Fernandez set for July 2 return to Marlins
Right-hander to make total of five rehab starts before making 2015 debut vs. Giants
MIAMI -- The awaited return of Jose Fernandez to the Marlins' rotation will be on July 2 against the Giants at Marlins Park, with a first pitch of 12:10 p.m. ET.
Fernandez made the announcement on Monday night during the telecast of the Marlins-Yankees game on FOX Sports Florida. The news means the right-hander will make three more rehab starts, which will give him five total, before rejoining Miami.
Originally, FS Florida was not scheduled to televise the series finale with the defending World Series champions, but now it will show Fernandez's first start since last May 9 at San Diego.
"Obviously, it's always changing, that's why I didn't want to pick out a day, even though I had heard," Fernandez said. "Since the last [rehab] start, the way that I felt, I said, 'OK, it's a good time to let everyone know.'"
Fernandez, who underwent Tommy John surgery on May 16, 2014, will progress to Triple-A New Orleans for his third rehab start on Wednesday at Round Rock. He will then pitch on June 22 for Class A Advanced Jupiter and on June 27 with Double-A Jacksonville. His first two rehab starts were with Jupiter.
When Fernandez broke in with the Marlins in 2013, the then-20-year-old jumped from Jupiter directly to the big leagues. He has never pitched at the Double-A or Triple-A levels. Wednesday will mark the first time.
"It's new. It's going to be fun," Fernandez said. "They're the closest guys to being in the big leagues. It's going to be fun."
Fernandez is more than 13 months removed from surgery, and he is encouraged to finally see light at the end of the tunnel in his recovery. The 2013 National League Rookie of the Year has already regained the velocity of his fastball, touching 97-99 mph in his first two rehab starts.
Highly energetic, Fernandez has stayed the course and made it a point not to cut corners. It hasn't always been easy, since he is eager to return.
"It's been long -- it's been almost 13 months," Fernandez said. "Probably the first three months were hard. I was like, 'When can I do this? When can I do bands? When can I do all that?' Now, it's more like, 'I know the process.' I have it written down. I'm just taking it day by day, and hopefully keep getting better with each start."
Once Fernandez and a couple of other Marlins starters come off the disabled list, the club is hopeful of making a push down the stretch.
Mat Latos just returned from the DL after being out with left knee inflammation. Jarred Cosart (vertigo) is scheduled to make his final rehab assignment start on Tuesday for New Orleans. Henderson Alvarez, an All-Star in 2014 and the club's Opening Day starter, is dealing with right shoulder inflammation. He is several weeks or months away.
"The guys right now are doing a tremendous job," Fernandez said of the rotation. "They're competing. We're going to have a lot of guys who are hurt coming back. We'll see from there.
"The main goal, everybody knows, is to be healthy. Things have to feel the same way I was before I got hurt."