Grandmother enjoys watching Marlins’ Fernandez pitch, win

Marlins ace Jose Fernandez kisses his grandmother Olga before Monday’s opener.

Lynne Sladky

MIAMI — Jose Fernandez says his grandmother will likely live with him all season on a visa from Cuba, which could be good news for the Miami Marlins, because she brought them good luck in the season opener.

Olga Fernandez saw her grandson pitch Monday for the first time since he defected from Cuba at age 15. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year pitched six innings to help the Marlins beat the Colorado Rockies 10-1.

"She’s planning on staying here the whole season," Fernandez said Tuesday. "She has a visa for five years, but she can’t stay here longer than a year at a time."

Fernandez said his mother, who lives in Tampa, Fla., also likely will live with him this season. She made a few trips with the team last year.


"I’m all about family, so it’s perfect," said Fernandez, 21.

His grandmother was back at the ballpark for Tuesday’s game, and Fernandez said she’ll likely come to all the Marlins’ home games.

"She will never get tired of watching baseball," he said. "She’s always in her house watching the Cuban League, even though it’s not even close to being like this. She watches every game."

Fernandez struck out nine Rockies to join a list of distinguished pitchers with at least nine strikeouts and no walks in a season opener. According to the Marlins, citing information from Elias, others to achieve the feat include Bob Gibson twice, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Walter Johnson and Cy Young — all Hall of Famers.

"That’s a pretty good list," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "It doesn’t surprise me. This kid is going to end up on a lot of lists with a lot of great pitchers, the way he’s going."

Rockies manager Walt Weiss put Fernandez at the top of his list of NL pitchers.

On Monday, Jose Fernandez’s grandmother (or abuela) Olga Fernandez watched Jose play in person for the first time since he was 15.

"He’s really good," Weiss said. "It’s hard to think of anybody better in this league. I’ve seen him three times now, and it’s as good as there is." 

According to STATS, Fernandez is the youngest NL Opening Day starter since Dwight Gooden in 1986. He tied a team Opening Day record with his nine strikeouts in six innings, and then received a hug from grandma.

"She told me, ‘Good pitching. You’ve got to throw a lot more strikes, though,’" Fernandez said.

Fernandez, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, learned his grandmother would be able to watch him pitch in person last November, when she received a five-year visitation visa to exit Cuba. Back then, she surprised her grandson when he was in the middle of offseason interviews.