Mariners reliever Steve Cishek sat in front of his locker Sunday morning in an anguished slump as he watched the news of Jose Fernandez’s death repeat itself on the TV in the visiting clubhouse at Target Field.
"It’s devastating," Cishek said. "I don’t even know what to say. He was obviously a great teammate. Everyone has come out and said that. A great person off the field, and it was an honor to play with him for three years in Miami.
"To have this be the first news to start the day has been tough. My heart just grieves for his family and my former teammates in Miami who are going through this right now. That’s all I’m really thinking about."
Fernandez, 24, was one of three people killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning off Miami Beach. Authorities said speed played a factor.
A Cuban defector in 2008, he enrolled in high school in Tampa, Fla., and was selected in 2011 by the Marlins in the first round of the MLB Draft. He reached the majors in 2013 and was selected as the National League Rookie of the Year.
Cishek played two-plus seasons with Fernandez with the Marlins.
"In ’13, his rookie year," Cishek said, "any day that we showed up at the park and he was starting, we knew we were probably going to win."
Fernandez made just eight starts in 2014 before he was diagnosed with an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery. He returned to active duty just over a year later and quickly regained his former form.
"He was charismatic, man," Cishek recalled. "He always showed up to the field with a smile on his face, and he could put smiles on other peoples’ faces. But he was probably one of the most tenacious competitors I’ve ever played with.
"You could see it on the mound. He was someone you wanted to go to battle with because you knew you were going to get every bit of energy out of him. He fired you up as a teammate to go out there; he motivated you to play."
With seven games remaining, the Mariners’ big three of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager each have a chance to finish the season with 30 doubles, 30 homers and 100 RBIs.
All three still have some work to do.
Cano enters the season’s final week with 30 doubles, 33 homers and 92 RBIs. Cruz has 27 doubles, 41 homers and 100 RBIs. Seager has 35 doubles, 29 homers and 96 RBIs.
Cruz previously reached the 30-30-100 threshold in 2014 while playing at Baltimore, when he had 32 doubles, 40 homers and 108 RBIs. Cano and Seager have never done it.
The Mariners have never had three players achieve 30-30-100 in the same season. The last team to have three players do it was the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals with Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.
The Mariners have had two teammates post 30-30-100 numbers in the same season on three occasions: Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez in 1998; Edgar Martinez and Rodriguez in 2000; and Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson in 2006.
Right-handed reliever Thyago Vieira will replace Dan Altavilla on the Peoria roster in the Arizona Fall League, which begins play on Oct. 11.
Vieira, 23, was 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA and eight saves this season in 34 games at Hi-A Bakersfield. A native Brazilian, he was signed by the Mariners as a 17-year-old in 2010.
The Mariners pulled Altavilla from Peoria shortly after promoting him to the big leagues, which extended his season into October. He has allowed one run and eight hits in nine appearances since his Aug, 27 promotion from Double-A Jackson.
It was seven years ago Monday — Sept. 26, 2009 — that Ichiro Suzuki was ejected for the first time in his career. And the incident unfolded in style at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
After umpire Brian Runge called a third strike on Suzuki in the fifth inning on a pitch from David Purcey, Suzuki initially backed away before taking a few steps back toward the plate.
Suzuki stuck out his bat, leaned over the plate and drew a line in the dirt, indicating that he thought the pitch was outside. That got him tossed.
The Mariners eventually lost the game 5-4 in 10 innings when Shawn Kelley served up a walk-off homer to…Adam Lind.
The Mariners open their final road series of the season when they face the Astros at 5:10 p.m. Pacific time Monday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (16-12 with a 4.04 ERA) will face Houston right-hander Collin McHugh (12-10, 4.61). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on the Mariners Radio Network, including 710 ESPN.
McHugh is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA this season in four previous starts against the Mariners, which means he is 8-10 with a 5.21 ERA in 27 starts against everyone else.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners