CHICAGO -- He can swipe a bag or drop a squeeze bunt or run a long fly ball down in center field.
Emilio Bonifacio brings so much to the table for the Marlins, which is why he is one of the team's most likeable players.
"I think Boni back, I don't know, but the team feels a little bit different with Boni," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't know why. I think, maybe it's because everybody loves this kid. The way he plays the game. The way he goes about his job. For some reason, he makes this ballclub more interesting and fun."
Bonifacio certainly was missed when he was lost for nearly two months due to a torn ligament in his left thumb. The speedster was placed on the disabled list on May 20 and reinstated on July 13.
In Monday's win over the Nationals, Bonifacio dropped a squeeze bunt that brought in a crucial insurance run.
On Tuesday night, he reached on a bunt single that loaded the bases in the fourth inning. Carlos Lee followed with a grand slam that highlighted Miami's 9-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"That's part of my game, especially in close games," Bonifacio said of being able to bunt. "When we need a big hit with runners in scoring position, I try to play a small game. That helps a lot."
On Wednesday, Bonifacio had a single, double and triple.
When on the bases, Bonifacio is wearing a protective guard, which he slips into his back pocket when he is batting. He plans on using the guard for the remainder of the season.
The thumb, which required surgery, is not giving him any problems. The rest even has kept his legs fresh.
"My first couple of games, I was a little tired," he said. "I was working on my legs. It's not the same as playing every day."
With more than two months remaining in the season, the Marlins will be looking for Bonifacio to help energize the club.
Trade talk not worrying Hanley amid tough year
CHICAGO -- As trade speculation swirls, Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez remains focused on playing ball.
"I don't think about it," Ramirez said. "I just heard about it. I just come and play the game hard and try to win games."
USA Today reported on Wednesday that the Marlins and Red Sox discussed a major deal that would send Ramirez and Heath Bell to Boston for Carl Crawford.
Ramirez, who came up in the Red Sox system, said on Thursday he was unaware of the report until informed by a reporter.
"I don't worry about things that I can't control," Ramirez said. "Rumors are rumors, man. I don't believe nothing like that, until it happens."
The Marlins acquired Ramirez after the 2005 season in a trade that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston. In 2006, Ramirez was the National League Rookie of the Year.
A three-time All-Star shortstop, Ramirez was the NL batting champion in 2009. He finished runnerup to Albert Pujols that year in the NL MVP voting.
Ramirez switched to third base this season, making room for Jose Reyes to play shortstop. Defensively, the 28-year-old has been steady. But at the plate, his numbers are well below his career average. He is batting .249 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs entering Thursday.
Although he has struggled at the plate, Ramirez noted the season isn't over.
As long as he is with the Marlins, he plans to come to the park ready to play. Many speculated Ramirez would have a tough time adjusting to third base, but he has been praised by the club, the coaching staff and teammates for his work ethic and attitude.
"Nothing is going to change," Ramirez said. "I'm going to keep playing my same game. I'm going to continue to play hard every day. That's about it."
The feeling around the Marlins is the talks with the Red Sox did occur, but chances of that specific trade being made is regarded as unlikely. Still, Ramirez had fond memories of playing in the Red Sox system.
"They might love me, that's a good thing," Ramirez said with a laugh. "They still like me."
Although Ramirez's statistics are down, he is most concerned about the Marlins winning.
"I'm trying," he said. "I don't want numbers, I want wins, as many as we can get."
Marlins continue to struggle with RISP
CHICAGO -- To get back into contention, the Marlins simply must do a better job with their situational hitting.
Producing with runners in scoring position has plagued the team all season, and it surfaced again on Wednesday night in a 5-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Miami was 0-for-11 in those situations, and stranded 11 runners on base. A turning point came in the fifth inning, when the score was tied at 1. Emilio Bonifacio tripled to open the inning, and the team didn't score.
For the season, the Marlins are batting .227 with runners in scoring position. In the National League, only the Padres have a lower average, at .212.
With two outs and runners in scoring position, Miami's batting average is .199, which ranks 13th in the 16-team NL.
"Timely hitting," Jose Reyes said. "I know this year, with runners in scoring position, we're not doing too good in those situations. I know, if we want to get to the next level, we need to start getting better."
Inconsistent production at the plate has been a problem. On Tuesday night, the Marlins scored nine runs, with three home runs accounting for seven of those.
On Wednesday, Reyes' homer was the lone Miami run.
The poor offensive showing came on a night Josh Johnson pitched effectively, until he ran into bad luck in the seventh inning, when Chicago scored four runs.
"Our pitching, they've kept us in the game," Reyes said. "That's something they've been doing over the whole year. Timely hitting and being consistent at it, that's going to help this ballclub a lot."
Despite being 10 games behind the Nationals in the NL East, Carlos Lee notes the Marlins are going to be facing teams in their own division soon, and they can make up ground.
"We still have to face a lot of teams in our division," the first baseman said. "I think we can take care of that ourselves and move on."