Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Family attorney: Cocaine was out of character for Jose Fernandez

RECOMMENDED READING


MIAMI BEACH — Miami Marlins pitcher and former Alonso High School star Jose Fernandez had cocaine and alcohol in his system when his boat crashed into a Miami Beach jetty, according to toxicology reports released Saturday.

It's not clear whether Fernandez was driving when the boat crashed Sept. 25, killing the 24-year-old baseball star and two of his friends. But Fernandez had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.147, well above Florida's legal limit of 0.08, according to autopsy reports released by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office.

Associate Medical Examiner Kenneth Hutchins listed the cause of death as "boat crash" for Fernandez, 27-year-old Emilio Jesus Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero.

Each man had suffered blunt force injuries to his head and body, Hutchins wrote.

Cocaine use would be out of character for Fernandez, and the toxicology reports raise more questions than they answer about what happened that night, said the Fernandez family's Tampa-based attorney and longtime friend, Ralph E. Fernandez.

"That leads me to think, could this be an isolated incident? Yes. Could this have been involuntary? Yes. Why do you think there's still a criminal investigation pending?" said the attorney, who isn't related to the pitcher.

Authorities have interviewed a "highly reliable" witness who said he was on the phone with Fernandez just before the crash and heard the pitcher giving another person directions about where to steer the boat, he said.

"If you tell me that he'd been drinking, I'd say, 'So?' He wasn't driving — and he was very careful about that," Ralph Fernandez said.

Players with Major League Baseball contracts have been tested for performance-enhancing substances since 2004 and violations are announced publicly, but there is no random testing for drugs such as cocaine and players generally aren't suspended for abusing those drugs unless they fail to comply with a treatment program or are convicted for drug use, possession, sale or distribution.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Fernandez's autopsy report was "not even official" and declined further comment before Game 4 of the World Series.

Toxicology reports showed both Macias and Rivero also had alcohol levels below the state's legal limit, while Rivero also had cocaine in his system.

Chris Royer, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer representing family members of Macias and Rivero, told the Sun Sentinel that his clients had been told about the findings and they would make a statement having taken some time to discuss the reports.

Royer did not immediately respond to messages left Saturday by The Associated Press.

The bodies had a strong odor of alcohol on them when they were recovered by divers, and investigators also found evidence the boat was speeding when it slammed into the jetty, according to a search warrant affidavit released this week by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office.

The affidavit said officials also had recovered a receipt for alcohol from American Social Bar & Kitchen, where the trio had been before the crash.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez directed the medical examiner's office to release the autopsy reports Saturday, a day after the Miami Herald sued the medical examiner's office seeking their release.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the state agency investigating the crash, previously refused to release the reports. Gimenez said state officials also refused to join the county as a co-defendant in the Herald's public records lawsuit.

The autopsy reports "will provide invaluable information to FWC investigators as they conduct a thorough and complete investigation," wildlife commission spokeswoman Susan Smith said in an email.

U.S. Coast Guard officials have said they'll examine lighting at the South Beach jetty where the boat crashed.

Fernandez, the National League Rookie of the Year in 2013 and a two-time All-Star, owned the 32-foot SeaVee named "Kaught Looking."

Fernandez and his mother and sister escaped Cuba by boat and moved to Tampa in 2008. He led Alonso to two state titles before being drafted by the Marlins in 2011. The school retired his jersey No. 16 after his death.

Comments
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17
As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

Presuming Alex Cobb declines the Rays’ one-year, $17.4-million qualifying offer by 5 p.m. today, he has pitched his last game for Tampa Bay.Cobb has received preliminary interest from "lots of teams" already, agent Dan Horwits said. The Cubs and Twin...
Published: 11/16/17
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made clear Thursday that identification of a site for a new Rays stadium is merely the first step for area leaders to show they want to keep the team long-term and that there needs to "consistent forward movement" on the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Wednesday that the team is "genuinely excited" about the proposed Ybor City site for a new stadium and more than "cautiously optimistic" the project can be completed. But ...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Rays journal: No big deals at GM meetings, but possible groundwork laid

By MARC TOPKINLAKE BUENA VISTA — Rays officials left the GM meetings without making any big deals — such as trading Alex Colome or Chris Archer to the Cardinals — but more knowledgeable about the possibilities. "Expectations were to utilize these few...
Published: 11/15/17
Watch: Brandy Halladay’s emotional tribute to her late husband, Roy

Watch: Brandy Halladay’s emotional tribute to her late husband, Roy

For his wife, Brandy, Roy Halladay was so much more than a standout pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.During a a celebration of life ceremony Tuesday at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Brandy remembered Halladay — who died Nov...
Published: 11/15/17