The Jose Fernandez injury story figures to be the biggest of the year for the Miami Marlins, and it does not stop even after he successfully underwent surgery Friday. Fernandez's attorney and friend, Ralph Fernandez, released a statement over the weekend that held some interesting statements that do not usually occur in the case of unforeseen injuries like this one. The Miami Herald broke the story that Ralph Fernandez, who is not related to Jose, claimed that an earlier thigh injury caused by a line drive was at fault for the eventual UCL tear.
Jose Fernandez’s arm injury was precipitated by a chain reaction of events that began when a line drive struck him in the thigh in his next-to-last game, according to the pitcher’s friend and attorney.
That "prompted a completely unanticipated change in delivery which neither the staff nor his coaches could discern," culminating in a "traumatic" arm injury when Fernandez pitched next on May 9 in San Diego, said his Tampa-based attorney, Ralph Fernandez, in a statement that was released Friday after the pitcher underwent Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles.
The earlier injury discussed here is the one that occurred when Fernandez took a line drive in the off the thigh in the fifth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, his previous start. Dee Gordon knocked a liner that eventually became an infield single, and Fernandez walked around and was checked on before cruising smoothly through the rest of the game. He ended the game striking out ten batters and walking four
Clearly Fernandez was shaken up and had some pain, but the implication here is that Fernandez then changed his pitching motion just enough that in the very next start, he suffered his acute UCL tear. Given the very drastic change in velocity and what we know about UCL injuries, it does at least seem like Fernandez's is more acute than a chronic mechanical concern.
As mentioned, this is fairly unusual for a lawyer of a franchise player who was treated very cautiously by his team suddenly release a statement that could implicate blame on the team's coaching staff. The Marlins, of course, denied that they saw anything different in Fernandez's motions.
But Marlins manager Mike Redmond questioned that assertion.
"I don’t think it affected his delivery," Redmond said of the line drive. "He looked the same to me in that game after that."
Two Marlins pitchers who asked to remain anonymous said they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary in Fernandez’s delivery after being struck by the line drive.
"Looked the same to me," said one. "It [the arm injury] just happened."
Ralph Fernandez went on to say that not only did this cause a change in delivery due to pain, but that Jose Fernandez was concerned both about the thigh and the arm. Whether that means that he was experiencing arm discomfort before the fated start against the San Diego Padres is difficult to tell, but Ralph Fernandez mentions that Jose failed to inform the team because he felt he was "letting the team down" if he discussed the problem.
The fact that a lawyer released this statement that shed some negativity towards the team's handling of their star talent is foreboding. After all, Fernandez is set to lose a significant amount of money in arbitration or contract extension thanks to missing time due to a severe injury such as this one, and not spotting that injury could be a workplace problem. Then again, everything in Fernandez's history indicates that it was impossible to prevent this sudden injury, so the Marlins would have that on their side.
The fact that both sides immediately agreed to a safe surgical option over rehab is promising, and this situation is unlikely to escalate further than this statement. But any time loss of money is on the line, you cannot rule out attorneys stepping into the fray and looking out for client's interests in a case like this one. Stay tuned to Fish Stripes for more coverage of this ongoing situation.