Jose embraces giving spirit at home

Miami's ace and local resident enjoys distributing Thanksgiving meals at Marlins Park

Jose embraces giving spirit at home

MIAMI -- Since becoming a big league pitching sensation in 2013, Marlins ace Jose Fernandez has typically been at his best at home. The proof is on the mound. The 23-year-old boasts a perfect 17-0 mark at Marlins Park, an MLB record for the longest home winning streak to start a career.

Off the field, Fernandez recently stepped up and pitched in to give back to the home community. The right-hander assisted in the organization's annual turkey distribution last Friday at Marlins Park.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and offer thanks, and Fernandez -- who has overcome so much personally -- enjoys doing his part to assist others.

"I'm here in Miami. I live here now," Fernandez said. "I'm not too far away. It's something where I can talk to people a little bit and interact, because I enjoy doing this. It's fun."

As an organization, the Marlins have made distributing Thanksgiving meals a tradition. In partnership with "Feeding South Florida," the Marlins donated 1,000 turkeys, fixings and desserts to pre-selected local families in need.

"Every year, we get all the Marlins employees -- about 150 employees -- who distribute turkeys," Marlins executive vice president of operations and events Claude Delorme said. "For us, it's an annual event. Everyone looks forward to it. It's a great way for all the employees to bond, and to thank people in the community. It's a great event."

Fernandez was doing his part on the West Plaza of the ballpark, handing out turkeys and chatting with the people in line. He posed for pictures, took selfies and signed autographs.

"It means everything," the All-Star pitcher said. "What can I say? Being out here with the families, giving back to the community."

Fernandez often reminds he has so much for which to be thankful. Born in Cuba, he defected at age 15 and settled in Tampa, Fla. Five years later, he was pitching in the big leagues. In 2013, he was a National League All-Star and the NL Rookie of the Year.

After making his rookie season look so easy, Fernandez experienced adversity in his second year. In May 2014, he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed close to 14 months.

Fernandez returned to action this July 2, and he finished 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA in 11 starts. At Marlins Park, he was 5-0 with a 2.57 ERA.

In early December, Fernandez expects to start his throwing program. For now, he's getting caught up in the Thanksgiving spirit.

"Thanksgiving, when you're sitting with your friends and your family around the table, you really appreciate the special moment and the special day," Fernandez said. "To me, it means a lot."

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.