Recalling when Jose and Carlos flirted with 100 mph
Back in 2014, Jose Fernandez and Carlos Martinez each came close to throwing 100 mph in first inning of first Spring Training Game. It was entertaining, but also caused concern.
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
Gather around, everyone. You may want to take a seat, because you’ll want to pay attention.
I’m about to tell you the story of back when, back in the old days. Back in 2014, a mere seven years ago according to the calendar, but it seems like eons ago in our fast-paced, high-tech world.
What you’re about to read is a story worth sharing, and reminding. It took place at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in sunny Jupiter, Fla. It was the Grapefruit League Spring Training opener for the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.
There was a “must see” pitching matchup between the late Jose Fernandez for Miami and Carlos Martinez with St. Louis. At the time, the two were among the young faces of Major League Baseball. Both were blessed with electric arms, and they were eager to show off, literally in the first inning of the first spring game.
In a “can you top this showdown,” Martinez lit up the radar readings at 99 mph.
Not wanting to be outdone, Fernandez reached back and dialed up 98 mph. For any pitcher, even two of the hardest throwers in the game, to flirt with 100 mph right out of the chute was then considered insanity.
From the Marlins’ dugout, players were blurting out, “What are you doing?”
The culture of the sport, and the industry, and the players themselves has long been that Spring Training, especially Game 1, is about starting the building up process for the regular season. Ultimately, the objective of players is to be ready to roll for Game 1 of the regular season, while having enough to last through a 162-game season, and potentially the postseason.
“The thing with Jose was he was always competing, with everybody, at all times,” former Marlins starter Tom Koehler said in an interview with Man On Second Baseball. “He wasn’t satisfied with like competing against the other teams’ hitters, he wanted to, ‘Ok, that pitcher is going to throw 99. Well, I’m going to show them that I can get up there, and he got to 98.”
For those in attendance, and those of us covering the game, it was great theater. You talk about entertaining, Fernandez, of course, was a tremendous showman. No doubt, he’s tremendously missed.
On that day, the season after Fernandez was the National League Rookie of the Year, the right-hander was so motivated for his first start, that he aired it all out.
Dialing up 98 in the first inning, made headlines, but it wasn’t necessarily embraced by his Marlins teammates, the coaching staff and the organization.
“I remember after the game, guys were kind of getting on him,” Koehler said. “Like, what are you doing? It was the first outing of Spring Training. We need you to pitch 200 innings this year. You can’t really risk injury by going out there when you’re not necessarily ready to go.”
To anyone who knew Jose Fernandez, if he intended to throw hard from the get-go, he was going to throw hard.
I relate this story because this weekend Spring Training games will start up in Florida and Arizona.
Now, in an age where players are throwing harder, and are already triggering readings in the upper 90s, you will see and hear about pitchers on flirting with or reaching 100 mph.
For many pitchers, building up velocity is a process, and those who normally are around 98-100 mph anyway, may start off at 95 or higher.
Personally speaking, Koehler said how hard he threw from Day 1 depended on the year. Mainly, if he was fighting for a roster spot, he would throw harder early. In the years he knew he had a rotation spot, he may be working on secondary pitches rather than trying to maximize his velocity.
“It depended on the year,” he said. “For ’14, talking about that game. I wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot. So, if you’re a guy who is not guaranteed to be on the team, you know you have to prepare for the season, and it might not be with the big league team.
“But if you’re on that bubble, and you think you have a chance to make the team, you’re pitching that game as if it’s middle of April. You don’t have a choice. When you start becoming a little more established, that’s when you have certain things you want to work on, so you spend more time doing that early on in camp. You trust that your velo will be there, because it’s always there because of the work you put into the offseason.”
2 thoughts on “Recalling when Jose and Carlos flirted with 100 mph”
It’s always great to recount Jose’s competitive attitude. Great Article and definitely brought back some memories!
Great Story. I was at that Game. What could have been
had Jose lived a full life and the Marlins kept the other
All Star players: ie Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna and Realmuto? All players in their mid twenties…………….
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