CLEVELAND — Photography is not permitted in major league clubhouse, but what a picture it was of the White Sox gathered around a TV in the quiet visitors locker room Sunday morning at Progressive Field.
Word that Jose Fernandez, the 24-year-old Miami Marlins pitching star, had been killed overnight, along with two others, in a boating accident near Miami was still sinking in. A news conference from authorities near the scene relaying details had the attention of almost the entire group of 20 or so early arrivals sitting and standing two or three deep in the hushed room.
The 32-foot vessel Fernandez was in slammed into a jetty off Miami Beach, authorities said. Players share common bonds and life experiences that bind them together, and this tragic news shook many of them to their core.
“We’re all family,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. A boating accident. I mean, life doesn’t make sense some time. God has another angel up there, I guess. Hopefully we can all get through this and ‘rest in peace.’ That’s all I can say.”
Frazier batted against Fernandez as a Cincinnati Red, and a smile came to his face as he recalled their interaction the day after.
“I did get to know him,” Frazier said. “The first time I ever faced him, he was out in the outfield throwing the next day. I was like, ‘Dog, you don’t throw me any fastballs.’ He was like, ‘Why would I throw you fastballs?’ And we just started laughing.
“That’s the kind of guy he was. You could come up and talk to him. He had an infectious smile and just had a love for the game that I hope every ballplayer could have. It’s a terrible, terrible day.”
Sox left-hander Dan Jennings was a teammate of Fernandez with the Marlins two seasons ago.
“Woke up in shock today,” Jennings tweeted. “Jose will be greatly missed. His love for the game made other players envious. Praying for his family.”
Jose Abreu, who like Fernandez defected from Cuba to play in the U.S., declined to talk before the game.
Carlos Sanchez simply tweeted, “no words.”
For manager Robin Ventura and others associated with the Indians, the tragedy brought back the memory of when pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews were killed in a boating accident on an off day during spring training in March, 1993.
“You don’t have to know them personally, but they’re within [the players] group, and it breaks everybody up,’’ Ventura said. “It really does.
“It’s sad. There are guys that know him. I don’t personally know him, but I enjoyed watching and seeing what he brings to the game. It’s a sad day. It really is.
“The guys who knew him in here talk about his personality and loving life. What he came from, how he got here, all that goes into it.’’
Sox director of player development Nick Capra, with the team on the three-city road trip, saw rookie shortstop Tim Anderson make plays he wasn’t making in the minor leagues.
“I haven’t seen him make the jump like he has from the 5-6 hole,’’ Capra said. “It’s impressive. People were questioning arm strength years ago. We’ve got him using his legs. He has more carry on his ball. We’ve seen him progress but he’s progressed here at the big league level and it’s exciting to see what he’s done here.’’
Eaton, Saladino still out
Adam Eaton passed concussion tests but missed a second straight game but “he’s pretty sore” from crashing into the wall Friday, Ventura said. “He feels it in his back and body. It’s just best to get him home and continue to treat him and hopefully he gets better [Monday]. Tyler Saladino will have his sore back checked out in Chicago.
RAYS AT WHITE SOX
Monday: Drew Smyly (7-11, 4.86) vs. James Shields (5-18, 5.98), 7:10, CSN+, 890-AM, 1200-AM
Tuesday: Alex Cobb (1-1, 6.16) vs. Chris Sale (16-9, 3.19), 7:10, CSN+, 890-AM, 1200-AM
Wednesday: Blake Snell (6-8, 3.65) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (4-8, 3.98), 7:10, Ch. 9, 890-AM, 1200-AM
Thursday: Chris Archer (8-19, 4.02) vs. Jose Quintana (13-11, 3.21), 7:10, CSN, 890-AM, 1200-AM,