When we talked to Rico Washington on Thursday, playing with Peoria in the Arizona Fall League for the Padres, his mind was on the tragedy that was Dernell Stenson’s death.
Stenson, who had been playing in the Arizona Fall League, was found dead Wednesday in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. He had been shot and run over and apparently dragged by his own SUV.
“Anything can happen. It is just crazy to see another life get taken that way,” said Washington. “I knew him personally. He is from LaGrange, Georgia and I am from Gray, which is about an hour and thirty minutes east of him and we played together on Team Georgia when I was in the eleventh grade and we had to go to Oklahoma.
“I have been playing against him for a couple of years and played against him this year again and to see him in the big leagues and out here in Arizona was great.”
Stenson, 25, made his major league debut with the Reds this year, batting .247 with three home runs and 13 RBI in 37 games. His last home run accounted for Cincinnati's final run of the season. Stenson was batting .394 through 18 games in Arizona.
“To see him lose his life,” Washington began, struggling for the right words, “you never know.”
Three Cincinnati Reds minor league players huddled together on the third base line as they reflected during the moment of silence before the game.
“It is such a sad story,” Padres’ farmhand Jake Gautreau said. “Everybody was kind of blown away. It doesn’t seem real to tell you the truth. I played against him this year and he seemed like a really laid back, great guy. From what I hear he was a great person. It is a very unfortunate situation for he and his family.”
Peoria was on the first base line staring into the faces of those who knew him best. A tough spot for any person to be in.
“Basically everyone is in shock and can’t believe it actually took place,” Gautreau said. “They had somewhat of a ceremony today before the game and both teams went out to the foul lines and their team was just balling. It definitely put things into perspective.”
A suspect has reportedly admitted involvement in the death of Stenson. Reginald Riddle of Harvey, Ill. made an initial court appearance Friday. He was arrested for investigation of first-degree murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and burglary but hadn't formally been charged Friday.
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig issued the following statement Thursday regarding the death of Arizona Fall League outfielder Dernell Stenson:
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am terribly saddened by the sudden and tragic death of Dernell Stenson yesterday morning. My deepest sympathies go out to his family, his friends and his teammates.”
The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange, Ga., where Stenson was born and still resided.
Monday's Scorpions game is likely to be canceled for the funeral. Several players are expected to attend.
At that time, they will present Stenson's mother with her son's bat. Scottsdale players used the bat during their first at-bats Friday.