A Cuban Inspiration

Westside senior Julian Garcia honors Jose Fernandez

Garcia, a Cuban-American, honors the late Fernandez with his glove, jersey number. Vype

When Julian Garcia lost his glove, the Westside senior pitcher knew he would have to get a new one prior to the 2018 season and knew exactly what he wanted.

But not just any glove would do.

Garcia is Cuban-American and chose one that would honor a player he admired in former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and his Cuban heritage. His father Alejandro was born in Cuba.

“I looked up his exact model. It was this one, the HG12, and I looked it up to see if it was available for customization on the website,” Garcia said. “It was and it just had all the perfect colors. I played with it for a while until I got the combination I liked.”

It is a glove that definitely sticks out.

From its bright blue color, the Cuban flag, the Miami Marlins’ logo and then add on the initials JF16 honoring Fernandez and his jersey, this glove is unique.

“It’s definitely the best looking glove I’ve ever had,” Garcia said. “That alone is just enough. The meaning it has, I know I’ll have it forever. It’ll be special to me.”

This story truly starts though on April 7, 2013.

Fernandez – a native of Santa Clara, Cuba – made his debut for the Miami Marlins that season, putting Major League Baseball on notice with his fiery stuff. He was eventually named the 2013

National League Rookie of the Year.

“I first found out about him his rookie year and just paid attention to some of his starts,” Garcia said. “I’m usually drawn to right handers who throw hard or who have good breaking balls.

“The fact that he was Cuban and pretty much embodied everything that I want to be when I get older, was really important to me.”

The rookie sensation turned into the face of the Marlins’ franchise along with players like Giancarlo Stanton.

In 2016, Fernandez was selected for his second All-Star Game appearance, piecing together another stellar year going 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA heading into September.

“The thing that caught my eye was his breaking ball,” Garcia said. “The breaking ball has always been my go-to pitch. Just seeing how dominant he was with it, is something I’d like to model myself after. Just the way he competed out there and the way he showed emotion. It was great seeing his passion for the game and the way he pitched every night.”

Then on September 25, 2016 tragedy struck – Fernandez and two other men were killed when their boat hit rocks and capsized. Fernandez was 24.

“I had to check my phone three or four times,” Garcia said when he woke up to the news that morning. “It didn’t even seem real to me.

It was tough for almost a week or two. It’s amazing how someone who I’ve never even met, never even been close to, can have such a big affect on me.

“Being Cuban-American, it just kind of felt like you lost a piece of yourself.”

Heading into his junior season, Garcia’s year was cut short when he suffered an injury in the Lufkin tournament and underwent Tommy John surgery last April.

As his recovery was going along into December, Garcia’s team was getting new uniforms and they were choosing numbers.

Garcia chose 16 – the same number that Fernandez wore his entire Major League career.

“Every time I go out on the mound for a start, I’ll go on one knee, put the number in the dirt and just point to the sky,” Garcia

said. “After the third out of every inning, I’ll tap my number and point to the sky.”

It is very apparent when talking to Garcia, knowing the players he follows and seeing the flag stitched on his glove, his heritage is an important part of his life.

“I take a lot of pride in it,” he said. “I’m very proud to be Cuban- American.”

This article appears in the March Issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations today!

 

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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