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Marlins remember Fernandez's joy, energy

Special to MLB.com

DENVER -- A year ago on this date, the Marlins, their fans and so many others were left heartbroken by the tragic, sudden passing of star pitcher Jose Fernandez.

The Rockies paid special tribute to Fernandez on their video scoreboard before Monday's game with a remembrance over the P.A. before announcing the night's starting lineups.

Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- A year ago on this date, the Marlins, their fans and so many others were left heartbroken by the tragic, sudden passing of star pitcher Jose Fernandez.

The Rockies paid special tribute to Fernandez on their video scoreboard before Monday's game with a remembrance over the P.A. before announcing the night's starting lineups.

Full Game Coverage

"[I remember] his smile, and his energy," manager Don Mattingly said before opening a three-game set in Colorado. "He loved the game. He loved people. That's what I always remember. Josie was such an infectious kid. The way he loved the game and enjoyed being around it. He was really a treat to be around."

Starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne tipped his cap to Fernandez after pitching six innings of two-run ball in the Marlins' 5-4 win.

"This is a ballpark I've had good success in, and I've pitched well against the Rockies, but at the same time, this is also a special day," Despaigne said. "It's been a year since we lost Jose. There's a lot of motivating factors that went in to today and the way I pitched out there.

"We're always going to have the memory of Jose with us. That energy and passion he had for the game is something we all wish that we can have. We just go out there and do our part and try to play like Jose did and do our best in his honor."

Video: MIA@COL: Rockies honor Fernandez one year after death

Fernandez's absence continues to be a source of sadness for his teammates, coaches and fans, but when they think back on the impact the 24-year-old made in Miami and throughout baseball, the memories of the passionate young player are of an inspiring teammate and friend.

"For us, he is still alive," said pitcher Jose Urena, 26. "We see a bigger life for him. When we're at home, we look around and we see his locker, that makes you feel sad.

"The thing is, that was a tough moment for everybody, even people who don't play baseball. That was tough. But the way people remember him, that's huge. A lot of people are sad, like we are, but we have to keep going."

Fernandez spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues, all with the Marlins. He posted a career 38-17 record and a 2.58 ERA with 589 strikeouts. He was the third quickest Major League pitcher to reach 500 strikeouts, in his 65th game, behind Dwight Gooden (61) and Yu Darvish (62).

Veteran Martin Prado echoed Urena's sentiments as he looked back at his years playing both against and with Fernandez.

"I got to meet him and be around him, [and I noticed] how much different it was to have him pitching that day," Prado said. "There was so much confidence knowing Jose was pitching that day. It's hard to replace a person who brings so much to the game. He was a unique guy, a unique kid, with a great heart.

"Our thoughts, and our prayers, and our hearts are with him and his family. This is going to stay here for a long time. It's not just the first year. It's forever."

There's no question about the impact Fernandez made on the Marlins, and as hard as it is for them to remember his tragic passing one year ago, his legacy as a teammate is felt every time they think of him.

"I have pictures at home of him and me, the last game, coming off and hugging him, after the game," Mattingly said. "He doesn't really go away. He's always got a place in my heart."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver who covered the Marlins on Monday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miami Marlins, Jose Fernandez