Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria denied a Yahoo! report Friday that he personally mandated the lineup card change that flip-flopped starting pitchers Jose Fernandez and Ricky Nolasco before a doubleheader Tuesday in chilly Minnesota, which did not sit well in the clubhouse.
“I had nothing to do with the decision,” Loria told FoxSports.com on Friday. “I was informed of the decision by the baseball department. I told them it was their call.
“I don’t make decisions on who to pitch and when, how to go about it — that’s not my role. Sometimes they call me and tell me what they’re doing. But I don’t call them up and say, ‘This is what is going to happen.’ That’s not true.”
Loria told FoxSports he was discussing his primary business — art — at the time he received a call about the pitching changes from general manager Michael Hill.
“I was engaged in discussions in the world about pictures, as in paintings, not pitchers, guys who can or can’t paint the strike zone,” he said.
Citing three unnamed sources, Yahoo! said Loria insisted that Fernandez, the team’s prized 20-year-old rookie, pitch in the first half of the doubleheader at frigid Target Field instead of the scheduled Nolasco because the day game was expected to be warmer. The temperature at Fernandez’s first pitch (38 degrees) was actually colder than at the beginning of Nolasco’s start (42 degrees).
For doubleheaders, it is normal protocol to allow the pitcher with the most seniority to have his choice of games. Nolasco is the team’s all-time wins leader and its Opening Day starter. Fernandez had made only three big-league starts going into Tuesday.
Nolasco’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told The Miami Herald on Thursday: “I know it wasn’t the manager’s decision, and [front office executives] Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill have too much integrity to make that type of call.”
Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who was reportedly embarrassed by the decision, was asked about the reports Friday.
“We were all on the call,” Redmond said. “It was an organizational decision. I’ll leave it at that.”
As heartbreaking as Thursday’s 4-3 loss was for Marlins starter Kevin Slowey because he let a 3-1 lead get away from him and failed to pick up his first win since Sept. 18, 2010, there was a positive.
He threw a season-high 112 pitches over six innings of three-run, five-hit ball and felt good afterward.
“For a pitcher like me who has come back from some injuries to know my manager and my pitching coach have faith in me that my pitches 105 to 112 are still going to be competitive, it’s a great thing,” said Slowey, who didn’t pitch during all of 2012 because of a fractured rib and missed the rest of the 2011 season with an abdominal strain.
“I felt like I was still commanding the ball where I wanted to. The [game-tying home run] pitch to [ Nate] Schierholtz, [I] just didn’t execute it in where I wanted it. But those next couple batters I was able to continue to let it go. I didn’t feel winded or exhausted.”
Redmond said he felt “totally confident” having Slowey continue to work in the sixth. Slowey hadn’t thrown more than 93 pitches in a game this season before Thursday.
“We need to get this guy a win,” Redmond said. “He’s pitched his butt off. He deserves it.”
Marlins RHPAlex Sanabia
(2-2, 5.09 ERA) vs. Chicago Cubs LHPTravis Wood
(1-1, 2.08), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Marlins RHP Nolasco (1-2, 3.81) vs. Cubs RHPCarlos Villanueva
(1-0, 1.53), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Sanabia, coming off a loss Sunday in Cincinnati, has never had a losing streak in his 22-game, 18-start career. He is 2-0 with a 5.21 ERA in four appearances after a loss. Wood is 0-2 with a 1.69 ERA in two starts against Miami.