Fernandez approaching All-Star Game with wide eyes
Rookie grateful that NL 'trusts me,' excited to meet Boston's Ortiz
MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez can't wait to meet David Ortiz.
The youngest All-Star in Marlins history hopes to connect with the Red Sox slugger as part of his first experience at the Midsummer Classic on July 16.
"I do for sure want to shake his hand and tell him he's my favorite player," Fernandez said. "It's going to be fun."
Fernandez has earned the right to stand among the ranks of perennial All-Stars like Ortiz thanks to what has been a stellar rookie campaign. He will be only 20 years, 347 days old when baseball's best meet up at Citi Field in a week.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria phoned Fernandez to deliver the news. Fernandez told his mother soon after, and he laughed when telling the story of how she reacted. His mother will join Fernandez in Flushing, N.Y.
"She texted me like 10 times," Fernandez said. "I was like, 'All right, Mom. I'm taking a shower. I've got to get dressed.' She was texting me. She was happy. I called her on the phone, we talked for a while and it was really incredible."
Despite never playing higher than Class A before this season, the Cuban-born hurler has been a force on the mound. He has 10 quality starts, sports a 2.83 ERA and has struck out 99 batters in 98 2/3 innings.
The rookie has proven especially dominant as of late, putting together a strong final push to earn a spot on the National League roster. He has notched six quality starts in his past seven outings, compiling a 1.75 ERA and holding hitters to a .157 batting average in that stretch.
Fernandez admitted that he has not given much thought to his rise to baseball stardom, instead choosing to focus on making his mark in the big leagues. As he said, he has time in the offseason to reflect on this season.
"I'm not really thinking about how everything has come," Fernandez said. "It's incredible. It's pretty fun to get a chance, first, to be in the big leagues. And now they trust me to be on the All-Star team. That's something I really can't explain. It's incredible."
The rookie's day-by-day approach to getting better has endeared him to Marlins manager Mike Redmond. Redmond heard all sorts of praise for Fernandez before Spring Training and said the rookie has lived up to the hype.
Redmond especially admires Fernandez's competitive nature and passion for baseball. He has often praised the rookie for cheering on his teammates from the dugout when he is not on the mound.
"That day that he pitches, I think he energizes everybody," Redmond said. "We come to the ballpark to watch a kid -- and he is just a kid -- go out there and compete and have fun. That's the beauty of Jose Fernandez."
Although the Marlins plan to limit Fernandez's innings this season, Redmond has no reservations about Fernandez pitching in the All-Star Game. Fernandez certainly hopes to toe the rubber next week at Citi Field -- the site of his MLB debut.
Redmond says Miami has not yet discussed a potential pitch count for Fernandez during the All-Star Game.
"I want to see him pitch," Redmond said. "Of course. Are you kidding me? A 20-year-old All-Star -- I hope they get him in there. That would be great."
If NL All-Star manager Bruce Bochy decides to make Fernandez the fifth-youngest pitcher to ever participate in an All-Star Game, the rookie acknowledged the possibility that he might do more than just meet Big Papi.
"I would love to," Fernandez said of potentially facing Ortiz. "He's a great hitter. He can hit the ball far. He's one of the best."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.