LOS ANGELES -- The player the Miami Marlins could least afford to lose is on the 15-day disabled list.
The initial diagnosis on ace Jose Fernandez is an elbow sprain, but the Marlins are waiting on MRI results to determine the full extent of the injury. Fernandez after Friday's outing in San Diego told manager Mike Redmond he was feeling discomfort.
Dodgers' team physician Neal ElAttrache oversaw Fernandez's MRI locally at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic Monday morning. Fernandez then returned to South Florida, where Marlins' team medical director Lee Kaplan will evaluate him.
"We're going to take care of him and try to take every precaution necessary," Redmond said, of the Marlins' 2011 first-round draft pick. "He said he had discomfort, so we're going to get him treatment and the rest he needs. ...You're always concerned when you start talking about elbows."
Scheduled to pitch Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, Fernandez had an uncharacteristically poor performance Friday in San Diego, where over 5-plus innings he allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits, including a pair of Jedd Gyorko homers. It was the first time in 36 career starts Fernandez allowed multiple home runs in an outing.
After touching 97 miles per hour a couple of times, the velocity of Fernandez's fastball dipped into the low-90s, and he all but abandoned it over his final two innings, relying instead on his changeup and breaking ball. Redmond attributed it to Fernandez feeling ill and throwing up before the game.
"He hasn't thrown a lot of fastballs all year," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "It's been 50-50. I didn't change my game calling and I don't feel like he changed what he usually throws (Friday)."
Afterward, Redmond revealed Fernandez was dealing with an upset stomach, but neither he nor Fernandez brought up a physical issue with his arm. Saturday, Fernandez was asked specifically if his arm was OK and he reported no problems.
The Marlins have treated Fernandez with kid gloves since promoting him to the majors last season, keeping him on a 170-inning pitch limit after totaling 134 between two levels of A-ball in 2012 as a 19-year-old. Fernandez finished his first major league season with 172 2/3 innings, going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA on his way to National League Rookie of the Year honors and a third place finish in National League Cy Young balloting.
In 36 career starts, Fernandez has topped the 100-pitch mark just 11 times. The only game he totaled more than 110 was May 4 against the Dodgers at Marlins Park, where he finished with 114 over seven innings.
"We've protected him," Redmond said. "We've been very consistent in how we've used him with his workload and given him extra days (off)."
Since Fernandez made his major league debut last season, he leads the National League in strikeouts (70), swings and misses (121) and swing-and-miss percentage (31.3 percent), and is fifth in batting average against (.188) and 11th in ERA (2.44).
"It's huge," outfielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "I don't know how long he'll be out. It's one of those things that's out of our control. He'll have to rehab and get it better, however long it's going to take. We'll have to do without him."
Added Redmond: "This guy's has been a dynamic player and has been a huge lift and a huge spark to our team. I'm just hoping it's sore and we have to shut him down for however long and it's not anything more than that."
The Marlins have yet to make a determination on Fernandez's replacement in the rotation. They have several options in the minors, and Kevin Slowey or Brad Hand could make a spot start Wednesday as well. In the meantime, the Marlins recalled lefty reliever Dan Jennings from Triple-A New Orleans.
"It's a big hit obviously," Saltalamacchia said. "Good teams find a way to make it work and win."
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