Fernandez excels in first All-Star experience
MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez both faced and joined elite talent with his perfect inning of relief for the National League in Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
By fanning MLB home run leader Chris Davis and former American League Most Valuable Player Award winner Dustin Pedroia, Fernandez joined Hall of Famers Dwight Gooden and Bob Feller as the only hurlers younger than 21 to record two or more strikeouts in an All-Star Game.
Fernandez also got Triple Crown winner and former Marlin Miguel Cabrera to pop out in foul territory, clocking in at 98 mph on three fastballs to the Tigers slugger.
"I know they can hit the ball," Fernandez said. "I was just trying to make good pitches and not overdo stuff."
The 20-year-old rookie impressed on baseball's biggest stage outside of October, blazing through the heart of the AL order and showcasing the talent that has made him one of the sport's best young arms.
But for those who spend nearly every day with Fernandez, the Cuban-born pitcher's performance at Citi Field was nothing new.
"That doesn't surprise me, the kind of stuff he has," left fielder Juan Pierre said. "I know he was probably extra hyped. Probably hit 97, 98 maybe on the gun."
Marlins manager Mike Redmond added: "His stuff was just nasty. I haven't gotten a chance to watch him much on TV, because I get to watch him in person, but his stuff on TV was pretty nasty."
While he did not get the chance to meet his favorite player, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, Fernandez was thrilled to mingle with baseball's best. He said interacting with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, Phillies southpaw Cliff Lee and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano were highlights.
"Meeting all those guys was incredible in person," Fernandez said. "I think I learned a lot from it. Being around them and talking to them and stuff was very nice."
While Fernandez enjoyed the time he spent among the All-Stars, the person he was happiest to share his experience with was his mother.
"She was enjoying it," Fernandez said. "We stayed in the same room talking until 2 or 3 in the morning every day. It was just incredible. Incredible."
Now that he has enjoyed one All-Star weekend, Fernandez said he would love to go back again in future seasons. But he views potential future selections as more than individual prizes.
"I would love to do it every year," Fernandez said. "If I'm making the All-Star Game, then I'm playing good for my team and that's the most important part."
Should Fernandez ever earn the opportunity to start an All-Star Game, he would view the honor as simply an added bonus.
"That would be amazing to start an All-Star Game," Fernandez said. "God knows if that's going to happen. Just being there is amazing."