JUPITER (AP) — Marlins ace Jose Fernandez pitched five hitless innings in a 3-0 win over Boston, then shifted his focus to the world stage.
The right-hander leaned against a pingpong table in the Miami clubhouse Tuesday, watching the Tampa Bay Rays play the Cuban national team in Havana.
“Hopefully this is the beginning for change. Hopefully,” Fernandez said prior to his start. “It’s a dream to come play in America and some us will do whatever it takes.”
Fernandez indeed did whatever it took. He tried and failed three times to defect from Cuba before finally succeeding in 2008. He said he thinks the Rays-Cuba game could signal a new era, but that “so many things” still need to change.
The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year said the Tampa Bay players would see “a lot of reality (in Cuba). A lot of things we take for granted here. That the people over there, pretty much they don’t have anything.”
“(But the players) probably are not going to go inside the cities. They won’t see the real life and the real struggles,” he said.
Fernandez said one day he would like to play for the Marlins in Cuba, but “a lot of things would have to change. I know my grandmother would love it. My family would love it.”
Fernandez struck out four and walked one. He threw 41 of his 60 pitches for strikes.
The Marlins held Boston to just one single. Blake Swihart singled with two outs in the eighth off Craig Breslow.
The Marlins’ regular season starting outfield had a good day at the plate. Giancarlo Stanton drove in his first run of spring training, Marcell Ozuna added two hits and scored twice, and Christian Yelich chipped in with a hit.
Red Sox: Boston used only two pitchers, with knuckleballer Steven Wright going the first five innings, giving up three runs (two earned). Henry Owens went the final three for the Red Sox.
Wright’s knuckleball found the strike zone a remarkable 56 times in just 69 pitches. Unfortunately for him, that meant lots of pitches the Marlins could get a bat on. He allowed seven hits while striking out four.
Luis Tiant, Boston’s special assignment instructor, was born in Cuba and threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the Rays’ game in Havana.
Marlins: Ozuna left the game after just four innings tweaking an ankle on a slide into second base. He said he’d be ready for tomorrow and leaving the game was, “only a precaution.”
Red Sox: Return home with Joe Kelly set to start and closer Craig Kimbrel scheduled for an appearance against Logan Verrett and the New York Mets.
Marlins: Miami faces the St. Louis Cardinals with Tom Koehler is scheduled to start, followed by Brad Hand.
The Marlins sent RHPs Kyle Barraclough and Brian Ellington and LHP Justin Nicolino to Triple-A New Orleans. Miami manager Don Mattingly ackowledged the team will need Nicolino down the road.
“We know we have to get him ready and we are running out of innings (to do that) on the major league side,” Mattingly said.
He added Ellington and Barraclough will be back before long.
“Both guys, by the time the summer is over, will have a big impact on what we are doing,” he said.
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