JUPITER, Fla. -- Jose Urena goes about his business each day calmly, but on the mound, the hard-throwing right-hander brings plenty of passion and energy.In Game 1, the Marlins are hoping to feed off Urena's energy. The 26-year-old was named Saturday as the club's starter for the March 29 Opening
JUPITER, Fla. -- Jose Urena goes about his business each day calmly, but on the mound, the hard-throwing right-hander brings plenty of passion and energy.
In Game 1, the Marlins are hoping to feed off Urena's energy. The 26-year-old was named Saturday as the club's starter for the March 29 Opening Day matchup against the Cubs at Marlins Park.
"If you see him, and the intensity at which he pitches, you'd say, 'Dang, there's some fire in this kid,'" Marlins third baseman Martin Prado said. "Sometimes you need those kinds of guys. You always want him to be the guy that you feel like, 'We have a chance to win this game.'"
A year ago, Urena's status with the organization was up in the air. He was out of options, and he made the club as a reliever before becoming a fixture in the rotation. Urena paced the team in wins, going 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 169 2/3 innings.
Now that Urena has been named Opening Day starter, he's not handling anything any differently.
"For me, I say it all the time, it's good if you have the same [mindset]," Urena said. "If you get too high, and emotional, maybe you don't do the things you do all the time. You may be a little hyper, because you're trying to do too much."
Prado recalled a few years ago, when Urena would observe and interact with the late Marlins ace Jose Fernandez. It was from Fernandez that Urena became more aggressive in the strike zone.
"[Urena] watched Jose pitch," Prado said. "He got to feel part of the intensity and how to go hard and attack the hitters. He got that from Jose. He just had that. Now he just puts everything together, and now you have a complete package."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Manager Don Mattingly chose Urena over Dan Straily, who will pitch Game 2, partly because Opening Day starts are usually filled with emotion.
"We talked about him and Dan being interchangeable, going one or two," Mattingly said. "I don't think it would have made any difference. But Jose has come a long way, from the standpoint [of] when I saw him a few years ago, when he was kind of coming up, and I was with the Dodgers. I've seen a skinny, young kid slinging it up there. Now we're seeing a body that has developed. More maturity on the mound."
Urena has come a long way since being an international signing from the Dominican Republic in 2009. Over the years, he's matured physically and mentally. He has filled out from being long and lean to a sturdy 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.
"He's a brick wall," Prado said.
In the weight room, Urena is as diligent as he is on the mound.
"I noticed from my time here, he's always working hard, putting time in the weight room, working," pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara said. "He also takes that to the field, the way he competes. That's something I'm trying to apply to my game."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.