MIAMI MARLINS

Ricky Nolasco’s success in S.F. attracts Giants

 

Friday’s start might be Ricky Nolasco’s last as a Marlin at the Giants’ ballpark, but he could end up pitching there for San Francisco.

 
Miami Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco pitches in the first inning against the St Louis Cardinals at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida, Sunday, June 16, 2013.
Miami Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco pitches in the first inning against the St Louis Cardinals at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida, Sunday, June 16, 2013.
Hector Gabino / MCT

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

Ricky Nolasco could very likely be making the final start of his career for the Marlins at AT&T Park when he takes the mound there on Friday against the Giants.

It might not be Nolasco’s final start there this season, though.

The Giants are among the handful of teams interested in Nolasco as a possible acquisition target before the July 31 trade deadline, and for reasons that go beyond their need for rotation help.

Nolasco has owned AT&T.

Nolasco has gone 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA in four lifetime starts at the Giants’ ballpark by the bay.

“I wish I could tell you what it was,” said Nolasco, who will be taking on two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. “If I knew what it was, I’d try to do it in every ballpark.”

Nolasco has 80 career wins for the Marlins — most of any pitcher in franchise history — and is closing in on 1,000 strikeouts. He needs only 13 more to reach that milestone.

But Nolasco, who began his career with the Marlins in 2006 and is set for free agency after the season, has never pitched for a contender. He could very well receive that opportunity this season given that contending teams are the ones calling the Marlins to ask about Nolasco.

Nolasco is uncomfortable talking about where he might end up, repeatedly saying it’s out of his control and how he’s concentrating on the here and now.

But the idea of pitching for a contender — and for San Francisco, in particular — brings a smile to his face. Nolasco hails from Southern California, so a trade to the Giants would put him closer to home.

“I don’t think anybody would be disappointed to come to San Francisco,” Nolasco said. “I like everything about this place. It’s a good place to pitch. The crowd’s great. Great team. So what’s not to like?”

Nolasco has often said in the past that he performs better when he can feel energy in a ballpark, something that’s been lacking for him in South Florida. That could help to explain his 48-36 road mark compared with a 32-35 record at home.

And crowds at AT&T are large and vocal.

“I think it would help anybody being able to pitch in a place like this,” he said. “When the crowd is behind you, it’s huge. Anybody would like that.”

Time to rest

Jose Fernandez said he won’t argue when the Marlins tell him it’s time to shut it down for the season. But Fernandez, who is halfway to the innings limit the organization has placed on the rookie, said his arm feels “great” at the moment.

“I love to compete, and I love to pitch,” said Fernandez, who turned in a career-high 7 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s outing in Arizona. “At the same time, I know they’re protecting me and doing the best they can for the team and the future.”

Fernandez has now totaled 79 1/3 innings, and is being allowed to pitch deeper into games. He eclipsed 100 pitches for the first time in each of his past two starts.

The Marlins have said they don’t want the 20-year-old throwing more than 150 to 170 innings this season, his first in the majors.

Fernandez noted that when he totaled 134 innings last season in the minors, he felt better at the end of the season than he did at the beginning.

“I was feeling incredible,” he said. “I was feeling a lot stronger — a lot better — than when the year started.”

• Henderson Alvarez will make a rehab start Saturday for Double A Jacksonville and throw up to 85 pitches. Alvarez could be given one more rehab outing after that before the Marlins activate him from the disabled list, place him on their roster and stick him in the starting rotation.

Coming up

•  Friday: Marlins RHP Nolasco (4-7, 3.61 ERA) at San Francisco Giants RHP Lincecum (4-7, 4.57), 10:15 p.m., AT&T Park.

•  Saturday: Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (1-0, 2.16) at Giants LHP Barry Zito (4-5, 4.67), 4:05 p.m., AT&T Park.

•  Scouting report: Lincecum, who last had a winning record in 2010, has lost six of his past seven decisions this season for the Giants. Against the Marlins, Lincecum is 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA in four career starts.

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