Friday afternoon was team picture day for the Marlins and the only player not around to pose for the camera was All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who still isn't ready to show the world his smile after being beaned in the face last week.
No need to worry, though, "I'm sure they'll Photoshop him in," manager Mike Redmond said before taking a moment to reflect on the turnaround the Marlins have made from being a 100-loss team a year ago to being still mathematically alive for a wildcard berth with 10 games to go in 2014.
"I think the team picture for me is always one of those things you look at down the road and remember different things for different reasons," Redmond continued. "This year, without a doubt, a lot of different memories when you look at that picture for sure."
The what-ifs start with staff ace Jose Fernandez, who was back in uniform Friday for the team photo. Lost for the season back in May after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Fernandez flew back from Los Angeles Thursday night after receiving the all-clear from Dr. Neal ElAttrache to begin a throwing program on Oct. 1.
"A lot of good news came out of that going up there and seeing him," Fernandez said. "Really excited and feeling great. I feel like I didn't have surgery, so that's the good news."
Fernandez said his rehab will begin with throwing from 30 to 45 feet for three to four minutes and ramp up from there. He said ElAttrache and the Marlins have only put forth a plan through December and he will be doing all of his early rehab work here in South Florida under the watchful eye physical therapist and trainer Ron Yacoub.
Fernandez said he gained some weight in the six weeks he was inactive after the surgery, but says he has since dropped about 10 pounds and is weighing between 219 and 221.
As much as he would like to return to the mound as soon as possible, Fernandez said he's taking a smart approach to his comeback. He said he doesn't want to set a target date for a return either because he doesn't want to disappoint himself if he doesn't reach that goal. President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill said the team remains hopeful Fernandez will be back midseason, around the All-Star break.
"Whatever day it is -- I would love for it to be a home game," Fernandez said. "I would prefer that. But if it's in Canada I don't mind either. I just want to be pitching and help my team and give my team a chance to win. In the end, I have to be really careful because I really don't want to come back for three months. I want to come back for 13, 14 years."
How would this season have turned out if Fernandez was healthy?
"You think about it... maybe a little different, but I don't think it'd be such a big difference," Fernandez said modestly. "They're playing incredible baseball and guys are doing what they're supposed to do. They've been fun to watch. But now with Stanton getting hurt like that -- it's [been] a really hard right punch for us, a killer."
SHUTTING DOWN MORRIS
The Marlins decided Friday to shut down reliever Bryan Morris, who has been battling a groin injury, for the rest of the season. Morris hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 at Milwaukee.
"He had to field a couple bunts and I think him making those quick steps off the mound sort of tweaked it even more," Redmond said. "He was not feeling 100 percent anyway. But that sort of just irritated it even more. Sometimes when you have a sore groin and you try to fight through it, it leads to something else -- a sore shoulder or sore elbow -- and I think that was our biggest concern."
Morris is under club control through 2018 and isn't arbitration eligible until 2016.
> Carter Capps, sidelined for a little over three months with a right elbow sprain this season, joined Vic Darensbourg Thursday as the only relievers in club history to strike out all four batters they faced in an outing according to the Marlins.
"I'd never faced the Nationals before so I was facing all those guys for the first time," said Capps, who has given up two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings of work since coming back from the disabled list on Sept. 2. "[My arm] feels pretty good right now. No pain. The rest really helped it out as far as I could tell."