NEW YORK -- Jose Fernandez spent most of his free time during his rookie season last year hanging out in his hotel room and relaxing.
This year, the 21-year-old All-Star and Marlins ace said he wants to take advantage when the team is on the road and get to know America’s history a little better. Thursday, Fernandez spent the Marlins’ day off visiting the World Trade Center Memorial in Manhattan.
“I really wanted to go and pay my respects,” Fernandez said. “This country has been amazing to me. So I’m here learning about it, being right there.
“When I was in school, history was my favorite subject. I want to learn a little more. When I go to Washington [next month], I want to see some things.”
Although he was only 9 years old when the terrorist attacks took place on Sept. 11, 2001, Fernandez said the images he saw on TV back home in his native Cuba stuck with him.
“We didn’t see much [in Cuba], and we didn’t get a lot of information, but we saw what happened,” Fernandez said. “So when I got here, obviously I looked into it. It was pretty special to [visit the Memorial on Thursday].
Fernandez said he was in school when the attacks took place that morning but didn’t learn of them until he got home from classes. Even afterward, he said, “they really didn’t let us talk about it much in Cuba because it was America.
“We saw what happened, but we couldn’t figure it out. Over there there’s no Internet, no information,” Fernandez said. “It was just a feeling of shock [in Cuba]. Nobody could believe it or that somebody would do that.”
When it comes to solving his bullpen’s late-inning woes this season, Mike Redmond made it pretty clear Friday the Marlins are just looking for “somebody to step up and get some big outs.”
“We’ve been in a lot of games, been in a lot of close games, but unfortunately we’ve given up some big hits late in those games to lose,” Redmond said. “It really comes down to trying to find those guys that are going to be able to pitch those late-inning games. We’re really going to try everybody to see what’s going to work and see who’s going to take those late innings. It’s really up for grabs.”
While closer Steve Cishek has remained a consistent force in the ninth inning, although his franchise-record 33 consecutive saves ended on Friday night, the eighth inning has been a nightmare for the Marlins.
The team’s eighth-inning ERA entering Friday was 7.36, and opponents were hitting .304 against them in the frame. A year ago, Chad Qualls, Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos did a much better job handling the bulk of the eighth-inning work as the Marlins combined for a 2.28 ERA and opponents hit just .202 against them.
This year, Qualls is the closer in Houston. Dunn (eight appearances, 11.37 ERA), Ramos (six appearances, 1.93 ERA) and left-hander Dan Jennings (four appearances, 0.00 ERA) have handled the eighth for the Marlins for the most part through the team’s first 22 games. Carlos Marmol pitched once in the eighth and gave up a game-winning grand slam to the Nats’ Jayson Werth on April 9.
Right-hander Carter Capps, acquired in the Logan Morrison trade with Seattle, could be a solution, Redmond said.
“We’ve got to get him out there and let him pitch,” Redmond said. “I’d love to say maybe he can be the guy to do that with Marmol and Dunn and A.J. But we’ve got to get him out there in a game and see what he can do.
• Redmond said right-hander Jacob Turner, who pitched four innings in Single A Jupiter on Wednesday, will start for Jupiter again Monday and throw between 75-80 pitches.
• Utility infielder Ed Lucas, on the disabled list for the past month with a fractured left hand, began his rehab assignment Friday night, batting second and starting at shortstop for the Hammerheads. Redmond said Lucas was going to play every position in the infield.
• Saturday: Marlins RHP Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. New York Mets RHP Jenry Mejia (3-0, 1.99), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.
• Sunday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (2-1, 2.13) vs. Mets RHP Dillon Gee (1-1, 3.58), 1:10 p.m., Citi Field.