Any time a superstar is traded, there is void on the field and in the clubhouse. Left behind are players burdened with answering questions and filling a space that simply cannot be.
With Nolan Arenado’s trade to St. Louis, a clubhouse of close friends for over a decade must now move forward without its most talented leader.
In the case of Josh Fuentes, it’s more than just a confidant and teammate. It’s his family.
“Just missing a best friend and a mentor to me, really,” said the 27-year-old infielder of his cousin’s absence from the roster.
It’s a rarity for family to be on the field at the same time. While over 400 sets of brothers have made it to the majors, only a few have played together and countless pairs of fathers and sons have done so as player and coach in Major League Baseball, and no two cousins have ever had the same resemblance, relationship and fire like Arenado and Fuentes.
While siblings have never played together for the Colorado Rockies – brothers Dick and Charles Monfort own the club – the duo from Southern California are the closest it gets.
As for fathers and sons, a pair have graced the purple pinstripes over the club’s 28 seasons. Twelve years after Eric Young Sr. finished playing in Denver, his son and namesake called Coors Field home, playing his father’s position for parts of five seasons. Though EY Sr. missed coaching his son by a few months, they remain the most notable on-field family of the Rockies. Several years prior, catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. (2002) and coach Sandy Alomar Sr. (2003-04) were the first.
Arenado’s trade to the Cardinals came as a shock to some, mostly because the speculation seemed nothing more than that. In the coming hours since the deal was announced as official, teammates have expressed feelings and stated their loss. But only one man lost a family member.
“My initial thoughts were (that) I was happy for him as a person, as a competitor….. but then a little sadness,” Fuentes shared.
The absence of the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner and perennial All-Star and MVP-candidate leaves a veritable black hole at third base and at the top of the batting lineup. Missed most may be his presence in the clubhouse.
“Nolan was our leader in there,” said Fuentes, before adding, “And we’re gonna need guys to step up for sure.”
Before batting .316 during the final month of 2020 and leading the Rockies with 17 RBI, Fuentes was an undrafted free agent out of NAIA Missouri Baptist, earning a tryout with Colorado after a season with the St. Louis university. This time, it will be Arenado following in his footsteps.
“One of the best fans in baseball,” Fuentes said of Cardinals’ Nation. “He’s gonna shine there.”
Regardless if a general manager has kept them apart, Fuentes and Arenado will always have the closest of relationships. But from here on out, they are no longer teammates. Make no mistake. They are rivals, in the best possible way.
“Gonna be fun playing against him.”