SAN DIEGO -- As if by fate, the All-Star showdown did occur, and caught in the moment, Jose Fernandez couldn't help but laugh. The Marlins' 23-year-old ace found himself 60 feet, six inches away from his idol, David Ortiz, in the third inning of Tuesday's Midsummer Classic.
Prior to the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, which was won by the American League, 4-2, Fernandez half-jokingly said he may groove a fastball if he was matched against Big Papi, who was appearing in his final Midsummer Classic.
The Fernandez-Ortiz interaction was one of the memorable moments on the night, which overall was a good one for the Marlins as an organization. Marcell Ozuna, who started in center field and batted seventh, had an RBI single in two at-bats, and reliever Fernando Rodney, who recorded two outs in the eighth inning, received a warm reception from the Petco Park crowd, and he responded by giving his signature simulation of shooting an arrow into the sky. Miami's fourth All-Star, closer A.J. Ramos, didn't pitch.
In the third inning, Fernandez vs. Ortiz symbolized the old guard passing the torch to the new. The two pointed at each other and had a playful exchange after Ortiz walked.
"At first, I was just throwing fastballs, fastballs, fastballs," Fernandez said. "I was like, 'You know what, I've got to mix a breaking ball and see what happens if I get lucky.' It got away from me a little bit, and he took it."
Seconds later, Big Papi was lifted for pinch-runner Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays. With the entire AL bench outside the dugout, Ortiz was treated to a large ovation as he exited the game.
"I'm nervous. I couldn't believe I was actually pitching to him," Fernandez said. "The fact he looked at me and was smiling, we both knew what was going on. I happened to talk to him a little bit about it. He signed the jersey I brought for him today. It was just beautiful."
When Ortiz headed to the dugout, Fernandez removed his cap and glove and clapped his hands out of respect.
"It's just an honor, just to see a superstar like that, who has given so much to this game, who has helped so many people," Fernandez said.
Born in Cuba, Fernandez initially became a fan of Ortiz when he saw the Red Sox slugger playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. In that tournament, Big Papi homered against Cuba, and Fernandez immediately admired the iconic designated hitter.
"The first baseball jersey I got was him," Fernandez said, referring to when he was 16 and living in Tampa, Fla.
In his second All-Star Game, Fernandez entered the game with one on and two outs in the second inning in relief of NL starter Johnny Cueto, who allowed three runs in 1 2/3 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander inherited a difficult challenge, facing Mike Trout. But with the count full, Fernandez struck out the former AL MVP Award winner on a 85-mph slider.
"Yesterday, me and my boy [Fernandez] were talking about it," Ortiz said. "When I first met him, what he told me kind of impacted me, because I watched this kid. I saw the whole history behind where he comes from, his family and everything. I was watching that at my house and I was crying like a little baby. It touches you."
Ozuna, in his first All-Star Game, made his impact in the fourth inning with an RBI single, knocking in the NL's second run. In his first at-bat, the center fielder ripped a long foul ball to left off Corey Kluber, but he ended up striking out on seven pitches.
"It was awesome for me because it was my first time being an All-Star," Ozuna said. "I was ready to play and wanted to just have fun. First at-bat, I struck out. I was like, 'All right, the next at-bat, I'll do better.' And I did."
Rodney, acquired from the Padres on June 30, faced two batters in the eighth and retired both of them, including striking out Miguel Cabrera. To the delight of the crowd, he did his arrow routine.
"They appreciate that," Rodney said. "I was here a few weeks ago, and I had to go for some reason, but that's baseball. As soon as I got that last out, it came to my mind, I was going to do [the arrow] for them."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.