Rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez said he expects to have a few more butterflies in his stomach — and a few more friends and family members watching him in person — when he makes his Marlins Park debut Saturday night against Cole Hamels and the Phillies.
“I’ve got a lot of family coming that couldn’t come to New York,” said Fernandez, who became the youngest pitcher in 30 years to register eight or more strikeouts in his MLB debut Sunday against the Mets. “Two or three of my cousins, and a lot of friends and people I knew in Tampa will be coming. It will be fun.”
Pitching in a city with so many Cuban-Americans who will be cheering for him is also something Fernandez said Friday has been weighing on his mind. It took the 20-year-old four attempts and the near drowning of his mother to flee from Cuba five years ago. His story of defection resonates with many here.
“The kids and fans — they know every time I go out I’m going to give 100 percent for me and the fans,” Fernandez said when asked if he thinks he could serve as a role model for Cuban-Americans in South Florida. “I love to compete. They’re going to enjoy every time I go out there.
“I wasn’t nervous last Sunday at all. I don’t know, maybe Saturday, first start in Miami, maybe I’ll be a little nervous. But it’s not a big deal. After I throw the first pitch, I’ll be doing what I do. At the end of the day it’s pitching and time to get outs.”
Manager Mike Redmond said Friday he isn’t worried about Fernandez handling the pressure.
“I hope he just continues to do what he did, build off what he did his last start; he was totally under control,” Redmond said of Fernandez, who gave up just three hits, one walk and one earned run over five innings in his debut.
“I’m sure all those things will go through his mind. Will he be more amped up? I’m sure he probably will. But I think he understands his emotions and what he has to do. As a young kid, I think that’s why we’re all impressed with him. I feel confident after that first pitch or first couple pitches, he’ll gather himself.”
Infielder Chris Valaika, rookie catcher Kyle Skipworth and general manager Mike Hill attended a special screening Thursday of the movie 42, which chronicles Jackie Robinson’s story of breaking baseball’s color barrier.
Hill, along with several local dignitaries, presented a check for $4,200 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which gives comprehensive scholarships and support services to minority students enrolled at institutions of higher education.
As for the movie, Hill gave it two thumbs up.
Said Valaika: “Those scenes with him getting heckled by [Phillies] manager [ Ben Chapman] were pretty intense, and then when he went in the tunnel and broke down like that — it’s unbelievable what he had to go through. It took a special person — like they said in the movie — not to fight back.”
• Right-hander Henderson Alvarez threw his first bullpen session Friday since going on the disabled list March 27 with right shoulder inflammation. He threw 15 pitches and said he felt fine.
• Outfielder Christian Yelich (heel/foot) did “full-sale running with absolutely no pain” on Friday, Marlins vice president of player development Marty Scott said. Yelich will see a doctor Monday and will likely get cleared to play in extended spring games before moving to Double A Jacksonville.
• Outfielder Jake Marisnick (broken bone left hand) will serve as a designated hitter Saturday in extended spring training. He’s probably four to six days away from being shipped up to Jacksonville, Scott said.
• Marcell Ozuna (broken bone left hand) has been cleared to take batting practice, and is probably four to five days away from playing in a rehab game.
• Left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney (lat injury) will throw a 25-pitch bullpen Saturday. Heaney, the team’s 2012 first round pick, has been playing long toss.
• Saturday: Marlins RHP Fernandez (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Phillies LHP Hamels (0-2, 10.97 ERA), 7:10 p.m. Marlins Park
• Sunday: Marlins RHP Kevin Slowey (0-2, 2.19 ERA) vs. Phillies RHP Roy Halladay (0-2, 14.73 ERA), 1:10 p.m. Marlins Park.
• Scouting report: Hamels went 2-3 with a 3.09 ERA in five starts against the Marlins last season.