Results tagged ‘ Jeffrey Loria ’

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)



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



Similarities to 2003?

WStrophy.jpgWhen the Marlins entered Spring Training in 2003, many thought it would be a stretch if the team posted a winning record.

Yet, magic happened that year. As Juan Pierre said after the parade: “We shocked the world!”

The ’03 Marlins certainly did. They went on to win 91 games and capture the second World Series title in franchise history. That squad featured Ivan Rodriguez, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo, Derrek Lee, and a core of players who had been together a few seasons.

They won with pitching, speed and defense.

Marlins management and players have entered Spring Training this year openly talking playoffs. The nucleus of the squad has been together since 2006. Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are building-block-type players who have raised hopes in camp.

But do the two teams compare? The 2010 Marlins have more power potential, and Ramirez is on his way to being the greatest player in franchise history. The ’03 squad was better defensively, and the starting pitching was deeper and it clicked at the right time that year.

“I think all teams are different,” Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said. “I wouldn’t compare them. But I would say, the talent pool, having been together for all these years is very similar. They [2010 Marlins] are about ready to break out now.”

Full-squad workouts began for the Marlins on Wednesday, and practices are open free to the public.

Loria envisions a big season for his maturing roster.

“I think you can compare some aspects of it,” the owner said, referring to 2003 and now. “You’ve got guys who can do certain things. You’ve got guys who can hit home runs. You’ve got pitchers now who have been together for a couple of years. That’s where we were in ’03 when the pitchers started to turn. After all, this game is a lot about pitching, bullpen. We think we have a strong bullpen.

“I think we’re in really good shape. I just hope that we stay healthy. I think what’s here is quite capable of getting it done.”

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins owner optimistic about '10

Attending the Marlins first full-squad workout on Wednesday was team owner Jeffrey Loria, who is upbeat about the 2010 season.

After finishing in second place a year ago, Loria says the playoffs are the goal. The organization feels the pieces are in place to play into October.

“I will say that we’re working off 87 wins last year, and I expect us to make the playoffs,” he said.”Whatever it takes to make the playoffs.”

The Marlins retained the nucleus of the squad from the past few years. Continuity is crucial.

“We’ve brought the core of this team back,” Loria said. “They’re well positioned to make the playoffs. We’ve got all the ammunition that we need.”

Among the topics the owner addressed were:

* Reaching the postseason for the first time since 2003, when the franchise won the World Series.

“I am hungry to win,” Loria said. “The only way to win was to do that [keep continuity]. We’re heading towards our new ballpark [in 2012], and I wanted to see us be more successful than we were the last few years. We should have been one of eight last year. I was disappointed at the end of the season. That’s all I will say about that. We have the ability to do it now.”

* The status of manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose job status came in question after the ’09 season. There were reports that the Marlins were interested in bringing in Bobby Valentine.

“I don’t even want to comment on that,” Loria said. “I know a thousand people. I talk to lots of people everywhere and if people blew things out of proportion, I can’t control that.”

* Continuity within the club, including players, coaches and manager.

“Fredi is the manager. Fredi is here. This is his fourth season. Fredi is here to bring the team to the next level.That’s what we’re hoping happens this year. We’ve love to see that this year, obviously.”

* The new ballpark in Little Havana.

“I was down there yesterday, and I couldn’t have been more excited or overwhelmed, or more impressed with how the building is coming,” Loria said.

“It will be something super special, beyond what you can imagine. What you see on paper. That’s been my commitment, going forward, from Day One here. I wanted to see this stadium done. That’s been all I’ve really wanted to see, along with winning teams, and hopefully winning a championship this year. As we go towards that goal of opening on 2012, we are building with the core of these player. We’ll see down the road what we need to add to it. But it’s going to be something that South Florida is going to be proud of.”

— Joe Frisaro



Silver Slugger for Hanley

For the second straight year, Hanley Ramirez has captured the Silver Slugger Award for National League shortstops.

Ramirez won the N.L. batting title with a .342 average, and he drove in a career high 106 runs.

I’m very happy about my award,” Ramirez said on Friday. “I’m thankful to God and to my family for their support. The Marlins organization and my great teammates for their help in my getting this award. It’s all a result of hard work and dedication, and I always strive to get better and to do what I can to help my team succeed.”

Below is Ramirez receiving the 2008 Silver Slugger Award, presented to him by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Photo courtesy of Robert Vigon/Florida Marlins.