McCullers pitches not only for the Astros but in memory of a lost friend.
It has been said that the pitcher’s mound is the loneliest place is professional sports. Your on an island by yourself every time you face a batter. Pitchers can use the roar of the crowd to feed them home or away. But for the Astros’ Lance McCullers, it’s different. Every time he stares down a batter, his orange glove is incredibly noticeable.
A normal fan thinks it’s just his flair to match the Astros team colors. However, this Orange Wilson Glove and many other models have a deeper meaning. The symbol behind it goes back when McCullers and his friend Jose Fernandez pitched for rival high schools in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Fernandez had just defected from Cuba in 2008 and wanted to play baseball. He liked to share his passion with people that loved the game as much as he did. Fernandez and McCullers never saw each other as rivals, but according to tampabay.com, they saw each other as brothers. They hung out during school and worked out during the offseason. This friendship followed into the majors when Fernandez was drafted in 2011 and McCullers in 2012.
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With this long history that they shared, it’s understandable how had McCullers would take Fernandez passing last year.
One of the things Fernandez was notorious for on the pitchers’ mound was his flair. Not just how he carried himself, but with his pitching gloves. McCullers wanted to use Fernandez’s gloves to be able to have a respectable, yet a definitive way to honor his close friend throughout the season.
With the help of Wilson, McCullers was given many A2K model gloves. Which according to MLB.com, is the same model glove Fernandez would use throughout his decorated career. Copying the same flair Fernandez used on the mound. McCullers go to glove since spring training has been the orange glove. This color is a perfect match to the Astros orange.
So far this season McCullers has been a force on the mound while honoring Fernandez, boasting a 3-1 record with an ERA of 2.98 through 8 starts. In starts made in May, McCullers is on fire with an ERA of 1.35 through 13.1 innings pitched.
One can’t help but wonder if by carrying the legacy of his friend on his shoulder is helping him on the mound. Only time will tell, but one thing is certain. McCullers is doing an honorable thing carrying on the legacy of the great Fernandez.
**Stats from Baseball-Reference team encyclopedia**
**Story background courtesy of MLB.com and TampaBay.com**