Fernandez (biceps strain) to DL; no structural damage
Nicolino, Marlins' No. 3 prospect, recalled for Tuesday's start against Red Sox
MIAMI -- Don't count out the possibility of Jose Fernandez pitching again for the Marlins this season. The 23-year-old certainly isn't ready to be shut down.
The Marlins on Tuesday placed the ace right-hander on the 15-day disabled list with a right biceps strain and recalled lefty Justin Nicolino from Triple-A New Orleans. The club made the announcement after Fernandez underwent an MRI exam that revealed no structural damage.
Despite that the Marlins are last in the National League East, Fernandez is eager to get back on the mound.
"As long as I'm healthy, I'm coming back," Fernandez said. "To me, our record [doesn't matter]. It don't matter to me. As long as I'm healthy and ready to go, I will come back."
Once Fernandez complained of discomfort over the weekend at Atlanta, the club was leaning toward placing its ace on the disabled list. Nicolino faces the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.
Fernandez was lifted after five innings and 76 pitches on Friday in a game the Marlins lost to the Braves, 6-3, at Turner Field. The 23-year-old Fernandez labored through a 38-pitch fourth inning, giving up two runs.
On Saturday, the Marlins said Fernandez was dealing with shoulder stiffness, and he returned to Miami to be examined by team physician Lee Kaplan.
"Everything happens for a reason," Fernandez said. "That's how I take things. It's trying to teach me a lesson. I'm going to learn from it. I want to be back helping these guys. Everything in life happens for a reason in my life."
Fernandez missed nearly 14 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 16, 2014. The right-hander returned on July 2, and he's resembled his old self, sporting a 4-0 record with a 2.30 ERA in seven starts, striking out 53 in 43 innings.
"Jose said he feels good, so we'll let this run its course and see where he is and when he can resume throwing, and then go from there," manager Dan Jennings said. "But it sounded very encouraging today when speaking to him."
On Friday, Fernandez's fastball reached as high as 98 mph, and his final pitch was clocked at 94 mph.
"I don't know why," Fernandez said regarding the discomfort, which he felt several hours after the game. "Things happen. I don't know if it was that game, I don't know. I have no idea why it happened exactly.
"The plan is to figure out why it happened, but it's not easy to do. There are so many factors in there. It's not easy to pick one out."
He did say his arm tired during a long fourth inning.
One theory some baseball insiders think may have contributed is a high number of breaking balls. According to Fangraphs.com, Fernandez this year has thrown 53.9 percent fastballs, 26.3 percent sliders, 6.1 percent curveballs and 13.7 percent changeups. Fernandez's fastball percentage is far below two other standouts who also have come back from Tommy John surgery, the Mets' Matt Harvey (60.6 percent) and the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg (63.1 percent).
Although it is being called a "biceps strain," Fernandez noted the biceps tendon reaches into his shoulder and chest area.
Nicolino, 23, is Miami's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB.com. The lefty is 7-7 with a 3.52 ERA in 20 starts for New Orleans, and he has made two big league starts, going 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA.