03/20/07 6:07 PM EST
Notes: Benitez, Julio eyed in deal
Marlins trying to land veteran reliver before Opening Day
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Sources continue to say the team has interest in veterans Armando Benitez and Jorge Julio. Of the two, Benitez is regarded as the deal that could most likely get done.
MLB.com has learned the Marlins are high on the D-backs' Julio, but talks hit a snag recently over how much of the right-hander's $3.6 million contract Florida would pick up.
Because of the money holdup regarding Julio, Benitez is believed to be the more realistic trade choice.
In 2004, Benitez set a Marlins' season record with 47 saves in his lone season with Florida.
After that season, the veteran signed a three-year contract with the Giants. Benitez has battled through injuries the past few years, but he's getting back into shape. Recently, his fastball was clocked at 92 mph.
If the Marlins don't swing a trade for a veteran reliever with closer experience by Opening Day, the team is prepared to find a closer from within its organization.
Matt Lindstrom is regarded as the frontrunner, although Henry Owens is making a push. Kevin Gregg has 125 games of big-league experience, and he may end up factoring into the mix.
Ramirez sidelined: Feeling some tightness in his right groin, shortstop Hanley Ramirez was taken out of Tuesday's game against the Nationals for precautionary reasons after the first inning.
The 2006 National League Rookie of the Year took one at-bat, and after lifting a fly ball, he felt something tighten while running to first base.
Immediately, manager Fredi Gonzalez took Ramirez out of the game.
"I didn't want to take any chances with him," Gonzalez said. "At first base after he ran, he kind of gave a little hesitation. I asked him if it was something. He said it was a little tight. I'm not taking any chances with any tightness stuff here in spring."
The Marlins are off on Wednesday, and Ramirez says he wants to play Thursday.
"We'll see," Gonzalez said. "I like to see the guys who want to come back. We'll see. We'll let our medical people examine him. If it's not Thursday, it's Friday. It's really not that important, [because] he's gotten about 60 at-bats already."
Ramirez, who has 49 at-bats plus three walks, initially tweaked his groin area a few days ago sprinting to first base.
"I felt it after I swung," Ramirez said. "I'll be ready for Thursday. It's [bothered me the last] couple of days. It's fine. I just want to make sure everything is OK and get ready for the season. I wanted to stay in."
Mitre on Wednesday: While Wednesday is the club's lone off day of Spring Training, three Marlins pitchers will be getting some work in on the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium.
Sergio Mitre and Yusmeiro Petit, the top candidates for the fifth starter spot, will be pitching in a Minor League game that starts at 10 a.m. ET.
Also expected to pitch is reliever Henry Owens.
By throwing Mitre and Petit on Wednesday, both stay on schedule to be ready every fifth day.
Because of an April 5 off-day, the Marlins plan on going with a four-man rotation until April 10. Mitre is considered the frontrunner to land the job.
Gall getting a chance: Non-roster invitee John Gall turns 29 on April 2. He just doesn't know where he will be Opening Day.
Signed to a Minor League contract, Gall likely will begin the year at Triple-A Albuquerque. If Gall does make the club, he is viewed as a "professional hitter" who can provide corner outfield depth.
A career .296 hitter with 90 homers and 452 RBIs in the Minor Leagues, Gall has been delivering some big hits of late. He had a three-run double last Thursday off Houston's Brad Lidge.
In recent years, the Marlins got a good look at Gall in Spring Training because he was previously with the Cardinals. Out of options with St. Louis, Gall did see action in eight games with the Cardinals in 2006. Late in the year, he ended up signing with the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball League.
Only in Korea a few weeks, he embraced the chance to sign with the Marlins in the offseason.
"I was looking for a different type of opportunity," Gall said. "They seemed like the most interesting and most intriguing opportunity for me. I jumped right on board and didn't think much about it."
Drafted out of Stanford in the 11th round in 2000, Gall has been around long enough to not take anything for granted.
"I've been through a few of these Spring Trainings, and I've learned not to read into it," he said. "I'm just going to give it my best, show what I can do and prepare myself for the season."
Obermueller reassigned: Following Tuesday's game, right-hander Wes Obermueller was reassigned to Minor League camp.
Obermueller projects to open the season as part of the Triple-A Albuquerque staff. A non-roster invitee, he was in the mix early for a rotation spot because of Josh Johnson's biceps nerve ailment.
Obermueller appeared in five games, with one start, and over seven innings, his ERA was 6.43.
Fish bites: Cody Ross continues to garner interest from other clubs seeking outfield depth. ... Jack McKeon, a special advisor to team owner Jeffrey Loria, returned to his home in North Carolina on Tuesday due to the death of his sister-in-law. McKeon was scheduled to stay with the club until Sunday, but he now will return in May. ... Jeremy Hermida took batting practice in the cages, but with Wednesday's day off, the team is taking it cautiously with the right fielder. Last Saturday, Hermida took a foul ball of his right kneecap. ... Robert Andino is projected to play on Thursday, which would be his first action since injuring his back on March 10 after colliding with Alfredo Amezaga. ... Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins tossed out the ceremonial first pitch on Tuesday.
Coming up: The Marlins are off on Wednesday and resume their Grapefruit League schedule on Thursday by taking on the Cardinals. St. Louis will be the home team for the 1:05 p.m. ET start at Roger Dean Stadium. Dontrelle Willis gets the nod for Florida, while Chris Carpenter starts for St. Louis.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.