8/3/2013 7:22 P.M. ET
Ozuna moving past injury, eyeing next year
By Joe Frisaro and Joe Morgan / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Although Marcell Ozuna's season ended prematurely because of injury, he aims to make up for lost time playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
"I'm playing winter ball so I can get ready for next season and Spring Training," Ozuna said. "Then, I can make the team."
The outfielder was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville on July 22 but had season-ending surgery on a left thumb ligament tear four days later. He sustained the injury on a diving catch in a 3-1 win against the Rockies on July 22.
One week removed from surgery, Ozuna has already noticed improvement.
"It's great; it's OK," Ozuna said. "I feel like I'm getting better, and I'm working on that and then be ready for next year."
At the time of Ozuna's injury, he was slumping at the plate. He batted .214 (33-for-154) from June 4 to July 22, a stretch that dropped his clip from .336 to .265.
Ozuna and Derek Dietrich, who was also slumping at the time, were optioned to Jacksonville on July 22 to make room for Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick.
After bringing both players up to the Majors ahead of schedule because of injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Donovan Solano, the Marlins wanted to allow Ozuna and Dietrich to continue to develop their skills with the Suns.
"Those kids did an incredible job," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said on July 23. "We rushed them here to the big leagues out of need; they had very little to almost no Double-A experience, and they did a great job for us."
Although Ozuna's injury will limit him physically until he begins winter ball, his eventual return to the field will allow the 22-year-old to get back to the skills that make him a key piece of Miami's future.
Ozuna leads the Marlins with eight outfield assists, sporting the arm, the athleticism and the experience to provide Miami with a rock-solid option in right field or center field.
Winter ball will help further develop a bat that showed plenty of life in the Majors with three homers, 32 RBIs, 17 doubles and four triples in 275 at-bats.
Marlins eye postseason honors for Fernandez
MIAMI -- From 2003-09, three Marlins captured National League Rookie of the Year honors.
The organization is hoping to add to the list in 2013.
Jose Fernandez, the team's dominating right-hander, is making a case to receive serious consideration.
It is hard to overlook what Fernandez has been doing, especially of late.
On Friday night, two days after turning 21, Fernandez struck out 14 while scattering three hits over eight scoreless innings in Miami's 10-0 win over the Indians. In his prior outing, he struck out 13 Pirates.
The 14 strikeouts are a Marlins' rookie record.
According to Elias, Fernandez is the fifth pitcher under the age of 22 since 1900 to record consecutive 13-plus strikeout games. He joins Dennis Eckersley (1976), Dwight Gooden (1984), Jose Rijo (1986) and Kerry Wood (1998).
Among National League rookie starting pitchers, Fernandez has the most strikeouts (138) and best ERA (2.54).
The Marlins are starting to campaign for Fernandez to be part of Rookie of the Year talk.
"He should be; I'm biased," manager Mike Redmond said. "I've watched this kid over the course of the year. I can't imagine there being a better rookie than him."
The presumed frontrunner is outfielder Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers.
Like Fernandez, Puig is from Cuba.
But unlike Fernandez, Puig is expected to finish out the season.
The Marlins have set a strict innings limit for Fernandez, which is around 170.
Fernandez is at 127 2/3 right now, and if he averages seven innings per start, he could make five more starts and have his season shut down after Aug. 30.
Would missing the final month of the season hurt Fernandez's chances?
"It could, but that's not on him," Redmond said. "I don't think that's going to affect his life if he wins Rookie of the Year or not. But he definitely deserves that honor, the way he's going right now. That's been amazing."
The serious top rookie pitching candidates are St. Louis' Shelby Miller, Atlanta's Julio Teheran and Los Angeles' Hyun-Jin Ryu.
None of them have outperformed Fernandez, who is on pace to become the Marlins' all-time rookie strikeout leader. In 2006, Scott Olsen posted 166.
"You look at his numbers," Redmond said. "And look early in the season, when he was only throwing five innings. You look at what he was able to do. He was an All-Star.
"If you look what he's been able to do over the last few months, he probably could have completed two or three games by now. But his day will come."
Past Marlins Rookies of the Year include Dontrelle Willis (2003), Hanley Ramirez (2006) and Chris Coghlan (2009).
Fernandez is being handled cautiously because he made the leap from Class A to the big leagues at age 20. Redmond and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez have carefully monitored the rookie's innings.
"He knows that Chuck and I have his best interests in mind," Redmond said. "As hard as that is for all of us, because we want to see him go out and pitch. But it's going to be better for him down the road."
Marlins to honor '03 team during finale vs. Indians
MIAMI -- One of baseball's most improbable underdog stories will be honored Sunday at Marlins Park.
The Marlins are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their 2003 World Series championship team before Sunday's series finale against the Indians.
The promotional giveaway is a Mike Lowell bobblehead.
Lowell, an All-Star third baseman in '03, will be among many players from the squad who will be on hand.
The '03 team emerged from 10 games under .500 in May to win the National League Wild Card. In dramatic fashion, those Marlins beat the Giants in the Division Series, the Cubs in the League Championship Series and the Yankees in the World Series.
"When you look at it, they were so unselfish," said Jack McKeon, the manager of the gritty squad. "It was almost a case where once we learned how to win, no one was going to stop us. No complaints. No gripers."
A number of members from the '03 team were at Saturday's game, including McKeon, Carl Pavano, Mike Mordecai and Brian Banks.
Ivan Rodriguez and Lowell are expected to be on hand Sunday.
"We felt like once we beat San Francisco, we had a chance," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who was a backup catcher in '03. "When we got to the Cubs series, we felt we had a chance, even when we were down.
"There were all little signs of things. How we won the San Francisco series, on a bang-bang play. It was all pieced together; it was destiny. It was like we were meant to win that series. We took advantage of any mistake anybody made in that series."
McKeon, a special assistant in the organization, on Saturday was back at Marlins Park two months to the day after having double bypass heart surgery.
The 82-year-old said he felt great, and he is doing his regular workouts like before his procedure.
On doctor's orders, McKeon gave up smoking cigars, which he says bothers him most after dinners. But he notes that once he puts it out of his mind, he is fine.
McKeon actually had two stints managing the Marlins, with the last coming on an interim basis in 2011.
He was the second-oldest manager in MLB history, topped only by Connie Mack, who managed until he was 87.
McKeon joked that in six years he would not rule out returning to managing.
"With this new rebuilt engine, you never know?" he said with a laugh.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.