Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez received an unforgettable surprise Sunday night when his grandmother Olga arrived in South Florida from Cuba. It was the first time they had been together since he defected from Cuba six years ago.
"She's the love of my life... my everything," Fernandez said via the team's Twitter. He, his mother and his sister left Cuba when Fernandez was 15, while Olga stayed behind in Santa Clara. It was Fernandez' fourth attempt to leave the island.
Olga traveled to Miami a day before the Baseball Writers Association of America is scheduled to announce the Rookie of the Year Winner. Fernandez, one of three finalists (along with fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and Shelby Miller of the Cardinals) is considered the favorite.
The Marlins surprised the baseball world when they added Fernandez to the starting rotation out of spring training. Then a 20-year-old who had never pitched above A-ball, he was expected to start the season in Double-A.
But instead he was terrific out of the gate. Fernandez gave up just one run in his first two starts (11 innings combined). He ended the season with 15 starts in which he allowed 0 or 1 earned run (out of 28 total).
Fernandez was second in MLB a 2.19 ERA, and gave up 5.8 hits per 9 innings, lowest in the majors. He represented the Marlins in the All-Star game, and became only the third 20-year-old to strike out two batters in an All-Star Game.
All the while, Fernandez was calling his grandmother regularly and sending her a radio so she could listen to his starts.
Fernandez is also a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award, along with Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals. Given to the best pitcher in each league, that award will be announced Wednesday.
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