Nunez changeup might spark closer shakeup
Marlins could go to committee if reliever continues to struggle
MIAMI -- Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said that closer Leo Nunez has been overusing his changeup, and that could be the cause of his recent late-inning woes.
Nunez has blown two saves in his last two outings -- Saturday night vs. St. Louis and on Thursday against Philadelphia -- and he also allowed three hits and a run in a non-save situation on Wednesday against the Phillies.
"We're trying to get him to use his fastball more," Rodriguez said. "We've been using the bullpen way too much, and that may be the reason he doesn't want to go with the fastball. For now, he's our closer, but if he doesn't make an adjustment, we may have to explore other options -- maybe do a closer by committee."
Despite this week's rough outings, Nunez has still had a strong season, with a 2.91 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 12 walks over 46 1/3 innings. After giving up 13 homers in 2009, he has given up just one this year.
Old stance helps Hanley return to form
MIAMI -- Shades of the Hanley Ramirez of old have returned.
The Marlins' All-Star shortstop has gone back to the stance he used in 2006, when he was the National League Rookie of the Year.
After consulting with Hall of Famer Tony Perez, a Marlins special assistant, Ramirez decided to alter his style to what worked for him when he broke into the big leagues. The results were immediate.
In Saturday's 5-4 win in 10 innings over the Cardinals, Ramirez opened the first inning with a homer. And he ended the game with an RBI double, marking his first career walk-off hit.
"It's been a little bit tough for me lately, so I went back to '06," said Ramirez, a career .311 hitter who has posted a .280 average this year.
The adjustments he's made are that he has opened his stance, meaning his left leg is positioned more toward third base. And he has lifted his hands higher.
"I think I was dropping them too much, and I was getting under the ball," Ramirez said.
During batting practice on Saturday, Ramirez tried out his old ways, and he was stinging the ball to all fields.
Observing was Perez.
"I felt good right away in batting practice," the 26-year-old said. "I was talking with Tony. I was getting my first round in, and [Perez] said, 'Why do you do that in batting practice, but you don't do it in the game?' I told him, I was going to do it [Saturday]."
When at his best, Ramirez drives the ball to all fields, especially taking pitches away and lacing them to right-center.
A sign that he's gotten away from what's worked before is his lack of two-base hits. Saturday's double was just his 18th, and first since June 28.
When he won the batting title last year, Ramirez had 42 doubles, and he's never had less than 34 in a season.
Normally, tinkering with a stance takes a couple of days to feel comfortable.
"I felt good right away," he said.
Gaby, Ross expected back on Tuesday
MIAMI -- Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez (hamstring) and outfielder Cody Ross (neck) were both out of the starting lineup in Sunday's series finale with the Cardinals, but both they and manager Edwin Rodriguez are optimistic they would be back in action in Tuesday's opener against Washington and Stephen Strasburg.
Sanchez, hindered by a tight right hamstring, was available to pinch-hit Sunday, but Ross, uncertain where the pinch in his neck came from, was sitting out as a precaution.
"They should be all right," Rodriguez said. "Gaby will do a full workout today, and Cody will get two full days off [with Monday's off-day]."
The team doesn't want to take any chances with Sanchez, the rookie first baseman who paces the team with a .294 batting average. He aggravated his hamstring while stealing second base in the seventh inning of Thursday's 10-inning loss to the Phillies.
"Better to miss three days than the rest of the season," Sanchez said.
Ross, the Marlins' center fielder, is batting .270 with 10 homers and 53 RBIs. Emilio Bonifacio, who made a nice throw to home plate to nail Matt Holiday on Saturday, has been filling in at center field during the weekend series with the Cardinals.
On the season, Josh Johnson has come away with no-decisions six times after handing the bullpen the lead -- most in the Majors. ... Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez homered in the same game for the fifth time this season on Saturday. ... The Marlins and Reds have played an NL-leading 38 games decided by one run -- the Marlins are 18-20. ... In 22 games to begin the second half of the season, Uggla leads the NL with nine homers. ... The Marlins-Phillies June 9 rainout will be made up as part of a split day/night doubleheader on Sept. 6. The Sept. 5 game vs. Atlanta has been moved to a 12:10 p.m. ET start.
Faran Fagen is a contributor to MLB.com. Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.