Hard work never hurt nobody. Jose Fernandez is determined to put that to the test and also to show that his rookie season was no fluke.
After all, the Marlins have had phenomenal rookie pitchers before – nothing like Dontrelle Willis who not only went on to win the ROY for the NL in 2003 but also challenge for the Cy Young Award in 2005 (finishing 2nd) only to be traded in 2007 to the Detroit Tigers. The D-Train flamed out shortly thereafter and has never been the same again.
It isn’t, by any stretch, set in stone that Jose Fernandez will become a superstar in this league. There is much work still to be done and Fernandez is demonstrating great humility and the proper work ethic to ensure his continued success. He currently is commuting to practice each day stop a specialized S-Works Venge bicycle. He was using it to condition in the offseason, racking up over 500 miles each week back in Tampa.
Then there is the practice of being a lumberjack – Fernandez is chopping trees with an ax to help his upper body strength. All signs point to Fernandez locking in this year and continuing to grow as a pitcher.
Last spring, he was one of many new faces just trying to get a shot. Now he sits across from that makeshift locker in one with his own name carved on it. Fernandez insists the success has not shifted his focus.
“At the end of the day, it’s kind of the same — being quiet, working hard, learning. I’m here to learn and that’s how it is going to be until I retire. That’s the plan, just work hard and learn from everybody.”
The reigning NL Rookie of the Year looks to grow past his already impressive numbers of 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187Ks. Maybe this year, instead of placing 3rd in the Cy Young voting, he can win the whole thing.
Expectations are admittedly high for the 21 year old Cuban refugee, but none are higher than those he places on himself. “I’m sure there’s expectations that he puts on himself,” manager Mike Redmond said. “I know that he thinks he’s going to go out and be even better. And you know, he might be.”