MINNEAPOLIS Jose Fernandez was itching to see snowfall for the first time in his life on Monday. But when he takes the mound for the Marlins Tuesday, he doesn’t want to be pitching in the white stuff.
“That’s no bueno,” Fernandez said.
The 20-year-old Cuban rookie will be making his fourth big-league start when he faces the Twins in the second game of a split, day-night doubleheader at Target Field — weather permitting.
A storm sweeping across the Upper Plains was expected to blanket the area with as much as eight inches of snow and forced the postponement of the Marlins’ game on Monday.
Fernandez couldn’t wait to see it with his own eyes.
“I want to see it coming down,” Fernandez said. “My mom was, like, ‘Send me pictures! Send me pictures!’ ”
After the team arrived to Minneapolis on Sunday night, Fernandez reached down to touch some of the stuff that was already on the ground, but was warned off by a couple of his teammates, Placido Polanco and Donovan Solano.
“They were, like, ‘Wait for [Monday],’ ” Fernandez said. “It was so dirty.”
Snow is only one of the surprises Fernandez has discovered during his brief time in the majors. The other: “The game humbles you really fast,” he said.
After two sparkling outings to begin his career, Fernandez was brought to earth in Cincinnati when the Reds got him for four runs in a single inning. The Marlins’ boy wonder — the youngest starting pitcher in franchise history — tasted his first defeat.
Afterward, a few of the Marlins’ veterans told him to relax, that it wasn’t the end of the world.
“They sat me down and they talked to me,” Fernandez said. “They said, ‘Papa, welcome to the big leagues. It’s going to happen many times. It’s just how you react to it. It’s how you get ready five days later.’ If this would have happened last year, I would have still been crazy about it.”
Marlins manager Mike Redmond said there’s a polish and demeanor to Fernandez that defies his age.
“You don’t look at him and go, ‘Man, that’s a 20-year-old kid,’ ” Redmond said. “For a 20-year-old kid to have the command, and be able to throw a 2-1 breaking ball or 3-2 breaking ball for a strike — or a change-up — whenever he wants for a strike? That’s special. That’s the stuff that’s going to make him a true No. 1 pitcher.”
Redmond was a catcher with the Marlins the last time they had a young pitcher so promising, Josh Beckett, make his way to the majors. But Redmond said Beckett and Fernandez, other than their potential at such a young age, are so different in style.
“Josh loved the fastball, which was good, too,” Redmond said. “He was aggressive and it was 95 [mph], here it comes. I’ll throw my curveball every once in a while and my change-up. But it’s mostly fastball/breaking ball, and that’s how he pitched.”
Fernandez has a four-pitch arsenal that he’s willing to use at any time. Because Fernandez is so confident in throwing all of his pitches, Redmond said it also can get him into trouble. Redmond said that sometimes it might be better for Fernandez to use his fastball more the first time through the lineup before shifting gears by going to his breaking stuff the second and third time through.
“Sometimes, when you throw a lot of breaking balls, you have a tendency to elevate your pitch count,” Redmond said. “Those are all things he’s going to learn.”
At this point, pretty much everything is a learning process for Fernandez.
He didn’t pack enough warm clothing and planned to make a shopping trip to get him through the next couple of days before the Marlins return home.
If the weather is frigid Tuesday night when he takes the mound, he said he’ll deal with it.
“I’m not worried,” he said. “I’m not. Sometimes you expect a young guy, like, how’s he going to react after he gives up six runs? How’s he going to do? And I’m not worried. I’m just going to go out there and enjoy it.”