SEATTLE -- Hours before the umpire yelled "Play ball" on Saturday, manager Jack McKeon was sitting alone in some seats at Safeco Field, smoking a cigar and surveying a few of his pitchers throwing to each other on the outfield grass.
McKeon wasn't just killing time. He was studying, taking mental notes on which pitchers were putting in the extra work, doing the little things to make themselves better, and which were not.
"I watch these guys to see who runs and who doesn't run, so I got a little book on them, so I can have a little chat with some of them," McKeon said.
These Marlins are losing games in record numbers, going in the opposite direction of the 2003 team that McKeon took to the World Series, but he's not managing them any differently.
It's a tough-love approach that worked with young pitchers Josh Beckett and Brad Penny in 2003, and which McKeon hopes will make better players of a new breed of young talent, such as outfielders Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton.
Morrison wasn't in the starting lineup Saturday because he is slumping offensively and the Marlins were facing Seattle left-hander Jason Vargas. But McKeon also has made it known he doesn't care for Twitter -- one of Morrison's favorite off-field passions -- or Facebook, or any the other forms of social media .
"Giving 'Twitter' a rest," McKeon said, referring to Morrison by the nickname he has given him. "Slow him down a little. Calm him down. Relax him."
Asked what players like Morrison need to do to improve, McKeon responded, "It's a guy who's got some talent. But it's just like a lot of these young guys. They're going to have to try to be better. So many of these young guys, they're going to have to try to be better. So many take (it) for granted. (They think) 'I'm here. Just show up. It's automatically going to happen.' "
He then paused, puffed on his cigar, and added, "It's not. That's what these young guys have to realize."
When McKeon took over as manager in '03, one of his first priorities was to break Beckett and Penny -- two pitchers with high ceilings but poor work ethics -- of their lackadaisical habits.
"I just hammered," he said. "I just stayed on them."
McKeon demands that starting pitchers sit in the dugout on days they're not pitching to study and learn. When he discovered that Penny and Beckett weren't on the bench one game in '03, he stormed into the clubhouse between innings and tore into them. He ended up having the clubhouse door locked so players couldn't go in during games. He said Mark Redman had fun with that and made index cards into restroom passes for players during the game.
There was "a poo-poo and a pee-pee card, so if you wanted to go poo-poo or pee-pee, you had to get a card," McKeon said, adding that players had to come to him to get one of the passes.
McKeon wants the players to have fun. But he also wants them to put in the work. He said he thought Morrison was out of line when he pointed a finger at owner Jeffrey Loria when hitting coach John Mallee was fired.
"You can't go around running your mouth. That's not your business," said McKeon, who added he is "not singling out Morrison."
Morrison said he's all for improvement. But he won't be closing his Twitter account anytime soon.
"Twitter is what I do in my spare time at home," he said. "It's not taking away from my sleep. I was doing it when I was hitting .320."