Marlins don late pitcher's jersey in tribute


Miami (AFP)

The Miami Marlins planned a somber tribute to their late star pitcher Jose Fernandez, with the team wearing his No. 16 on the back of their jerseys when they take the field late Monday.

Local news reports said the Marlins decided to wear the jersey of their 24-year old pitching ace, who died in a boating accident Sunday, when the team plays the New York Mets -- a game that Fernandez had been scheduled to pitch.

Ahead of the game at Marlins Park, the grounds crew also painted Fernandez's No. 16 number onto the back of the pitching mound.

Fans created a makeshift memorial for the rising-star pitcher at the Florida baseball stadium, leaving flowers and handwritten notes in his honor.

In New York, meanwhile, the Mets hung a jersey with Fernandez's name and No. 16 in their home dugout at Citi Field.

The tributes come a day after Fernandez's body was found, along with two deceased boating companions, in an overturned vessel off Miami Beach.

The Marlins canceled Sunday's game against the Atlanta Braves as his teammates absorbed the shock of his loss.

Authorities said Fernandez and his two boating companions were killed when the 32-foot (9.8-meter) vessel crashed into a jetty. The Coast Guard discovered the overturned boat around 3:30 am (0730 GMT) on Sunday.

Officials said Fernandez was killed as a result of the impact. A coast guard spokesman told AFP on Monday the other two victims have been identified as Emilio Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25.

"We are awaiting toxicology results," spokesman Darren Caprara said, adding that it can "take several days or can take up to several months," for the accident investigation to be completed.

Officials said the investigation into the accident is being led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Stunned teammates held an emotional news conference Sunday at which they paid their respects to Fernandez, a Cuban refugee who became a US citizen and achieved his dream of starring for a team in Miami, considered the cultural heart of Cuba in America.

Fernandez was enjoying his best major league season, posting a 16-8 record with a 2.86 earned run average.

The hard-throwing right-hander set a club record with 253 strikeouts this season, and his 12.49 strikeouts per nine innings led the majors.

He came to the United States from Cuba at age 15, after three failed attempts.

At 20, he broke into the major leagues and was National League Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Fernandez's final start last Tuesday was one of the best of the two-time All-Star's career.

He tossed a season-high eight innings and struck out 12 in a 1-0 shutout win over the Washington Nationals.