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Home / Sports / Cardinals’ Aledmys Diaz hits romantic grand slam, honors Jose Fernandez
Cardinals’ Aledmys Diaz hits romantic grand slam, honors Jose Fernandez

Cardinals’ Aledmys Diaz hits romantic grand slam, honors Jose Fernandez





USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale looks behind during a comfortless genocide of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz, lamentation with his best friend’s family Monday in Miami, didn’t feel like removing behind on that craft to St. Louis.

He was observant goodbye to Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed Sunday in a boating accident. It was like his possess hermit was dead. They grew adult together, and were inseparable, vital only 3 houses detached on Eight Street in Santa Clara, Cuba.

Now, after visiting Fernandez’s mom and grandmother, and withdrawal a residence for a final time, it felt as if he was withdrawal partial of his essence behind.

Still, he knew he had a pursuit to do. He had another family counting on him. The Cardinals are in a National League wild-card race. He indispensable to be with his teammates.

Fernandez wouldn’t wish it any other way.

Diaz arrived to Busch Stadium on Tuesday, brought along Fernandez’s jersey, hung the Fernandez jersey that teammate Yadier Molina provided, and put on wristbands wearing Fernandez’s number, 16.

“When he got that jersey, and put it in on a bench,’’ pronounced Cardinals catcher Bryan Pena, who also defected from Cuba, “I had feeling that something special was going to happen. we told him, ‘Dude, you’re going to strike a homer today.’ “

Diaz, who done a All-Star organisation together with Fernandez in July, walked out to shortstop in a initial inning, and played what he called a many romantic diversion of his life.

He grounded out in his initial at-bat, and Pena reminded him that he still had during slightest 3 at-bats to strike a homer. He stepped to a image in a fourth inning. The Cardinals were trailing, 2-1 in a game. The bases loaded, he swung on a 2-1 fastball, promulgation a round mountainous 408 feet divided into a left-center-field seats.

Grand slam.

The initial of Diaz’s career.

“He only had a purpose,’’ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny pronounced after their 12-5 feat over a Cincinnati Reds, “he was doing something with a purpose. His mind was somewhere else, yet in a good place.’’

He dull a bases, stepped on home plate, and lifted a index finger of his dual hands adult in a sky, saluting Fernandez. He collapsed into a arms of Molina. And afterwards Matheny. He solemnly done his approach to a dugout, removing comfortable embraces from his teammates.

“Watching him cranky a plate,’’ Matheny said, “and examination his greeting as he went by a guys, unequivocally strike me how most it meant to him with some of a bucket he’s carrying now.

“There’s a vast organisation of guys that continue to spend time with him during a game, and celebrating with him now, yet also in mourning, since a diversion uncover goes on. But so does life. It’s a tough thing for a player, anybody, to go through.’’

The throng called for a screen call. Diaz, who had already walked down a hovel stairs to clean a tears from his face, walked behind up, lifted his helmet high above his conduct to a heavens.

Yes, somebody was looking out for him this night.

“It was emotional,’’ Diaz said. “It means a lot to me, and for his family. They’ve been yet a lot of things a final integrate of days, and hopefully this helps a small bit. Makes them feel a small bit better.

“He can’t be in a track anymore, so it’s tough.’’

Diaz’s eyes reddened, his ducts filled with tears, pausing to simulate on a biggest impulse of his brief career.

“I’m not going to try to quote Dee Gordon,’’ Pena said, “but if we don’t trust in God, we improved start believing. Because what happened currently was something special.’’

It was Sunday morning during 9:30 CT in Chicago when he was awoken by a consistent buzzing of his dungeon phone. So many people were texting him, he was confused. He called his mother.

She delivered a news that Fernandez was killed in an early morning vessel accident. Diaz couldn’t talk. He felt as if he couldn’t breathe. It couldn’t be true.

Diaz told Matheny he was too emotionally distraught to play, Sunday. He indispensable time. He indispensable to see Fernadez’s family. He flew to Miami on Monday, and spent a day with Fernandez’s mom and grandmother during their Miami home.

He attempted to console a Fernandez family, yet he satisfied it was useless. Fernandez’s grandmother kept revelation him over and over that her 24-year-old grandson never should have died before her. Family and friends came in and out of a house, bringing flowers and food, yet this will be a lamentation routine that will final for a long, prolonged time.

The agonise and pain tortured his soul, meaningful that when he left Miami that day, he’ll never again utterly be a same.

“You can’t report that,’’ Diaz said. “It was a slightest we could do, go share that impulse with his family.

“But even now, we can’t trust it. It’s tough. we urge for his family. It’s devastating. We are so close. They demeanour during me like a son. This is so tough for everybody.’’

Still, Diaz has a pursuit to do. He has a diversion to play. And Tuesday night, he was going to play it as if it were a final diversion he ever played.

“I consider a best approach to respect him,’’ Diaz said, “is to play this diversion 100%. we would consider that’s what he’d want. Every time we put on a uniform, only like we did today, we will consider of him. we wish to go out there a approach he played ball each day, and simper my uniform on, we wish to remind myself that this is a game.

“Sometimes, we forget this is a game. You have to have fun out there. That’s what he did. That’s a bequest he leaves us. He desired this game. He favourite to compete. He would wish us to suffer a diversion like he did.

“Every time we get a possibility to put on this uniform, I’m going to give all we have.’’

Diaz watched highlights of a Marlins’ romantic initial diversion Monday yet Fernandez, a pregame tribute, Gordon’s leadoff home run, and a prayers on a pile afterward.

He couldn’t bear to watch long, though, yet his eyes stuffing with tears.

“It was great, a approach that classification desired him,’’ Diaz said. “I consider everybody desired him. The approach he played a game, a approach he behaved.

“But we couldn’t see a game. we didn’t wish to do it. It’s flattering tough for me, and everybody that knew him.’’

Yet, no one in Major League Baseball knew Fernandez improved than Diaz. It was as if they were brothers, not only friends. They didn’t have to call one another. They didn’t need to constantly text. There was that connection, meaningful they were there for one other.

“He’s a ideal instance for each Cuban-American,’’ Diaz said, “to live a American dream. He was really beholden to this country. Every Cuban that came here is beholden to this good country. We can live in freedom. We can play this game.’’

Fernandez defected from Cuba 4 years before Diaz, in 2008, and when he reached a large leagues, he thanked Diaz’s dad, Rigoberto Diaz. It was Rigoberto and his brother, Nelson Diaz, who taught Fernandez and a area boys a diversion of ball in Cuba. They brought apparatus to a boys, holding them on a two-mile travel to a nearest ballfield, and articulate about their dreams one day of reaching a vital leagues.

“He non-stop a lot of doors for us,’’ Diaz said. “He came up, and we consider teams started looking during Cuban guys different. we give him interjection for that. we wish in a future, a Cubans that come to a United States demeanour during him as an example.

“When we grow adult in Cuba, we have nothing, and he was a American dream. He done it. Every time we put on a uniform, we will consider of him.

“That’s a bequest he leaves.’’

Fernandez might be gone, yet he’s altered Diaz’s life forever, and he’ll never be a same.

“I demeanour during life opposite right now,’’ Diaz said. “Sometime, we only take things for granted. You never know when a final event you’ll have to come here and play. So each time we put on a uniform, I’m going to enjoy, and play hard.’’

That will be a legacy, Fernandez leaves, too.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale


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