- Barry Bonds has excelled in his new role as the Marlins’ hitting coach, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan spoke to Marlins stars Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton, each of whom offered praise for the first-year hitting coach. “I want to get better,” said Gordon. “So why not let him help me get better? That would be foolish and prideful of me to be that way. He’s only the best hitter ever.” Bonds has embraced 2015 hitting coach Frank Menechino (now his assistant hitting coach) and the knowledge of Marlins hitters that he brought to the table, and he’s a down-to-Earth approach in working to educate Marlins batters in the arts of swing mechanics and the mental approach to hitting. “We’re both aware that pitchers’ meetings are about us,” Stanton told Passan. “They want to get us out. We’re the ones they focus on not to beat the other team. How do you maneuver? How do you stay patient?”
The Marlins have announced that lefty Chris Narveson has been designated for assignment. His roster spot will go to recalled righty Jose Urena. Meanwhile, the club has outrighted right-hander Dustin McGowan, who was previously in DFA limbo.
Narveson, 34, was off to a rough start in his first 8 1/3 innings on the season. He’d allowed eight earned runs and three long balls already. While it’s early, the numbers reflect the fact that Narveson has been unable to generate many swings and misses (6.2% swinging strike rate) while also failing to get batters to chase the ball out of the zone.
Meanwhile, McGowan will have a chance to decide whether to elect free agency or instead remain in the Miami organization. He was reportedly earning a $1MM major league salary, but agreed to an advance consent clause that means he won’t be guaranteed that amount. Still, his deal likely includes a relatively appealing minor league rate of pay.
Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly left tonight’s start in the first inning after walking two of the first four men he faced. As Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald writes, Kelly has been diagnosed with a right shoulder impingement, though little else beyond that point is known. Boston has already been without left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who had been expected to fill one of the spots at the back of the rotation but suffered a patellar subluxation during Spring Training. It remains to be seen if Kelly will require a DL stint, though it’s worth noting that Rodriguez is slated to throw 70 to 75 pitches in an extended Spring Training game this weekend, as Scott Lauber of ESPN Boston tweets, and he could progress to a rehab stint if all goes well in that outing.
More from Major League Baseball’s Eastern divisions…
- Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna drew trade interest from the Reds, Indians, Mariners, Rangers and Orioles this offseason, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN in listing 10 players that stand out as change-of-scenery candidates. The Marlins sought big-league-ready starting pitching to insert into their rotation in any deal, though, and when no one offered up a pitcher that met their desires, the club instead turned to the free-agent market and signed left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year deal (with an opt-out clause). Bowden also notes that both manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds were interested in holding onto Ozuna, believing that they could help him rebound to his 2014 levels.
- Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post opines that the time is now for the Lerner family, who own the Nationals, to step up and make a record-setting extension offer to Bryce Harper. Boswell notes that in addition to proving himself on the field with last season’s dominant MVP campaign, Harper has proven to have matured as well, taking the initiative to bury the hatchet with Jonathan Papelbon even after Papelbon took the blame for last season’s dugout altercation with Harper. Boswell acknowledges that Harper and agent Scott Boras, of course, may not be amenable to a long-term deal. However, a “career contract” that shatters Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325MM pact with the Marlins could potentially grab his attention. The Post scribe adds that the Nats right now have about as much leverage as they’ll ever have, as Harper’s current MLB earnings are still relatively minimal, the club is contending and he’s nearly three full seasons from free agency.
- The Braves could be without center fielder Ender Inciarte for another two weeks, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Manager Fredi Gonzalez tells O’Brien that an “optimistic” timeline for Inciarte would be late April or early May, though Gonzalez says he’s not certain how much the club will push its newly acquired center fielder and lineup catalyst. Rookie Mallex Smith and veteran Drew Stubbs have been patrolling center field in Inciarte’s absence, though neither has hit much.
- WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford spoke to Red Sox manager John Farrell about his working relationship with new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Farrell said that while he’s aware of some front offices that play a larger role in daily lineup decisions, Dombrowski isn’t involved at that level (nor did Alex Anthopoulos when Farrell managed in Toronto or Dombrowski’s predecessor, Ben Cherington, in Boston, he added). Farrell said that he doesn’t consider his relationship with Dombrowski to be drastically different than with his previous bosses, though he did note that his conversations with Dombrowski are in-person more often due to Dombrowski’s larger travel schedule.
McGowan, whom the Marlins signed in December, had already racked up six appearances out of their bullpen this year. The 34-year-old totaled 5 1/3 innings, gave up two earned runs and added a pair of strikeouts and walks. In 178 career appearances as a starter and reliever, McGowan owns a 4.67 ERA to go along with a 7.31 K/9 and 3.89 BB/9.
Barraclough was lights-out in Triple-A to begin the campaign, undoubtedly leading to his promotion to the majors. The 25-year-old threw six innings of 1.50 ERA ball for New Orleans and compiled a 13.50 K/9 and 1.50 BB/9. He showed similar strikeout ability for the Marlins in 24 1/3 innings last season (11.1 K/9), but his control wasn’t nearly as pinpoint (6.66 BB/9). Nevertheless, he averaged 95.5 mph on his fastball while putting up an impressive 2.59 ERA and a solid 3.42 FIP. Barraclough was particularly tough on right-handed hitters, who amassed a horrid .143/.263/.234 line against him. MLBPipeline.com rates Barraclough as the Marlins’ 20th-best prospect.
The Orioles have claimed right-hander Scott McGough off waivers from the Marlins, the club announced (on Twitter). The 26-year-old McGough was designated for assignment yesterday after Miami claimed lefty Eric Jokisch from the Cubs.
The 2015 season marked McGough’s big league debut, during which he tallied 6 2/3 innings of work but allowed seven runs. Miami originally picked up McGough alongside right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in the 2012 trade that sent Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers. In addition to his brief MLB debut last season, McGough pitched across three different minor league levels in what was a return campaign from 2014 Tommy John surgery. Splitting time between Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A, he posted a 1.93 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 50.8 percent ground-ball rate in 37 1/3 innings of work. McGough has made just one start in the minors (plus two in the Arizona Fall League), so he’s presumably viewed strictly as bullpen depth by the Orioles, who now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
Via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko, Orioles GM Dan Duquette offered the following take on his organization’s newest right-hander (Twitter link): “McGough is a good competitor and should be able to support our major league bullpen if needed this year.”
The Marlins announced this morning that they have claimed left-hander Eric Jokisch off waivers from the Cubs and optioned him to Triple-A New Orleans. In order to clear a spot for Jokisch on the 40-man roster, the Marlins have designated right-hander Scott McGough for assignment.
Jokisch, 26, was the Cubs’ 11th-round pick back in 2010 and made a brief appearance in the Majors in 2014, tallying 14 1/3 innings with a 1.88 ERA and a 10-to-4 K/BB ratio. Baseball America rated Jokisch as Chicago’s No. 22 prospect following that 2014 campaign, though he fell off that list this past offseason following a 4.37 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 70 Triple-A innings. The Marlins currently have veterans Craig Breslow and Chris Narveson as the left-handed options in manager Don Mattingly’s bullpen, as workhorse lefty Mike Dunn is battling a forearm issue and recently suffered a setback. Jokisch gives the club another option on the 40-man roster should the need for more left-handed relief arise.
As for McGough, the 26-year-old debuted with the Marlins last season but yielded seven runs in 6 2/3 innings of work. Miami originally acquired him alongside right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in the 2012 trade that sent Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to the Dodgers. McGough missed the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery and returned to the mound last season, working to a combined 1.93 ERA across Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A in the minors. He averaged 5.3 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in that time to go along with a 50.75 percent ground-ball rate, via MLBfarm.com.
Marlins left-hander Mike Dunn has had a setback in his recovery from tightness in his left forearm, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. The Marlins are bracing themselves to be without Dunn — their most reliable reliever across the past five seasons — for longer than they initially expected. “He didn’t come out very good from his ’[bullpen session],” manager Don Mattingly said. “He felt a little grab in there again. So, we’re going to slow him down, and I think he’s going to talk with [team physician Dr. Lee Kaplan] again and see where it goes.” As Frisaro writes, the initial MRI on Dunn didn’t reveal any structural damage, but there’s no timetable for his return at the moment until he has the injury reexamined. Dunn, 31 in May, has posted a 3.62 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 285 2/3 innings with the Marlins. He’s set to become a free agent at season’s end.
- The Marlins have outrighted outfielder Cole Gillespie after he cleared waivers, per a club announcement. Gillespie, 31, has received only sporadic playing time over the last several years, but had his most productive campaign in 2015 for Miami, slashing .290/.333/.428 in 157 plate appearances. But with five names ahead of him in the outfield mix, Gillespie found himself in DFA limbo to open the year.
San Diego seemed to be looking for swingmen to stash with the acquisition and subsequent waiving of Dan Straily, who ended up being claimed by the Reds. It’s possible we’ll see the same attempted with Hand, though he could go right onto the active roster with southpaw reliever Matt Thornton hitting the DL. (He’s being replaced, for now, by Robbie Erlin.)
The 26-year-old Hand has split his major league appearances roughly evenly between starting and relief roles. He owns a 4.71 career ERA, with 5.9 K/9 vs. 3.7 BB/9, over 288 2/3 frames spread across five campaigns. Unsurprisingly, Hand has been much more effectively when facing left-handed hitters (.614 OPS-against) and when working out of the pen (.652 OPS-against).
- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill confirmed top prospect Tyler Kolek’s Tommy John surgery and elaborated on the injury a bit, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. “It was a complete tear of the [ulnar collateral] ligament,” Hill said. “They said there were no issues, that surgery went well, and now he’s on the road to recovery.” Kolek had been tabbed to open the season at Class-A Greensboro before eventually moving up to the Class-A Advanced Florida State League, but he’ll now be on the shelf for 12 to 18 months as he recovers, Frisaro writes.