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Muckdog
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from the Palm Beach Post

Marlins defend Nunez, bullpen

By Joe Capozzi, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Twenty games into the season, the Florida Marlins believe they can win what is developing into a wide-open National League East race.

But the recent struggles of right-handed reliever Vladimir Nunez have triggered discussions among team officials over whether the Marlins can be a playoff team with a six-man bullpen. Nunez was demoted from setup man to mop-up duty Sunday after blowing a 3-2 lead by giving up his sixth home run in his past 6 1/3 innings in Florida's 7-4 loss to the New York Mets.

After Sunday's game, General Manager Admin Beinfest asked manager Jeff Torborg about the idea of expanding Florida's six-man bullpen to seven relievers. "I asked Jeff what did he think, and we were both in concert on the (six relief) pitchers," Beinfest said Monday. Going with seven relievers "is not something we're entertaining or considering strongly at this point."

Beinfest and Torborg believe Nunez can overcome his struggles, which Torborg believes are related to mechanical flaws. But until that happens, the Marlins essentially are limited to three relievers to preserve a lead -- left-hander Armando Almanza, right-hander Tim Spooneybarger and closer Braden Looper.

Almanza often isn't available to pitch on consecutive nights. Left-hander Michael Tejera is designated for long duty and right-hander Blaine Neal is trying to correct some mechanical problems.

If the Marlins added a reliever, they would have to free up a spot on the 25-man roster. They could move one of their three catchers, but the Marlins are handcuffed at that position because they're not sure whether starter Ivan Rodriguez, who is under a one-year contract, will be back next year.

Of Rodriguez's two backups, Mike Redmond has made three starts and Ramon Castro has been used only as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement. There are no plans to move Redmond or Castro, but two other bench players -- infielder Mike Mordecai and outfielder Brian Banks -- could serve as third catcher if needed.

Torborg wants his starters to go at least five and ideally six innings, allowing Nunez, Spooneybarger and Looper to close out games by each throwing one inning. Florida averaged almost 5 2/3 innings per start in the first 20 games, but the starters still aren't stretched out enough to throw 130-pitch complete games.

"We have the right 11 pitchers on the staff and we believe in their abilities and the way they have performed in the past, and that speaks for Vladi,'' Beinfest said. "Vladi has performed very well over the last two years. We asked him to do a number of things, including closing. We still remain confident in Vladi to work through whatever his issues, mechanical or otherwise." Nunez's performance also puts pressure on pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, who the team recently discussed firing.

Nunez lost both games in New York, and he lost April 4 in Atlanta. He has pitched 8 1/3 innings and allowed six home runs -- all in the last 6 1/3 innings. "Last year he got those 20 saves. He didn't do that with mirrors,'' Torborg said Sunday. "You just have to keep working with him on the side as much as you can. He and Arnie (Arnsberg) have been working every day."

Nunez had been fine-tuning his release point and arm angle by using a "towel drill" -- an exercise that allows pitchers to go through their motion by holding a towel instead of a ball and whipping it round as if following through with a pitch. Torborg thought they had Nunez corrected before Sunday, but he reverted back to his original flaw.

joe_capozzi@pbpost.com
 

AJBurnett34

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All i got to say is that our bullpen sucks, i dont know why Torborg defends them when he knows they are struggling badly and he isnt managing good. He should be using his Pen better...i think torborg should bring Spooney in more often, he is our only dependable reliever in our Pen and is very affective. I hope he pitches tonight!
 

AJBurnett34

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Vladi has been working a little on monday:

C/O:The Miami Herald

N??ez works to correct flaws
Struggling reliever: `Everybody in baseball has moments like this'
BY CLARK SPENCER
cspencer@herald.com

Beleaguered Marlins reliever Vladimir N??ez refused to spend Monday feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he worked on correcting the flaws in his delivery . . . in the backyard of his Miami home.

''I wasn't throwing 91 mph or anything,'' said N??ez, who worked on his delivery with a family member for about 10 minutes.

N??ez is 0-3, has given up six home runs in his past 6 1/3 innings and has lost his setup role. He absorbed two of the defeats in a weekend series against the Mets at Shea Stadium.

''Everybody in baseball has moments like this,'' N??ez said. ``It's a little bit weird. I'm not hurt. My arm feels fine. My velocity is right there. I am 100 percent. It is just not working.''

But N??ez said he thinks he'll snap out of it.

''I'll get better,'' he said.

The Marlins haven't given up hope . . . yet.

''We need him to be effective,'' manager Jeff Torborg said. ``He's a big horse for us, and right now, his mechanics are all off. We've got to get him back.''

N??ez's 14.54 ERA is a heavy drag on the team's bullpen ERA of 5.61 -- worst in the National League entering Tuesday.

''I can't put my head down because I know the team needs me,'' N??ez said. ``Hopefully, I won't stay like this the whole season.''

Torborg said right-hander Tim Spooneybarger has experienced slight ''tenderness'' in his right arm -- a factor in the manager's decision not to pitch him in back-to-back games in recent days.

''His arm's been a little tender, so we kind of backed off,'' Torborg said.

But Spooneybarger said it's nothing serious.

''I'm not the only guy down there [in the bullpen]that's a little sore,'' Spooneybarger said. ``That's just the life of a relief pitcher.

``You can ask me [if the arm is tender], and 155 out of 162 games the answer is yes. You could poll every pitcher in baseball and, if they're telling the truth, they all experience soreness.''
 

DurableTear

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All i got to say is that our bullpen sucks, i dont know why Torborg defends them when he knows they are struggling badly and he isnt managing good. He should be using his Pen better...i think torborg should bring Spooney in more often, he is our only dependable reliever in our Pen and is very affective. I hope he pitches tonight!
Oh come on AJ... it's common sense. Torborg isn't gonna go to the press and start critizing his reliever/bullpen, that would be a horrible move.
 

Ramp

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We save that strategy for broken down catchers.............
?

you're talking about Torborg right?
 

eadearmas

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I think he is referring to Torborg critizising Charles Johnson last year for not being in shape, and saying he was not going to get 100 games this year. They ended up trading him to Colorado and CJ bad-mouthing this organization I think. Correct me if I am wrong... :cool
 

AJBurnett34

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Oh come on AJ... it's common sense. Torborg isn't gonna go to the press and start critizing his reliever/bullpen, that would be a horrible move.
i know but he is wrong but your right he wont say nothing bad about us...i just want him to use our bullpen good and we will be alright.
 

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