JUPITER, Fla. -- On a quiet back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex on Saturday morning, Jose Fernandez was making a lot of noise. The Marlins' ace was popping catcher J.T. Realmuto's glove with 94-98 mph fastballs.
Fernandez threw 49 pitches over three innings in a controlled scrimmage against Miami players. Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna were among the regulars who stepped in to get some work.
Not many had success.
For Fernandez, it was another smooth performance as he builds up for the regular season. The 23-year-old will start Thursday's Grapefruit League home game against the Mets.
During the St. Patrick's Day contest, Fernandez anticipates throwing four innings or around 65 pitches.
"I'm very happy," Fernandez said. "The ball was coming out really well today. J.T. was amazing, like always, behind the plate. It was fun. It's fun to be out here facing the guys. Dee Gordon and Ozuna jumped in there. That was kind of fun. It was pretty good work."
One of Fernandez's Spring Training objectives is pitching more off his fastball. He estimates he used about eight breaking balls, and a handful of changeups, another pitch he's emphasizing.
"I was working on the fastball, obviously, that's the bread-and-butter," Fernandez said. "I mixed like seven or eight breaking balls, and changeups. It was fun to be out there."
Fernandez will be two years removed from Tommy John surgery in May, and the regular-season plan is for him to throw around 180 innings.
Since the start of Spring Training, Fernandez's camp and Marlins officials have been in constant contact regarding how best to maximize his innings.
Fernandez said before Opening Day, he likely will sit down with the team regarding specifics. In the meantime, at least once a week, he talks with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Los Angeles-based physician who performed his Tommy John surgery.
The Marlins opted to throw Fernandez on the back fields Saturday rather than have him make the trip across the state to face the Red Sox.
Pitching coach Juan Nieves watched Fernandez's session before heading to Fort Myers for the Grapefruit League game.
"This is important," Fernandez said of his back-field session. "The difference is the coaches can control how many pitches you throw, the location, the counts. You can put guys on base if you want. You can work on a lot more stuff. In a game, you have a lot of adrenaline going. You get a lot of work done back here. It's really good."
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.