Marlins to excitable Fernandez: Settle down
Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond wants Jose Fernandez to tone down his exuberant behavior.
Redmond says the Atlanta Braves had a legitimate grievance with the rookie pitcher's behavior Wednesday, which led to a bench-clearing confrontation.
The Braves were unhappy Fernandez stood at the plate admiring his home run, then spat toward the Braves' Chris Johnson while rounding third base. The Braves also were annoyed that Fernandez reacted with a cocky grin when he gave up a homer to Evan Gattis, then stared toward the Braves' bench at the end of the inning.
Even after emotions had settled Thursday, Redmond sided with Atlanta.
"Jose is an emotional guy," he said. "That's part of his game that is going to improve. We don't want to take the 'having fun' aspect away from him. That's what makes him him. But at the same time, I think maybe he can center that a little bit. ... That might be a part of his game he needs to look at, and maybe try to do something different."
After the game, Fernandez apologized for his behavior, and lost in the furor was another fine outing by the All-Star right-hander in his final start of the season. He allowed one run in seven innings in helping the Marlins win 5-2.
Fernandez won't pitch again because the Marlins set a 170-inning limit for him this year.
"He's going to be one of the top pitchers in this league for a long time," Redmond said. "But you want your players to be judged for the way they compete, not for the theatrics."
Fernandez has been demonstrative all season. He's quick to lead cheers in the dugout or strike up conversations with opposing players. When he stepped to the plate to bat for the first time Wednesday, he greeted Braves catcher Brian McCann with a handshake.
But his demeanor has sometimes rubbed opponents the wrong way, and the Braves were particularly miffed by his showboating after his first major league homer. As he crossed the plate, McCann scolded him for the display, which led both benches and bullpens to clear.
While Fernandez is popular with his teammates, the consensus in the Marlins' clubhouse was that he had gone too far.
"Jose is a great pitcher, he is very competitive, but he let this one get out of hand," closer Steve Cishek said. "He's going to learn from it. I can pretty much guarantee it will never happen again, the way he is. He's a good kid."
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez attributed Fernandez's behavior to immaturity.
"He's a playful guy," Gonzalez said. "He likes to have fun on the mound, and we like to have fun, too. If he's going to play that way, which is fine, he shouldn't get upset when we hit a home run and have fun ourselves."
After the game, a seemingly crestfallen Fernandez said he had gotten carried away amid the emotions of his final start. He sought out McCann and Braves pitcher Mike Minor and apologized to them.
"I thought the way he handled it was perfect," Redmond said. "And we're moving on. It was a learning experience. Unfortunately what gets overshadowed is the year he has had, and how great he has been. We should be talking about him for rookie of the year instead."
In the aftermath of the episode, Redmond drew from criticism from some baseball pundits for not supporting his player.
"If you're only watching two clips of that game, I could see how they could say whatever," Redmond said. "But if you're around here and in this clubhouse every day ...
"We're a young team. We're 30-some games under .500. We're teaching guys to respect the game and play the game the right way. I think it's a teaching moment for Jose. And he understands where I'm coming from."
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