04/13/12 8:55 PM ET
Marlins' heavy hitters off to slow start
By David Villavicencio / Special to MLB.com
While they have scored eight runs in a game and six in another, the Marlins are averaging just 3.3 runs per game over their first seven contests. Most of their lack of run production centers around their struggling middle of the order.
Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez have combined to drive in just six of the Marlins 23 runs on the season. Beyond not driving in runs, the trio is a combined 12-for-65 over the first seven games this year.
"Definitely the reason why we're not winning games right now falls on my shoulders and the people in the middle of the lineup," Morrison said. Stanton leads the group with a .240 batting average while Morrison and Sanchez are batting .188 and .125 respectively. The trio has combined for just three extra-base hits so far. While some would say that is possibly just bad luck, Morrison believes differently.
"Baseball is a little bit of a game of luck but when you hit it over the fence there are really no gloves that it could find," Morrison said.
While Sanchez is off to an uncharacteristic slow start, there is reason to believe he will turn it around. The 28-year-old is a career .291 hitter in the first half of the season.
With Stanton and Morrison, some may point to their lack of playing time this spring as the reason for their early struggles. Marlins bench coach Joey Cora certainly believes that is a factor.
"They didn't have Spring Training. It's not fair," Cora said. "If you can step in after only playing three or four games in Spring Training and do well, everybody would do that. Unfortunately that's not the way it works. You have to have Spring Training, you have to get at-bats and play the field. Playing on the backfields against Minor Leaguers doesn't get you ready to face big league pitchers. That's why you play big league games in Spring Training."
Even though his coaches understand the situation, Morrison does not believe he should be held to a different standard because he is catching up after missing most of the spring.
"There are no excuses," Morrison said. "We've got to go out and keep improving day by day"
Cora is confident that the trio of talent young hitters will soon get in a groove and start providing the production the Marlins expect from them.
"They're a little off with their timing but I expect them to be alright once they get that down," Cora said. "Hopefully they get it soon because we need them."
Resting Morrison not concerned about knee
MIAMI -- Logan Morrison took his scheduled day off on Friday but the Marlins left fielder hopes he will not need many more of them going forward.
Morrison, who missed most of Spring Training while recovering from offseason knee surgery, has sat out two of the Marlins seven games heading into Friday's series opener against the Astros.
"It's not like 100 percent, but the reason I'm not playing tonight is not because my knee is sore," Morrison said. "It's just a precautionary thing. Each day I get now will help me out later. Hopefully in a couple weeks or a week from now I'll be in there every day."
Marlins bench coach Joey Cora expects Morrison to be back in the lineup on Saturday. The Marlins expected to give Morrison Friday night off due to a hectic travel schedule.
"We got home pretty late last night and obviously he's not at 100 percent yet with his knee," Cora said. "We're giving him a break and hopefully he'll be in there tomorrow."
Morrison does not want to use his knee as an excuse for his slow start, saying, "it's nothing I can't play through." The 24-year-old has just three hits on the season but he does not believe that his days off have kept him from getting in a rhythm at the plate.
"It's not an excuse to not succeed and not be getting hits," Morrison said. "It's 20 at-bats that I've had, so I'm not too concerned about it."
Instead of blaming his knee for his slow start, Morrison has identified some issues with his swing that he is working to correct as soon as possible.
"There are things that I need to work on and there are things that I'm doing wrong but that just comes with not having at-bats," Morrison said. "I've just got to get my foot down on time, soft, and stay behind the baseball and then let the rest happen."
Marlins deny slow start relates to Ozzie's issues
MIAMI -- The Marlins have not started the way they had hoped for this season, but they are positive their struggles are unrelated to the off-field issues surrounding manager Ozzie Guillen.
Guillen was suspended five games for comments he made to Time Magazine about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Bench coach Joey Cora, who is filling in for Guillen during the suspension, does not believe the Marlins slow start is related to Guillen's issue.
"They're not pressing because of what happened with Ozzie," Cora said. "Are we feeling a little bit of pressure? Maybe. This is a young ballclub. We're pretty young and this is probably the first time that expectations are really high before the year starts. They're getting used to the spotlight and the pressure and expectation of winning. That comes with experience, how to handle those situations. They're learning how to play with expectations."
The Marlins have won just two of their first seven games heading into Friday's series opener against the Astros, but Cora points out that the team was struggling before the Guillen issue surfaced last week.
"We lost the first game and nothing had happened," Cora said. "We lost the second game in Cincinnati and nothing had happened then. It's not like we started losing after the Ozzie thing. That's not true. It is what it is. All we need to do is we need to score runs."
Despite the off-the-field distraction the organization is dealing with surrounding Guillen's comments, outfielder Logan Morrison insists the team's performance has not been affected by the manager's suspension.
"Of course we miss him but it's not inhibiting us from winning games and it's not a distraction," Morrison said.
Cora added that the team is focusing on handling their responsibilities while Guillen is focused on handling his off-the-field situation.
"We all support Ozzie," Cora said. "He's our leader. He thought about what he did and he's apologized. We have to move on and play baseball. That's our job. Our main concern is playing against Houston, trying to play well and trying to win games. Ozzie is taking care of Ozzie's stuff and we have to take care of what we have to do on the field."
Morrison texting help to his favorite charity
MIAMI -- Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison seems to always find different ways to help his favorite charity, the American Lung Association.
Morrison, whose father passed away due to lung cancer, holds a baseball camp every summer to raise money for the ALA. He has also auctioned off various items with all the proceeds going towards lung cancer research.
The 24-year-old's latest effort into raising money and awareness for the American Lung Association is a text campaign that has gotten off to a fast start. The campaign, which Morrison says will run for about six months, has raised over $68,000 in its first eight days.
To donate $10 to the campaign, text "LOMO" to 32020. Donors will receive a picture of Morrison as a sign of gratitude for their donation.
• Omar Infante is off to a hot start this season, batting .360 with a team-best three home runs over the first seven games. But Infante's hot streak at the plate dates back to the second half of last season. The second baseman has hit .319 since the start of the second half last year, good enough for fifth-best among National Leaguers.
• Reliever Chad Gaudin did more than just pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Phillies on Thursday night. The right-hander became one of 12 active players to appear with eight-or-more organizations in the Majors. He has played for more teams (8) than he has years played in the Major Leagues.
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.