Jennings praises Fernandez's work ethic

Former Marlins GM, manager 'had zero problem with Jose'

Jennings praises Fernandez's work ethic

Former Marlins general manager Dan Jennings called Jose Fernandez "one of the best competitors" he's ever seen, during an interview Sunday on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.

Jennings, who also moved to the dugout to serve as Miami's manager for 124 games last season, expressed nothing but positive thoughts regarding the Marlins ace. There have been rumors that the club may be interested in trading Fernandez this offseason, though multiple sources have told MLB.com that Miami plans to keep the young right-hander, who is not eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season.

"I can tell you as his general manager and then field manager, I had zero problem with Jose," Jennings said. "He's one of the best competitors I've ever been around in 30 years."

A first-round pick in the 2011 Draft, Fernandez won the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year Award after going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA over 28 starts in his debut season. He also finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting that season.

His 2014 campaign would last only eight starts before Fernandez underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery that May. He would miss nearly 14 months before returning on July 2 this past season. Fernandez, 23, went 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA over 11 starts in '15, though he also missed another month from Aug. 11 to Sept. 12 due to a strained right biceps.

"To see the unfortunate injury with Tommy John and the way he battled back through that, and the way he fought through it with that same commitment that he makes when he goes out on that mound every fifth day," Jennings said. "Then when he comes back this year, I think, wow, his stuff was as good -- quite honestly, a little better than -- when he won Rookie of the Year."

As for any potential issues off the field, Jennings insisted he had not seen anything of the sort during his time as the Marlins' general manager or skipper.

"I have had zero trouble with him," Jennings said. "You know, like all good players, there's a level of confidence or cockiness, and a lot of times the cockiness goes when guys are younger. I'll tell you, in terms of him doing his work and in terms of him being a good teammate and being someone you look forward to watching compete every fifth day, he fills all of those boxes."

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.