing light baseball activities.

Ross and Maybin were scheduled to do some hitting on Wednesday.

Ross did some running also, and there is a chance he could play on Friday.

— Joe Frisaro


Maybin exits with groin strain

Marlins center fielder Cameron Maybin suffered a left leg groin strain while running the bases in the eighth inning on Sunday afternoon.

Maybin was injured while racing from first to home on Donnie Murphy’s two-run double in the eighth inning against the Cardinals.

maybinhurt.jpgProjected as the Marlins center fielder, Maybin pulled up close to home plate, and hobbled across the plate.

Scott Cousins replaced Maybin in center field.

The 22-year-old Maybin is projected to bat second in the regular season. He was hitting leadoff on Sunday.

“The next couple of days I’m definitely going to be in here early,” Maybin said of getting treatment. “I feel good, and I have to keep that good timing. My timing feels good. I need to be in that lineup to get those at-bats.

“I guess we’re going to wait and see. I don’t think it’s that big to get an MRI. I pulled up, I think on time, where it didn’t really pop. It was more of a pull than a pop. I hope, two, three, four days, I’ll be fine.”

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he likely will keep Cody Ross in right field, instead of move him to center field to replace Maybin. The Marlins have a number of prospects who can play center, like Cousins, Jai Miller and Bryan Petersen.

— Joe Frisaro

(photo courtesy: Denis Bancroft/Florida Marlins)


Bobby V. checks out Marlins

Standing among the observers watching the Marlins work out on the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium on Saturday was Bobby Valentine.

The former big league manager and current ESPN analyst took a few minutes to talk with a couple of Marlins beat reporters.

A topic that he answered directly was the speculation that he would manage the Marlins. Last October, a story broke that Valentine was being considered to replace Fredi Gonzalez.

On Saturday, Valentine said the rumors were not true and that he never spoke with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria about managing the squad. Valentine and Loria have known each other for many years, and have spoken. But not about him guiding the club.

“How in the world would anybody [assume], because we have a connection [that a managing inquiry was made],” Valentine said. “We have a talk, and all of a sudden, the only talk was would I manage this team? Jeffrey is a passionate guy. I like his passion.”

Valentine has known Loria since the 1980s.

Asked if he were asked by Loria to manage the Marlins, Valentine said flatly: “No.”

“To manage the team this year? No,” he said. “We’ve talked on the state of the game, and the international state of the game. We didn’t talk much about his team.”

Valentine said the speculation was unfair to Gonzalez, who guided the Marlins to 87 wins and a second place finish in 2009.

“When someone has a job, and especially when someone does a good job, like Fredi, it’s an unnecessary nuisance,” he said. “It’s unfair for me to have to answer questions that don’t have an answer to them.”

Valentine is impressed with the amount of talent in the Marlins system. He was on hand Saturday to gather information about the Marlins and Cardinals for his job at ESPN.

He carried with him binded books with statistical data on all the Marlins.

How well the Marlins will perform, Valentine says, will depend on its pitching.

“I don’t think they’re going to surprise anyone,” Bobby V. said. “I think the Marlins have a reputation that year in, year out of being an organization that gives everyone fits. They’re always in it to win it, I don’t think they surprise.

“Whether or not they put the pitching together, I don’t know. I haven’t seen all the reports on them. It reads pretty well.”

He adds that Hanley Ramirez is one of the rising stars who will carry the sport into the next generation.

“He’s a special talent,” Valentine said. “He’s got a beautiful swing. He’s got a swing that can only produce.”

— Joe Frisaro



Parcells visits Marlins

Baseball mingled with football on Saturday morning at Marlins camp.

Paying a visit to the Marlins clubhouse was legendary football coach Bill Parcells, these days a Miami Dolphins top excutive.

Tuna.JPGA big baseball fan, Parcells is close friends with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. 

The Marlins and Cardinals are playing on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium.

“He just loves baseball. The coaches love to talk with him and be around him,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Coaching is still coaching. He gets phone calls every once in a while from me. It’s managing of people.”

Gonzalez frequently picks the brains of several coaches in different sports. He is close friends of Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

“It’s all about managing people. We’re not herding cows here,” Gonzalez said. “We’re managing people. No matter which sport you’re in, it’s managing people. It’s different in football.

“[Parcells] loves baseball. I brought Mike Stanton in this morning. Stanton used to be a football player.”

While Stanton is 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, Parcells quipped that the 20-year-old slugger was a little “wormy” for football.

“He called me wormy,” Stanton said amusingly.

Hanley Ramirez has gotten to meet Parcells on several occasions in recent years. And prospect Jai Miller, who played football in high school, exchanged a few words with the football legend during warmups.

“Guys like to pop in and talk to him,” Gonzalez said. “He knows our roster up and down pretty good.”

— Joe Frisaro



Baker resting sore forearm

John Baker’s sore forearm is keeping him out of game action for at least a few games.

The Marlins catcher didn’t make the trip to Port St. Lucie on Friday, and on Saturday manager Fredi Gonzalez said a possible return to game action could come in the middle of next week.

“We’ll give him a couple of days. It’s just a tight forearm,” Gonzalez said. “We’ll give him a couple of days of no throw. He should be fine.”

Baker was scheduled to start against the Mets on Friday, but Brett Hayes got the call instead.

On Saturday, Ronny Paulino was in the lineup to catch Josh Johnson in a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.

— Joe Frisaro


Maybe the middle of the week, for games.