Could the Marlins be seeking a first baseman in a trade?
-- Juan H., Hialeah, Fla.
In the next couple of weeks, trade talks should heat up. A name to keep an eye on is Twins outfielder Denard Span. With Emilio Bonifacio recovering from left thumb surgery, the team is seeking speed in the outfield. Span could be a nice fit.
The Marlins are exploring what options are available, internally and outside the organization. They'd also like to see if a number of their regulars start picking it up. Serious trade talks usually start in July. The team, obviously, has to make sure they don't fall too far off the pace in June. We saw last year how the club went from being in contention, to the season being lost in the month, when they won just five games.
Outfield is an area the team is actively looking, because Bonifacio may not return until around the All-Star break. Along with Span, another name to consider is Peter Bourjos of the Angels, as long as the asking price isn't too high. In spacious Marlins Park, having speed in the outfield is important. If the Marlins want more of a power bat they could be looking into someone like Houston's Carlos Lee.
Sitting at .500 at this point, this is a critical stretch for the club. Clearly, the club needs a boost offensively, especially after being shut out two of three games at Tampa Bay.
With MLB's addition of a second Wild Card team in both leagues, so many teams remain in the playoff mix. Perhaps the best teams to deal with are in the American League, because many National League clubs have similar needs to the Marlins.
When Emilio Bonifacio returns from the disabled list, will he start holding batting gloves or wearing a hand brace when he slides to avoid the same injury happening again?
-- John W., Boca Raton, Fla.
As manager Ozzie Guillen points out, every time a player slides head first he risks injury. In Bonifacio's case, he tore a ligament in his left thumb. Bonifacio plans to continue sliding head-first, because it is something he has done throughout his career. Never before did he have a hand, wrist or shoulder injury doing so.
Gripping batting gloves, like Juan Pierre does, would keep his hands in a fist, avoiding his fingers being exposed. Whether that is something that would feel natural for Bonifacio is hard to say. During a game, players typically do what comes naturally.
Right now, he is wearing a thumb brace to stabilize the finger, and he is easing into baseball-related activities. When he is ready to play, I'd expect him to do what he has done throughout his career. Whether he does something or nothing will be something to look for when he returns.
What is the problem with the Marlins in June? What is so difficult about playing in the month? I just don't understand. -- Roger L.
It is puzzling to have a record-setting May, when the team won 21 games to struggling so badly in June. The 21 wins in May were the most by the Marlins in any month. A year ago, the Marlins lost a franchise high 23 games in June.
There is simply too much talent to have such a prolonged slump. In the case this year, the long-term impact of being without Bonifacio has been a factor. Bonifacio, who was hurt on May 18, is an energizing player. Combine his injury with sub-par first halves by Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison and John Buck and you are going to have problems. Chris Coghlan, recently optioned to Triple-A, also had a rough time finding consistency, as did Bryan Petersen.
Simply, the Marlins are in need of more contributions up and down their lineup. Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante also have struggled this month. Jose Reyes is starting to heat up, but Giancarlo Stanton, the National League Player of the Month in May, has cooled off a bit.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said the other day at Tampa Bay that he hasn't seen a stretch where everybody up and down the lineup has gone cold at the same time.
A year ago it was a matter of not enough depth to overcome injuries to Josh Johnson and Ramirez. These are a crucial couple of weeks to close out the month. The good news is they are at .500.
What's the reason the Marlins switched their home dugout to the third-base side at Marlins Park? What other clubs also have their dugout on the third-base side?
-- Gary F.
The decision came down to the design of Marlins Park. Simply, there was more room to put a clubhouse on the third-base side. So the choice was an easy one, because it made sense with the configuration of the building.
Other clubs in the National League that have dugouts on the third-base side are the Cubs, Giants, D-backs, Dodgers and Pirates. The Indians also have their clubhouse and dugout on the third-base side. Rounding out the American League are the White Sox, Tigers, Angels, A's and Blue Jays.
As you see, the Marlins certainly aren't alone.