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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — First pitch was still 35 minutes away, but Hanley Ramirez was already in the dugout Tropicana Field on Sunday, sitting alone with his head down.

Like many other Red Sox players, the death of Miami Marlins righthander Jose Fernandez in a boating accident was devastating for the Red Sox first baseman.

Ramirez played much his career in Miami, still lives in the area and knew the 24-year-old Fernandez. He hugged many of his teammates before the game started and wrote Hernandez’s No. 16 in the dirt behind the plate before his first at-bat.

“Can’t be true. CANNOT be true!” Ramirez wrote on Twitter. “My heart is with Jose’s and the other victims’ families, and my cherished Marlins family. My deepest condolences. This is heartbreaking.”

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Red Sox manager John Farrell moved through the clubhouse early in the morning, consoling players and offering a few words here and there.

“This is their peer. This is their opponent. This is a guy they can clearly identify with,” Farrell said. “When somebody is taken so quickly, it’s a tragic moment. Our condolences go out to all directly involved.”

David Ortiz was stunned. At the All-Star Game in July, Ortiz and Fernandez had a fun at-bat in the second inning, the Miami ace throwing him a slider after jokingly promising the day before to feed Ortiz some batting-practice fastballs so he could hit a home run.

When Ortiz drew a walk, he pointed out at Fernandez and both laughed. Fernandez later asked Ortiz to sign a jersey for him. Ortiz, he said, was his favorite player.

“When I heard the news this morning I have not been able to go back to normal. You can never be prepared to hear news like that, it makes a major impact on you,” Ortiz said on MLB Network.

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“When I watched him pitch I said, ‘Wow this is special.’ In his career he made such an impact on all of us. When he was pitching I couldn’t wait to see the highlights.”

Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who earlier this season remarked that Fernandez would be perfect for the Red Sox, was similarly affected.

“I feel extremely sad,” Martinez said on MLB Network. “I saw a better talent than I was lose his life this tragic morning.”

In the Red Sox clubhouse, the usual music was turned off and the players and coaches clustered around televisions to see reports about the accident.

“A lot of guys in here knew him,” infielder Deven Marrero said. “A bunch of us are live around Miami and you’d see him around. It’s a tough day.”

Out of respect for Fernandez, Ortiz asked the Rays to cancel their on-field ceremony to honor him on his upcoming retirement.

Instead, Rays players Evan Longoria and Chris Archer met with Ortiz before the game and presented him with a custom oil painting of his 500th home run at Tropicana Field last season and 34 handmade cigars.

The team also made $5,000 contributions in Ortiz’s name to the Miracle league of St. Petersburg and the University of South Florida Latino Scholars Program.

The outpouring of grief was league-wide.


Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.