Veteran Gutierrez Takes Experience from Jacksonville to New Orleans

Player Profiles

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by Matt Leland / Jacksonville Suns

Every team, even a young squad like the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, needs someone who has been around the block, a veteran to provide perspective when things are going well and calm when things aren’t.

The Suns may have lost one of their veteran leaders for the foreseeable future when the organization promoted infielder Chris Gutierrez from Jacksonville to Triple-A New Orleans on Wednesday. Gutierrez possessed the most professional experience of any Suns player at the time of his promotion.

“I’ve been playing a long time, and [the Suns] are kind of young for being a Double-A team,” Gutierrez said shortly before his promotion to New Orleans. “We’ve got a lot of 21 and 22 year olds….they should have no problem coming to me and asking me something or how things work.”

Gutierrez began his career in the Toronto Blue Jays organization back in 2005, out of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. The young infielder began what is currently a nine-year career in the minors, reaching as high as Triple-A Syracuse for the Jays before making stops in both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels organizations.

The right-handed hitter finally landed in the then-Florida Marlins organization in 2011, spending parts of both that season and 2012 with Jacksonville while also making stops with the New Orleans Zephyrs during both campaigns.

2013, however, has proven to be a different kind of season for Gutierrez, who saw his role change to that of a veteran bat off the bench instead of an everyday starter.

“I’ve been an everyday player my entire nine-year career,” Gutierrez said. “This year I’m more of a role player, coming off the bench. I’ve just got to not get frustrated with having a bad game or a bad at-bat, and know that my work is going its way.

“I’m learning right now…You can only take so many swings in a day where you’re fresh. I think the work you do in the cage helps. I think the biggest key is not to waste the at-bat.”

Now in New Orleans, Gutierrez may have the chance to tell his Zephyrs teammtes about the talent in Jacksonville, which is approaching becoming one of the best assemblages of pure skill in recent memory. Outfield prospects like Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick have Gutierrez, a nine-year veteran who has witnessed plenty of good players, optimistic about the future of the organization he’s called home for the past three seasons.

“They’re pretty special players,” Gutierrez said of Yelich and Marisnick. “I’ve seen a lot of guys play. I played with J.P. Arencibia…Travis Snider…Mark Trumbo, so I’ve seen of lot of good players. Yelich is very, very special. He’s on a different level than everybody else.”

Gutierrez now has a chance to carve out something special for himself and take advantage of his third promotion to the highest level in minor league baseball. Although he is no longer on the Suns roster, the man Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett called the team’s “rock” has undoubtedly left an impact one the players still donning the black, white and gold.

Suns This Morning (5/31)

Suns This Morning

By Andrew Green / Jacksonville Suns

Have a night, Jake Marisnick.

Three hits, two runs, a double, two grand slams, nine RBI, ten total bases.

In addition to breaking a Suns record for RBI in a game, the outfielder tied a Southern League record with that tally. Prior to last night’s contest, Jake Marisnick had never hit a grand slam in his professional career. He accomplished the feat in back-to-back innings in Jacksonville’s 11-2 victory over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

Below are the “Voice of the Suns” Roger Hoover’s calls of each of Jake Marisnick’s grand slams.

http://k002.kiwi6.com/hotlink/4hdk8969m5/marisnickgrandslam.mp3%20 http://k002.kiwi6.com/hotlink/5a1h20y247/marisnick2ndgrandslam.mp3%20

It was one of those nights that will live in Suns baseball lore for years and surely one that Marisnick will never forget. In case you missed it last night, be sure to check out this post to hear the 23-year-old’s thoughts on his performance.

Also of note, Miami Marlins infielder Logan Morrison made a pinch hit appearance for the Suns in the seventh inning, eventually drawing a five-pitch walk. Morrison would score on the first of Marisnick’s grand slams.

Suns starter Robert Morey (6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO) earned the win after firing six shutout innings, yielding six hits and adding four strikeouts.

The victory 11-2 Suns victory evened the series with the Blue Wahoos at 2-2, with the fifth game of the series looming this evening at 8:00 p.m. ET at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. Jacksonville is also tied with the Mississippi Braves for first in the Southern League South Division.

RHP Bryan Evans (0-2, 9.00 ERA) is expected to toe the rubber tonight for the Suns, while the Blue Wahoos are scheduled to give the ball to RHP Josh Smith (3-5, 4.10 ERA).

The Suns’ parent club, the Miami Marlins, fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 Thursday evening with the Rays finishing a sweep of the Fish. Former Suns outfielder Marcell Ozuna singled in the contest to extend his hit streak to 15 games, which is currently the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.

Miami is set to face the New York Mets for a three-game series at Marlins Park, with the series opener slated to begin tonight at 7:10 p.m. RHP Jacob Turner (NR) is anticipated to start for the Marlins, while the Mets are expected to send RHP Shaun Marcum (0-5, 5.77 ERA) to the hill.

Below is today’s Suns This Morning.

Florida Times-Union: “Suns’ Marisnick Hits Two Grand Slams In Victory At Pensacola
Pensacola News Journal: “Suns’ Marisnick Smacks Blue Wahoos
MiLB.com: “Suns’ Marisnick Has ‘Grand’ Ole Time
Miami Herald: “Marisnick Belts Grand Slams In Back-To-Back Innings
Sun Sentinel: “Streaky Webb Looks To Break Out Of Slump
Palm Beach Post: “Sore Knees Delay Giancarlo Stanton’s Return To Marlins
MLB.com: “Dietrich Among Young Marlins Feeling Optimistic
Big League Stew: “Pirates Bring Actual Sharks Into Clubhouse In Honor Of ‘Shark Tank’ Bullpen
AJC.com: “Braves Promote Left-hander Alex Wood
USA TODAY: “These Records Are Made To Be Broken

Marisnick’s Historic Night Paces 11-2 Suns Win

Game Recap

by Matt Leland / Jacksonville Suns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jake Marisnick launched two grand slams and broke the Jacksonville Suns (28-23) record for RBI’s in a game as the Suns beat the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (18-34) 11-2 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

Marisnick blasted bases loaded home runs in back to back innings in the seventh and eighth, both off Blue Wahoos right-hander Josh Ravin, and finished his night with a Southern League record-tying nine RBI’s. The homers were the first two grand slams of Marisnick’s professional career.

“I felt good, I felt comfortable,” Marisnick said following his record-setting night. “I kind of slowed some stuff down, got some good pitches to hit and put some good swings on them.”

Jacksonville had built a slim 2-0 lead when Marisnick came to the plate in the seventh, already 1-for-3 with a run batted in. With the bases loaded and one out, Marisnick crushed a 1-2 pitch from Ravin over the left-field wall for his first grand slam, giving the Suns a 6-0 advantage.

“It was a curveball, he just left it up,” Marisnick said of the pitch from Ravin. “I just took a nice, easy swing at it and connected with it.”

Just one inning later, after Christian Yelich knocked in the Suns’ seventh run with a single, Marisnick again came to the plate with the bases full, this time with two outs. Marisnick worked the count to 1-1 and then whacked his second grand slam over the fence in left, finishing his 3-for-5, nine RBI night.

“[Ravin] threw me a fastball, and I fouled the first one back,” Marisnick said. “Then he threw the same one, and I was right on it.”

The offensive outburst came at an ideal time for the Suns, who had scored a total of ten runs over their last eight games. Jacksonville tallied 12 hits and rode Marisnick’s grand slams to their 28th win of the season.

“We haven’t been swinging the bats really well,” Marisnick said. “For a lot of us to come out and have good nights tonight was huge for the team.”

“He’s a special young player,” Suns manager Andy Barkett said following the victory. “He’s got a lot of talent. They left some pitches out over the plate, and he showed what he can do.”

The Suns’ lone run through the first six innings was enough to hand Blue Wahoos’ right-hander Daniel Renken the loss. Renken, struck out seven and only allowed four hits but did not receive enough support from his offense to avoid dropping his fourth decision of the year.

Coupled with the Mississippi Braves’ loss at Trustmark Park to the Montgomery Biscuits, the Suns’ win achieved a virtual tie atop the Southern League South division.

Lost in Marisnick’s historic performance was a strong outing from Suns’ right-handed starter Robert Morey, who kept the Blue Wahoos at bay while the contest still remained a close affair. Morey threw six shutout innings, limiting Pensacola to just six hits and striking out four. Morey also walked only one batter in earning his second win in 2013.

Yelich finished his night 2-for-4, including a leadoff triple that snapped a seven-game hitless streak for the Marlins’ number two overall prospect. Logan Morrison, with the club on a Major League rehab assignment, pinch hit in the seventh inning and drew a walk.

The Suns will try to secure a series tie in game five of the six-game set on Friday behind Bryan Evans (0-2, 9.00), making his third start for Jacksonville in 2013. Evans will face right-hander Josh Smith (3-5, 4.10) for Pensacola, as the Blue Wahoos attempt to recover from Marisnick’s impressive performance.

Suns fans can listen to Friday’s game on the Suns Baseball Network, 94.1 WSOS-FM or through jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com or the Suns iPhone or Android app, beginning at 7:45 p.m. ET with the UF and Shands Suns Pre-Game Show.

Listen as the Suns face the Blue Wahoos in Pensacola

Game Preview

Suns starter Robert Morey is set to take the hill tonight for the Suns (Jay Metz)

By Andrew Green / Jacksonville Suns

After splitting their doubleheader with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Wednesday, the Jacksonville Suns return to Pensacola Bayfront Stadium for the fourth game of their six-game series with the Blue Wahoos tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Pensacola currently leads the series 2-1 after taking the first game of the series Tuesday, followed by the twinbill split last night. Jacksonville enters tonight’s action just one game back of the Mississippi Braves for first place in the Southern League South Division.

The Suns are expected to send RHP Robert Morey (1-1, 3.59 ERA) to toe the rubber tonight. In his most recent start on May 25 versus Birmingham, the right-hander suffered the loss after allowing three earned runs on five hits in seven innings of work. Morey faced the Blue Wahoos earlier this month on May 10 at Bragan Field, yielding a lone hit while striking out five in six scoreless frames.

Expected to oppose Morey tonight for the Blue Wahoos is RHP Daniel Renken (1-3, 4.03 ERA) in the fourth game of the series. The 23-year-old did not factor in the decision in his last outing on May 25 at Chattanooga despite allowing a lone earned run on just three hits, adding five strikeouts in six innings pitched. In two starts against the Suns this year, Renken owns an 0-1 record and 3.38 ERA (4 ER in 10.2 IP).

Fans can listen to the game on the Suns Baseball Network, with the “Voice of the Suns” Roger Hoover entering his second season as Jacksonville’s Director of Broadcasting. Hoover is assisted by Matt Leland and Andrew Green. Leland and Green will host the UF & Shands Suns Pregame Show beginning at 7:50 p.m. ET on the Suns Baseball Network.

Below are more notes on tonight’s game, direct from the official Suns game notes compiled by Roger Hoover. The entire game notes for tonight’s contest can be viewed by clicking here.

One Game Back, 18 Games To Go: The Jacksonville Suns enter today’s game only a game back of the Mississippi Braves for first place in the Southern League South Division Standings. The first half is starting to wind down, with only 18 games remaining before the final contest of the half on Monday June 17 against the Montgomery Biscuits at Bragan Field. All but five games during the remainder of the first half will be against division opponents for the Suns.

 

LoMo with Suns on MLB Rehab: Marlins infielder and former Jacksonville Sun Logan Morrison is with the Suns on a Major League rehab assignment from the Marlins as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. In his first game on Tuesday, Morrison went 0-3 with a walk in his first game with the Suns since 2009. In Wednesday’s first game of the doubleheader, Morrison drove in the lone run, going 1-3 with an RBI. In his six games for the Hammerheads during his assignment, the 25-year-old has compiled a .174 average (4-23), adding three RBI. Morrison Coming into this season, Morrison owns a .250 average in his Major League career, adding 36 homers and 126 RBI in 278 games for the Marlins. He was selected by the Marlins in the 22nd round of the 2005 Draft. Morrison was a member of the 2009 Southern League Champion Jacksonville Suns, and recorded a .277 mark adding eight homers and 47 RBI in 79 contests for the Suns that year. The title was the first of back-to-back league championships for Jacksonville.

 

Runs At a Premium: The Suns have had a tough time scoring runs this week. Jacksonville has been shut out in four of the past six games, losing five of those contests. When Logan Morrison gave Jacksonville a 1-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI single in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader, it was the first RBI “hit” for the Suns in the past 44 innings, going back to a Chris Gutierrez RBI triple last Friday. The Suns had a 29 and a third inning scoreless streak that was immediately followed by a 14 inning scoreless streak. After LoMo’s RBI single, the Suns didn’t score again in the doubleheader, and the Suns enter tonight’s game haven’t scoring in the past 11 innings.

Tonight’s broadcast will air on the Suns Baseball Network’s flagship station 94.1 Classic Rock WSOS-FM, plus the Suns’ mobile app. Click the link below to listen live online.

Listen live to the Suns and Blue Wahoos May 30, 2013

You can also follow along with the game by following the Suns Baseball Network on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

Five years since being drafted, Edgar Olmos getting closer to Majors

Player Profiles

Suns reliever Edgar Olmos. Photo Courtesy: Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports

By Andrew Green / Jacksonville Suns

So far this season, the Jacksonville Suns bullpen has been one of the club’s strengths. This month alone, the squad’s relievers have combined for a 2.41 ERA (23 ER in 86.0 IP), in addition to a WHIP of 1.17 and .241 average against.

One of the strongest cogs this year in the Suns bullpen has been southpaw Edgar Olmos. The lefty leads the club with a 1.37 ERA (4 ER in 26.1 IP) and has not allowed an earned run in all but three of his 18 relief appearances.

A starter as recent as last year, the left-hander seems to have found his niche as a reliever.

“Consistency has been the main key and being aggressive,” the 23-year-old says when asked of the source of his success thus far. “Attacking hitters and going after them instead of them waiting on you.”

The California native found himself in new territory earlier this month in Mississippi, notching his first save of his professional career to preserve a 2-1 Jacksonville victory over the M-Braves.

“It felt a little different, but you still have to go out there with the same mindset, same aspect of the game,” he said. “Just go after them and attack them. It worked out well for me.”

It was another new experience for Olmos during the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, with the Marlins selecting the high school senior in the third round of the draft out of Birmingham High School in Los Angeles, California. The left-hander laughs and admits he was caught a little off guard when asked what he remembers from that day.

“Shock!” he exclaims.

“I was sitting in my room with my family, couple of friends and my high school coach,” he adds. “We were watching the computer screen and I kind of just stopped paying attention and I heard my dad screaming and jumping up and down.”

He was the sixth pick of the third round by the Marlins and 83rd overall selection that year. Olmos says however, it did not all hit him right away.

“It kind of didn’t hit me until a week later when I showed up to Jupiter,” he says. “It was a fun experience and I’m glad I shared it with my family and friends.”

It wasn’t the only aspect of the experience that Olmos shared with his family, extending part of that first paycheck with his loved ones as well.

“I bought my big sister a laptop for school, I bought my brother an iPod,” he recalled. “I also bought my parents a Macbook for the house.”

Not long after signing the professional contract, Olmos began his career at Rookie ball with the GCL Marlins. He’s gradually worked his way up through the system, now succeeding at the Double-A level. If the lefty continues that success, Miami may not be too far off in the future.

Suns This Morning (5/30)

Suns This Morning

Miami Marlins outfielder and former Sun Marcell Ozuna. Photo Courtesy: David Santiago / El Nuevo Herald

By Andrew Green / Jacksonville Suns

The Jacksonville Suns gained a half game closer with the Mississippi Braves in the Southern League South Division with a split of their doubleheader with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Wednesday night.

The Suns topped the Blue Wahoos 1-0 in the first game of the twinbill thanks to Logan Morrison’s RBI single to center in the third inning. Morrison, who is with Jacksonville on a Major League Rehab Assignment, finished the evening 1-for-3 with the RBI single, wedged in between lineouts to center and short.

In the nightcap of the doubleheader, it was Pensacola’s turn for a 1-0 victory thanks to David Vidal’s RBI double to left in the sixth inning. With three games remaining in the series and Pensacola leading the series 2-1, the two teams will face off again Thursday evening with first pitch set for 8:00 p.m. ET at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

RHP Robert Morey (1-1, 3.59 ERA) is scheduled to take the hill for Jacksonville in the fourth game of the six-game set, while Pensacola to expected to send RHP Daniel Renken (1-3, 4.03 ERA) to toe the rubber as the Suns look to even the series.

The Suns’ parent club, the Miami Marlins, fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 Wednesday evening at Marlins Park. Tampa plated two of their tallies in the top of the first, thanks to Kelly Johnson’s RBI single while also scoring on a double play later in the frame.

Former Suns outfielder Marcell Ozuna extended his hitting streak to 14 straight games with an infield base hit. Marlins radio broadcaster Glen Geffner tweeted this stat during the contest, showing where Ozuna’s streak stands among Marlins rookies.

The Marlins face the Rays again tonight in Miami, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. at Marlins Park. RHP Ricky Nolasco is set to get the nod for the Fish, while Tampa Bay is scheduled to give the ball to RHP Alex Colome (NR).

There were not one, but two three-homer games in the Major Leagues Wednesday, with Chicago Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro accomplishing the feat first during the Cubs’ 9-3 win over their cross-town rival Chicago White Sox.

Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman matched Navarro later Wednesday evening, though his performance came in a 9-6 losing effort to the Baltimore Orioles. Chris Davis left the yard twice for Baltimore and now has 19 longballs this season.

Below is today’s Suns This Morning.

Florida Times-Union: “Suns Split Doubleheader With Pensacola
Pensacola News Journal: “Struggles At Plate Continue
MiLB.com: “Old Meets New In Barons’ Regions Field
Miami Herald: “Marlins Outfielder Chris Coghlan Comfortable Again
Sun Sentinel: “Marlins Honor Ten-Year-Old Cancer Victim Bella Rodriguez-Torres
Palm Beach Post: “Marlins Call Up 31-Year-Old Rookie Ed Lucas
MLB.com: “Ozuna Already Making History With Marlins
Big League Stew: “Skunk Walks Through Outfield, Interrupts Minor League Game
Boston.com: “17 Players Who Began Their Careers At A Position We Forgot They Ever Played
Sports Illustrated: “It’s Time For A New Approach To The Role Of Closer

Breakdown of Logan Morrison’s second rehab appearance with Suns

Marlins News

Former Sun Logan Morrison played in his second game for Jacksonville as part of his Major League Rehab Assignment Wednesday. Photo Courtesy: Jon M. Fletcher / The Times-Union

By Andrew Green / Jacksonville Suns

Miami Marlins infielder Logan Morrison made his second rehab appearance with the Jacksonville Suns Wednesday night, going 1-for-3 with an RBI single in three plate appearances against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. All three of those at bats came in the first game of of Jacksonville’s doubleheader with the Blue Wahoos.

Morrison is recovering from offseason knee surgery and joined Jacksonville Tuesday after his Major League Rehab Assignment was transferred from High-A Jupiter.

Following the doubleheader, Suns manager Andy Barkett was asked about Morrison’s performance from the first contest.

“He looked really good today, his timing was better today. He got through pitches better today, facing left-handers. He was right on pitchers and having really good at bats, moved well in the field and again bringing his presence to the dugout and to our team makes us better. Him leaning on the other players and being an example has just been great.”

First Plate Appearance: First Inning, Man At First, One Out, Four Pitches Faced, Lineout to Center

In his first at bat of the evening, Logan Morrison faced Blue Wahoos left-hander Ryan Dennick and took an inside pitch for ball one, followed by a called strike. After taking a low and outside curveball, Morrison lined the 2-1 offering into center, settling into the glove of Pensacola center fielder Ryan LaMarre for the second out of the frame.

Second Plate Appearance: Third Inning, Runners At First & Second, Two Outs, Five Pitches Faced, RBI Single To Center

In his next plate appearance, Morrison stood in again against the Blue Wahoos southpaw Dennick, with two runners on base with two outs in a scoreless contest. After taking the first pitch for a ball, the infield looked at a curveball that hit the outside corner of the zone, evening the count to 1-1. Morrison checked his swing on a pitch low and out of the zone, and took an inside fastball before ripping the 3-1 offering into center for a base hit, scoring Noah Perio from second to give the Suns a 1-0 lead in the first game of Wednesday’s twinbill. Morrison would later in the inning be thrown out at second as part of a fielder’s choice.Third Plate Appearance: Sixth Inning, Nobody On, No Outs, Three Pitches Faced, Lineout To Short

In his final at bat of the evening, Morrison faced lefty reliever Wilkin De La Rosa, eventually lining out to short. After taking the first pitch for ball one, Morrison fouled the second pitch off, before lining out sharply to short in what turned out to be his final appearance of the evening. The infielder did not appear in the nightcap of the doubleheader.Jacksonville topped the Blue Wahoos 1-0 thanks to Morrison’s RBI single in the first game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader, while Pensacola defeated the Suns 1-0 in the second game of the twinbill.

Suns Split Doubleheader in Pensacola

Game Recap
Suns catcher Taylor Krick. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

Suns catcher Taylor Krick. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

by Matt Leland / Jacksonville Suns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Suns (27-23) broke a five-game losing streak but could only manage a split of a doubleheader on Wednesday with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

Both contests were 1-0 affairs, with Jacksonville taking the opener and Pensacola winning the nightcap. Logan Morrison, with the Suns on a Major League rehab assignment drove in game one’s lone run with an RBI single, while David Vidal provided the winning margin for the Blue Wahoos in game two.

Game one saw the Suns continue to slumber at the plate, but excel on the mound. Starter Sam Dyson (2-4) delivered five shutout innings when Jacksonville needed them most, allowing just two hits in his second win of the season. The right-hander only struck out one batter but also surrendered just one walk, all while protecting a slim one-run lead.

The Suns acquired the small advantage in the top half of the third against Blue Wahoos starter Ryan Dennick (2-5), thanks to Morrison. With the bats mired in a 14 inning scoreless streak, the rehabbing Major Leaguer singled in Noah Perio for what proved to be the only run of the game. Morrison’s hit was one of just four in game one for the Suns, as the first baseman finished his night 1-for-3 with the RBI.

Dyson, however, was good enough to make the four hits work. The right-hander allowed just three runners to reach scoring position and stranded them all before giving way to Arquimedes Caminero to start the sixth. Caminero worked a scoreless inning before loading the bases with one out in the seventh.

Caminero was lifted for Michael Brady, who promptly retired the final two hitters to seal the win, closing it out by striking out Travis Mattair. The win snapped the Suns’ season-long five-game losing streak.

Game two was also a low-scoring affair, as both Suns’ starter Rob Waite and Blue Wahoos right-hander Shaun Ellis blanked the opposition over four innings. With the Suns still struggling to create rallies, it was Pensacola that finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth against Grant Dayton. Bryson Smith led off the frame with a double, and Vidal followed suit to give Pensacola a 1-0 lead.

Jacksonville loaded the bases in the top of the seventh but Mark Canha flied out to end the threat and the game. The Suns did have seven hits in the nightcap despite the loss, snapping a streak of six consecutive games with four hits or fewer. Jacksonville has also been shut out in four of its last six contests.

The Suns will attempt to even the series at two wins apiece in game four of the six-game set on Thursday. Right-hander Robert Morey (1-1, 3.59) will take the ball for Jacksonville, opposed by Blue Wahoos righty Daniel Renken (1-3, 4.03). First pitch is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.

Suns fans can listen to Thursday’s game on the Suns Baseball Network, 94.1 WSOS-FM or through jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com or the Suns iPhone or Android app, beginning at 7:45 p.m. ET with the UF and Shands Suns Pre-Game Show.

Recent Homestand Provides Rare Opportunity for Suns’ Canha

Player Profiles
Suns infielder Mark Canha. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover

Suns infielder Mark Canha. Photo Courtesy: Roger C. Hoover

by Matt Leland / Jacksonville Suns

The Jacksonville Suns’ most recent home series featured a matchup against the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The Barons’ visit to Bragan Field presented an interesting scenario for Suns’ first baseman Mark Canha, who had the opportunity to play against two young men whom he once called his teammates.

Canha played collegiately at the University of California at Berkeley, a program that just two seasons ago was in danger of being eliminated from the Golden Bears’ athletic department. Canha was already in the Miami Marlins’ organization by the 2011 campaign, a season that saw several generous donors step in and save the program, but he still knew most of the players on the squad that made a Cinderella run to the College World Series.

Infielder Marcus Semien and starting pitcher Erik Johnson played with Canha on Cal’s 2009 and 2010 teams, and the Chicago White Sox eventually drafted both into the organization. As luck would have it, both Semien and Johnson found themselves a big part of Birmingham’s plans as the team rolled into Jacksonville for a five-game series.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Canha said of the opportunity to play against his former teammates. “When you’re in pro ball, you don’t get to see a lot of people from back home, or that you used to play with. It’s good to see some familiar faces out there.”

Canha took the opportunity to speak with his friends and catch up, but remained mindful that they are now his competitors.

“I’ve talked to Marcus on the field a little bit, because he’s playing every day,” Canha said. “And then I talked to Erik a little bit before [batting practice], but that’s about it.”

Johnson impressed the Suns with his outing on Saturday evening, throwing seven shutout innings for the Barons. Canha managed one of the few Jacksonville hits against Johnson, and noted that the Barons’ right-hander has come a long way since their days on the West coast.

“I definitely wanted to get him,” Canha said with a smile. “I wish I would have had a little bit better of a day against him. [He’s improved] very much. Whereas at Cal he might give a few more pitches to hit, [Saturday] he was tight, man.”

Canha is enjoying a solid first season with Jacksonville, himself, entrenched as the team’s every day first baseman. The right-handed hitter and Bay Area native         is tied for the team lead in hits, and observed that the chance to play every day has helped him at the plate.

“That’s the mindset you’ve got to have,” Canha said. “You can’t come to the ballpark thinking ‘Am I going to play or not?’ It’s always a tough role when have to play once every few days. It’s definitely good to have a nice, consistent playing schedule.”

Canha figures to receive a few days of rest while Logan Morrison conducts his Major League rehab assignment at first base with the Suns, but will undoubtedly return to first once it concludes. Should he and his former Cal teammates continue on their current path, they may meet again in a much more special setting.

Suns This Morning (5/29)

Suns This Morning

Former Suns infielder, now Miami Marlins Derek Dietrich. Photo Courtesy: Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY

By Andrew Green / Jacksonville Suns

Jacksonville dropped their fifth straight contest Tuesday night, a 2-0 defeat to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, in their series opener.

Miami Marlins infielder Logan Morrison joined the Suns on his Major League Rehab Assignment and went 0-for-3 with a walk in his four plate appearances for Jacksonville. See this post to see a breakdown of Morrison’s night.

Pensacola plated single tallies in the second and fifth frames, with the Blue Wahoos’ first run coming thanks to Devin Lohman’s single up the middle, which brought home Travis Mattair from second.

The additional insurance run were come across three innings later when Mattair drew a bases-loaded walk, plating starting pitcher Chad Rogers from third.

Rogers (6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 SO) earned the victory to improve to 3-2 on the year after allowing only two hits, along with three walks in his six shutout frames, while relievers Lee Hyde (1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) and Loek Van Mil (1.2 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO) combined for the final three frames, allowing a total of one hit and one walk.

Suns starter Jay Jackson (5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO) suffered the loss after allowing the two earned runs on four hits, adding six strikesouts, Edgar Olmos (2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 SO) and Collin Cargill (1.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 SO) joined forces to fire the remaining three scoreless innings of support for Jackson.

The two clubs will play a doubleheader this evening, with one of those contests making up a game that was postponed due to rain earlier this month. Both games are scheduled to last seven innings.

Right-hander Sam Dyson (1-4, 3.07 ERA) is expected to get the nod in the first contest for Jacksonville, while LHP Ryan Dennick (2-4, 2.82 ERA)  is slated to take the hill for Pensacola. In the nightcap of the twin bill, RHP Robert Waite (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to get the ball for the Suns and RHP Shaun Ellis (0-1, 5.56 ERA)  is anticipated to oppose Waite for the Blue Wahoos. First pitch of game one is set for 6:30 p.m. ET, with the second contest beginning approximately 20-30 minutes after the conclusion of game on.

The Suns’ parent club, the Miami Marlins, fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 7-6 in the second and final game of their series at Tropicana Field and both teams will now travel to Miami for a two-game set at Marlins Park.

Former Sun Derek Dietrich helped the Miami offense with an RBI triple, his first three-bagger of his Major League career.

RHP Tom Koehler (0-2, 3.18 ERA) is expected to get the start for the Marlins in the first game of their two-game set tonight at 7:10 p.m., while RHP Roberto Hernandez (2-5, 5.73 ERA) is scheduled to go for the Rays.

Below is today’s Suns This Morning.

Florida Times Union: “Blue Wahoos Shut Out Suns In Pensacola
Pensacola News Journal: “Rogers Rights The Ship For Wahoos
Miami Herald: “Marlins’ Redmond Concedes Risks Of An Inexperienced Lineup
Sun Sentinel: “Marlins’ Koehler Hopes First Win Comes Wednesday
Palm Beach Post: “Marlins Prospects Yelich, Marisnick May Get Called Up Sooner Rather Than Later
MLB.com: “Dietrich, Drafted By Rays, Happy To Be With Marlins
Big League Stew: “Boston Marathon Bombing Victim & Hero Who Saved Him Throw Out Simultaneous First Pitches At Red Sox Game
USA TODAY: “Yocum’s Gift Was One Of Selflessness
Daily Herald: “Going Long With Hoyer On Walks And OBP