Giving Jose the red light
MIAMI — When Jose Fernandez is on the mound, the Marlins have no problem with the 21-year-old pitching at full speed. On the bases, it’s another story.
Sometimes Fernandez’s enthusiasm makes Marlins manager Mike Redmond laugh inside. Like on Saturday night, in Miami’s 5-0 win over the Padres.
Fernandez was on second base, and Giancarlo Stanton was at the plate. Redmond notices Fernandez bouncing around, taking a long lead and acting like he wants to steal third base.
“That’s not your job,” Redmond told the young ace.
Redmond loves the aggressiveness, but on the bases, Fernandez pretty much has the red light.
The way Fernandez looks at it, he is a baseball player, not just a pitcher. And if he isn’t being ignored by infielders and the pitcher, then he will consider taking a base.
“Why not? If they’re giving it to me, why not?” Fernandez said.
He then answered his own question.
“Stanton was hitting,” Fernandez said. “I didn’t want to get hit hard. But why not? What they are giving, why not take? That’s how I was taught when I started playing.”
The fact he is a pitcher, he says, is not a reason to stop playing other parts of the game.
“I got no choice,” he said. “If I’m on base, I’ve got to run the bases the right way. I’m not going to say, ‘I’m a pitcher, so I don’t take a lead.’ The game was close too.”
Asked when Fernandez last stole a base, he chuckled: “Who knows? I don’t remember one.”
When Fernandez pitches, he certainly is all-in. He’s a perfectionist, and gets upset when he has to surrender the baseball. He also was a bit frustrated by a couple of misplays in the field.
After he came out of the game in the seventh inning, veteran Reed Johnson spoke with him.
“Reed, he told me, ‘Great job, man. Let us finish it,’ ” Fernandez said. “He was talking to me. ‘Take it easy, you did a great job.’ ”
Saturday night marked the second 30,000-plus crowd in the homestand, and the players certainly took notice.
“It’s fun to go out there, and the crowd was great out there,” Fernandez said. “It was fun. It was amazing. They were into it.”
Outfielder Christian Yelich, @ChristianYelich Tweeted: “Electric Atmosphere in Marlins Park tonight! Another solid outing by @JoseFernanez77 #TheFish”
And first baseman Garrett Jones, @Garrett_GIJones, Tweeted, “Great crowd tonight!!! Place was rocking! #fish #win”
— Joe Frisaro