The Marlins on Monday were 2,000 miles and 365 days removed from a heartbreaking experience none of them will soon forget, the death of Jose Fernandez.
To some, it felt like it just happened.
“After a year, it seems like yesterday,” said injured third baseman Martin Prado. “This is going to stay here for a long time. It’s not just the first year, second year. It’s going to be forever.”
Said manager Don Mattingly: “It feels real for me. It definitely feels real.”
Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the boating tragedy that killed Fernandez and two friends, Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Macias.
Most Marlins players were still asleep when they began receiving calls and text messages, delivering the news and instructing them to report immediately to Marlins Park.
Infielder Miguel Rojas wasn’t one of them.
“I remember waking up and the TV was on, and seeing the news that way,” Rojas said. “I couldn’t believe it then. Even today, you can’t even believe it’s even possible. It’s been a year already and it’s been a tough season without him.”
Within hours of receiving the news, both Prado and Mattingly were asked to address the media in a televised press conference from Marlins Park.
Numb with shock, neither remembers much of anything they said that day.
“I wouldn’t want anybody to be in that spot,” Prado said. “In the moment, it was really difficult.”
Recalled Mattingly: “You get a call at six in the morning and the next thing you know, you’re on that podium. It’s just emotion coming out of you. I’m sure it was shock at the moment, everything that was happening. What comes out of your mouth, you really don’t even know.”
Mattingly had a picture framed of he and Jose hugging after the pitcher’s final start, perhaps the best outing of his career. Fernandez went eight innings in a win over the Nationals, holding Washington without a run on just three hits.
Five days later, he was dead.
“Just something to always remind you of him,” Mattingly said of the photograph, which hangs in his home in Evansville, Ind. “He loved the game. He loved people. Infectious kid. Really, that’s what I always remember. It was really a treat to be around.”
Marlins pitcher Jose Urena feels as though Fernandez is still around, though only in spirit.
“He is still alive in our hearts,” Urena said. “He’s gone. But he’s still alive We see a bigger life for him.”
Tuesday -- Marlins RHP Jose Urena (14-6, 3.55) at Colorado Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (5-6, 5.24), 8:40 p.m., Coors Field.
Wednesday -- Marlins LHP Adam Conley (7-7, 5.74) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (9-4, 3.62), 3:10 p.m., Coors Field.