Facing hitters next on Fernandez's agenda

Facing hitters next on Fernandez's agenda

MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez's progression is reaching the point that the Marlins' ace is on the verge of facing hitters for the first time since he underwent Tommy John surgery last May 16.

Fernandez is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday, and if that goes as planned, the next step is a 15-pitch batting-practice session on Thursday. That will be the first time he goes up against hitters.

"It's good that everything has gone well to this point, and he's taking that next step to start facing some hitters," Miami manager Mike Redmond said on Saturday afternoon. "Hopefully, everything continues."

No timetable has been given for Fernandez's return, but it is expected to be around mid-June to the All-Star break in July.

Fernandez last pitched May 9, 2014, in San Diego. In that outing, he experienced right elbow discomfort, and a week later, he had surgery to repair a torn ligament.

Fernandez's throwing program began on Oct. 1, and he has progressed from tossing on flat ground to getting on the mound for the first time on March 1.

"He's progressing," Redmond said. "Everything has gone well so far. This is the next step."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.