MIAMI — It was during spring training nearly four months ago, when Jose Fernandez approached Marcell Ozuna. The projected soon-to-be ace of the Miami Marlins had something to tell the talented outfield prospect.
“He came to me and said, ‘We’re going to go together to the big leagues,’ ” Ozuna said. “I said, ‘OK, we’ll go together.’
“And now, the way we have started has been a surprise to us.”
And to everybody else.
Fernandez and Ozuna not only are rookies who figure to be part of the Marlins’ future, there’s a good chance one of them will represent Miami in this year’s All-Star Game.
After all, going together to the All-Star Game as rookies on a last-place team would be too much even for Hollywood.
With Fernandez pitching two-hit ball through eight innings and Ozuna providing the go-ahead run with a sixth-inning single, the Marlins defeated the San Diego Padres 4-0 on Monday night.
Jeff Mathis, who hit a walk-off grand slam Sunday, delivered a three-run double to help give Miami a third straight win after dropping the opener of the four-game series. The Marlins have won six of seven, and eight of 10.
Many different players contributed to Miami going 15-10 in the month of June. But in terms of potential All-Stars, there’s basically Fernandez, Ozuna and perhaps closer Steve Cishek.
Fernandez, 20, had been targeted to begin his year at Double-A before shoulder injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez resulted in the young right-hander being added to the roster right before Opening Day.
Just three months into his MLB career, the Cuban refugee has shown he’s a special talent both on and off the mound.
“He’s probably unlike any pitcher I’ve ever seen,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “In that most guys come in to the dugout, sit down, have a glass of water, towel off. This guy is walking around. He’s talking to everybody. He’s mad because he struck out.
“But that’s him. He’s young, but at the same time, he’s exciting and that’s what we love about him. He wants to be out there, and he’s having fun. He’s like a little kid out there.”
He’s also 5-4 on team that, despite a hot June, is 30-51 overall at the halfway mark. He owns a 2.72 ERA and opposing hitters are batting .193 against him. He has struck out 94 and walked only 33 in 16 starts.
Fernandez has been overshadowed nationally by New York Mets rookie right-hander Matt Harvey, and he hasn’t received the groundswell of All-Star support like that given Los Angeles Dodgers youngster Yasiel Puig.
Still, he deserves to be at New York’s Citi Field on July 16 as much as they do. Whether or not Fernandez finds a place on the National League squad will be seen when the rosters are announced at 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday on 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show on FOX.
“It would be incredible,” said Fernandez, who tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts Monday. “It’s something I wanted to happen in my career a lot of times. I don’t know how to explain it. It would be incredible if I get a chance to go to represent this team and Miami and all the Cubans and all the Spanish who follow this team.”
Cishek struggled early but has come on strong. Overall, he has 15 saves in 17 chances with a 3.12 ERA.
If for some reason the NL needs a position player from the Marlins instead of a pitcher, Ozuna figures to be the choice.
Since being promoted on April 30 to replace then-injured Giancarlo Stanton, the Dominican Republic native has hit .299 with two homers and 26 RBI. He had a 16-game hitting streak (May 15-31) and has hit safely in his past 10 games.
Ozuna’s game-winning RBI Monday night was his eighth, tops among NL rookies.
Asked who should represent the Marlins at the Midsummer Classic — himself or Fernandez — Ozuna doesn’t hesitate.
“Him,” said Ozuna, referring to Fernandez. “And if you ask him he’d say, ‘Him.’ That’s Jose. He’s never worried about getting things himself.”