Cards grant SS Aledmys Diaz leave for Jose Fernandez memorial

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals All-Star shortstop Aledmys Diaz got permission to leave the team to attend a private memorial service for childhood friend Jose Fernandez, the Miami Marlins ace who died in a boating accident Monday in Miami.

Diaz flew Monday morning to Florida from Chicago, where the Cardinals finished their road trip Sunday night, and then got back to Busch Stadium midway through Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Diaz and Fernandez grew up on the same street in Santa Clara, Cuba. Fernandez has said that Diaz's father, Rigoberto, and uncle, Nelson, were instrumental in getting him to take up baseball. The families remained close after both players defected to the United States. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Fernandez's family wanted to be around Diaz and his family.

"That was the place where he needed to be today. He doesn't need to be thinking about us right now," Matheny said. "He needed to get back there and be with his family and be with his friend's family and make sure that he's all in. When he gets back here, he'll be all in."

Diaz has not played since Fernandez's death. He was on deck to pinch hit Sunday night, but the game ended with him in the on-deck circle when Aroldis Chapman struck out Jose Martinez.