Andrew Suarez pitched in the first ever game at Marlins Park.
Back then, his college career was just beginning.
Suarez will step back on that same mound over six years since he last faced the Miami Marlins in an exhibition game as a freshman at the University of Miami.
Suarez is a rookie again these days.
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But now he’s part of a major-league rotation having earned a starting spot with the San Francisco Giants.
“It’s great especially in this rotation where when everyone is healthy is probably one of the best,” Suarez said. “It’s been great picking these guys’ brains and it’s definitely helped me a lot.”
Suarez, who has deep roots in the Miami community having started his high school career at Southwest Miami High and later graduated from Columbus, figures to have a lot of friends and family present when he takes on the Marlins on Wednesday night in the third of four games this week between his squad and his hometown club.
“I’ve watched the Marlins since I was little,” Suarez said. “I spent some time at home and slept over there and spent some time with my family.”
Injuries to Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto opened the door for Suarez to move into the rotation as a rookie. After a spot start in April, Suarez has made eight consecutive starts since May 1.
Suarez has had his ups and downs, but is 2-4 with a 5.06 ERA in nine starts overall this season with 47 strikeouts and nine walks.
His walks are the fewest among rookie starters in the majors with as many starts and his 5.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best among rookie starters with at least 45 innings pitched.
One of Suarez’s highlights was being part of a combined three-hitter on June 2 against the Phillies, struck out five walked none and outdueled Vince Velasquez.
“He’s got the makeup to be a major-league starter,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We have a lot of confidence in this kid. He was throwing the ball really well. Overall, I think he’s done a really good job. He’s got good velocity with good secondary pitches.”
A former All-ACC third team pitcher, the 25-year old Suarez pitched three years for UM after high school including two seasons in which the Canes reached the College World Series.
Suarez was first drafted out of high school in the ninth round by the Blue Jays, and then by the Nationals in 2014 in the second round, but did not sign either time. The Giants drafted him in the second round in 2015.
After going 23-18 with a 3.11 ERA in three years in the minors, Suarez got the call-up this season.
“I’ve just been learning every time I’ve been out there and gaining confidence,” Suarez said. “Once this game was getting closer, I was really hoping I’d still be up here and able to pitch in this game. I’ll cherish the moment when I’m warming up, but once it starts it’ll be game time.”