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REPORT

Big Changes May Be in Store for Marlins

October 15, 2003|From Staff and Wire reports

CHICAGO — The questions that have been hanging over the 2003 Florida Marlins are these:

Are they about to become the 1997 Marlins?

Will they experience a roster decimation as that World Series title team did?

Or will owner Jeffrey Loria try to build on the recent attendance revival and wild-card success, even though there is still no new baseball stadium on the South Florida horizon?

"Our goal has been to convince fans that we're in for the long term," Loria said before Game 6 of the National League championship series with the Chicago Cubs. "Any other questions we'll get to when the season ends."

How long is the long term when the Marlins have nine players eligible for free agency, including Ivan Rodriguez, Luis Castillo and Ugueth Urbina, and 15 eligible for salary arbitration, including Mike Lowell and Derrek Lee?

It might be difficult for a team whose payroll ranks 24th among 30 to return all of its key players, especially when the Marlins will be trying to land at least one left-handed-hitting run producer.

In addition, Manager Jack McKeon was signed only for the remainder of the season when he replaced Jeff Torborg in May and seemingly will be in line for a multiyear extension, although at 72 McKeon tends to take things a year at a time.

With 50-plus years in the game, McKeon said 2003 "has probably been the most enjoyable I've ever had. We have a great bunch of players that have dedicated themselves to winning, and are unselfish and fun to be around.

"As far as next year, I told management when I took this job, I'd talk to them after the season. Maybe I want to come back, maybe I don't, maybe they don't want me back, who knows? We'll worry about that later on."

Later on? Well, later on was put on hold Tuesday night.

-- Ross Newhan

*

Mark Redman will pitch Game 7 tonight for the Marlins against Kerry Wood.

"Redman doesn't throw 100 mph, but he pitches," said Mike Mordecai, who had a three-run double in the Marlins' eight-run eighth inning in Game 6. "We're in the playoffs now, and everybody tightens down the screws. And tomorrow night is going to be no exception. We're going to have a guy out there pitching his heart out."

Redman is 0-0 with a 2.84 earned-run average in two playoff starts. He pitched Game 3 on Friday night, and gave the Marlins their best outing by a starter to that point, going 6 2/3 innings.

Now Redman gets another chance against the Cubs. And Wood.

Florida's Josh Beckett, who threw a two-hit shutout to beat the Cubs on Sunday in Game 5, said before Game 6 that he would be available to pitch a couple of innings out of the bullpen in Game 7.

"Why not?" he said. "It's my bullpen day anyway."

*

Associated Press

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