By Mike Cugno

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — We’re just days away from the start of spring training but baseball wasn’t exactly the topic of conversation in our first meeting with the Miami Marlins since the end of the 2016 season.

During a media luncheon in downtown Miami, Marlins players dawned uniforms with the number 16 to remember the late Jose Fernandez – a patch they’ll wear all season long.

The team admits while it was hard to get over the loss of their friend, getting away from baseball for a few months was actually refreshing.

“If all you guys imagined one of your best friends dying and every move since the moment you wake up is just a camera and a reaction – like you saw his on TV ‘what do you feel?’ you played this ‘what do you feel?’ It’s like you don’t get any chance to mourn that,” said Marlins’ Player Giancarlo Stanton. “I understand that’s what has to go on but for us it was peaceful to get away from that.”

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They were able to escape the cameras for a while but they couldn’t escape the rumors about owner Jeffrey Loria and new ownership, leaving some players frustrated and others curious.

“Today was the first day of media and yesterday that story breaks – like of course. Eighty percent of these questions have been nothing about baseball maybe ninety,” said Stanton.

“I just want know what would happen with the guys and me and kind of the direction the club is going to go,” said Marlins pitcher A.J. Ramos.

The future may be uncertain but for now the Marlins are jumping into the community, collectively making over 40 stops across town in an attempt to conjure up excitement as the baseball season quickly approaches and newcomers like Pitcher Dan Straily are already fitting in.

“It is really cool. It’s a good way to kind of learn about the city a little bit. You get to kind of see the people and kind of see a little bit of the history. However brief, it is it’s nice to get a little insight,” said Straily.

“Have you had your first Cuban coffee yet,” asked CBS4’s Mike Cugno.

“I have yea. When I came through town last year. I think I had one a day for every day I was here, so I enjoyed it,” replied Straily.

Pitchers and catchers report Tuesday in Jupiter while the full squad workouts will begin Friday, February 17th.


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