Rookie Urena maturing, minimizing damage
MIAMI -- Sometimes issuing walks isn't necessarily a bad thing, and Jose Urena faced one of those situations in Miami's 2-0 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday at Marlins Park.
In the fifth inning of a scoreless game, Urena worked carefully around Joc Pederson, who eventually walked with one out and Jimmy Rollins on third. The free pass set up a potential double play that the Marlins nearly executed, which would have saved a run.
With runners on the corners, Urena did what he wanted, inducing Howie Kendrick to ground a ball to second. Dee Gordon handled it cleanly, tossed to second, but shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria's throw to first pulled Justin Bour off the bag. The safe call put the Dodgers ahead 1-0, and Miami was unable to rally against Zack Greinke.
"Obviously, the [walk] to Pederson to get to Howie, we were being really careful, wanting to get into a situation for a double play," Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis said. "For the most part, Jose threw the ball really well."
Urena's pure talent is noticeable after seven big league starts. The 23-year-old fell to 1-4 with a 4.04 ERA.
"Some tough luck today," manager Dan Jennings said. "He went out and he battled. He gave us five innings. We could have easily ran him back out there for the sixth, but we felt like where he was, with his pitch count, and the fact we had a fresh bullpen and an off-day tomorrow, we didn't want to put the kid in position to extend him there."
Urena ended up allowing one run on four hits, with four walks and four strikeouts.
"The more innings you get under you, the more things you're going to learn, and it helps with the maturing process," Mathis said. "He's starting to throw his breaking ball better. He threw some good breaking balls in some good counts. To me, he's looking sharper and sharper every time out."
The Marlins are sorting through their rotation options.
Jose Fernandez, who gave up four runs with eight strikeouts in five innings on Saturday for Double-A Jacksonville, has completed his rehab assignment. He will join Miami's rotation Thursday against the Giants.
Fernandez's return from Tommy John surgery will give Miami a boost, but it also creates uncertainty for starters like Urena, who are being reassessed after each start.
"The best thing will be able to pencil his name in that lineup and have him ready to go," Jennings said of Fernandez. "In my 31 years [in pro ball], I've never seen anyone go about it any harder. That being said, he's got to come in, calm his emotions and execute good pitches."
What applies to Fernandez also goes for Urena, who is getting his first big league opportunity.
"You go out and give your best effort and try to help the team win, but it's not always going to work out," Urena said.