After a strained lat muscle kept him out for the first six weeks of the season, left-hander Andrew Heaney made his season debut Monday with Class A Advanced Jupiter.
Heaney, the Marlins' No. 5 prospect, delivered an impressive start. He struck out nine in 4 1/3 innings, allowing only an unearned run and four hits.
"Obviously, it felt really good," said Heaney, who was the ninth overall pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. "I had a little more adrenaline than usual and early I was able to put guys away."
Heaney's start came on the same day a tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., killing 24 people. Heaney grew up in Oklahoma City, about 10 miles from Moore. While his family made it through the storm safely, Heaney said he knew families who lost their homes in Moore. Some of them had only recently rebuilt their houses following a tornado that hit the city in 1999.
"To see that they had just rebuilt in the same path, my heart goes out to them," Heaney said. "It's devastating."
But Heaney was able to focus on the task at hand Monday night. He said he his rehab starts had gone well leading up to his season debut.
"I felt good in my extended spring training starts," he said. "I took that out on field the other day."
Heaney was injured on his final pitch before spring games began for Minor Leaguers. It was the first significant injury of his career. The timing of his injury and then not being allowed to throw for a few weeks meant Heaney had to go through building up his strength twice, effectively repeating Spring Training.
"I made it all the way through all of the buildup part of Spring Training," Heaney said. "To get hurt then and have to start all over again was mentally frustrating and fatiguing."
Now that he's healthy again, Heaney said he wants to keep improving.
"Just being a little more efficient with my pitches," he said. "Being able to throw my fastball for strikes and command both sides of the plate. Keep developing my changeup and slider."