Andrew Heaney wants to make one thing clear. Jose Fernandez he is not.
“I’m not going to do what Jose did,” said Heaney, who will make his major-league debut Thursday. “That guy’s unbelievable.”
Heaney and Fernandez, who took the league by storm last season to take home Rookie of the Year honors, are two completely different pitchers. Fernandez is a power right-hander. Heaney is a lefty craftsman who tries to set up hitters by working off a low-90s fastball he throws to all parts of the plate.
“I’m going to attack the strike zone with a fastball and then go to a changeup and slider late,” Heaney said of his typical approach. “I guess that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing. I don’t really expect to change that too much.”
Many knowledgeable baseball observers feel that the Marlins, once Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery and joins Heaney in the rotation, could have one of the top righty-lefty combinations in the majors.
Fernandez and Heaney were the Marlins’ first-round draft picks in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
a place for penny
The Marlins are reaching back into their past in an attempt to add veteran pitching depth, agreeing to terms Wednesday with Brad Penny on a minor-league deal.
Penny, 36, has not pitched in the majors since 2012. But his fastball was clocked at 95 mph when he worked out recently for a handful of teams.
Penny, who ranks fifth on the Marlins’ all-time wins list and won two games for them in the 2003 World Series, will report to Jupiter initially before receiving a minor-league assignment.
If he makes the major-league club, Penny will receive $800,000 (pro-rated) plus incentives in what is a low-risk deal for the Marlins. The deal is pending a physical.
Penny began his major-league career with the Marlins in 2000 and compiled a record of 48-42 before being traded to the Dodgers during the 2004 season. In 13 major-league seasons that also included stops with the Red Sox, Giants, Cardinals and Tigers, Penny is 119-100 with a 4.26 ERA.
• Another former Marlin, reliever Kevin Gregg, will join the team Thursday. The Marlins signed the former closer to serve as a veteran late-inning setup man.
• The Marlins will also activate catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the disabled list in time for Thursday’s game.
• To make room for Gregg and Saltalamacchia, the Marlins optioned left-handed reliever Dan Jennings to Triple A New Orleans and catcher J.T. Realmuto to Double A Jacksonville.
Reliever Bryan Morris has made a strong initial impression with the Marlins, just as he had hoped.
“First impressions usually last a long time, so, obviously, I was wanting to get off to a good start, not only because it’s a new organization, but also because I was struggling a little bit [in Pittsburgh],” Morris said. “I needed to turn things around.”
The Marlins received some media criticism for the trade, giving up a high draft pick for a reliever who was below replacement value statistically. But Morris has done nothing to disappoint the Marlins so far. He has struck out 10 while walking just one in 9 1/3 innings.
Those numbers are a significant improvement over the ones he put up this season in Pittsburgh, where he had walked 12 (three intentionally) while striking out 14 in 23 2/3 innings.
“I look at it as a fresh start,” Morris said. “I kind of started over. It can change your attitude on things. It can change your thought process and change your mentality. I’m not doing anything differently mechanically. But I’ve tried to slow things down and just execute better.”
• Derek Dietrich has been tearing it up at the plate since being sent down to Triple A New Orleans. In his first 10 games with the Zephyrs, Dietrich hit .390 with six home runs and an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.310.
• Thursday: Marlins LHP Heaney (major league debut) vs. New York Mets RHP Zack Wheeler (2-7, 4.38 ERA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Friday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (3-3, 2.56) vs. Mets RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-0, 2.81), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.