3/14/2014 9:45 P.M. ET
Marlins' Brantly has family ties to Panama
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins catcher Rob Brantly was raised in San Diego, and he played his college ball at California-Riverside.
There also is a little known fact about the 24-year-old Brantly. He has family ties to Panama, and he was asked to play for Team Panama in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Brantly's late grandfather, Juan Pablo Brantly, was born in Chame, Panama. The catcher still has relatives in the country.
"I was even thinking about the opportunity to play for Panama in the World Baseball Classic," Brantly said. "They called me up. If I had qualified, I would have had to miss my first Spring Training with the Marlins, so I had to respectfully decline."
This weekend, the Marlins are playing two exhibition games against the Yankees in Panama, but Brantly wasn't part of the trip.
Half of the Miami team, including manager Mike Redmond, traveled to Panama on Friday in preparation for games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Brantly, though, stayed back in Jupiter, and he caught against the Mets on Friday night at Roger Dean Stadium.
"I have not been to Panama," Brantly said. "I have family there, and they've come to America to visit us. I'm sure I'll get an opportunity to go down there, whether it's a future World Baseball Classic or if I go down there on vacation to see family."
American-born players can qualify playing for other countries if they have family ties.
Carlos Lee, who played for the Marlins in 2012, is from Panama, and he helped arrange Team Panama giving Brantly a call.
Brantly would have seriously considered, but last Spring Training, he was competing for a starting big league job.
"That would have been great opportunity to represent the area of the country where my grandfather was born," Brantly said. "Carlos Lee contacted them for me. That's how I got connected with them. But it would have been my first Spring Training as the starting catcher with the Marlins."
Koehler: 'A lot of hungry people' in Marlins' clubhouse
JUPITER, Fla. -- Setting a franchise ERA record last season certainly was nice, but Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler isn't putting much weight on one statistical category.
Bottom-line results is where he is focused.
To Koehler, there is no sugarcoating a 62-100 record.
"We don't want to go through what we did last year," Koehler said. "That wasn't fun for anybody, regardless of what franchise record we set for ERA, and how well we pitched. One-hundred losses are 100 losses. So we still get tagged with those. So we were still a pitching staff that lost 100 games. We need to do a better job as a staff of when we can put that hammer down, we need to do it."
As they have all spring, the Marlins' pitching was impressive yet again, logging a 1-0 shutout win over the Mets on Friday night.
Koehler set the tone with five innings, scattering three hits, while striking out five.
Koehler is pretty much cementing his place in the rotation as the No. 5 starter. In his four Grapefruit League outings, he's allowed one earned run in 12 innings (0.75 ERA), with 11 strikeouts.
In his last two starts, he's thrown nine shutout innings with nine strikeouts. Koehler's velocity maxed at 96 mph Friday, and he was able to get swing-and-miss strikeouts with his slider and curveball.
The strong pitching overall continues, and Koehler sees no reason it won't last.
"I think it's something that will carry over, because we have a lot of hungry people in here," the right-hander said.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia provided the lone run with a home run off Zack Wheeler in the second inning. Miami won a game where it got just three hits.
A big moment for Koehler came in the third inning. Saltalamacchia had just homered and the Mets immediately threatened with a walk to Danny Muno and a single by Ruben Tejada.
The potential for a big inning was there, but Koehler struck out Matt den Dekker and Chris Young.
"If we have shutdown innings this year, we're going to be in a much better position to win ballgames," Koehler said.
Lucas relieved, but will rest with hamstring strain
JUPITER, Fla. -- Ed Lucas is experiencing some relief as well as frustration as he treats a left hamstring strain.
The utility infielder appears to have avoided a more serious injury, but he still is expected to sit out at least the next few days.
Lucas strained his hamstring in the fourth inning on Thursday while running the bases. While going from first to third base, he felt something grab in Miami's 4-2 win over the Tigers in Lakeland.
On Friday, Lucas received treatment, and he's encouraged that he likely isn't seriously hurt. Still, there is disappointment, because he is competing for a roster spot. Also, the setback caused him to not attend the Marlins' two-game exhibition against the Yankees this weekend in Panama.
"It's sore, but it's nothing serious," Lucas said. "It's enough to keep me from going on the trip, to play it safe. Rest it for a day or two and see how it feels. Not a big issue."
Adding to the disappointment is the fact Lucas is sidelined at a time he's been producing.
"It's not the time I need to be missing any games," Lucas said. "It's a little disappointing in that sense. But I look at the bright side, it's not too serious. Not a big deal. I'll be able to bounce back quickly."
Lucas is enjoying a solid spring, batting .318 (7-for-22) with a triple, home run and four RBIs.
He's involved in one of the most-watched battles in camp, competing with Donovan Solano for a utility spot. One of the two is expected to make the roster because both can play shortstop.
Derek Dietrich filled in for Lucas at second base on Thursday.
The conditions worked against Lucas on Thursday, because it was the team's coldest day of Spring Training, combined with the team making a three-hour bus ride.
"It's one of those Spring Training situations where you get off the bus, and then it was a little colder. Who knows?" Lucas said.
Menechino excited to be part of honoring Rivera
JUPITER, Fla. -- Traveling to Panama is more than a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Marlins hitting coach Frank Menechino. The trip also is a chance to see old friends, as well as take part in paying respect to Mariano Rivera.
Menechino, who previously was a coach in the Yankees' system, is looking forward to the Marlins' two-game exhibition against New York this weekend in Panama.
For the Marlins, it's also a chance to gain exposure internationally, as well as recognize the achievements of Rivera, the future Hall of Fame closer who retired after the 2013 season.
The Yankees are sending a number of their high-profile players, including Derek Jeter, for the two game-set.
"Mo is a big part of that country, as well as baseball," Menechino said. "Anybody who is able to say they are part of that, it's something special. That's why Jeter is going, and all these guys are going. It's respect for Mo. To be part of that is great. We're getting to be a part of that. It's just something that's good."
The Marlins traveled to Panama on Friday, and they will play Saturday night (9:05 ET) and Sunday afternoon (2:05).
Menechino is in his first season as a big league coach. From his days with the Yankees, he learned the importance of thorough preparation.
"Don't leave any stone unturned," Menechino said. "The Yankees taught me how to use every resource possible. Before you make decisions, find out everything you possibly can. Find out all the alternatives. Find as much information as you can before you make a decision of what you want to do."