Rule change or not, Ozzie shooting for division
Each league expected to have extra Wild Card team in '12
JUPITER, Fla. -- As talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players' Association moved toward adding an additional Wild Card team in each league, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't think the rule change would affect his team.
"I came here to win the division," Guillen said. "It sounds arrogant and cocky. If I say I'm coming here for the Wild Card, what message am I telling my players?"
Still, the Marlins do have some experience in the Wild Card spot. Both times the franchise has qualified for the postseason, it has come through winning the National League Wild Card. And in each of those instances, the Marlins have won the World Series.
If the decision to expand the playoffs beginning in 2012 is made, it would create a one-game first-round playoff in each league to help give more teams a chance to contend for a World Series ring.
"Anytime you involve more people, it's good for the game," Guillen said. "I think the Commissioner is doing a tremendous job adding people to have a chance to see playoff games, and I think that's great for the fans. This game, we play for them."
However, some Marlins players believe there is a downside to the proposed change.
"One game in baseball doesn't show the better team always," Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "It's cool if you're the team that made the second Wild Card, but it brings a little more competition [to win the division], I would say."
The way Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson sees it, it just gives his team a better chance to make the postseason in a very competitive NL East.
"It's just another chance for us to get in," Johnson said. "If that's what we need, it's just another shot for us to get to the playoffs. Once you get to the playoffs, then it's a totally different ballgame. All you have to do is win that one game, and you're in."
Stanton surprised by Giancarlo feedback
JUPITER, Fla. -- Mike Stanton's decision to go by his actual name, Giancarlo, has been met with a lot of attention and opinions.
And that has taken him by surprise.
"It's not a big deal," Stanton said. "It's my real name. I've had it on my nameplate always."
His full name is Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton, but he has gone by Mike for most of his life. Now, the Miami Marlins right fielder has decided to be announced during games and referred to as Giancarlo.
However, Stanton said he will still autograph baseballs as Mike instead of Giancarlo.
Stanton went to Twitter on Wednesday, changed his handle to @Giancarlo27_ and posted this message, "From now on, I'll be going by my real name..Giancarlo!. Not Metta world peace, not ochocinco. Just real, Just me!"
"I just wanted to make sure it's not like I think I'm cool now or that it's some random name that I switched it to," Stanton said of the tweet.
"But whatever, I can care less if you don't like it. If you like it, then cool, and I'll respond and talk to you. If you don't, that's my name and that's like me talking mess about your name."
Marlins' ace eager for games to get started
JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins ace Josh Johnson is ready to go.
After being out since mid-May of last year with right shoulder inflammation, Johnson faced batters for the third time in Spring Training on Thursday. Now, he is ready for an actual game.
"I'm ready to go," Johnson said. "I'm ready for the game. I'm tired of the screen in front of me."
Johnson will get his chance Monday, as he is expected to start Miami's Grapefruit League opener against the Cardinals.
The hard throwing right-hander has been working toward this moment for a while, including Thursday's session. Johnson threw 37 pitches against hitters, and said he "feels good."
"I feel really nice and smooth," the righty said. "That's pretty much what I want, because in past years, I've been muscling everything and trying to throw hard.
"You want to see yourself throw hard, you want to see your velocity, see how it is, but you don't really get too much out of that. This year, I'm just trying to get my timing down, which is a big part of my delivery."
Since Monday will be his first Spring Training start, Johnson expects to throw just 40 pitches during the outing.
JJ participates in first pro-am golf event
JUPITER, Fla. -- Josh Johnson has stood alone on the mound and pitched in front of thousands of screaming fans without much of a problem, but he still felt nervous on the golf course Wednesday.
As he got set to tee off on the first hole in the Kenny G Gold Pro-Am at the PGA National Resort, the Marlins' ace began to feel some nerves.
"I figured since it was raining so much that there wouldn't be that many people there," Johnson said. "But then we got to the first tee, and I was like, 'Nope, that's not the case. There's still tons of people here.'"
However, the pitcher's first pro-am golf event went well. The 28-year-old didn't reveal what he shot Wednesday, but said he played "OK."
Johnson, who even flew in his caddy from Las Vegas, played nine holes with National Football League kicker Jay Feely and former MLB player Rusty Staub in the event. Former wide receiver Cris Carter was also supposed to be a part of the group, but a rain delay kept him from participating because of a conflict in his schedule.
"[The best part of the experience] was probably just going out there and getting the first [pro-am] out of the way," Johnson said. "I'm hoping to do it a lot more. It's always fun to get out there with the PGA guys and see how they're hitting it, and how they're playing holes."
Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.