Diaz was in church at approximately 9:15 a.m. ET on Sunday when Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler sent a text to inform him Fernandez had been killed in a boating accident a few hours earlier. The former outfielder, who counted the Braves and Marlins amongst his former teams, reacted by excusing himself to spend a few minutes wiping away tears in a nearby bathroom.
As they neared Marlins Park on Sunday morning to prepare for a scheduled series finale, Freeman and a group of other Braves learned of this tragic passing and the cancellation of the game. They spent most of the next five hours in the visitor's clubhouse watching local news reports, and they tried to come to grips with the fact that a vibrant young man who had the potential to positively impact baseball and the city of Miami for decades to come was gone.
Freeman eventually made his way to a store located within the stadium and purchased a Fernandez jersey that he wore as the Braves traveled back to Atlanta late Sunday afternoon.
"We sat in that clubhouse and you could just feel it as you watched the news for three straight hours," Freeman said. "I think there was honestly a lot of emotions being felt around the baseball world, but being there it was quite different to feel it."
The Marlins used one of the Braves' chartered buses to transport a group of their players, coaches and executives to Fernandez's mother's house.
"Being a parent, it just sickens to me when I think of his mother, his grandmother and his family and how horrible it is for them," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Your heart just breaks. It sickens me. Losing a child is the worst possible thing that can happen."
While with the Marlins during Fernandez's 2013 rookie season, Diaz appreciated the opportunity to serve as both a mentor and friend to the young pitcher who referred to the veteran outfielder as Mr. Diaz.
Diaz smiled again on Tuesday as he reminisced about a day when Fernandez proudly paraded his mother around Marlins Park to essentially show off his new office.
"He played like I hope we all could live and that's full of life and knowing it's not forever," Diaz said. "They always say the good ones get taken young and that's so true."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.