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“This is one that hits you in the stomach,” Collins said. “This kid’s 24 years old. He’s got a huge future ahead of him. His past is a story itself — how he got here, how he became successful, his love for the game, his love for Miami and the community, what he did down there for kids. You can’t ever watch a Marlins game where you’re not looking over on the bench watching this guy have fun, even though he’s not playing that night. He stays on the bench. He’s cheering. He’s on the top step. His love for the game and what he meant to Miami, it’s got to be a hard day for them.

“I wish more guys were like that. I wish more guys really had fun, like he did, playing the game. The pressures didn’t get to him. He enjoyed everything the game meant. He’s going to be missed. He’s one of the people that bring people into the ballpark, because they loved to see him play and they love to see him perform.”

As they arrived at Citi Field early Sunday and heard the news, many of them for the first time, Mets players grieved in different ways. Some sat in the clubhouse, watching television broadcasters remember Fernandez. Others retreated to a back room, preferring the company of silence. The two Mets who knew Fernandez best — Jose Reyes, who knew him from his days as a Marlin, and Cespedes, a member of the tightknit Cuban baseball community — asked not to comment out of grief.

Plenty of others did share their remembrances. Seemingly everybody had a story.

“I don’t think anybody really brought more energy out there to the field,” pitcher Jacob deGrom said. “Even when he was in the dugout, you’d look over there and he’d been rooting on his team, probably more than anyone you’ve ever seen.”

“It’s just devastating,” said infielder Wilmer Flores, who joined his teammates along the first-base line Sunday for a moment of silence in Fernandez’s memory. “There are no words to say what you feel.”

Collins recalled his team facing Fernandez for his MLB debut in 2013, after hearing stories about him during Spring Training. How electric Fernandez looked that day. How bright his future appeared. How much of a first impression he made, then continued to make throughout his career.

“He’s not only a great player, he was a great person, a great human being,” Mets catcher Rene Rivera said. “It’s sad to hear the news. We’re going to miss him, a great baseball player who enjoyed the game so much. It’s a big loss in the Latin community in baseball.”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Source: Mets News / Mets mourn Fernandez’s ‘love for the game’