PITTSBURGH — Earlier this morning, the baseball world received shocking news that Miami Marlins 24-year-old starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident. The news of the loss of the young phenom hit every clubhouse across baseball. Pirates’ pitchers Wade LeBlanc and Zach Phillips both pitched in Miami in 2013 and reacted to the tragic death of the Marlins’ starter.
“I was just in shock,” Phillips said. “For some reason, I didn’t think it was real. You don’t expect to look up and see something like that happen. I just wish the best for his family.”
“You can’t make sense of it,” LeBlanc said. “You can’t make sense of any of it. It’s just something you wake up and see on the phone and you can’t believe it actually happened. It still hasn’t sunk in but with the fact he had found a woman he cared about and they were going to have a baby, the timing it just couldn’t be worse.”
Hurdle got to know Fernandez when both were presented with 2013 end-of-season awards. Fernandez was the National League Rookie of the Year and Hurdle was the Manager of the Year.
“It’s just sad,” Hurdle said. “It’s so horribly sad on so many different levels that there’ll be no more of that, no more of him, there’ll be no more of that emotion on the mound, that skill-set, that human being, that young man with such a gift, such a great smile. I’ve been trying to live that life for a while now. I wasn’t always in that place. It just makes all the more sense when things like this happen. Be where your feet are. Enjoy them moment. There’ll be a day where there won’t be another day.”
GLASNOW RETURNS TO THE ROTATION
Tyler Glasnow will make his third start of the season Sunday afternoon, having made a late-season move into the starting rotation.
The flip side of that is that Steven Brault will get some experience coming out of the bullpen. He’ll be available to pitch in relief at least for a few days, as he is not scheduled to start in any of the next five games.
Brault said he hasn’t pitched in relief much before, but has seen first-hand the advantages a new approach can provide.
“I did a little bit in college and I did it a little bit in summer league after my freshman year of college,” he said. “It seems like when you go out to the pen, you go back to what makes you you. Starting, there’s a lot of things you have to do. You have to worry about your delivery a lot, because you have to be able to do it for a long time.”
Brault has always been pretty open about the emotional and mental side of his game, and he admitted that he thought it would be easier to just focus on pitching in a relief role.
“The idea is going back to what comes natural,” he said. “I think it’s very appealing, especially for young guys like us. Sometimes, we need to flush things and let the game come to us. I think it will be helpful.”
Glasnow had just gone through that process himself and Trevor Williams has been doing the same thing this September, as well. The process can not only help those players with their individual pitching, but can show the team an extra level of ability for when the time comes to make a roster out in 2017.
“Being versatile is everything,” Brault said. “Versatility is extremely valuable. If that’s how I can help this team win, I’m happy to do it. I just want to help this team win.”
Shortstop Jordy Mercer will return to the lineup after missing three games. He’s been dealing with a muscular forearm issue that is similar to the injury that sidelined him down the stretch in 2014.
He said it only affects him when he throws the ball and not when he bats, and that the injury is probably a remnant of his college pitching career.
MARTE’S BACK STILL NOT RIGHT
The balance of Starling Marte’s 2016 season seems to be in jeopardy after his back spasms flared back up last week in Milwaukee. He was given 16 days off before attempting to return to the lineup, and now with only eight games remaining, his return seems doubtful.
“In a short period of time, we’re in a very uncomfortable place,” Hurdle said. “He’s staying optimistic because I think everybody wants to find their way back on the field before the end of the season. … We’ll see.”
Glasnow been Glasnow, walk and 3 steals no outs, just great.
God speed Jose, guess they needed a fireballer in heaven. Rest in peace.
If I’m not mistaken, Fernandez was scheduled to pitch today, but had his start pushed to Monday to face the Mets.
No way to know for certain, but, had he remained on his normal schedule, perhaps he’s not out late on a boat last night and still alive today.
No matter how well we think we plan, our lives are often at the mercy of randomness.
I’m a Pirate fan. When I watch baseball, I watch the Pirates 99% of the time. I’d tune into Fernanez’ starts. Fun to watch, with such great talent.
As a Florida resident I’ve watched Jose from the beginning and man was he a joy to watch. Contagious enthusiasm, off the charts ability and such an asset to his community. He will be missed greatly. So sad.
I agree 100%. I think Fernandez could have become a “Face of the League”. He had the talent and the personality to become a household name. Such a shame.
Trade Marte this winter. Seriously.
Pray for Jose and his family.