Herrera remembers Fernandez's humility, passion

Herrera remembers Fernandez's humility, passion

NEW YORK -- Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera last spoke with Jose Fernandez last week in the family lounge after a game at Citizens Bank Park.

Fernandez was one of those players everybody seemed to want to talk to.

"I liked talking to him because he was a humble guy," Herrera said through the Phillies' interpreter before Sunday afternoon's game against the Mets at Citi Field. "He liked helping people out. It's nice when you encounter people like that.

Fernandez died in a boating accident early Sunday morning in Miami Beach, shocking the baseball world. He was 24 years old and had just announced last week on Instagram that he was an expectant father.

"It's incredible that something like that happened," Herrera said. "It shocked me."

A group of Phillies quietly watched reports of Fernandez's death on a TV in the visitors' clubhouse. Herrera played with Fernandez on this year's National League All-Star team. He spoke with Fernandez there, even asking him to take a photo with Herrera's parents. Fernandez happily obliged.

"My dad was a fan of his," Herrera said. "He liked the way he pitched, so that's why he wanted a picture with him."

Fernandez and Herrera shared some similarities on the field. Both showed their passion and love of the game with seemingly ever-present smiles and enthusiasm.

"We were alike in that sense," Herrera said. "We both liked to play the game the same way, with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. He was very happy on the field like I am. He was great. It's really good to remember that you have to play the game with joy, with happiness, and to take every moment out of it."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.