For the first time since his death, pitcher Jose Fernandez’s locker inside the Marlins’ clubhouse on Tuesday was occupied by someone else’s uniform and gear.
Infielder Miguel Rojas took possession of it before the Marlins’ game against the University of Miami.
But only for the day.
Rojas, one of a handful of players left on the Marlins who played with Fernandez, said he was using the locker only because all of the other lockers inside the Marlins’ clubhouse were taken.
The Marlins brought in a large number of minor-leaguers to play Tuesday.
“I’m just going to be here for today because we knew that the clubhouse was going to be full, and I didn’t want any of the young guys to be here at this locker to have to be answering these questions,” Rojas said.
Rojas said he and veterans Justin Bour, J.T. Realmuto and Martin Prado all agreed he should use the locker Tuesday.
He said the locker would remain empty the rest of the season.
The locker was turned into a glass-enclosed shrine containing Fernandez’s shoes and shirts for the entirety of the 2017 season. But his mother cleaned it out during the offseason.
Still, Rojas said the players decided to continue to honor Fernandez by leaving it empty during the season.
“I really remember everything like it was yesterday, and I feel like I’m the one who can handle that,” Rojas said. “It’s pretty special. For me, all the memories from those days we had with Jose together in this locker room, it’s really special to put my clothes on where he used to put his stuff on.
“I had a really good relationship with him and I’m pretty happy to be here at this locker for a day.”