4/14/2014 10:58 P.M. ET
Jones hopes home run sparks offensive turnaround
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Getting that first home run out of the way is a starting point for Garrett Jones, who admits his offense right now is far from being a finished product.
It's been a frustrating couple of weeks for the Marlins' first baseman, who is being counted on to deliver production in the middle of the order.
"I definitely have not been swinging the bat anywhere close to what I want to do as far as consistency goes," Jones said. "But I have a lot of at-bats ahead of me."
Jones did deliver a big blast on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. He took Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick deep to right field for his first homer of the season. At the time, it was a big hit, because it put Miami in front, 3-1.
In the eighth inning, however, Chase Utley unloaded the decisive blow with his home run, and the Phillies pulled out a 4-3 victory.
For the Marlins, the entire six-game road trip -- all losses -- was marred by late-inning letdowns.
But had the Marlins held on, Jones' home run would have loomed large.
The Marlins have been slotting their left-handed-hitting first baseman either fourth or fifth in the order. Against right-handed starters, he bats cleanup behind Giancarlo Stanton. And often, he is hitting fifth against lefties.
Through 14 games, Jones, who homered again during Monday's 9-2 loss to the Nationals, is hitting .231 with two homers and seven RBIs.
"It's just changing my mindset," Jones said. "My swing feels fine. It's just being a little more aggressive at good pitches to hit earlier in the count."
The Marlins are looking for Jones to provide power from the left side, as well as offer protection in the middle of the order for Stanton.
He's delivered a few big hits already, like his RBI double last Wednesday night in Washington. With the score tied at 6, Jones doubled to right field, driving home the go-ahead run. He had a chance for a second RBI on the hit, but Stanton was thrown out at the plate.
But the lead was short-lived, as Jayson Werth hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, and the Nationals won, 10-7.
Jones right now is seeking more consistent contact. A point of frustration is he has struck out 24 times in 52 at-bats.
The home runs on Sunday and Monday, he hopes, are a launching point to get his game going.
"It's nice to put a good swing on the ball and hit it out," Jones said. "I want to continue getting more consistent at the plate, and drive the ball, that's for sure."
Furcal begins rehab assignment with Class A Jupiter
MIAMI -- As the Marlins faced off against the Nationals at Marlins Park on Monday night, Rafael Furcal began his rehab assignment at Class A Jupiter.
Furcal went 1-for-1 with two walks and a run scored the Hammerheads' 12-3 win.
Furcal, who opened the season on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, was expected to play five innings at Jupiter, Fla., and be back in action continually for three weeks.
"The plan is for him to hopefully play every day," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We hope he continues to feel good. He will be there all week."
After a week at Jupiter, the club is considering sending the 36-year-old to Double-A Jacksonville next week.
The maximum amount of rehab-assignment days for position players is 20 days.
Redmond said the team anticipates Furcal to use pretty much his entire allotment. If that is the case, the earliest he would join the Marlins is May 6 against the Mets at Marlins Park.
Furcal, a proven veteran, signed as a free agent in the offseason to be the everyday second baseman.
Also on Monday, the team said infielder Ed Lucas, who broke his left hand late in Spring Training, was cleared to do baseball activities.
"We'll just kind of monitor him on how that hand is feeling," Redmond said. "We'll see how much activity he can do day to day."
Right-hander Jacob Turner, who was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday, retroactive to April 4, is recovering from a right shoulder sprain.
Turner, who opened the season as the fourth starter, will play catch on Tuesday, and build back up from there.
"He's feeling much better than he has," Redmond said.
Marcell Ozuna fouled a ball off the top of his left foot on Sunday at Philadelphia, but he stayed in the game. On the plane ride back to Miami, however, he was on crutches. The center fielder was given Monday off. He's feeling better, and took batting practice with the rest of the club on Monday.
Christian Yelich started in center field on Monday, with Reed Johnson in left field.
Marlins question 'gray area' of collision ruling
MIAMI -- A day after a disputed play at the plate went in the Marlins' favor, Major League Baseball contacted the Phillies to say the call was actually wrong.
Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, informed the Phillies that Miami catcher Jeff Mathis didn't provide a lane for Tony Gwynn Jr., and therefore the outcome of the ruling was incorrect.
At the time, the play was a big one, because Gwynn was tagged out. Had he scored, the Phillies would have taken a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning.
Ultimately, the Phillies won 4-3, completing a three-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park.
"What we've seen is how these rules are interpreted, that's where the problem is coming," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "That's the unfortunate thing. We're trying to get the calls right, but there is still that gray area in exactly what is out or safe. That seems to be the problem."
The play in question occurred on Chase Utley's double to left. Gwynn, on first base, was racing toward third, and initially appeared to be holding up. But left fielder Christian Yelich bobbled the ball before he threw to shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
Hechavarria's throw was coming from the third-base line, and Mathis angled toward him, which moved him in front of the plate. Gwynn was initially turning wide, but halted, and his redirection took him directly toward Mathis.
Hechavarria made a perfect throw, and Mathis had the ball in time to tag Gwynn out.
On Sunday, the play was reviewed, and the outcome was, "No violation was observed."
Catchers and baserunners are still trying to figure out how to handle close plays at the plate. Many catchers are positioning slightly different than before, and most runners are encouraged to slide.
But on this play, Mathis went with his instincts, and pretty much placed himself where he always would before.
"From what I hear, as long as you've got the ball first, you can take that contact in front of the plate," Mathis said. "If it's a bang-bang play, and the runner beats you, and the contact is before you get the ball, and somehow you do get the runner out, that's what they're trying to get away from."
Redmond also questioned which lane did Gwynn establish? At first, he was going wide, and ended up going straight toward Mathis.
"The way I understand it is the runner picks his path," the Miami manager said. "From what I saw, he was [running] out, and then his path came in toward the contact. Had he stayed on his original path, which was outside or wide, that would have never had been an issue. For me, that was a lane. I'm not sure. I'd love an explanation of what they saw that was different than what I saw. [Mathis] had the ball way before he even slid. He had the ball way before he slid into him.
"The guess, that's the gray area: the discrepancy of what's considered a lane. It looked to me like there was plenty of room for him to slide in."