Jose Fernandez relishing every bit of success
MIAMI — Jose Fernandez’s personality is like his pitching repertoire: There is an assortment of quality offerings.
On the mound, the Miami Marlins talented right-hander shows the focus of a true competitor.
At 20, the rookie often displays youthful enthusiasm — the infectious type.
And there are the moments when the Cuban defector with a wealth of life experiences acts like a seasoned pro.
All those traits were seen Saturday night, when Fernandez faced the Philadelphia Phillies in his first career start at Marlins Park before about 30 family and friends who traveled from Tampa.
Fernandez allowed two hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out five and left the game with a 1-0 lead thanks to his RBI single in the fifth.
In his major league debut six days earlier in New York, Fernandez left the game with Miami leading 3-1.
According to ESPN Stats, he’s the first pitcher 20 years old or younger to allow one or fewer runs and three or fewer hits in each of his first two career starts since Rudy May (who did it in 1965 with the Angels).
Still, Fernandez will make his next start seeking his first career victory.
Following Miami’s 2-1 ninth-inning victory on Saturday night, disappointment was nowhere to be found during Fernandez’s postgame meeting with the media.
“I still can’t believe I’m in the big leagues and I’m pitching and trying to help my team win,” Fernandez said. “It’s just fun to be here.
“I love pitching. I want to be one of the best ones around.”
Fernandez earned his second no-decision but did get his first career hit, a hard, two-out single to left in the fifth that scored Adeiny Hechavarria. The young Cuban was clapping as he ran toward first.
“I was excited for him seeing his energy and emotion when he got the hit,” Miami manager Mike Redmond said. “As a manager, that’s fun. It shows how much a guy cares and how much a guy wants it.
“This is one of those special kids. He wants it. He’s taking it. He appreciates the opportunity he has to pitch in the big leagues and he’s taking it all in. He’s a great teammate.”
The only visible trouble Fernandez dealt with Saturday was when he had difficulty putting on his Marlins pullover after reaching first base on his single.
The Phillies tied the score with a run in the seventh off A.J. Ramos. After Ramos was removed from the game, Fernandez was seen talking to the reliever who was sitting in the bench.
“I told him he did a good job,” Fernandez said. “We have to have each other’s back, because not every time is going to be good, and not every time is going to be bad. I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, way to throw man. It happens. It’s not a big deal.’ ”
Those words of a veteran soon gave way to the re-emergence of youthful enthusiasm.
Fernandez was standing at the top of the Marlins dugout when Chris Coghlan’s infield hit scored Placido Polanco for the winning run. The youngest Marlin jumped over the railing and was among the first players to greet Polanco near home plate.
Whether he was describing time on the mound, on the base paths or on the bench, Fernandez used the word “fun” often.
People should expect to see and hear more of it.
“Every time I go out there I try to enjoy it and have fun because I love pitching,” Fernandez said. “It was fun to pitch here in Miami in front of the crowd. It was a really good feeling. And hopefully, it’s going to keep happening, and hopefully, I’m going to keep enjoying it.”
Charlie McCarthy can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas.