7/29/2013 7:28 P.M. ET
Marlins have turned it around since last facing Mets
By Joe Frisaro and Joe Morgan / MLB.com
MIAMI -- The last time the Mets visited Marlins Park, Miami was in bad shape. The Marlins had lost nine straight games and sported the worst record in the Majors at 13-41.
But instead of sending the Marlins further into a downward the spiral, New York was swept, sparking the beginning of Miami's season turnaround.
The Marlins are 26-22 since welcoming the Mets to town on May 31.
The returns from injury of sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison and starting pitchers Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi have aided the run.
"We've played a lot better since we got our guys back and healthy," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "I think that's made a big difference.
"We've done a good job of controlling what we can control, and that's ourselves and focusing on that."
But the Marlins had enjoyed moderate success against the Mets even before May 31, splitting six games against New York, including their first series victory from April 29-May 1.
Said Redmond of his club's 8-3 record against the Mets: "It's probably more of a coincidence."
The two teams have played two of the most memorable extra-innings games this season, battling for 15 innings on April 29 at Marlins Park and 20 innings on June 8 at Citi Field. Miami won both contests.
The Marlins may have the upper hand between the two, but Redmond is not taking the remaining eight games against their National League East rivals lightly.
"We've had some great games against the Mets," Redmond said. "We know that every time we play them, or any team in our division, that it's going to be a battle. They're not going to quit. We're not going to quit. It's been fun. It's been a fun little series."
Fernandez, Cishek share NL Player of the Week honors
MIAMI -- Marlins starter Jose Fernandez and closer Steve Cishek were named the National League's Co-Players of the Week on Monday. Fernandez compiled two wins, a 2.40 ERA and 21 strikeouts in two starts, and Cishek earned five saves in five chances.
This marks the first time that either pitcher has won the award and the first time that Miami has had two players share the honor.
"It feels good," Fernandez said. "It feels better because Steve Cishek is joining me there, so that's even better."
Fernandez likely cemented his honor by fanning 13 batters -- a franchise record for a rookie -- without a walk in eight dominant innings against the Pirates on Sunday, three days before his 21st birthday.
Only Gary Nolan (15 strikeouts in 1967), Dwight Gooden (two 16-strikeout games in 1984), Kerry Wood (20 strikeouts in 1998) and Fernandez have struck out 13 batters or more without a walk before turning 21.
"The energy that he brings to the ballpark, the enthusiasm. He's created that buzz at the stadium," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We had a pretty good crowd [Sunday], and they were fired up when he was out there pitching.
"After all of the things that have happened, we need that. We need to create a buzz around our players, and I think people are getting excited about these young players and what they can do."
Cishek added: "Watching him pitch, he was outstanding. When you're watching him just dominate, it fires you up out there. When you're watching somebody punching everybody out, hitter after hitter, and he's on your side, you are just locked in and you're fired up."
The honor is yet another accolade for Fernandez, who is generating strong consideration for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. The All-Star leads rookie starters with a 2.71 ERA, a 1.045 WHIP, 124 strikeouts and a 3.2 WAR.
"This kid's special," Redmond said. "He gives us a chance every time he goes out there and makes a start. He deserves it. He earned it."
Cishek sealed the win on Fernandez's historic day with a scoreless ninth, converting his 17th consecutive save opportunity. He leads the Majors with 17 saves since June 8, besting his career-long streak of 10 set in 2012.
"It's been good -- busy is good," Cishek said. "I'm glad to be out there. Obviously, when I'm out there, it's a good sign. It means we're playing well, and the team is putting us in a situation to win, which is a good thing."
The closer has recorded a career-high 22 saves in 24 chances. Among pitchers with 20 or more saves, only Oakland's Grant Balfour and Pittsburgh's Jason Grilli have blown fewer than two.
"He's done a really good job this year," Fernandez said of Cishek. "He's just going to keep doing it. He works hard. He deserves it."
Fernandez, 20, and Cishek, 27, are two of the best arms on Miami's young pitching staff. Both rank in the top five among Marlins in WHIP, opponents' batting average, strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The duo's efforts last week cap an impressive stretch for the Marlins pitching staff, which ranks third in the Majors with a 2.92 ERA since June 16.
"I think it's great, not just personally, but for all of us," Redmond said of the weekly honor. "We've played some pretty good baseball, and those guys have been a big part of it."
Slowey may miss rest of season due to flexor strain
MIAMI -- Kevin Slowey is sidelined with a right flexor strain that will require four to six weeks of rest before throwing again.
The right-hander underwent an MRI on Monday after experiencing forearm discomfort while warming up in the bullpen on Saturday. The Marlins placed Slowey on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday night with a right forearm strain.
"None of [the doctors] felt like it was anything that was torn," Slowey said. "There was no partial anything, which I was thankful for, obviously."
Said Miami manager Mike Redmond: "For him, he needed that peace of mind to try to find out what was wrong."
The timetable for a potential return, combined with the number of games left on the schedule, might mean Slowey will miss the remainder of the regular season.
"That part's disappointing," Slowey said. "Immediately you start to think about how long the season would be and how much time we have left, but just kind of give it a little bit of time to calm down and strengthen everything else and keep an eye on it."
"You look at four to six weeks -- that's going to be a challenge for him to come back," Redmond said. "But I think the important thing for him would be to come back and just show that he's all right and he's healthy for next year."
Slowey has spent time in the bullpen and the starting rotation this year, compiling a 4.11 ERA in 92 innings. He has a 4.21 ERA and five quality starts in 14 starts compared to a 3.60 ERA in 15 innings out of the bullpen.
Although Slowey is disappointed that his season might be over, he is not dwelling on the possibility much. Instead, he is treating the situation like any other injury.
"I know I'm best off taking it just one day at a time," Slowey said. "I really am. Trying to figure out how things are going to be four or six weeks from now, it's not productive as much as I'd love to know.
"Nobody wants to know more than I do when I'll going to be back to competing, but I do know that I'm not going to be for at least the next month."
Redmond open to idea of two hitting coaches
MIAMI -- Of all the jobs on the staff, Marlins manager Mike Redmond says the toughest is the hitting coach.
The task is so demanding, several teams have decided to make it a two-person position. Redmond said he would be open to the idea next season.
"I think that's definitely something we need to talk about," Redmond said. "It really could be a two-man job. You add another guy to be in there, to work on the maintenance part of hitting -- the flips [in cages], and the early BP, and stuff like that. It would definitely free up more time for another guy.
"I've thought about that. I think that's definitely something we'll talk about this winter as an organization, about possibly having an extra guy, or having somebody else help out with that role."
The Cardinals and Phillies are just a couple of teams with a second hitting coach or instructor.
"The hitting coach is the toughest job, by far," Redmond said. "You have all those hitters. You have a lot of different routines. You have a lot of different personalities. That's the most time. The hitting coach is in that cage from 1 o'clock until game time."
The Marlins on Monday welcomed John Pierson as their interim hitting coach.
Formerly Miami's Minor League field coordinator, Pierson replaces Tino Martinez, who resigned on Sunday after reports surfaced that he was abusive to players.
Martinez on Sunday expressed his apologies during a news conference.
"He made his statement," Redmond said. "He apologized. Like I said, it was a tough situation for him, and everybody. We're moving on."
The Marlins rank last in the Majors in runs scored, batting average and home runs.
But Martinez's exit was not based on the production of the team. It was for his conduct. He primarily crossed the line by grabbing Derek Dietrich by the jersey in early May.
After it was made public that there was physical contact with a player, Martinez stated the time was right to step down.
Speaking generally about the role of a hitting coach, Redmond said: "There is early hitting. It never stops."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.