MLB may move Marlins-Pirates series out of Puerto Rico due to concerns over Zika

Marlins players have concerns about playing in Puerto Rico because of the Zika virus.
Marlins players have concerns about playing in Puerto Rico because of the Zika virus.

MIAMI — The Marlins expect a decision from Major League Baseball by the end of the week about whether their two-game series against the Pirates in Puerto Rico will be moved to Marlins Park because of concerns over the Zika virus.

The Marlins are scheduled to play the Pirates May 29-30 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Both teams have met with officials from the Center for Disease Control and Marlins players’ concerns have heightened since that meeting Friday in Milwaukee, according to Tom Koehler, the team’s player representative.

“There were some facts and things that were shocking to both sides that maybe we didn’t know going into the meeting,” Koehler said. “When everybody in the room sees it visually and hears it, it does maybe alter the decision a little bit.”

The players have taken a vote as to whether they want to play in Puerto Rico and although Koehler would not reveal the outcome of that vote, reports are that both teams would prefer to move the series to Miami. The games are Marlins home games.

The first death related to Zika in a U.S. territory was a 70-year-old man from Puerto Rico. Last week, the CDC confirmed 683 Zika infections in Puerto Rico.

The virus is spread by mosquitoes and can cause birth defects. Infections in adults can result in Guillen-Barre syndrome and even death.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly believes Major League Baseball and the union will make the right decision.

“You’re always concerned about your players’ health and safety,” Mattingly said. “I trust the union, and MLB is not going to put anybody in a position that’s dangerous.”

Koehler said there would be “a lot of precautions that would need to be taken” if the games were played in the 18,264-seat outdoor stadium, such as remaining in the hotel when not at the park, wearing long sleeves and covering any exposed skin with spray.

Players were told not to have any spouse, friend or family members who are pregnant make the trip if the games are played.

 

 

Marlins’ Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for violating PED policy

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Dee Gordon said in a statement that he unknowingly ingested a prohibited substance. (AP Photo)
Dee Gordon said in a statement that he unknowingly ingested a prohibited substance. (AP Photo)

Marlins President David Samson expressed “huge disappointment” in All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon, who has been suspended 80 games without pay effective immediately for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

“Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him and support him,” Samson told reporters in Los Angeles early Friday after the Marlins had completed a four-game sweep of the Dodgers.

“That said, I don’t like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It’s a huge, huge disappointment to the kids, to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization every single day.

“He will be back 80 games from now, and he will be welcomed back to this organization. But in the interim period, we expect him and we are positive that he will do everything that’s necessary to make it up to his fans, to his teammates and to this organization.”

Gordon, the reigning NL batting champion who is hitting .266 in 21 games for the 10-11 Marlins, issued a statement this morning through the Major League Baseball Players Association.

It read:

    “Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization, and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20+ tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences.”

Gordon, 28, is in his sixth season in the majors, second in Miami. He signed a five-year, $50 million contract in January and will lose $1.65 million in salary during the suspension. Last season, Gordon hit .333 and led the majors with 58 stolen bases.

The suspension was announced after Miami’s 5-3 victory over the Dodgers, its fifth straight win that completed a four-game sweep in L.A. The series marked Marlins’ first-year manager Don Mattingly’s first trip back to L.A. after five years as manager of the Dodgers.

Mattingly managed Gordon for three years in L.A. before Gordon was traded to Miami in December 2014.

“These guys love Dee, and we’re going to support him,” Mattingly told reporters after Thursday’s game. “I feel like Dee’s one of my kids, to be honest with you, because I’ve known him so long. So we’re going to love him, and then we’re going to support him. He’s been a big part of the success that we’ve had.”

Live blog: Detroit Tigers at Miami Marlins on Opening Night

We’ll be covering the Miami Marlins’ season opener tonight against the Detroit Tigers from top to bottom. We’ll have photos, inside information and much more.

Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon (9) runs the bases at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida on March 3, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon (9) runs the bases at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida on March 3, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

So let’s start at the top: Here’s the Marlins lineup for the opener.

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B
  2. Marcell Ozuna, CF
  3. Christian Yelich, LF
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
  5. Martin Prado, 3B
  6. Justin Bour, 1B
  7. J.T. Realmuto, C
  8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
  9. Wei-Yin Chen, P

Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton blasts first homer of the spring

 

Miami's Giancarlo Stanton hit a fastball from St. Louis' Trevor Rosenthal for his first home run of the spring Wednesday.
Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton hit a fastball from St. Louis’ Trevor Rosenthal for his first home run of the spring Wednesday.

JUPITER – Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler was doing a television interview when Giancarlo Stanton got into a Trevor Rosenthal pitch for his first home run of the spring.

Koehler’s call: “Big Fella goes boom!”

Stanton wasn’t impressed.

“I told him ‘boom goes the dynamite would have been better,”’ Stanton said.

Whatever the call, the Marlins $325 million man was happy to finally see something resembling the swing he is looking to take into the regular season. The home run was the first Stanton has hit in a game since June 24. Two days later, Stanton broke a bone in his left hand during an at bat, ending his season.

“It’s good to get on top of a fastball that I seemed to pop up the past couple of weeks,” Stanton said after the Marlins’ 4-1 loss Wednesday to the Cardinals.

Stanton, though, has an excuse. He’s had just 17 at bats after missing about a week because of knee soreness. He is hitting .235 with two RBI. He was 1 for 3 Wednesday.

“I’m roughly where I’m (usually) at,” he said. “I’ve had only 17 at bats. That’s not where I’d usually be but I don’t necessarily need a certain amount of at bats,  rather a feel in the spring.”

Still, Stanton is looking to refine that powerful swing in the next 13 days leading up to the April 5 opener against Detroit in Miami.

“Just a few more of those, not homers, hitting fastballs hard,” he said when asked what he’s like to achieve.

“Just to be on top of fastballs,” “Popping them up means you’re either late or dipping a little bit. That’s the first sign of your midseason slumps, which is normal this time. Get on top of one especially in the mid-90s. … that’s a good test. I’m glad I had some velocity today to test it.”

Manager Don Mattingly said Stanton will get plenty of at bats in the final nine exhibition games.

“He just needs at bats,” Mattingly said. “I think you’ll see him having batter swings.”

 

Manager Don Mattingly encouraged how Marlins rotation shaping up

Even with rotation appearing to be set, Marlins manager Don Mattingly keeping options open.
Even with rotation appearing to be set, Marlins manager Don Mattingly keeping options open.

JUPITER — With one week remaining in spring training and less than two weeks to the season opener, the Marlins rotation appears to be settled.

Miami optioned lefty Justin Nicolino to Class AAA New Orleans on Tuesday and has started shortening Edwin Jackson’s innings, two decisions that indicate Jarred Cosart and Adam Conley will fill out the rotation behind Wei-Yin Chen, Alex Fernandez and Tom Koehler.

Manager Don Mattingly, though, is not ready to announce the final two spots, waiting to see how the final 10 exhibition games play out, including eight Grapefruit League games and two games at Marlins Park against the Yankees on April 1 and 2.

“We kind of left it open,” Mattingly said. “We don’t have to make decisions on the final couple of spots, so why [wouldn’t we wait]?

“It’s funny how those last few times out change things. Guys know they’re the last guy and ‘I got a chance.’ At that point that’s just making the club. Then you can’t have a letdown and say, ‘I made the club, life is good.’ You have a couple of bad starts and somebody else is coming up.”

Still, Mattingly likes what he has seen, from the five who will start the season in the rotation and those who will be providing the depth whether they are in the Marlins bullpen or the minors.

“I feel good about the guys we think we’re going end up with,” he said. “Then it’s a matter of performing and us staying healthy.”