Miami Marlins

New season, same energetic Jose Fernandez

 
 
Marlins ace Jose Fernandez made his second spring start Wednesday, giving up a pair of singles in 3 1/3 innings.
Marlins ace Jose Fernandez made his second spring start Wednesday, giving up a pair of singles in 3 1/3 innings.
Hector Gabino / El Nuevo Staff

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

Nobody can predict with any degree of certainty whether Jose Fernandez will be as successful in his second major-league season as he was in his first.

But, so far, he looks no less enthusiastic.

“Nobody’s ever going to take that away from him,” manager Mike Redmond said. “That’s the beauty of Jose. He’s like a little kid out there, just having fun.”

Giancarlo Stanton now drives a Maserati to work.

Fernandez has been known to pedal there on his bike.

On Wednesday, Fernandez made his second spring start, in a 5-2 victory in 10 innings over the New York Mets, in which he gave up a pair of harmless singles before leaving after 3 1/3 innings.

He said he was so excited to pitch that he had a hard time sleeping the night before.

For a spring training game, mind you.

“I went to sleep about 8:30, thinking it was the biggest game of my life,” Fernandez said. “I kept waking up. I woke up at four in the morning, looked at my phone, and I kept waking up, waiting for the game — excited — even though I was only throwing three innings.”

Some wondered if Fernandez, with a year under his belt, would be any more subdued, patterning himself after most big-league pitchers.

The answer so far is a definite no.

“He’s got a year of experience under his belt. But his personality is his personality, and that’s what makes him great,” Redmond said. “He’s got an energy level that’s off the charts, and he likes to have fun.”

Mere mention of Fernandez’s name causes teammates to smile.

“He’s a lot like [David] Ortiz as far as personality,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, comparing Fernandez to his former teammate on the Boston Red Sox. “What you see is what you get. How he is on the field is how he is off the field. He’s always energetic, having fun.”

same approach

Saltalamacchia said he doesn’t expect Fernandez to change, either.

“He’s young,” he said.

“But you see a lot of guys like Pedro Martinez, who was young and acted like that. And then, 20 years later, they’re still acting like that. It’s good. It’s a good personality to have in the clubhouse. You want to have fun. It doesn’t need to be serious 100 percent of the time.”

Fernandez is not only energetic; he’s engaged.

Redmond was watching Tuesday’s game on a chair next to the dugout when Fernandez suddenly appeared and sat down next to him.

“We had a great conversation,” Redmond said, laughing. “I think he probably wears out all the guys on the bench, so he comes out and sits with me while we’re watching the game. But it’s fun to talk to him because he loves it. He loves the game, and he wants to win.”

Redmond doesn’t see any roadblocks standing between Fernandez and another outstanding season.

The manager said Fernandez will be forced to make adjustments as hitters get used to him, as all pitchers do.

“But the beauty of Jose is that his stuff is so good that he’s going to be able to make those adjustments on the fly, just with his stuff,” Redmond said.

Fernandez toyed with the Mets, a division rival he expects to face often this season and in the future.

“It’s good for me to see them,” Fernandez said of Wednesday’s encounter, “and good for them to see me. That’s how I see it.”

• When it comes to talking about his former team, Saltalamacchia is no Ian Kinsler, who ripped into the Texas Rangers in a magazine article.

Kinsler, who is now with the Detroit Tigers, was quoted as saying he hopes the Rangers go winless this season and called Texas general manager Jon Daniels a “sleazeball.”

Joked Saltalamacchia about the Red Sox, who face the Marlins in Jupiter on Thursday: “I hope they go 0-162. [Dustin] Pedroia’s a sleazeball.”

Actually, Saltalamacchia is looking forward to seeing his former teammates.

“I went through a lot with those guys and still consider all of them my friends,” said Saltalamacchia, who left Boston as a free agent to sign a three-year deal with Miami.

Saltalamacchia is also looking forward to receiving his World Series ring as a key member of last year’s champions.

“I know [Red Sox owner] John Henry sent me a letter saying he would look forward to giving it to me in the spring,” Saltalamacchia said.

this and that

• Leading pitching prospects Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino all pitched in a morning “B” game against the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Reliever Henry Rodriguez pitched a simulated game.

• Henderson Alvarez is set to make his first spring start Friday.

• Redmond said he hopes to get reliever Carlos Marmol into his first spring game over the weekend.

• Former Marlins reliever Brian Sanches announced Wednesday that he is retiring. Sanches appeared in 147 games for the Marlins from 2009 to ’11, going 10-5 with a 2.92 ERA.

He last appeared in the majors with Philadelphia in 2012.

Coming up

•  Thursday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. Boston Red Sox RHP Allen Webster, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.

•  Friday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez at St. Louis Cardinals (TBA), 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.

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