06/14/12 12:27 AM ET
Morrison settling into nice groove after days off
By Tom Green / MLB.com
Since manager Ozzie Guillen gave Morrison, who was in the midst of a 0-for-17 slump at the plate, two days off against Tampa Bay on Friday and Saturday, Morrison has picked up his production at the plate.
In the three games since the days off to clear his mind and work on his swing, Morrison has gone 6-for-11 at the plate. He has three doubles, a home run -- a seventh-inning shot in the Marlins' 2-1 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday -- two RBIs and three runs scored.
"I think he's swinging at more strikes," Guillen said. "I think that's the key. He's attacking the strike zone. I don't think he's trying to hit the ball to left-center. He's just going out, seeing the ball, hitting the ball. That's the best approach he's had all year."
- 142 wins
- 110 wins
With the Marlins' offense struggling to produce runs, Morrison has been one of the few bright spots in the lineup the past few games. In those three games, his average has climbed from .214 to .235 entering Wednesday's series finale against Boston.
Despite Morrison's recent resurgence at the plate and the offense's struggles to push runs across, Guillen held him out of Wednesday's starting lineup. While Morrison occasionally sits when the Marlins face left-handed pitchers, Guillen said the decision to hold him out Wednesday was made to give Morrison two days to rest his right knee since the team has an off-day Thursday.
In his place, utility man Donovan Solano started in left for the fourth time this season.
"We have to make sure we take care of his knee," Guillen said. "He's not a platoon player. We're going to pick a spot here or there to make sure his legs are fine to perform the next day."
Guillen, Bell move past 'misunderstanding'
MIAMI -- With the Marlins in the midst of a 1-8 stretch, frustrations appeared to come to a boil late Wednesday night.
Turns out, it was just a misunderstanding.
Manager Ozzie Guillen went to pull closer Heath Bell with two outs in the ninth of the Marlins' 10-2 loss to the Red Sox. Bell had given up a pair of hits in the inning, but he just struck out Will Middlebrooks for the second out of the inning before Guillen came out to pull Bell and bring in Sandy Rosario. As Bell walked off the field, he turned back and said something to Guillen.
"I just said I could get this guy out," Bell explained. "He wanted to protect me. I understood what he was saying. It kind of looked like I disrespected him, but I didn't mean it that way."
Bell was only pitching to get in some work since the Marlins are off Thursday. Guillen wanted to get him 15 to 20 pitches, and the third strike on Middlebrooks was pitch No. 19. Despite having two men on, Bell wanted to show his team he could get them out of the jam, but said he understood Guillen wanted to save his arm. Bell added that when the team is struggling like it is, minor miscommunications seem to get blown out of proportion.
"He wanted to give me some work, but not too much work and it was basically like two bulls just hitting the head," Bell said.
After Bell returned to the dugout, he explained the situation to bench coach Joey Cora and asked him to make sure Guillen didn't take it the wrong way. Bell and Guillen then patched things up after Rosario recorded the final out.
"If you're a pitcher, you're a hitter, you have to be upset [about being taken out of the game]," Guillen said, "but it was a misunderstanding. We already talked it over and it's over with."
Choate's run of success comes to an end
MIAMI -- Randy Choate said he felt the best he has felt all season. The results on the field said otherwise.
In the Marlins' 10-2 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday, Choate gave up an earned run in a home game for the first time since June 26, 2011. Not only did he give up one run, he gave up four after facing just four batters without recording an out during the eighth inning.
"That's the best I felt all year to be honest with you," Choate said. "I just looked up and four hitters later, three lefties. It's not like they roped them in the gap. ... I really couldn't tell you. That's the best I felt all year and the worst results I've had all year, by far."
Choate gave up four straight singles to Scott Podsednik, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. All four batters came around to score in Boston's six-run eighth inning.
The last time Choate gave up an earned run in a home game was when the Marlins were playing a home series in Seattle last season. He gave up a leadoff double to Dustin Ackley in the 10th and Ackley came around to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Steve Cishek during an intentional walk attempt.
Before Wednesday, Choate had not given up an earned run at either Marlins Park or Sun Life Stadium since joining the team last season, a span of 44 appearances. He gave up a pair of unearned runs to the Mets in his first appearance for the Marlins on April 3, 2011, at Sun Life Stadium.
Marlins' torrid pace on basepaths slowed
MIAMI -- Wins and runs aren't the only things that have been hard to come by lately for the Marlins, as their torrid pace on the basepaths has slowed down, too.
After stealing a Major League-best 40 bases in May, the Marlins have swiped just two bags in 11 games this month entering Wednesday.
The dip in stolen bases has been in part due to the team's low on-base percentage this month (.233 in June compared to .325 in May), but the team has also missed Emilio Bonifacio, who leads the team with 20 steals in 21 attempts but has been sidelined since May 18 with a sprained left thumb.
Bonifacio had the stitches in his thumb removed Tuesday and expects to start swinging a bat in 10 days. Still, his production in the running game has been sorely missed.
"Of course we're missing Emilio. He's probably one of the better basestealers on our team," Marlins baserunning coach Gary Thurman said, "but we just haven't been getting on base and hitting the ball like we were in the month of May."
The Marlins' two stolen bases this month are tied with the Orioles for the fewest in the Majors. Not only has the success not been there, but the attempts are down, too. Miami has just four steal attempts in June, ahead of only Detroit and Baltimore.
Part of that, Thurman said, is due to not only Miami's low on-base percentage recently, but also the team not wanting to squander the few baserunners it has been getting.
"Like anything else, it will change and guys will get hot again and we'll get going," Thurman said.
Despite the decline in production this month, the Marlins still lead the big leagues with 62 steals -- nine more than the next closest team, the Padres.
"We were putting a lot of pressure on the other team [in April and May]," shortstop Jose Reyes said. "We need to go back to that style of play again, because when we were able to do that, we were very successful."
Roof stays open for third consecutive game
MIAMI -- For the third night in a row, the roof was open for first pitch at Marlins Park.
When the team opted to open the roof for Monday's series opener against the Red Sox, it was done in an effort to switch things up and try to help end the Marlins' six-game losing streak. The team kept with the fresh air again Tuesday, and although Miami lost, 2-1, the 338,000 square-foot roof was open once again for Wednesday's finale against Boston.
It marked just the seventh time this season the roof has been open at first pitch.
One of the criteria for the roof being open at Marlins Park is a game-time temperature less than 80 degrees. The temperature inside the stadium when the roof is closed and the air conditioning is on is typically in the mid-70s, but some Marlins players believe it's cooler on the field when the roof is retracted.
"On the field here it's hot [when the roof is closed]," said outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who started in center field Wednesday for the third time since joining the Marlins. "The other night when I was out in center and they had the roof open it was nice. It was real nice. ... You feel the breeze with the roof open."
Right-hander Josh Johnson, who started Monday's game, expressed similar sentiments, saying it feels much more humid on the field with the roof closed, even with the air conditioning.
If Guillen was graded for his performance in his first season as manager, he would barely be passing -- at least in his eyes.
When asked to grade himself through the team's first 62 games, Guillen said he would give himself either a C-plus or a D.
"I should be in first place with this ballclub," Guillen said. "I got good players and I might not get the best out of them -- not yet."
Guillen said he considered starting Austin Kearns in left field Wednesday, but he doesn't believe Kearns is 100 percent healed from the right hamstring injury that sidelined him from May 24 to June 7.
"He can pinch-hit in case we need him," Guillen said, "but I'm worried about him playing nine innings right now."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.