Fernandez to be close to Marlins' hearts in '17

Club outlines tribute to late star at media luncheon in advance of FanFest

Fernandez to be close to Marlins' hearts in '17

MIAMI -- No. 16 will be on the hearts of all the Marlins when they take the field in 2017. In tribute to Jose Fernandez, each player on the team will sport a 16 patch on the front left side of their jerseys, and on the sleeve will be the 2017 All-Star Game logo.

"It's huge, remembering [Fernandez's] legacy and knowing that he will always be with us," right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said.

Fernandez, a two-time All-Star and ace of the staff, died in a boating accident last Sept. 25. In the final games of 2016 after the tragedy, the No. 16 patch was on the Marlins' jersey sleeves. Now, it's over the hearts of the players.

"That's another step," Stanton said. "You're going to know his locker is not going to be there. His smile won't be there. The energy that he brings won't be there. It's another thing we'll have to go through together."

Stanton spoke on Friday afternoon during the Marlins' media luncheon at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay. The luncheon was part of the Marlins Day of Impact, which featured players and team representatives making visits throughout South Florida.

The Day of Impact also served as a lead-in to FanFest, which will be Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. ET at Marlins Park.

Spring Training opens with pitchers and catchers' workouts on Tuesday at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

As the Marlins are moving forward to a new season, they continue to keep Fernandez in their thoughts. For many players, the offseason allowed them a chance to grieve in their own way.

"I don't think anything was much tougher than the end of the season," Stanton said. "I think it was more of being at peace for us, because we didn't really have that. We were the center point. Cameras and videos were everywhere. We really couldn't have peace for ourselves."

Worth noting

• Stanton is replacing the cage-like face guard that he wore the past two seasons, and instead will use a less restrictive plastic flap (made out of the material used in helmets) that will cover his jaw. The slugger had been using a wire guard that featured a stylish G on it.

"The bar will vary in distance from my face," he said. "If the helmet falls or anything, it moves and alters more than the [plastic] version."

• President of baseball operations Michael Hill said the organization is relaxing its "no facial hair" policy. Now, players can sport beards and mustaches, as long as they are groomed.

• The Marlins will have 63 players in big league camp. It's highly unlikely the team will sign anyone else as a non-roster invitee.

• FanFest on Saturday and Sunday is free to the public, but there is a $5 charge to park in the garages. Individual-game tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday on marlins.com.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.