It was the spot from which his booming voice and often jovial banter with teammates could easily be heard.
And this season, Jose Fernandez’s corner of the Marlins’ clubhouse will still bear his name.
There on display Tuesday behind plexiglass was Fernandez’s locker with several game jerseys, pants, gloves and cleats. Just above where the jerseys were hanging was a sticker with the word ‘love’ taped above a circle with his number 16.
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“My thoughts are always with Jose,” said Giancarlo Stanton, whose locker is located almost directly across from it. “It’s nothing new today from every other day.”
The Marlins set up the tribute to Fernandez after the season. Manager Don Mattingly said several players had already seen it during visits to the clubhouse in the offseason.
“We all had to deal with it publicly last year and that was hard,” Mattingly said. “As we got to the winter we got a chance to process it better, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
“I think Jose is with us all the time. His energy and his personality and his joy for the game stay with us hopefully forever.”
Samson said the Marlins have still not chosen a date on which they plan to honor Fernandez at the ballpark.
Samson said Fernandez’s death still feels like a fresh wound for the organization.
“We talk about it as being something that happened last year, but it’s only been six months,” Samson said. “It’s fresh and it still hurts, barely scabbed over. We want to wait for a little more healing.”
Samson he and owner Jeffrey Loria invited members of Fernandez’s family to attend Tuesday’s home opener, but they declined.
“It was their call completely,” Samson said. “I know Jeffrey invited them to sit with him. The players invited them to be around them. I invited them to be with me. It was a lot of choices and I think they felt from an emotional standpoint that it was better for them to stay away tonight.”
Injured third baseman Martin Prado (hamstring) will begin a rehab assignment Wednesday with Single A Jupiter. If all goes well, Prado could be activated from the disabled list as early as Sunday.
Prado is scheduled to play in four rehab games for the Hammerheads, Wednesday through Saturday.
“My hitting, timing-wise, I haven’t tested it yet,” Prado said.
Prado said he watched the Marlins’ just-completed road trip on his home television.
“Let me put it this way,” Prado said jokingly. “It got to the point I was playing defense at my home. I was making plays, diving off the bed.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ With Adeiny Hechavarria (oblique strain) also on the disabled list, J.T. Riddle made his first career start at shortstop Tuesday.
Miguel Rojas, who jammed his shoulder in the eighth inning of Sunday’s loss to the Mets, was available off the bench. Rojas said he was a little bit sore, but benefitted from the team’s day off on Monday.
▪ The Marlins reinstated right-handed pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne from the 10-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A New Orleans.
Wednesday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Braves LHP Jaime Garcia (0-1, 6.00), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Thursday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-0, 1.50) vs. Mets RHP Robert Gsellman (0-1, 4.50), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.