Braves appreciate Fernandez's apology after fracas
MIAMI -- As Chris Johnson was leaving Marlins Park late Wednesday night, he heard a whistle and realized Jose Fernandez was trying to get his attention to apologize for the role he played in the events that led to a benches-clearing argument the Braves and Marlins had earlier in the evening.
"He's a good guy," Johnson said. "He just gets on the field and he's just different. He's a different guy on the field."
The Braves have a great deal of respect for the tremendous talent possessed by Fernandez, whose 2.19 ERA stands as the fourth-best mark recorded by a rookie pitcher in the live-ball era, which dates back to 1920. But they did not appreciate the display of Fernandez's youthful emotions, which bring energy to the game and at times can be perceived as antagonizing, after he homered in the sixth inning of a 5-2 Marlins win.
"When you watch him pitch, he does a lot of things on the field you can do without," said Braves catcher Brian McCann, who got to know Fernandez when they were National League teammates during this year's All-Star Game.
Johnson said the emotions began to simmer when Fernandez smiled and looked at Justin Upton after the Braves outfielder's towering fifth-inning fly ball was caught in deep center field. Evan Gattis helped fuel the events when he stared at the solo home run he hit deep over the left-field wall to begin the sixth. Moments later, Johnson did his part to feed the fire by uttering something to the effect of "weak fastball" after hitting a long fly ball that was caught in left-center field. All of this simply influenced what transpired when Fernandez stood at the plate and admired the first home run of his career in the bottom of the frame.
McCann had some words with Fernandez when the 21-year-old crossed the plate. This led both benches and bullpens to empty, and exchange nothing more than words and a few shoves. By the end of the evening, Fernandez had apologized, and the Braves were saying there would be no lingering bad blood when they face the young phenom next year.
"It's baseball," Johnson said. "Stuff like that happens. I don't think anything is going to happen after that. We'll try to get him next time. He's a good pitcher."