WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As a tuneup for his Major League debut, Jose Fernandez spent the off-day on Tuesday throwing in a simulated game at Nationals Park.
Fernandez didn't just face just any batters in his controlled scrimmage. A couple of old pros stepped up to the plate. Combined they have 2,787 games and 9,375 at-bats of MLB experience.
Manager Mike Redmond and hitting coach Tino Martinez were included in the group that took their swings off the hard-throwing 20-year-old.
"It took me three at-bats before I made contact," said Redmond, who retired as a player in 2010. "But I figured that was pretty good, because I hadn't had an at-bat in three years. It was fun. We had a good time.
"We made the most of it, coming in on an off-day. Tino got in there, and he had a couple of good at-bats against the kid."
Fernandez, ranked seventh on MLB.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, will make his first big league start on Sunday, against the Mets. The Marlins' first-round pick in 2011, he is making the leap from Class A to the Majors because Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are on the disabled list.
Tuesday offered a chance for Fernandez to see batters in a big league setting.
"He was probably nervous, saying, 'I don't want to square my manager up in the back with a 97,'" Redmond said. "Believe me, I was thinking the same -- 'I hope he doesn't hit me, I'm not ready for that.' We got in there and had fun. He threw me a couple of breaking balls and struck me out a couple of times."
Fernandez threw about 50 pitches on a chilly morning.
"It was fun. It was cold, man," Fernandez said. "When I was warming up, my eyes were like crying, it was so cold. But it was good to throw, because I'll be in New York."
Veteran Miguel Olivo caught Fernandez for the first time and came away impressed.
Olivo has been a teammate of some of the game's top pitchers, including Felix Hernandez in Seattle and Zack Greinke in Kansas City.
"He impressed me," Olivo said. "I had never seen a young talent like that. Like, 20 years old, throwing the ball with so much control, the breaking ball and the fastball. His fastball is really, really live. It's amazing.
"He can be better than anybody I have caught. He reminds me a lot of Zack Greinke with the fastball, slider and curve. I can compare him to him."
Kotchman exits with hamstring injury
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- First baseman Casey Kotchman was replaced in the fifth inning of Wednesday's game against the Nationals after straining his left hamstring.
"He's listed as day-to-day. We have to wait and see how he is tomorrow," manager Mike Redmond said. "I watched him going down that line, and he grabbed that thing right away, and then went down in a heap. Those things typically are pretty sore the next day."
The injury occurred on a chilly, 45-degree night.
Facing Gio Gonzalez, Kotchman tapped into a 1-6-3 double play. Hustling down the line, he stumbled over first base and immediately reached for the hamstring while tumbling to the ground.
Greg Dobbs replaced Kotchman at first base for the bottom of the fifth inning.
Kotchman, a slick-fielding veteran, won the starting first-base job as a non-roster invitee.
Hernandez, Cox, Maine staying in organization
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gorkys Hernandez will be remaining in the organization after all. So will Zack Cox and Scott Maine.
After clearing waivers on Wednesday, Hernandez and Maine were outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans, with Cox outrighted to Double-A Jacksonville.
But Miami did lose the services of right-handed reliever Evan Reed, who was claimed by the Tigers.
The Marlins designated all four for assignment on Sunday to free up space on the 40-man roster.
Hernandez, a terrific defensive outfielder, will play center field at New Orleans. The native of Venezuela was acquired last July for Gaby Sanchez.
Maine is a left-handed reliever, and Cox will mix in at third base in Jacksonville.
Redmond excited about influx of young players
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The next generation of standout young talent is already making an impact.
The Marlins were the victim of a couple of them on Opening Day, when Washington's Bryce Harper belted two solo homers and Stephen Strasburg threw seven shutout innings.
But the Marlins have their own rising star in Giancarlo Stanton.
Manager Mike Redmond, who retired as a player in 2010, sees a passing of the torch.
"That's the new crop of great young players, the great young talented players," Redmond said. "You've kind of had a changeover over the last few years. Some of the older guys, who had been around for a long time, they're retiring, like Chipper Jones.
"The new guys are coming in, and they're exciting. It's good for the game of baseball to see the young guys to come up and have success. Hopefully, they don't have too much success against us."