Results tagged ‘ Hunter Jones ’

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


Hensley on bereavement list

The Marlins on Saturday afternoon placed reliever Clay Hensley on the breavement list due to a death in the family. The team recalled left-hander Hunter Jones from Triple-A New Orleans.

Late Friday, Hensley learned of the passing of his father. In an emotional scene in the team clubhouse, the right-hander received embraces and best wishes from his teammates following the Marlins’ 7-1 loss to the Nationals.

Hensley threw three innings of scoreless relief on Friday, striking out seven. It was his second straight dominating relief performance. On Wednesday against the Padres, he struck out six of the seven batters he faced in two innings.

By league rule, being on the bereavement list means a player must miss a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven games. Jones, acquired from the Red Sox after the 2009 season for outfielder Jeremy Hermida, got the call from Triple-A.

Jones was in Spring Training with the Marlins, trying to make the club as a reliever. Jones joins Renyel Pinto as the second lefty in the Florida bullpen.

Hensley has made eight appearances for the Marlins. In 12 2/3 innings, he has struck out 21 while walking five.

— Joe Frisaro


MacDougal released, Jones optioned

Struggling to throw strikes this spring, the Marlins on Tuesday morning cut ties with veteran reliever Mike MacDougal.

The hard-throwing right-hander was released on Tuesday morning, after appearing in five Grapefruit League games for Florida. In his most recent outing, on Sunday against the Nationals, MacDougal worked two-thirds of an inning, giving up three runs while walking three.

In 4 2/3 innings of Grapefruit League play, MacDougal walked seven and struck out two.

The Marlins on Tuesday also optioned lefty Hunter Jones to Triple-A New Orleans. with Jones out of camp, Florida’s lefty reliever situation is cleared up. Renyel Pinto and Dan Meyer — both out of options — are projected to be the situational left-handers.

MacDougal signed a Minor League contract with Florida a couple of days before Spring Training began. Last year, he split time between the White Sox and Nationals. With Washington, he had 20 saves in 21 chances. But after the season he had surgery on his left hip.

MacDougal has been at his best when his fastball is in the upper 90s. On Sunday, it reached as high as 94 once, but for most of Spring Training it’s been clocked about 91-92 mph. Command has been an issue with the right-hander in the past.

Even with his 20 saves last year, he walked 31 and struck out 31 with the Nationals.

Because MacDougal has closing experience, he had been considered a candidate who could fill in at closer if Leo Nunez struggled or was injured.

Nunez is firmly established as the closer. But in case of an emergency, candidates to close would be Brian Sanches, Jose Veras, Meyer and Seth McClung, if he makes the team.

Veras and McClung are signed to Minor League deals. Both have clauses to opt out on April 1 if they don’t feel they are part of Florida’s plans.

— Joe Frisaro

Marlins announce signings

The number of Marlins not under contract keeps dwindling.

On Saturday, the team announced they’ve signed 12 players to deals for 2010. All are under club control, and their deals are a formality.

Signing were OF Scott Cousins, RHP Kris Harvey, LHP Hunter Jones, RHP Cristhian Martinez, RHP Hayden Penn, RHP Rick VandenHurk, RHP Brian Sanches, RHP Chris Volstad, LHP Sean West, RHP Burke Badenhop, LHP Dan Meyer and INF Emilio Bonifacio.

— Joe Frisaro



Meet Hunter Jones

One of the new faces in Marlins camp is certainly no stranger to South Florida.

Lefty reliever Hunter Jones, acquired from the Red Sox as part of the Jeremy Hermida trade in November, is in the mix for a bullpen job.

The 26-year-old grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, and he went to Florida State.

The Marlins opened Spring Training on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium. Other lefty relief candidates are Renyel Pinto, Dan Meyer and Taylor Tankersley.

Last year, Jones got a taste of the big leagues, appearing in 11 games for the Red Sox. The experience was rewarding and humbling. He posted a 9.24 ERA, and he was taken deep three times in 12 1/3 innings. Jones struck out nine and walked seven.

But two rough outings caused his ERA to inflate. Against Tampa Bay on May 9, he was tagged for four runs in two-thirds of an inning. And on Sept. 28 against the Blue Jays, he was charged with four runs in 1 2/3 innings.

On the flip side, he also enjoyed some success.

Jones showed he can be effective last April, when in four appearances, he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings.

In the offseason, he has worked on getting more movement on his fastball, along with fine tuning his slider.

The Marlins are known for providing opportunity to young relievers. Jones hopes to continue the tradition.

“They’ve had a great track record, and hopefully I can add to that,” Jones said. “I feel like I’ve already had a fair shake. I look forward to going out there and competing.

“I feel the opportunity is greater for me here to compete. With that being said, being that I had pitched last year, and knowing what I needed to do to come into this season. I feel I’m better prepared.”

Growing up in South Florida, Jones was initially a Braves fan, because at the time, the Marlins and Rays weren’t around. And the Braves made West Palm Beach their Spring Training home. Jones attended a number of Spring Training games, and he would see players like Dale Murphy at the park.

Now he is in position where his family and friends can watch him in Jupiter.

“I feel the Marlins are definitely believing in me,” Jones said. “Whenever you get traded, you feel there is a better opportunity.”

The day Jones joined the Marlins was a hectic one. He learned he was being mentioned in the deal while preparing to catch a flight from Palm Beach to Las Vegas to attend his friends bachelor party.

“I was obviously excited,” he said. “It was kind of crazy because I was going to my best friends bachelor party in Vegas. I left a Red Sox and landed a Marlin. When I got there, everybody already knew. It was pretty cool. They all knew before me.”

— Joe Frisaro