06/11/12 8:14 PM ET
Marlins scuffling with runners in scoring position
By Joe Frisaro and Tom Green / MLB.com
In the club's last six losses -- sweeps at the hands of the Braves and the Rays -- the Marlins have hit just .100 (5-for-50) with men in scoring position. During that same six-game stretch, opponents have hit .388 (19-for-49) with runners in scoring position, and Miami has been outscored 43-10.
"We don't have that [big hit]. When we don't have that, our percentage is really bad," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It's not just happening the last couple days, it's happened all year long. You look at our batting average with people in scoring position, I don't think it's a good one."
On the season, the Marlins are tied with the Giants for 28th in the Majors with men in scoring position, hitting just .217. Only the Padres, at .191, fare worse in those situations.
With his team lacking timely hits with men on base, Guillen said his players need to get better at-bats in those situations and convert early in the game to take some pressure off the team in the late innings.
"It's kind of funny when you look around at the way we swing the bat, the way we do stuff, and all of a sudden, we got people in scoring position and we shut down," Guillen said. "Maybe they pitch better or maybe we get too anxious. I don't think we can panic because we get men on base, but we have to do better than what we've been doing so far."
Marlins open roof in an effort to halt slump
MIAMI -- Losing six straight games had Marlins management thinking outside of the box on Monday.
Opening the roof became the suggestion.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest passed the idea along to team president David Samson. The call was made to owner Jeffrey Loria, and the decision was made.
With the unpredictable rain patterns and excessive heat in Miami, the roof has remained closed since April 18 against the Cubs.
"This was a phone call that came at 5:02 [p.m. ET]," Samson said. "Larry Beinfest called and said, 'Hey, we've lost six in a row, I've got an idea. Let's open the roof and see what happens.' I said, 'What's the temperature?' and he said, 'It's going to be below 80 [degrees] at game time. It'll be 79.'
"I said, 'Are you sure?' He said, 'Yes, let's just try it. I said, 'Well, there's two calls we have to make, but let's start with the most important one.' I dialed up Jeffrey and said, 'Jeffrey, let's try something new. We've lost six in a row. Let's just do it.' Jeffrey said, 'Well, OK.' He was worried about our fans, didn't want our fans to be too hot."
A criteria for opening the roof is playing in a temperature less than 80 degrees. The temperature at the start of the game was 79 degrees. There also was zero chance of rain, which is highly rare during the South Florida rainy season.
The decision was passed along to manager Ozzie Guillen, who didn't care either way.
"We spoke to Ozzie," Samson said. "Ozzie was great [about the decision], and we decided to do it."
The Marlins played four games in April with the roof open and went 2-2 in those games.
Still, to guard themselves against a surprise shower, there are two people at Marlins Park responsible for tracking the weather.
In case it does rain, there is a tarp that can be placed over the infield. It takes about 14 minutes for the roof to close.
"We are ready just in case something crazy happens, but there's really nothing in the area," Samson said. "This is like the perfect night to have done it. I wish we didn't need a slump buster, but this was sort of our version of a slump buster."
Infante gets mental break, out of starting lineup
MIAMI -- Sensing some mental and physical fatigue from his second baseman, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen decided to give Omar Infante a breather on Monday night.
Infante was not in the starting lineup for the first time in 18 games.
The veteran second baseman, who has been having an All-Star caliber season, went hitless in eight at-bats on Saturday and Sunday against Tampa Bay. Since May 23, he is hitting at a .239 clip, which has lowered his season average to .296.
Donovan Solano was given the start at second base in the series opener with the Red Sox.
"I think he's mentally tired," Guillen said. "He's been playing every day. Hopefully, in a couple of days, we'll get him back on track."
Chances are Infante will be back in the lineup on Tuesday. The day off, Infante says, gives him a chance to clear his mind.
Physically, Infante is fine. He had dealt with a tight right hamstring early in the season.
From May 19-22, he was away from the club for three days due to the death of his grandfather.
Infante was batting .326 on May 22. He's had two multihit games since then, with the most recent coming when he was 3-for-5 against the Rays on Friday.
"You don't hit, you're not in the lineup," Infante said.
Solano, meanwhile, will make his first big league start at second base. A natural shortstop, he now is assuming the utility infield position since Donnie Murphy was designated for assignment after Saturday's game.
Solano has started three games in left field, and he entered Monday having played one inning at second base at the big league level.
At the plate, Solano is off to a nice start, going 9-for-19 with two doubles entering Monday.
Infante admits his swing and timing are off. He's not recognizing pitches and he's reaching at pitches.
"I'm pulling the ball a lot," he said. "I don't feel good. My top hand, too. Keep working, practice every day and we'll see. Maybe I'll go 4-for-4 tomorrow."
Guillen wants Big Z to cut down on big hacks
MIAMI -- Don't expect to see Carlos Zambrano hit many more home runs this season -- at least if Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has anything to do with it.
"We're going to cut down on his swings," Guillen said. "He ain't swinging no more. ... He's done with that. Now he's just going to bunt, bunt and bunt. No more home run derby for him."
Over the last 10 seasons, Zambrano has hit 24 home runs, including one this year on June 3 against the Phillies. He leads all active pitchers in home runs. But after Zambrano experienced lower back stiffness during his last outing and left after 2 1/3 innings, Guillen wants to cut back on Zambrano swinging for the fences as a precaution.
Guillen doesn't believe Zambrano's swings were the reason for the injury -- which isn't expected to delay Zambrano's next start -- but the Marlins skipper wants to minimize the pitcher's home run cuts as a cautionary and preventative measure.
"You see Carlos, Carlos puts on a show when he hits. He does," Guillen said. "That's why we have to control that and make sure. I'm not going to say he's not going to hit, but I don't want him to. You don't win games in batting practice. I don't want him to start swinging the bat like that."
Fortunately for Guillen, Zambrano's next start is Friday at Tropicana Field -- an American League ballpark that will require the Marlins to use a designated hitter.
"Good," Guillen said. "He doesn't have to hit."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.