SAN DIEGO — The Giants were at Marlins Park last July when Jose Fernandez made his return from Tommy John surgery, and they got the whole Fernandez experience. They saw the blazing fastball and the slider that simply wasn’t fair to hitters. They saw the athleticism and the powerful swing, with Fernandez homering off Matt Cain that day. More than anything, they saw the smile and exuberance with which the young superstar played the game.
The 24-year-old was everything that is good about the game. Early Sunday morning, he died in a boating accident in Miami Harbor. Two other bodies were found after a 32-foot boat was discovered upside down.
The Giants faced Fernandez just three times, but Bruce Bochy managed him in the All-Star Game in 2013. He was shaken by the news.
“It just breaks my heart what’s happened here. This kid was really a special pitcher and as far as I know, just a really great guy that did a lot in his community,” Bochy said Sunday morning. “For this to happen, it’s a blow to baseball. It’s a real tragedy. I remember I picked him for the 2013 All-Star team and I think he was 20 years old. (I remember) how grateful he was to be on that club, how excited and how proud that he was to be on that team. He really was the most impressive pitcher in that game. He just dominated in the inning that he pitched.
“I spent a little time with him and you just loved the way he played the game from the other side, his enthusiasm and passion and the way he competed on the mound. But not just on the mound — at the plate, you could see how much fun he was having playing the game of baseball.”
That was the theme Sunday morning as players discussed the shocking news and took to Twitter to send prayers to the Fernandez family, his friends and the Marlins organization. Cory Gearrin sent out a photo of Fernandez smiling — he was always smiling — and wrote, “He was a light and personified a life of joy in the game of baseball.”
The Marlins cancelled Sunday’s game against the Braves. At Petco Park, the Giants and Padres were set to hold a moment of silence before the first pitch.
--- Brandon Crawford is back in the lineup, but Bochy said trainers will check with him regularly … Buster Posey is making his final start at first base. Bochy said the plan is for Posey to catch every game the rest of the way … There’s no pitch limit for Ty Blach today. He is stretched out enough to proceed as a normal starter … Bochy said Johnny Cueto won’t return until Thursday at the earliest. The Giants are not currently worried about how Cueto would slot into a postseason rotation if he makes one more regular season start. “As soon as we can get him out there, he’ll be out there,” Bochy said.