MLB

Marlins' Fernandez set for final start

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MIAMI (AP)

Jose Fernandez stood in front of the dugout after batting practice Tuesday, looking like a rookie for a change because of eye black smeared on his sweaty forehead.

A teammate had applied the polish to the inside of Fernandez's cap as a prank.

"Everybody was looking at me and laughing," he said. "I was like, `What's wrong?' And then someone told me."

The Miami Marlins right-hander has been hazed more than once this season, but he hasn't been fazed. He's a top candidate for NL Rookie of the Year, and because he's approaching the 170-inning limit set by the team, he'll make his final start Wednesday against Atlanta.

Thirty of Fernandez's friends and relatives will attend the game. He said he can't believe his season is almost over.

"I'm looking at it like, `I've got to go home already?'" he said. "It flew by."

Fernandez, 21, will remain with the last-place Marlins until the end of the season, even though he'll be limited to cheerleading duties. Next season he hopes to be pitching in October.

"When we go to the World Series next year, it's going to be good," he said. "That's my goal. That's what I'm going to work for in the offseason, and I know my teammates are going to do the same thing."

Fernandez made the team out of spring training, then made the All-Star game. His 2.23 ERA is second only to the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw among major league pitchers, and he's 11-6 for a team with the NL's worst record.

What were his expectations going into the season?

"To start in Double-A, play half the year there and then get to the big leagues after the All-Star game," he said. "It came out a little better than that."

Tagged: Marlins

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