MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna spoke to the media following Monday’s game at Marlins Park, his first public appearance since the death of teammate Jose Fernandez on Sunday.
Ozuna revealed that he had been invited by Fernandez to join him on his boat following Saturday night’s game, but turned him down.
Just a few hours later Fernandez, along with friends Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Macias, were killed when the boat they were traveling on crashed into the jetty off Government Cut.
“That night I told him, ‘Don’t go out,’” Ozuna said following Monday’s game. “Everybody knew he was crazy about that boat and loved being out on the water. I told him I couldn’t go out that night because I had the kids and my wife waiting for me. He told me if I didn’t hear from him by 10 a.m. [Sunday morning] to call him and wake him up so he could get back to the ballpark on time for the game. I told him, ‘yeah no problem, I’ll call you.’ I woke up Sunday and that’s when I found out. I cried and cried.
“When I got here [to Marlins Park] and saw everyone so serious, I just shut down,” Ozuna said. “I didn’t think my brother would be gone so soon.”
Ozuna was understandable overcome with emotion on Monday night when the Marlins honored Fernandez prior to their game against the New York Mets.
Using his hat to cover his face, Ozuna cried while being consoled by his teammates as they surrounded the pitching mound at Marlins Park, which had Fernandez’s number 16 painted into the dirt.
Ozuna and Fernandez had a strong bond that was forged over years of doing what they loved.
The two played together in the minor leagues and both made their MLB debuts with the Marlins in 2013.
Lately, Fernandez had been asking Ozuna about fatherhood. Last week Fernandez posted on Instagram a photo of his pregnant girlfriend, announcing that he was going to be a father for the first time.
Ozuna and his wife have three children.
“I hope one day I get to meet his daughter and get the chance to tell her what her father was like,” Ozuna said. “He loved my son and he was so excited to see his baby girl born. I was so happy for him. My brother was going to have his baby. It hurts me so much that he won’t get to see her grow up.”