MIAMI (AP) — Jose Fernandez walked into the Miami Marlins' clubhouse four hours before game time and extended his left arm to shake hands with teammates.
His right arm rested in a sling and was encased in a cast from above the elbow to his hand.
"I'm excited," Fernandez said with a grin. "I'm throwing a bullpen tomorrow lefty."
That would be the only way last season's NL Rookie of the Year would be able to pitch anytime soon. Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow Friday, and he is expected to be out 12 to 18 months.
He rejoined the Marlins on Tuesday for the start of their six-game homestand, but only as a spectator. He also spoke to reporters for the first time since the operation.
Fernandez said he felt a pinch in his elbow during a start against the Dodgers on May 4, and was at less than 100 percent in his final start May 9 at San Diego. He said he didn't tell anyone because missing a start wasn't an appealing option.
"I said, 'I can't do this to my team. We're in first place. I can't let them down right now,'" Fernandez said. "It's nobody's fault. It happened. It's sad it did. I don't blame anybody, and I don't regret not saying anything. That was my call. Probably it wasn't the smartest thing, but this is my team, and I give my life for my team."
An attorney for Fernandez released a statement last week saying the pitcher changed his delivery for his final start, but Fernandez said it was nothing his team or manager could detect.
"I was trying not to let anybody see that I was in a little pain," he said.
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