The glass-covered locker once belonging to Jose Fernandez served as a somber reminder to National League All-Stars of the pitcher’s greatness and what might have been.
They could not help but notice the clubhouse shrine, one filled with Fernandez’s uniforms and cleats, as they prepared for Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Marlins Park.
“I feel like he’s next to me,” said St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez, who recalled Fernandez from their minor-league days and was assigned the locker alongside the one once used by the former Marlins pitcher. “I feel like he is next to me and we are here representing him.”
For most of the All-Stars, it was their first chance to see the clubhouse memorial dedicated to Fernandez, who was killed with two others in a boat crash last September.
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“Seeing his locker over there behind the glass, it’s pretty surreal,” said Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. “I thought of him today and just how sad it is. I miss him as a player. I miss his energy and his smile. It makes me sad just thinking about what could have been.”
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said seeing Fernandez’s locker caused him “sadness.”
“He was a great guy, a great human being,” Molina said. “He had great talent. To leave so early in his life, it’s sad.”
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, a frequent opponent of Fernandez’s, said seeing the pitcher’s locker brought back memories.
“It was all the stuff I saw him wearing in games,” Strasburg said. “It’s kind of tough to see.”
Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon said the locker served as a reminder of how fragile life can be.
“I think it’s great that they (the Marlins) have something in place for him there,” Blackmon said. “I think it’s good for all of us to understand how lucky we are, just to still be here and be healthy and have our families. I think it’s a good reminder for us that things could be worse off.”
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who is in the process of selling the franchise, passed through the clubhouse Tuesday and spoke of Fernandez, as well.
“I look at it everyday,” Loria said of the locker. “It still makes me sad. Not only that, he ordered his shoes last summer for the All-Star Game. Was there any doubt he would be in it, as long as he could throw? The most charismatic player I’ve ever seen, ever, on any team.
“He’s on my mind every single day,” Loria said. “It’s something that just doesn’t disappear, I’m sorry to say.”