"I can tell you from dealing with him during Spring Training, he's not the kind of guy who wants to give the ball up very easily," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said on Wednesday before Marquis hung tough for five rocky innings and was credited with the 6-5 win. "He wants to go out there and pitch."
That day this past August, Marquis batted in the bottom of the inning and took the mound for the fourth. Three batters in, he hit Josh Thole with a pitch. Both players crumbled to the ground. Thole dusted himself off and went down to first. Marquis was carried off the field with a fractured fibula. He had taken an at-bat and thrown 13 pitches on a broken leg.
"I thought it was just a normal bruise -- with swelling and tightness -- and I felt like the pain was enough to deal with to stay out there and pitch," Marquis said at the time. "Obviously, on that last pitch to Thole, pushing off, I just felt something pop. Pushing off pretty much completed the fibula break, so it is what it is."
Tough family, those Marquises.
"You hear those little phrases: It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get up," Marquis said on Wednesday night. "That's something I've learned over the years from my family, my teammates, my friends. It's what I try to instill in my kids. This situation with my daughter, she was able to do some incredible things in terms of recovery. No kid should ever go through what she did, and she'll come out of it for the better. It's the same type of mentality I try to take out there on the mound."
Jason's father was a firefighter. He was born in Brooklyn and moved to Staten Island when he was 2 years old. There he still lives with his wife, Debbie, and three children. And on Staten Island, the most remote of New York's five boroughs, is where he plans to remain.
Reese is the oldest of the kids, and like her father, rarely complains about pain. Marquis was in Fort Myers, Fla., when he received the call about the accident. His wife and father-in-law had a feeling something was amiss and decided to rush Reese to the hospital. Thus began an odyssey of phone calls from New York to Florida. A normal adult human body stores five quarts of blood. Reese had lost 3 1/2 pints and doctors said she had a 50-50 chance of living.
The Twins are Marquis' seventh team in his 13-year career. The Nationals traded Marquis to the D-backs near last season's July 31 Trade Deadline. Injured and recuperating, he became a free agent and signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Twins this past Dec. 22. Under the circumstances, he couldn't have picked a better organization.
"For me to go through something like this -- a family matter -- for them to have my back the whole time, they were nothing short of spectacular," Marquis said about the Twins.
With his daughter's life hanging in the balance, the Twins sent him home, subsequently assigning him to their Double-A New Britain, Conn., affiliate so that Marquis could make his starts and drive the four-hour round trip to Staten Island to be there for his family. He was added to the Twins' 25-man roster on Wednesday prior to his start.
"We would have worked this out somehow, some way, regardless of the convenience of New Britain," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said on Wednesday. "The most important thing in the whole scenario is that he was there to take care of his family. Everyone knows what it's like to have a child who is not doing well."
Marquis said the greatest moment of his life came when doctors told him that Reese was "free and clear." She is basically still in the midst of her recovery, but as rambunctious as ever. She'll be back in school in two weeks much quicker than expected: second grade, P.S. 1, the New York City Public School system -- just like her father and mother before her. Wednesday night's start for her dad was just the icing.
Marquis threw 87 pitches. He allowed four runs on seven hits, including Robinson Cano's first homer of the season, while walking two and striking out three. He also hit a batter. The Yankees threatened, but Marquis didn't break. As far as performances are concerned, it wasn't a masterpiece.
"Well, any game that ends with a 'W' next to your name is pretty," he said. "They're hard to come by."
But then, there's a matter of perspective. He has his daughter and that's the greatest victory.
"Win or lose, I go home and she has a big smile on her face," Marquis said. "To see where she was a month ago, and to be out on the mound now, knowing she is safe, is nothing short of amazing."