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Good News on Brad Penny


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c/o espn.com

MIAMI -- Florida Marlins right-hander Brad Penny underwent an MRI on Sunday that revealed no damage to his hyperextended pitching elbow, and he may be able to rejoin the rotation this week at Atlanta.


Penny left Friday's game against the Braves in the first inning after hurting his elbow warming up. He'll play catch Tuesday, and if that goes well he'll throw from a mound Wednesday.


"He should be ready to go Saturday," manager Jack McKeon said.


An off day Monday will allow Dontrelle Willis to take Penny's normal turn in the rotation Thursday at Philadelphia.

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Notes: Penny is pushed back

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com


MIAMI -- With right-hander Brad Penny resting a hyper-extended right elbow, the Marlins will toss rookie Dontrelle Willis in the third game of their upcoming series with the Phillies at Veterans Stadium.


Willis, who's 13-6 with a 3.27 ERA, replaces Penny in the rotation for the Thursday game in the critical series in the tight Wild Card race.


The 21-year-old Willis, who has won back-to-back starts, has not faced Philadelphia.


Initially, Willis was going to pitch Friday in Atlanta, but those plans changed after Penny hyper-extended his right elbow in the first inning of his last start.


On Friday, Penny removed himself after 2/3 of an inning against the Braves at Pro Player Stadium.


An MRI exam taken Sunday came back normal.


Penny will test the arm by long-tossing on a flat surface Tuesday at Philadelphia.


He will throw off a mound Wednesday. Barring any complications, Penny is slated to start Saturday in Atlanta. If he can't go, veteran Rick Helling will fill in.


In the series with the Phillies, the Marlins will start Carl Pavano on Tuesday. Mark Redman will go Wednesday with Willis starting Thursday.


What a relief: A main reason Florida's starting pitching has been so steady is because of stellar relief pitching.


By being able to shorten games, Florida starters are not going beyond seven innings very often.


By lowering the pitch counts and number of innings, pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal said the starters have been better able to hold up in September.


Adding Helling has been a plus because he provides depth to the bullpen while being available for spot starts.


Cutting down the strain on the rotation has been pivotal for pitchers like Willis.


A few weeks ago, the Marlins considered sitting Willis a start because the rookie was laboring.


Against the Padres on Aug. 16, Willis wasn't particularly sharp in a no-decision. While the Marlins won, there were concerns that the 21-year-old D-Train could be slowing down.


A key game for Willis was in San Francisco on Aug. 22. Willis was on the losing end, but his velocity was up and he showed signs of catching his second wind.


Helling was signed about that time, and he was an option to replace Willis for a start, if need be.


But skipping a start wasn't necessary, in part, because of timely off days. That enabled all five starters to work every sixth day.


On two occasions, Willis was able to get a three-day break between his bullpen session and scheduled start.


The extra days helped rejuvenate the 21-year-old, who has been sharp in two straight outings.


Instinctive defense: The way the Marlins play defense, Marlins manager Jack McKeon says, should inspire the pitchers to throw strikes.


McKeon says the Marlins have the best defense in the league.


"This club has played spectacular defense all year," McKeon said. "This should be motivation for our pitchers to throw strikes. Most of the time the hitters will get themselves out anyway."


Typifying the splendid defense was a heads-up play turned by All-Star second baseman Luis Castillo on Saturday night.


With two outs in the fourth inning, Mark DeRosa tapped a bouncer to Miguel Cabrera. The Marlins' rookie third baseman went to Castillo at second for what could have been a routine forceout. But Cabrera's throw was high, drawing Castillo off the base.


Rather than give the Braves a first-and-second situation, Castillo alertly tossed to Derrek Lee at first. The throw barely beat DeRosa for the third out.


"Louie has great instincts," McKeon said. "He's smart enough and knew he couldn't make the play [at second], so he made the next one. Quick thinking."


Father Fox: Infielder Andy Fox was given the option to take Sunday off to be with his wife Stefanie, and their baby daughter, Abigail Josephine.


Abigail was born Saturday morning.


But the versatile infielder arrived at the ballpark early Sunday, ready for the series finale with the Braves.


After Saturday's game, Fox spent the night at the hospital and wore his hospital bracelet to the stadium Sunday.


Wife and baby are expected to go home Monday.

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# Brad Penny was able to have an MRI--sedated this time, since those machines are bad for anyone with a hint of claustrophobia--and the results backed up what he felt. After just a day's rest, Penny felt better, and with no damage apparent on the MRI, he should make a start this weekend. The worry, of course, is that no one is really sure what caused the hyperextension his last time out--leaving open the possibility that it will happen again. Given any sort of cushion in the wild card race, the Marlins have indicated that they'd like to get their starters some rest, especially Penny and Dontrelle Willis.


from baseballprospectus.com

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Just as I said over a month ago that I was not confident Spoony would return, I want, at least, to be patient with Penny's return. Dontrelle will take his next turn. Then, let's watch. Maybe Helling should take the next turn. We get too soon exuberant, as we have with Lowell. Better we drink a little slower, a little smarter.

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