Instead of making a tentatively scheduled start for the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night against the Phillies, ace Jose Fernandez stood with a cast and sling while speaking to the media. Fernandez told reporters that he did indeed feel a "pinch" in a previous start, but hid it from the Marlins because he felt it wouldn't need a surgery as extreme as Tommy John.
Fernandez reportedly knew something was wrong with his elbow in an early May start against the Dodgers, but chose not to inform pitching coach Chuck Hernandez or Manager Mike Redmond.
"Yeah, I was hurt, a little sore, but not as bad as like Tommy John,'' said Fernandez, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament on Friday in Los Angeles.
"I felt a little sore in the fifth or sixth inning [of the Dodgers' game]. I felt a little pinch. I don't remember what pitch. Nothing I hadn't felt before. Pitchers feel that all the time when they throw hard stuff. I went through my bullpen and everything was fine."
Fernandez, a leader in his ability to carry a team on the mound, has a consistent desire to pitch every fifth day. He brings a significant amount of energy to the Marlins' clubhouse, but because of his youth, not making his injury known immediately was a mistake.
Because he is so young, Fernandez's rehab isn't expected to be a challenge. And although his elbow was in decent condition aside from the injury, Fernandez must learn to put his health first.
Fernandez also said that he thought after a month of rehab, he would be back on a mound again.
"Honestly, I thought a month rehab, get it stronger again, get everything back in place, go out there and do the best I can like I try always,'' Fernandez said.
Fernandez said he has no regrets with his decision to hide his injury, but that he has learned from his youthful mistake.
"I don't regret not saying anything,'' said Fernandez, "I think that was my call. It probably wasn't the smartest thing, but this is my team and I give my life to my team."
Fernandez, upon learning of the injury, took a few days to first consider his options. But Tommy John surgery was the move that would get him back on a major league mound the quickest.
Although he is young and said that he wants to "pitch for a long time," Fernandez's actions are reassuring, if nothing else. While it is not productive to lie in a professional setting, Fernandez is not simply seeking a large pay check for pitching well every fifth day.