Brad Choat (Twitter: @choatsnews)

CHICAGO (KMOX) – As they prepare to finish up a rod series at Wrigley Field, the St. Louis Cardinals woke up to some terrible news Sunday morning, the boating death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.

Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz grew up on the same street as Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez in Cuba, and his father reportedly introduced Fernandez to the game of baseball.

On KMOX’s “Mike Matheny Show” the Cards manager said it’s understandable that Diaz is crushed by word of his longtime friend’s death, “We’ll kind of follow Aledmys’ lead on that. He’s not going to be in there tonight, but I do know he’ll figure out what’s best for he and his family to do.”

Matheny said the Cardinals, since 2000, have dealt with in-season players deaths of Darryl Kile and Josh Hancock, as well as the off-season death of Oscar Taveras.

Matheny recalled how he felt upon learning of the death of his teammate Kile on a game day in 2002, “I remember when our team went through it, most of us hadn’t had any close friends, even relatives that had passed at that point. There isn’t a perfect template to how you mourn.”

Since the Cards and Marlins share a spring training facility in Jupiter, Florida, Fox Sports Midwest Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin got to see a lot of Fernandez and his cheerful interaction with fans, “I’d mention it many times on the broadcasts, he’d (Fernandez) sign autographs for 3 to 4 innings after he pitched, and he’d wait until the whole line of fans got a selfie or autograph.”

McLaughlin recalled how the Marlins would sell more tickets at regular season home games when Fernandez pitched, because Miami’s Cuban immigrant population identified with him and considered him a hero.

McLaughlin was a guest on KMOX’s “Sports on a Sunday Morning” with host Mike Kelly.

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