The Marlins intend to place Jose Fernandez on the 15-day disabled list but were relieved to learn the pitcher has a right biceps strain and not a major injury that would require surgery.
As a result, it’s possible Fernandez could pitch again this season.
“I’d like to see him pitch. I think he wants to pitch, in talking with him [Sunday] morning,” manager Dan Jennings said of the likelihood Fernandez could take the mound before the end of the season.
Fernandez returned Saturday to Miami, where he was diagnosed with a biceps strain after undergoing a MRI. No structural damage to his shoulder was detected.
“I spoke to Jose [Sunday] morning,” Jennings said. “I think he definitely has peace of mind. Hopefully, the inflammation will go out of there, and we can get him healthy, get him back.”
It was encouraging news for Fernandez and the Marlins.
Fernandez, who returned in early July from Tommy John surgery, complained of stiffness in his right shoulder one day after going five innings and throwing 76 pitches on Friday against the Braves.
Jennings said the recovery timetable for Fernandez’s type of injury varies, and it’s uncertain exactly when he could return or whether it would be prudent to allow him to pitch given the Marlins’ last-place position in the standings.
“I think we have to be smart, where we are in this season,” Jennings said. “He’s worked extremely hard. You guys know how competitive he is, and what it means for him to take the ball and go out and pitch. But we won’t do it until we know he’s back 100 percent. There’s no need to push it or rush it.”
Fernandez on Friday was making his seventh start since returning from elbow ligament replacement surgery, which kept him out of action of 13 months. He has pitched spectacularly, going 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA.
But he threw 112 pitches — the second-highest total of his career — in the start before Friday’s — and needed 38 pitches to get through an exhausting fourth inning Friday.
When Jennings took him out after the fifth, Fernandez begged to continue, but was rebuffed.
In his postgame comments to reporters, Fernandez gave no indication of any type of soreness. But after informing Jennings and the team’s training staff he felt stiffness in his right shoulder, he was flown back to Miami to have it checked by team physician Dr. Lee Kaplan.
With Fernandez headed to the DL, the Marlins plan to call up rookie left-hander Justin Nicolino from Triple A New Orleans to fill his spot in the rotation. Nicolino will start Tuesday when the Marlins open a two-game series against the Red Sox at Marlins Park.
Adam Conley, another rookie, is scheduled to start the second game of the Boston series on Wednesday as the Marlins scramble to fill vacancies in their battered rotation.
“We just lost a big piece,” Jennings said of Fernandez.
Henderson Alvarez, the team’s Opening Day starter, is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery and failing to record a win. Jarred Cosart, who has won just once this season, is on the disabled list with vertigo, but could return by the end of this month.
The Marlins dealt starters Mat Latos and Dan Haren at the trade deadline in July. Only Tom Koehler, among the five members of the rotation at season’s start, has managed to stick.