For the first time since giving up a grand slam to San Diego’s Jedd Gyorko nearly a year ago, Jose Fernandez on Thursday will face batters in the next step on his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
“It’s getting real now,” Fernandez said. “It’s getting more like baseball now.”
Fernandez is scheduled to throw 15 pitches to hitters in Jupiter in what marks the first of several such sessions before he begins pitching in minor-league games. If all goes well, the Marlins hope to have him back on the mound for them anytime from mid-June to mid-July.
“Tomorrow’s a big day,” Fernandez said on Wednesday. “Even though I’ve had some hitters standing in already, they weren’t swinging. I think tomorrow will be more competing. I think the adrenalin is going to be there. I haven’t felt that in a year, so I’m looking forward to that.”
ONE FOR THE AGES
Ichiro Suzuki and Bartolo Colon are old foes — by age and in terms of their long history against one other.
When Suzuki stepped in against Colon for the first time in Wednesday’s game, it marked his 100th career plate appearance against the pitcher. The only other pitcher Suzuki faced more: John Lackey (122 plate appearances).
Suzuki and Colon, who are each 41, are the majors’ oldest active position player and starting pitcher, respectively.
“In 2001, when he was with the Indians, he was throwing close to 100 [mph],” Suzuki said. “And then to have him evolve into the pitcher he is today ... it’s one thing to be kind of a Jamie Moyer pitcher and be like that your whole career. But here’s a guy who evolved and changed, and he’s still successful, which tells me he’s definitely a smart pitcher.”
Suzuki owns a career .327 average against Colon.
Suzuki also had some light-hearted fun with Colon’s size (he’s listed at 5-11, 285 pounds) when he said with a smile, “You look at my career, I’ve stayed the same body-wise, kept this body the whole career. And to have him change into what he is now, that’s interesting in itself.”
Henderson Alvarez threw his first bullpen session on Wednesday for the first time since going on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. He is scheduled for at least one more bullpen session.
He could return to the Marlins rotation in the next 10 days to two weeks.
▪ THURSDAY: Off.
▪ FRIDAY: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.50 ERA) vs. Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jerome Williams (2-1, 3.80), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ SATURDAY: Marlins RHP Dan Haren (2-1, 3.38) vs. Phillies LHP Cole Hamels (1-2, 3.19), 4:10 p.m., Marlins Park.