ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz left on the first plane he could get Sunday after his childhood friend and fellow major leaguer Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins tragically died.
Tuesday night was his first game back, and in the fourth inning he hit a grand slam. When Diaz got to home plate, he sent a kiss to the sky and pointed for his lost friend.
Diaz was asked about the situation after the game and said:
“It’s very difficult for me to come here and concentrate on the game, but we’re professionals and have to do it. But that’s the legacy he left us that we should rejoice every time we have a chance to play baseball.”
He described his trip to Miami to see the family of Fernandez. Diaz said he couldn’t even say a word while in route, and just hugged Fernandez’s mother when he arrived.
Diaz and Fernandez grew up on the same street in their home town in Cuba. And Fernandez has credited Diaz’s father for helping him develop into a major league talent.
The below photo shows the two players sitting in the front row. Diaz in the red cap and white shirt, and Fernandez, three places to the right, in a white cap and yellow shirt:
Diaz’s grand slam gave the Cardinals a 5-2 lead over Cincinnati. The game featured a total of seven home runs, five by St. Louis, leading to a 12-5 victory for the Birds. St. Louis is now a game back of San Francisco for the second spot in the National League Wild Card.
This happened just a day after Miami and second baseman Dee Gordon honored their late pitcher in another very special way. The team all wore jersey’s with Fernandez’s name and number on the back. And when Gordon led off he took the first pitch wearing Fernandez’s batting helmet.
Then two pitches later, he hit a home run.
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