Jose Fernandez back on the mound for first time since Tommy John surgery
The news every Miami Marlins fan has been patiently waiting to read for almost 10 months finally broke on Sunday out of Jupiter, FL.
Jose Fernandez, for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May, threw off a pitchers’ mound today in one of the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium. Fernandez reportedly threw 15 fastballs and, as Juan C. Rodriguez’s above tweet suggests, everything went smoothly.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Fernandez’s next bullpen session will be on Thursday. It’s baby steps at this point, and Fernandez will continue to pitch a pair of sessions per week as he builds strength back into his invaluable right arm.
“The strike zone was there, the location was there, in and out, right down the middle with a fastball. It was just like riding a bike.”
It’s kind of hard to believe it’s been almost a year since Fernandez last pitched in a game for the Marlins. His last start was last May 9, nearly a full 10 months ago, against the Padres. Miami’s ace labored uncharacteristically through five innings at Petco Park where he surrendered six runs (five earned) and two long balls. Days later, it was reported that Fernandez had been suffering from food poisoning, which might have affected him in that outing. The narrative escalated quickly, with news of a UCL tear in his pitching arm coming hours later.
The unthinkable had happened in a matter of days. How could Jose Fernandez need Tommy John surgery? It was one of those things that never crossed the minds of Marlins fans; it would never happen to Fernandez. But it did, and the team found itself suddenly without its ace, its spark plug, its fan-favorite with an entire section of left field seats donning his name.
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Luckily the rest of the Marlins rotation stepped it up in Fernandez’s absence. Henderson Alvarez right away assumed the role of team ace, and wound up on his first All-Star team. Tom Koehler was a work horse, Brad Hand kept the team above water in most of his starts and relief appearances, and Jarred Cosart came over at the trade deadline and translated smoothly into the National League.
The Marlins rotation in 2015 should be even better than last year’s, with the addition of Mat Latos and a back of the rotation innings-eater in Dan Haren. In the interim before Fernandez returns to the team — expected to be sometime between June 15 and July 15 — the Marlins should contend with their current projected pitching staff. When Fernandez takes the mound in a game for the first time, it will be icing on the cake.
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