Ozzie to guide DH again with Marlins
Interleague Play opens in AL park; Dobbs, Kearns top options
CLEVELAND -- Adapting to the American League style of play will be an adjustment for a number of Miami Marlins. But the transition won't be an issue with manager Ozzie Guillen, who previously guided the White Sox for eight years.
Interleague Play means conforming to AL rules in AL parks.
Beginning on Friday, the Marlins will leave their National League comfort zone when they open a three-game set with the Indians at Progressive Field.
Although there isn't much familiarity with the AL, the Marlins certainly have enjoyed success in Interleague Play. They are 135-117 since the concept was introduced in 1997. Taking it a step further, the Marlins have two World Series titles in their history, beating the Indians in 1997 and the Yankees in 2003.
All-time, the Marlins lead all National League teams in Interleague runs (1,212), hits (2,283), doubles (479) and RBIs (1,147).
"I love it," Guillen said of the two leagues squaring off. "It's a great idea for baseball. It's something different. I think people like it. They have a lot of fun with it."
Carlos Zambrano (1-2, 1.88 ERA) will start on Friday night, while the Indians are going with Justin Masterson (1-3, 5.40).
From a strategic standpoint, Guillen says managing in the AL is easier, due to the designated hitter.
"Now, when we go to the American League, we add another player," Guillen said.
Guillen's DH options are left-handed-hitting Greg Dobbs and right-handed-hitting Austin Kearns.
Marlins left-hander Mark Buehrle will not be starting in the Cleveland series, but the veteran is well acquainted with the AL.
Formerly with the White Sox, Buehrle notes NL clubs aren't constructed to carry a hitting specialist.
"The National League club isn't made up for an American League park," Buehrle said. "You've got four or five bench guys, but they are not playing every day as a full-time DH. It obviously strengthens you, because the pitcher doesn't hit."
Still, there is a benefit for NL clubs, because they replace their pitcher with a position player.
Players to watch
|Hanley Ramirez, 3B (.304, 17 HRs, 64 RBIs): Traditionally, Ramirez has posted big numbers against the American League. He's played in 99 games, and to go with a .304 batting average, he has a .362 on-base percentage.|
|Gaby Sanchez, 1B (.336, 4 HRs, 20 RBIs): The sample size is two seasons, but the results are impressive for Sanchez in 33 Interleague games. The first baseman has a .336 career batting average and a .382 on-base percentage.|
|Carlos Zambrano, RHP (9-8, 4.64): Zambrano will be on the mound when the Marlins open the series on Friday in Cleveland. It will be his first Interleague experience with the Marlins, after he made 29 appearances while with the Cubs.|
|Anibal Sanchez, RHP (3-2, 4.58 ERA): Sanchez gets the start on Saturday. In his career, he's appeared in nine Interleague games, with eight starts. All seven of Sanchez's outings this year have been quality starts -- at least six innings pitched with no more than three earned runs.|
Last year: In 2011, the Marlins' season began to unwind in June, when they were 5-23 overall. A number of their Interleague games were in the month. Miami did finish 8-10 against the American League for the year.
All-time: Since the inception of Interleague Play in 1997, the Marlins have had their share of success against the AL. They are 135-117 overall. Their best season was 1997, when they were 12-3. They're roughest Interleague year was 2008, when they were 5-10.
Marlins Interleague opponents:
Marlins @ Indians, May 18-20: For the first time since 2007, the Marlins are facing the Indians. The last time, and only time in Interleague Play, Miami was in Cleveland was in 2004. The Marlins took two of three in that series. Overall, the Marlins have a 6-3 advantage. Cleveland features talented shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and veteran slugger Travis Hafner.
Marlins vs. Rays, June 8-10: The annual Citrus Series has swung in Tampa Bay's favor in recent years. While the Marlins hold a 42-37 all-time edge, the Rays took four of six last year. In the last four years, the Marlins have won the season series once (4-2 in 2010). Tampa Bay features a top-flight rotation that includes David Price and James Shields.
Marlins vs. Red Sox, June 11-13: Three straight sellouts are expected at Marlins Park when the Red Sox visit South Florida for the first time since 2006. In the past, the Marlins have struggled against Boston, posting a 9-15 all-time record. This series gives fans a chance to see former Marlins Josh Beckett and Cody Ross.
Marlins @ Rays, June 15-17: A year ago, the Marlins were swept in three games at Tropicana Field. Before the series finale, which was on Father's Day, manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned. The Marlins are 17-21 all-time at Tropicana Field.
Marlins @ Red Sox, June 19-21: In a season where the Marlins are celebrating their inaugural season at Marlins Park, storied Fenway Park is 100 years old. The Marlins haven't been to Fenway since 2009, when they lost the series, 2-1. The Marlins are 6-9 lifetime at Boston.
Marlins vs. Blue Jays, June 22-24: Miami's Interleague schedule wraps up with three games at home against the Blue Jays. These clubs last met in 2009, with the Marlins pulling off a three-game sweep at Rogers Centre. Toronto hasn't been to Miami since 2006, and the Marlins also took all three games in that series.