Low-key Nolasco takes record in stride
MIAMI — About the most emotion you will see out of Ricky Nolasco is a small fist pump after recording a big out.
Other than that, the Marlins right-hander stays low key.
So setting the franchise record for most wins in Marlins history isn’t going to get him too pumped up.
“It’s not that important right now,” Nolasco says.
Nolasco on Tuesday became the club leader in wins when the Marlins beat the Rockies, 7-6, at Marlins Park.
Nolasco is now 69-53 in his big league career. Dontrelle Willis is second with 68 wins, and Josh Johnson is third with 50 wins.
“He always gets it done,” Johnson said of Nolasco. “It couldn’t happen to a better guy.”
The Marlins acquired Nolasco from the Cubs after the 2005 season as part of the Juan Pierre trade.
Nolasco and Johnson were both rookies in 2006. The two actually first met during the Double-A All-Star Game in Mobile in 2005.
Johnson was with the Marlins’ Carolina affiliate, while Nolasco pitched for West Tennessee.
Even as a Minor Leaguer, Nolasco always had a knack for winning. In the Cubs’ system, he was 43-22.
“I remember the first time I met him was at the Double-A All-Star Game,” Johnson said. “We were about the same age, and I went up trying to talk to him. And he didn’t say two words. I was like, alright. And I don’t say anything. I’m trying to make conversation. I was like, ‘Man, this guy is worse than I am.’ I was like, ‘Oh well, I’ll go sit over here.’ “
“We were both quiet guys,” Nolasco said. “I didn’t know anybody there really. I just kind of stuck to my own. I guess my people skills were a lot worse back then.”
When Johnson learned Nolasco was becoming a Marlin, he knew the organization was getting a talented pitcher.
“As soon as I found out he was on our team, I knew what he was going to do,” Johnson said. “He was going to start off in the big leagues, and be up here a long time.”
Nolasco and Johnson actually were set to pitch in the first game of the Double-A playoffs in 2005. But the night before Game 1 of the series, the Marlins called JJ up to the big leagues.
“They called my cel phone, like 11 or 11:30,” Johnson said. “I was pitching the next night against Ricky. They were like, ‘Hey, you’re going to the big leagues.’ “
Behind Nolasco, West Tennessee pitched a shutout in Game 1.
– Joe Frisaro