An attorney for Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez said a sharp grounder that struck the right-hander in the thigh before his final start caused him to change his throwing motion and may have contributed to him needing season-ending elbow surgery.
Tampa-based attorney Ralph Fernandez explained the timeline for the pitcher's injury in a lengthy statement to Miami media on Friday.
He said the reigning National League rookie of the year had to alter his delivery after getting hit on the back of the left leg by a sharp grounder off the bat of Dee Gordon in the Marlins' 5-4 win over Los Angeles on May 4 in Miami.
Fernandez pitched five innings at San Diego on May 9 in his last start before the Marlins announced he would need Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, which he had Friday in Los Angeles.
"Jose did not have a pre-existing condition," Ralph Fernandez wrote in a statement. "While pitching during the recent Dodgers game in Miami he was struck by a ball on his rear thigh. This prompted a completely unanticipated change in delivery which neither the staff nor his coaches could discern.
"After the game we spoke as we always do. Jose was concerned about his arm. Despite many exchanges on the subject in the days that followed he felt that with the Marlins regaining first place in the division he could not let his team down. Apparently the injury was worse than he believed. In San Diego in the third ending he suffered a traumatic event, tossed a couple of more innings and the rest is history."
Unaware of injury
Marlins manager Mike Redmond said before the Marlins played the San Francisco Giants on Friday night that nobody on the team knew of Fernandez's injury until his start in San Diego.
"I just think if it was bothering him, then he should have said something and we would've obviously shut him down and taken those precautions," Redmond said. "As soon as we found out that he had a sore arm, we shut him down and got an MRI and got everything looked at and got the information that we needed."
Redmond also refuted that Fernandez changed his delivery after getting hit in the thigh against the Dodgers.
"He looked the same to me in that game after that," Redmond said.
Marlins president Michael Hill said in a statement that Fernandez's surgery went well. He said Fernandez would return to Miami and immediately begin his rehabilitation program.
Attorney Ralph Fernandez said in his statement that he, the Marlins, the pitcher and his agent, Scott Boras, all agree that surgery was the proper course of action. Typical recovery time is 12 to 18 months.
The 21-year-old Fernandez was put on the disabled list earlier this week, becoming the latest in a string of major league pitchers this year who have needed Tommy John surgery. Fernandez finished 4-2 with a 2.44 earned-run average in eight starts this season.
Fernandez made 28 starts last year, going 12-6 with a major league-best .182 opponents' batting average. His 2.19 ERA was second in the majors behind three-time defending ERA champ Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. Fernandez struck out 187 in 172 2-3 innings.