Mets mourn Jose Fernandez day before Marlins series

ByAdam Rubin ESPN logo
Monday, September 26, 2016

NEW YORK -- Miami Marlins president David Samson, with the entire team joining him on Sunday, discussed the importance of resuming play Monday as a way to honor Jose Fernandez. In New York, Mets manager Terry Collins echoed those remarks, noting that the proper tribute to Fernandez would be to play the game with passion.

Fernandez, the Marlins' ace, died early Sunday morning in a boating accident.

The Mets and Marlins begin a three-game series on Monday at Marlins Park.

The Mets will face the delicate balancing act of showing the proper sensitivity for Fernandez's passing while competing for a wild-card spot. Fernandez had been slated to face the Mets in Monday's series opener after Marlins manager Don Mattingly decided to give him an extra day of rest.

"Obviously, when we get down there, we will have a meeting -- we will get together -- so that we keep things in perspective," Collins said. "It's going to be really a tough night for a lot of people. Certainly we lost a great player, but the respect for the game itself -- and he had it -- it's got to be played, and it's got to be played right. Because I know that's how Jose would want to do it. That's how he would want it played. And so we've got to keep that in our minds also."

Before Sunday's game against the Phillies, Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes helped tape a Jose FernandezMets jersey to the wall of their Citi Field dugout.

"[Mets chief operating officer] Jeff [Wilpon] came to me and [Asdrubal] Cabrera with the idea. He had the jersey made," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "He came and spoke to us in the trainer's room before the game. I decided I wanted to be the one to go out there and put it up, just to let everyone know how much this loss meant to us."

The Mets will bring the same jersey to Miami to display in their dugout in solidarity.

Cespedes, who also defected from Cuba, said getting through Sunday's game, a 17-0 Mets win over the Phillies, was "very tough."

"It was a very tough game today," Cespedes said. "The loss of Fernandez was very tough. Even if everyone here wasn't necessarily close friends with him, we all knew how charismatic he was and how much the game meant to him."

Cespedes and the Mets offered glowing remembrances of Fernandez -- and for far more than his dominance against the club. Fernandez was 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets. He also showed enthusiasm for the game after treacherously defecting from Cuba.

"He was not only a great player, he was a great person, a great human being," Mets catcher Rene Rivera said. "It's sad to hear the news about the passing of Jose. I'm going to miss him. ... He enjoyed the game so much. It's a big loss in the Latin community of baseball. He was unique. What happened through his life, to try to come to the U.S. and follow his dream and save his mom, he's one of the great people in life. He enjoyed being on the mound, enjoyed baseball so much. It's a big loss."

Said infielder Wilmer Flores: "A lot of energy. When you see him pitching, that's what you're going to remember. It's just devastating news."

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