Jose fine with leadership label

JUPITER, Fla. — A 21-year-old with one year of big league experience isn’t your typical team leader.

Not much is according to the book when it comes to Jose Fernandez.

Jose warms up in front of his teammates.

Jose warms up in front of his teammates.

The 21-year-old has established himself as the ace. He has yet to officially be announced as the Opening Day starter, but he is lined up to pitch every five days. Where that plays out is March 31, the season opener against the Rockies at Marlins Park.

Fernandez did his thing on Friday in the Marlins’ 5-4 win over the Cardinals. He tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

The Marlins feel they are building a solid foundation, and Fernandez certainly is a major piece. If he is asked to be a leader, he will do so. Last year, he looked up to veteran Ricky Nolasco. And in 2012, when he was around the club, he followed the examples that Josh Johnson showed when he was the ace.

“Last year, I was looking up to Ricky,” Fernandez said. “When J.J. was here, I was looking to see what he was doing. If I’ve got to be a leader, I’ve got no problem with it. It’s a little hard, because I’m the youngest. And I’m always joking around. I leave that to Salty, Jeff and those old guys. I’m the fun guy. Goofy.”

Veteran like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jeff Mathis and Rafael Furcal are more traditional leaders by example and their words.

Overall, the Marlins played a solid game.

Highlights

Garrett Jones’ two-run homer, Jake Marisnick’s RBI triple, Derek Dietrich’s defense at third base, and Ty Wigginton added an RBI double.

There also was solid pitching from relievers Mike Dunn, Dan Jennings and Chris Hatcher.

Marisnick’s triple was encouraging for several reasons. For one, he is spending a lot of time in camp working on improving his load, and timing, which is aimed at shortening his swing. The triple came off a changeup.

Also, the triple was a chance to test out his knee. He had surgery to repair a meniscus tear after the 2013 season.

“We’ve run around the bases, and in the sim games, I got a chance to run a couple of times,” Marisnick said. “That’s probably the first time I had a chance to open it up a little bit. It felt great. I just have to get the slide going. It was more of a fall than a slide.”

Catchers

Saltalamacchia, who caught Fernandez on Friday, will be off Saturday. Jeff Mathis will catch Nathan Eovaldi on Saturday against the Cardinals in Jupiter. At the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Rob Brantly will catch Kevin Slowey.

Some of the players making the trip to Port St. Lucie are Jeff Baker, Dietrich, Casey McGehee, Christian Yelich and Marisnick. Manager Mike Redmond will also be on the trip.

Bench coach Rob Leary will manage the team in Jupiter.

Joe Frisaro

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