Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Díaz grew up on the same street as José Fernández in Santa Clara, Cuba, and the two players have been friends since their early childhoods. Fernández said that Diaz’s father and uncle helped get him started playing baseball, and their families are still close. The loss was a profound one, and he was too overwhelmed to play on Sunday.
Díaz left the Cardinals briefly to travel to Florida for Fernández’s funeral on Monday, but returned to the lineup this evening. Díaz said he was only playing for Fernández’s family:
“I think the best way to honor him,’’ Diaz said, “is to play this game 100%. I would think that’s what he’d want. I want to go out there and play 100% every day and give my team a chance to win, like he used to do, and to remind me how fun this game is.
In his very first game back, Díaz proceeded to wallop a grand slam, the first of his career.
Correction, 11:05 p.m. EDT: Díaz returned from a private memorial, not the funeral, which is later in the week.