Jose Fernandez gets glowing reports after extended spring training outing

MIAMI — Hours after taking the next step in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez joined the ballclub for batting practice prior to its series opener against the Chicago Cubs.

Fernandez threw 42 pitches over three no-hit innings of an extended spring training game on the back fields at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Florida. He struck out seven batters and reached 97 mph facing minor leaguers.

It marked his return to a game setting since undergoing the procedure in May 2014.

"It was different, had a little thing in my stomach when I was walking out to go warm up, but it was great I think that I went out there and did my job," Fernandez said at Marlins Park. "I’m happy with the way that I threw the ball and the result, the speed of the ball indication so I think it was a really good day all around."

"… I was feeling really well, really strong. I probably could’ve thrown five more innings, four more innings, I don’t know. It depends. But I feel healthy, I feel great, I didn’t feel tired at all."

The 22-year-old righty and 2013 National League Rookie of the Year told The Miami Herald that he will pitch a rehab game for Single-A Jupiter in Port Charlotte this Saturday. When asked, manager Dan Jennings said his schedule is still being finalized.

Fernandez opposed righty Jarred Cosart, who is on the 15-day disabled list with vertigo, on Monday. Cosart tossed five scoreless innings, allowing one hit, walking a batter and striking out five.

"Great report coming out of there," Jennings said. "Cosart and Jose threw very well. Both guys threw the ball very well, felt strong, looked strong, executed quality pitches. It was good to see and good to hear."

As for when he will return to the Marlins, Fernandez stuck with the late-June to mid-July timeframe. He is 16-8 with a 2.25 ERA in 36 big-league starts.

Three other starters — Cosart, righty Mat Latos and 2014 All-Star Henderson Alvarez — are also on the DL.

"I’m really hoping …. I got a lot of starts up, I think it will be sometime before the All-Star break," Fernandez said. "That’s the closest thing that I can give you and that I can give myself because honestly everything depends on Wednesday, my next bullpen, to see how I feel. Everything depends on tomorrow on how my body, my shoulder, my elbow reacts to what I did today because the intensity was a lot higher than what I’ve been doing. So far I feel great and I hope it keeps that way."

Hana Ostapchuk (@HanaOstapchuk) contributed to this report.

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.