Doc Gooden is fan of Jose Fernandez
Dwight “Doc” Gooden, the former Mets great, is among the growing list of people inside the game with enjoy watching Fernandez, the Marlins’ rookie sensation.
Gooden was at Citi Field on Friday promoting his book, simply titled “Doc.” The pitching icon took a few minutes between signing books to talk about Fernandez.
Like Fernandez, Gooden broke into the league at a young age. In 1984, Gooden was a 19-year-old who went on to win National League Rookie of the Year honors.
Fernandez opened the season at age 20, and he turned 21 on July 31. The Marlins right-hander is a frontrunner to be named the Nationals League’s top rookie.
Gooden was born and raised in Tampa, and Fernandez settled into Tampa five years ago after he defected from Cuba.
Like Gooden, Fernandez wears No. 16.
Doc offers the Miami rookie some helpful advice: “The main thing with a guy like that is, on the field, continue to work hard and remember what got you there. Stick around the veterans. Always be a student of the game. There is always something you can improve on. I know he had a great year, but you always constantly challenge yourself to improve. Keep working hard.”
Gooden still has family in Tampa, and his nephew actually played high school baseball against Fernandez, who attended Alonso High School.
“As far as off the field, just understand that a lot of people may approach you,” Gooden cautions Fernandez. “A lot of them might not have your best interest.”
Fernandez was able to meet Gooden on Friday.
Gooden likes the energy the Miami rookie brings.
“The main thing that sticks out is his mound presence,” Gooden said. “He pitches like he’s been there a long time. He’s not afraid of the hitters. He likes pitching inside. He has a lot of confidence. I don’t think he’s cocky. Just a lot of confidence. That’s what really sticks out.”
– Joe Frisaro