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Jose Fernandez admits to pitching through soreness before needing Tommy John surgery

May 20, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT

jose fernandez getty Getty Images

Marlins ace Jose Fernandez just told Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald that he experienced elbow soreness in his second-to-last start, but continued to pitch through it and then made one more start before being shut down on the way to season-ending Tommy John surgery.

The 21-year-old right-hander explained that he did so “because we were in first place” and then added:

Health and all that stuff comes first for some people. For me, my team comes first. That’s who I am. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing but this is my team and I give my life to my team. That was the right call.

Of course, now he’s unavailable to his team for the remainder of this season and likely part of next season. And he’s put his future in some doubt as well. Who knows if immediately leaving the second-to-last start when he felt a “pinch” would have changed the end result for Fernandez, but trying to pitch through the discomfort certainly didn’t help anything and didn’t do the Marlins any favors either.

Oh well.

  1. sabatimus - May 20, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    May this be a wake up call for Fernandez on why players (most particularly pitchers) need to disclose discomfort. Team may come first is a good sentiment, but the net result here is that the team is going to suffer badly without him.

    • Francisco (FC) - May 20, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      Judging by his comments (“It was the right call”), he pressed the snooze button on his wake up call.

      • sabatimus - May 20, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        Somehow I missed that part of his comment. Wow. He injures himself and still thinks it’s the right call for the team? What?

      • sportsfan18 - May 21, 2014 at 8:59 AM

        kids today…

  2. beefytrout - May 20, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    “For me, my team comes first.”

    Kinda missed the forest for trees there, Jose.

  3. musketmaniac - May 20, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    wow, harsh. although everything you say is correct. But the environment they live in`no pain no game` coupled with the voices from yesterday( old washed up announcers, coaches and all the other old players chiming in about how soft today’s game is, and how they played hurt.) Come on this guy is a competitor, and although It’s a loss for Baseball and Marlin fans. He is paying for it a lot more.

    • dan1111 - May 21, 2014 at 5:14 AM

      Agreed. Further, it is this same competitive attitude that leads people to go through all the hard work required to become a great baseball player in the first place.

  4. mtr75 - May 20, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    This shows a high level of intelligence.

    • Old Gator - May 20, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      By “this,” I hope you don’t mean your own post.

      • sportsfan18 - May 21, 2014 at 9:09 AM

        No, I do believe he was referring to Jose’s definitive, AFTER the fact statement that he DEFINITELY made the right call.

        Based on that logic, taking drugs, PEDS and other things like that is definitely the right call too… to you know, HELP the team and all…

        Yes, I GET that so many in all sports say be a man, suck it up, be tough etc… but the world HAS changed a lot from the 60’s, 70’s etc…

        So much MORE is known about injuries and the docs now keep and get players back on the field that before would have ended their careers.

        An ounce of prevention as they say… teams CARE now about that… Why do you think teams are “babying” pitchers, pitch counts etc…?

        The Nats shut Strasburg down and didn’t pitch him in the playoffs because they CARED MORE about the future than the present. I’m NOT commenting about whether this was the right call or not as that isn’t my point.

        My point is that teams now take a different approach to injuries. They KEEP healthy players OUT of games to prevent injuries.

        The old days, an injured player was told to toughen up and get out there…

        Today, I’m healthy coach and I wanna play… no son, take a seat… as a matter of fact we’re gonna shut you down for the rest of the season…

        To me, that is a BIG difference…

        Part of being a PROFESSIONAL athlete is KNOWING your body in this day and age as opposed to decades ago when you had to play through pain.

        I simply do NOT buy the “you must play through pain” at the pro level in MLB anymore.

        The teams bend over backwards to keep players from becoming injured, going so far as to sit a healthy player out.

        The team did NOT think he definitely made the right call.

      • Old Gator - May 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        We don’t disagree. See my post from last night down below. The problem is the clubhouse culture, dating back to high school. In this case, you’re also talking about a kid who dove out of a small bullet riddled boat into a stormy ocean in the middle of the night to save a woman who had fallen overboard (who turned out to be his own mother) and doubtless feels that sense of invincibility not uncommon to youth, especially after an experience like that, but certainly it is not a problem with El Keed’s “intelligence.”

  5. lazyhorse420 - May 20, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    This proves how idiotic the comments on here were about his injury being the Marlins’ fault for letting him pitch with food poisoning.

    • yahmule - May 20, 2014 at 5:48 PM

      One does not excuse the other. Bad try, though.

      • lazyhorse420 - May 20, 2014 at 6:25 PM

        I’m sorry, looks as though you’ve jumped to a conclusion that wasn’t there.

      • yahmule - May 20, 2014 at 8:50 PM

        Whether or not that caused the injury – and there is no way to know if it contributed – running the kid out to the mound a few minutes after he yorged in the dugout was stupid.

    • sabatimus - May 20, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      I remember seeing those. And then I thought “maybe he’s hiding something”. And he was. This happens so often that it’s a wonder why players haven’t learned. Pitchers want to pitch, yes, but by non-disclosure this can easily lead to NOT pitching…for quite a while, in Fernandez’ case.

    • Old Gator - May 20, 2014 at 11:25 PM

      No, it doesn’t. As one of those commenters, I stand by it. You send a sick pitcher out, in addition to risking making him sicker with whatever he’s got and digging a hole for yourself in the game he pitches, you put him in a position to have to find ways to compensate for his weakness. Usually, that’ll mean throwing harder than he normally would to try and achieve the same result. There is no question that El Keed was overthrowing in his final start. In the start before that, he had pitched a brilliant game. His velocity was right up there until the last out, and it was still there in the first couple of innings of his final start – again, clearly, at the very least he did more damage to himself during that last, disastrous outing.

      Should he have said something in between his antepenultimate and last outings? Absolutely, at the very least to his pitching coach or trainer. But this ridiculous macho thing isn’t unique to El Keed. It’s an affectation of competitors, especially professionals, everywhere. The social environment they inhabit amplifies it – it is a particularly narcissistic form or peer pressure. The change of culture that’s needed simply isn’t going to come from within the ranks of the ballplayers themselves. Teams are going to have to make it happen from the top down. Looking over the list of immolated elbows, strained lats and bad shoulders this season, it’s clear that they’d better get their managerial heads out of their bungholes and start changing it now.

  6. jrob23 - May 20, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    As a pitcher myself back in the day, you get sore forearms, stiff shoulders, and elbow pain. It’s not a natural motion for the arm. Most pitchers will tell you you can feel these symptoms one day and not the next. Also this pain can often times go away with some long toss or an extra day’s rest. I can’t fault him for trying to pitch through it. I fault his team for not making it absolutely clear that if they feel anything different at all that they need to communicate that to the coaches.

  7. ramblingalb - May 20, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Pitchers throw through pain all the time, especially later in the season. There’s some macho “do it for the team” stuff too, but throwing overhand 100+ times a game as hard as you can (have you seen how the arm twists on the Fox slow motion cameras?) is not going to feel good.

  8. yahmule - May 20, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    This sounds depressingly similar to the Matt Harvey situation.

    • sabatimus - May 20, 2014 at 6:33 PM

      Oh yes, absolutely.

  9. tfbuckfutter - May 20, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    Since he can’t trade Jose, Loria has been fielding offers from North Korea and China for Jose’s grandmother.

    Although Russia is considered a dark horse in the race.

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 20, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    Yes, he likely could have avoided surgery, just like all of those other guys who go the “rest and rehab” route instead. That has, what a 0.01% success rate?

  11. andreweac - May 20, 2014 at 7:07 PM

    Or his fantasy owners. Selfish dude.

  12. don444 - May 21, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Guys pitch through varying degrees of pain and soreness, often privately, all the time in the days and weeks leading up to their finding out they need Tommy John surgery, so there’s nothing earth-shattering in that announcement.

  13. mkprz - May 23, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    “For me my team comes first” Until contract time.
    Okay I get it now. Stupidity is causing more TJ surgeries.

    • don444 - May 30, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      Stupidity, if anything, is a very minor part of Tommy John surgeries. No, the continued prevalence of Tommy John surgeries surrounds the physiological realities of strain put on the arm by baseball pitchers over long periods of time which render at least one of these surgeries almost inevitable over the course of a hurler’s career.

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