WASHINGTON -- The Marlins delivered quite a baseball bombshell this morning in the nation's capital when they announced that rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez had made the club while starters Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder injuries that are not deemed serious.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest delivered the news to reporters shortly before the team's workout at Nationals Park.
"I think it's been tugging at all of us a little bit," Beinfest said of the decision to place Fernandez on the 25-man roster. "We watched him in big league camp. We watched him go down to the minor leagues, where he was outstanding. When we got word that Alvarez was not going to make Opening Day, we started talking about what we were going to do to fill in. Jose was always there. The sense was this kid's ready to handle it. He's ready to pitch."
Fernandez is scheduled to make his major league debut next Sunday in New York when he starts against the Mets.
"I'm in shock," Fernandez said. "I'm speechless."
The original plan was for Fernandez to start the season at Double A Jacksonville. But that all changed when the injuries began piling up in the rotation. First it was Alvarez. Then it was Eovaldi, who had a MRI on Friday, which revealed mild inflammation in his right shoulder. The diagnosis was the same for Alvarez. Both were placed on 3-to-5 day "no throw" and Beinfest said both pitchers are expected to be out no more than a month at most.
The Marlins have called up right-hander Alex Sanabia from Triple A New Orleans to fill one of the open spots in the rotation. Fernandez will occupy the other.
Beinfest said the organization had already decided to limit Fernandez's innings this season from 150 to 170.
"He will just now get those innings here instead of the minor league," Beinfest said. "Individually, per game, he's on an innings and pitch limit. We understand the asset we have, the value of him, his age. And we're going to do whateer we can to do things in his best interest. He's just demonstrated everything -- from maturity to physical strength to quality of pitches -- that he can do it."
Fernandez said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria called him Friday morning to tell him about the decison.
"I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry. It's just crazy," Fernandez said of his reaction when Loria gave him the news. "I got really nervous and got really excited, too. It is crazy. I'm happy to be here. That's what I worked for all of my life. I'm going to try to enjoy every bit of it."
Fernandez appeared in only one Grapefruit League game this spring. Since being reassigned to the minors, he's dominated. He struck out nine in a four-inning outing against the Mets Double A team a little over a week ago and, in his last start, delivered five no-hit innings against the Cardinals Double A outfit.
Manager Mike Redmond said Fernandez would be slotted in the fifth spot in the rotation but, with an off day on Tuesday, Opening Day starter Ricky Nolasco will pitch twice before Fernandez makes his first start. The upcoming rotation order: Nolasco, Kevin Slowey, Wade LeBlanc, Sanabia, Nolasco, Fernandez.
The Marlins announced a number of roster moves on Sunday. They selected the contracts of seven players: Austin Kearns, Casey Kotchman, Chad Qualls, Kevin Slowey, Chris Valaika, John Maine and Fernandez.
Three players were placed on the 60-day disabled list: Logan Morrision, Jose Ceda and Alfredo Silverio. Four players were designated for assignment: Gorkys Hernandez, Zack Cox, Scott Maine and Evan Reed. Placed on the 15-day DL: Alvarez (retroactive to March 27), Eovaldi (retroactive to March 24), Joe Mahoney (retroactive to March 22), Jeff Mathis (retroactive to March 22).
"We've never seen anything like this, in terms of selecting seven guys," Beinfest said. "It's not even close. We usually select a couple of guys. The number of DL is high. The number of designated for assignment is probably a record for what I've been involved with. And, in the last 72 hours, the number of different plans we've had with regards to pitching I think is up there as well."
Redmond announced his Opening Day lineup: 1. Juan Pierre, lf; 2. Chris Coghlan, cf; 3. Giancarlo Stanton, rf; 4. Placido Polanco, 3b; 5. Rob Brantly, c; 6. Donovan Solano, 2b; 7. Casey Kotchman, 1b; 8. Adeiny Hechavarria, ss; 9. Ricky Nolasco, p.