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Notes: Messenger steps up in relief


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MIAMI -- Last August, Marlins reliever Randy Messenger picked up a pointer from Paul Lo Duca that is paying off right now.

Lo Duca, the former Marlins catcher now with the Mets, suggested that Messenger throw his split-finger fastball to right-handed hitters. The idea came up during a game against the Dodgers at Dolphin Stadium.


"Lo Duca got me to throw it," Messenger said. "He gave me so much confidence in that pitch."


The 24-year-old right-hander is showing signs of being a quality setup man. In five games, and nine innings, Messenger has an 0-1 record and 1.00 ERA. He's given up seven hits, struck out eight and hasn't issued a walk.


With such an inexperienced bullpen, the Marlins are looking for their young relievers to step up.


Messenger thus far has.


The right-hander is showing the ability to work one-plus innings. And he's getting more comfortable with his slider and splitter to complement his fastball and curveball.


Since he was throwing close to four weeks before Spring Training began, Messenger felt he wasn't as sharp coming into camp and when the season started.


"I think it was a case of dead arm," he said. "I was throwing so much in the spring."


While Messenger was on the Opening Day roster, he ended up being sent down to Triple-A Albuquerque before the second game of the season. He became expendable when Franklyn German was claimed off waivers from Detroit.


Messenger was brought back up on April 17, when reliever Carlos Martinez went on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow injury.


Manager Joe Girardi said a key for Messenger is working ahead in counts.


"When you locate and you throw hard, it makes you that much more difficult to hit," Girardi said.


The first-year manager has been impressed at how Messenger is staying down in the zone.


Regaining control: Rookie left-hander Scott Olsen has spent a couple of side sessions with pitching coach Rick Kranitz working on regaining his control.


High walk totals have raised concern.


In his last two starts, Olsen has run into control troubles in the fourth inning. His most glaring problem occurred last Tuesday in a no-decision against the Phillies.


That night, Olsen was lifted with no outs in the fourth inning, after he walked four straight batters before giving up a two-run single to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.


In succession, Olsen walked Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand on 19 pitches, of which three were strikes. For the inning, he tossed 22 pitches, five for strikes.


"His track record in the Minor Leagues is he's a bulldog," Girardi said. "He's just missing."


Olsen has made four starts and in 20 innings of work, he has walked 15 while hitting one batter.


Hermida injury update: Still taking it slow, Jeremy Hermida will test his tender right hip flexor on Tuesday.


The team is off on Monday, and more on his progress will be determined on how he runs the day the Marlins open a three-game series with the Braves.


On the disabled list since April 17, Hermida tweaked his hip during a rehab assignment last Monday, while playing for Class A Jupiter.


The 22-year-old right fielder has done limited work this past week. He has hit some in the batting cages and is throwing to keep his arm loose. For cardio activity, he is riding a stationary bike.


Stadium optimism: A day after the Marlins' hopes for funding in building a new stadium were shot down by the state of Florida, Girardi expressed optimism that somehow the club will secure a new home.


"It's disappointing," Girardi said of the state not offering help. "I'm a firm believer baseball should stay here.


"I still believe it's going to get worked out. I believe baseball should be here. I think they'll find a way. It will get done, I really believe that. I believe it can prosper here."


At midnight on Friday, the Florida House of Representatives adjourned without debating or voting on a $60 million sales tax subsidy that would have gone toward a new stadium in Hialeah. The House's decision to wrap up the legislative session came 15 minutes after the state Senate approved the subsidy by a 20-16 vote.


The Marlins remain determined to work with Miami-Dade County and Hialeah County toward building a 38,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium in the city of Hialeah.



It's nice to see Messy cleaning things up.

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