Marlins star pitcher, 24, dies in boating accident
By Kyle Beery
DETROIT -- A somber mood draped over the Tigers' clubhouse Sunday with the baseball world in mourning following the tragic passing of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.
"He's a guy that left everything behind him to make a dream come true, and for it to end so quickly like this, it's very sad," fellow Cuban and friend Jose Iglesias said before a 12-9 Tigers loss to the Royals. "That's a guy with a bright future."
"We all can learn from it," Iglesias said. "There's nothing we can do at this time besides learning and be grateful to have known him. Such a great guy and such a competitor and my friend also."
Iglesias was in the starting lineup, but was scratched, giving him time to grieve. Manager Brad Ausmus said he asked hitting coach Wally Joyner to talk to Iglesias ahead of the game, and they decided it was best to remove him from the lineup.
Iglesias pinch-hit for Andrew Romine in the ninth and delivered a one-out ground-rule double to start a rally that fell short with the tying run at the plate.
Tigers third baseman Casey McGehee spent time with the Marlins in 2014 and '15. He, too, fought back tears while describing what Fernandez meant to him and his family. He remembered how full of energy Fernandez was, on and off the field.
"It wasn't an act, it was him," McGehee said. "He was full of energy. He was a competitor. It didn't matter if it was playing cards on a plane or a [simulated] game or pitching in the big leagues."
McGehee's son, Mack, has cerebral palsy. McGehee said many people don't know how to treat him, but Fernandez always had a place in his heart for him.
"We'd get to the field and it wasn't like, 'Hey, Jose, do you mind keeping an eye on him?' It was always Jose coming to grab him and they were together on the field from the time we got to the field to the time my wife came to pick him up," McGehee said. "That really says a lot about what was truly in his heart and the kind of guy he was."
Detroit catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia spent parts of 2014 and '15 as Fernandez's teammate in Miami. He said it was tough to play Sunday following the news of the pitcher's death.
"I obviously got to play with him over in Miami," Saltalamacchia said. "He's a great kid. Obviously, he was always smiling, always happy. Love is the word that comes to mind whenever you think of him."
Ausmus said he remembers going through similar situations when he was a player, including the deaths of players Darryl Kile and Ken Caminiti.
"You compete against these guys when they're wearing a different uniform, but [baseball is] a little bit of a fraternity or a family," Ausmus said. "Making it to the Major Leagues kind of puts you into a family of it's own. It's hard to swallow even if you don't know the guy, especially at that young age."
The Tigers released a statement on Twitter in reaction to the news of Fernandez's passing.