After suffering through last year’s dismal, 100-loss season, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said he is happy with the team’s improvement.
“I love what we’re doing,” Loria said after watching batting practice Saturday. “We push the reset button last year, caught hell for it, and now people realize that maybe we had an idea what we were doing. We have stability now with this team.”
The Marlins entered Saturday on the fringe of playoff contention with a 60-62 record despite being without injured pitching ace Jose Fernandez for most of the season.
“We were not going to be successful the way we were before last year,” Loria said of the controversial trades involving many of the team’s top players. “We have great people running the organization, wonderful players. I love what I see, that’s all I can tell you.”• Loria said he is pleased that owners last week elected Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as Major League Baseball’s next commissioner. Loria was firmly in Manfred’s camp throughout an election process in which Tom Werner and Tim Brosnan were the other two candidates.
“I think it’s the natural evolution from the great success Bud enjoyed,” Loria said of Manfred. “Bud did wonderful things to advance the game, and Rob will take it to the next step. Manfred has great insight to the game. …”
With Henderson Alvarez returning to the mound Saturday for the Marlins after spending time on the disabled list, manager Mike Redmond has a surplus of starters — six, to be exact — he needs to whittle down to five.
Either Brad Penny or Brad Hand will end up going to the bullpen, Redmond said, but he wants to wait a little longer before making that decision.
“We’re not actually going to need a fifth starter until [next] Sunday, so that’ll either be Hand or Penny,” Redmond said. “We haven’t decided yet.”
Hand started on Friday, but Penny was available out of the bullpen for Saturday’s game. Hand will eventually join Penny there for the upcoming series against the Rangers.
“Over the next few days, those guys will pitch out of the bullpen if we need them, give us some more depth down there,” Redmond said.
The Marlins optioned Anthony DeSclafani to Triple A New Orleans following Friday’s game, creating the need for a long reliever.
So what will decide whether it’s Hand or Penny remaining in the rotation?
“Probably just a feel thing, I guess,” Redmond said. “Gives us a couple of days to think about it. I was hoping for one of them to really make a clear and easy decision. It hasn’t been. So do we want to go with a guy who has the experience or a young guy? So that’ll be my decision, and we’ll work on that the next couple of days.”
double the pain
The Marlins grounded into four double plays in Friday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, with Casey McGehee and Jarrod Saltalamacchia bouncing into two each.
McGehee has grounded into 25 double plays, which not only leads the majors but represents a new Marlins record. Greg Colbrunn, with 22 double plays in 1996, held the old mark. The major-league record of grounding into double plays is held by Jim Rice, a Hall of Famer who grounded into 36 of them in 1984.
McGehee is also hitting .333 with runners in scoring position — the fifth-best figure in the National League — so it’s not as though he has been a rally killer.
“It’s happened a few more times than it probably should,” McGehee said. “But I guess that’s the price you pay for trying to stay in the middle of the field. It’s one of those things that the knee-jerk reaction is to try to come out of your approach and try to do something different.”
While McGehee has delivered for the Marlins with runners in scoring position, Saltalamacchia has not. His .165 average with RISP ranks 98th of the 100 NL players who have had at least 75 plate appearances in those situations. Only Washington’s Danny Espinosa (.130) and San Diego’s Yasmani Grandal (.123) rank lower.
COMING UP• Sunday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (8-9, 3.86 ERA) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Josh Collmenter (8-6, 4.09), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Monday: Off day.