While 20-year old Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez worked during the All-Star break his teammates and coaches got a chance to rest and recover from a grueling first half of the season.
Mike Redmond, himself a rookie manager in the big leagues, spent his All-Star break with former Marlins teammate Mike Lowell -- and their families -- over in the Bimini Islands of the Bahamas.
"The seas were a little bit dicey, but it was a good adventure," Redmond said of the families' 70-mile journey east to the tiny island. "We didn't get lost at sea or nothing. We had a nice time, got a chance to recharge and look forward to what's going to happen this second half."
Redmod said he and Lowell went fishing with their kids and even did a little knee boarding during their three days off. Redmond still tuned in, though, to watch Fernandez pitch Tuesday night in New York.
He, like other Marlins fans, was disappointed Fernandez's performance was interrupted on FOX's TV broadcast by an interview being conducted in the dugout with Pirates closer Jason Grilli.
"I was a little disappointed," Redmond said. "You have an up and coming star in the game and we didn't really get to learn anything about him. Maybe the fans outside Miami missed a chance to meet and hear about such an interesting story.
"[But] I heard a couple guys say they were pretty impressed with his stuff. Sometimes you just got to go out there and get yourself noticed with the way you pitch and the way you carry yourself. That's all of us. That's the Marlins really. Nobody is going to go out there and pump us up. We're just going to have to go out there and just prove to everyone 'Hey we're getting better and we're improving, look at us. Look at what we're doing too.'"
Although the Marlins will open the second half of the season facing three teams with losing records (Brewers, Rockies and Mets), they close out the season facing teams with winning records in 12 of their last 17 series including the Pirates (6 games), Indians (3 games), Braves (10 games), Dodgers (4 games), Nationals (9 games), Phillies (6 games) and Tigers (3 games) who are all either leading their divisions or in the wild card hunt.
Even though Redmond has quite a few players who have never played into September before, the skipper believes there are plenty of reasons his team won't get worn out by the dog days of summer.
"We've got too much to play for," Redmond said. "Guys are playing for lots of different things. They're playing for contracts, survival in the big leagues. Everybody's got something to play for. I just want us to focus on what we've been doing -- and that's improving, playing as a team, winning some ball games, learning how to win and continuing to compete and having some fun.
"I still feel like we can prove to this league we still have a lot of fight left in us and can make an impact. We're going to be playing a lot of good teams, teams that are going to be in the playoffs. We're going to give them everything we've got. We're going to see how many games we can win this second half."
> Third baseman Colin Moran, the Marlins' 2013 first round pick, homered in his first professional at-bat Wednesday in Greensboro -- and naturally Redmond took credit.
"I must have gotten him tuned up," Redmond joked Thursday. "My batting practice [session with him last week] must have gotten him locked in."
> With two-time Futures Game All-Star Christian Yelich healthy and raring for a big league call-up it might not be very long before long the Marlins bring up their 2010 first round pick to join their outfield.
"That's probably a discussion that is going to happen -- maybe on this road trip," Redmond said.
> Utility infielder Chris Valaika, who broke his wrist in early May, has been promoted to Triple A New Orleans after playing in 11 games in Jupiter.
Redmond said Chris Coghlan, who has resumed baseball activities after seeing a spine specialist, probably won't end up working at third base during rehab since the Marlins have Ed Lucas and Donovan Solano healthy and available. Coghlan, drafted as a third baseman out of college, has played outfield nearly all of his pro career.
It's been a dreamy rookie season for 20-year old Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez, one made even sweeter by the All-Star experience he got to share with his mother Maritza in New York earlier this week.
"We actually stayed in the same room, talking until two, three in the morning every night," said Fernandez, who jumped into the ocean five years ago to save his mother during their daring escape from Cuba.
"My mom did a lot shopping with me. I was happy about that."
As good as things have been, Fernandez knows the good times -- at least for this season -- aren't going to last forever. He's well aware the number of starts he has left are numbered and before long he's going to be shut down.
The Marlins, who open the second half of their season Friday night in Milwaukee, have had their 2011 first round pick on an innings count all season. And despite the rookie's first half success, they still plan on shutting him down early to protect his arm.
"What we said was 150 to 170 innings," manager Mike Redmond said Thursday after his team got back together for the first time since the All-Star and held an afternoon practice at Marlins Park. "Obviously we're going to push for closer to 170."
Fernandez, who had never pitched above Single A Jupiter before he surprisingly made the Marlins' Opening Day roster back in April, threw 104 2/3 innings in the first half of the season. Last year, he threw a total of 134 innings.
This season's first half, Fernandez finished 5-5 with a 2.75 ERA, 103 strikeouts and 40 walks. A total of 66 percent of his pitches went for strikes. In all, Fernandez threw 1,617 pitches, an average of nearly 90 pitches a start. The only time he eclipsed 100 pitches was in four of his last six starts.
Redmond said he never thinks about the long term when Fernandez takes the mound.
"I go solely on how he's doing that day," he said. "If he has a chance to win a ballgame or whatever it is and he's going good then we'll let him throw seven or eight innings. I've never gone into a game going we can only let him throw six innings a day. I take it from game to game. If he has a chance to throw a complete game then I'll let him throw a complete game. If he keeps his pitches down and he has a chance he'll go out there."
But protecting Fernandez's young arm is still important to Redmond for the long-term. Fernandez, for his part, would love to pitch the entire season. But he said he has no problem with the Marlins' plans in part because they've been up front since the get-go.
"They know I love to pitch, love to compete. They got a plan and I'm going to follow it 100 percent," Fernandez said. "I have nothing against it. For me, that's all I'm going to do.
"My next start is on Tuesday [in Colorado] and I'm going to go out there and do the best I can until they take me out. The next one after that should be five days after that and I'm going to do the best I can. That's how I'm taking it. I'm not really thinking about innings and stuff like that. They have a plan. They've had it since the season started. So far I think we're doing good. Our plan is working. Just keep it up."
-- MANNY NAVARRO