MIAMI -- Nothing personal was directed at the Padres, but Jose Fernandez took the mound on Sunday afternoon with a bit more adrenaline than usual. The 23-year-old struck out 10 over six shutout innings in Miami's 5-2 win at Marlins Park.
Fernandez didn't have to be reminded that his 2014 season abruptly ended on May 9 in a 10-1 loss at Petco Park. Afterward, it was revealed that the hard-throwing right-hander had a torn elbow ligament that required Tommy John surgery.
Sunday marked the first time Fernandez faced the Padres since the injury, and he wanted to send a reminder of what he is capable of when healthy.
"I had it in mind," Fernandez said of seeing the Padres again. "I really wanted it. It was probably a little more personal. So I really wanted to try to do my best."
Even though Fernandez didn't allow a run and scattered four hits, the Padres grinded out at-bats. They fouled off pitches and got into deep counts, driving up Fernandez's pitch count to 112.
The only game in which he logged more pitches was on May 4, 2014, when he threw 114 against the Dodgers.
"I think that's probably the neighborhood for any pitcher, honestly," manager Dan Jennings said of Fernandez's pitch-count limit. "It's a tribute to how he worked, to be able to go out and do that."
Pitching with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, Fernandez was well aware that previous start against San Diego was one of the worst. Not just because of the injury, but his line also was poor -- six runs (five earned) in five innings.
Jedd Gyorko belted two homers off Fernandez that night, including a grand slam, and he drove in six.
On Sunday, Fernandez ran a fastball that went up and in on Gyorko, and he ended up striking out the second baseman twice. Was Fernandez especially amped up to face Gyorko?
"Not really," he said. "Trying to make good pitches. You just try to make a good pitch, and get people out."
Fernandez was at 94 pitches at the end of five innings, and he asked for the sixth. His afternoon would have been done at 104 pitches, but Yonder Alonso reached on first baseman Justin Bour's error. With the inning extended, Fernandez used eight pitches to strike out Derek Norris.
"I asked to go back out," Fernandez said. "I felt strong. I felt like my stuff was there, even though I was struggling, and it was really hot. I'm lucky and blessed to be healthy now, I guess."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.