Padres players remember Fernandez's joy

Padres players remember Fernandez's joy

SAN DIEGO -- Padres reliever Brad Hand woke up to texts offering condolences about his former Miami teammate, and one of the young stars of baseball, Jose Fernandez, who passed away Sunday morning. Hand didn't know what had happened, so he turned on the news.

"I looked on the news and saw it, and it was just very sad," said Hand, who played with Fernandez in South Beach from 2013-2015. "Feel for all those guys in Miami. Can't imagine what they're going through right now. Just a tough day."

San Diego's clubhouse was shaken with the news of the 24-year-old All-Star's passing, just like the rest of baseball. The fact that several current Padres were teammates and close friends with the Cuban right-hander only added to the sense of loss.

"I hung out with him off the field. Me and a couple other guys would go over to the breakers or go over to the meat market and grab dinner and a couple drinks down in Jupiter or West Palm," said Paul Clemens, who spent the early part of his 2016 season with the Marlins. "He was the same way off the field -- lot of life, lot of energy."

Hand echoed those sentiments, as almost everyone across the game has, with one of the game's biggest smiles no longer among us.

"Every day when he'd walk into the clubhouse he'd bring a smile to everybody's face," Hand said. "He's a great teammate. If you watch him play the game, it's how everybody should play the game. He loved the game so much ... just a sad day all around baseball.

"It just doesn't seem real. It hasn't really set in. I had to read it like 10 times before I believed that it happened. Just something like that, you never expect it to happen. You just can't take any day for granted."

Padres manager Andy Green didn't have much interaction with Fernandez, but he was able to speak with him during this year's All-Star Game, and his infectious personality was apparent immediately.

"If you had asked me this morning what person competes with more joy and more life in baseball than anybody else, he's right up at the top of that list with David Ortiz," Green said. "It looked like he absolutely loved what he did and was enjoying every minute of his life.

"... Our days are numbered here; you don't know how many you get to live, so if you follow his example and live them with life and joy, treasure the moments you get under the sun because they're numbered. Moments like this remind you that you only have so many of them. And how many days you get to do what you dreamt about doing your whole life, which is playing in the Major Leagues.

"So I think his message would have been to enjoy these days, because that's the way he lived his life. And I think that message is poignant and important for everybody to remember."

Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.