FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Venezuela protests are hitting close to home in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse.
Several Red Sox players from Venezuela, including Edward Mujica, Jonathan Herrera and Felix Doubront, are keeping tabs on the current political unrest in their native country. The players even posed for a photo before Monday’s spring training workout at JetBlue Park, sending a message of peace to their families and fellow Venezuelans affected by the ongoing protests.
“It’s not easy, because you think about your family and you’re sitting here and you see everything happening over there,” Herrera, a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, said after Monday’s workout at Fenway South. “You need to go practice and focus on playing baseball, but at the same time, you have in the back of your mind (whether) your family is home safe, so that’s kind of difficult.”
Thousands of Venezuelans on both sides of the country’s political divide have taken to the streets in the last week, leaving more than 10 dead and more than 100 injured, according to reports. Protests by university students over high crime and a crumbling economy turned violent in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities last week, with demonstrators burning cars and other property. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has sent the military into parts of the country where tension is highest.
“Every city’s kind of dangerous right now,” Herrera said Monday. “A lot of things are happening in the streets. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Herrera, Mujica and Doubront were joined by teammates Jose Mijares, Brayan Villarreal and Heiker Meneses for Monday’s photo at JetBlue Park. The players’ hope is that the photo will show their support during a time that’s difficult to put into words.
“It’s unbelievable. I think everybody in Venezuela feels the same thing, trying to support and trying to go to the streets, too,” Mujica said. “But it’s crazy, it’s crazy. People (are going) into the streets and (almost getting) killed because it’s crazy.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell offered his support after Monday’s workout, emphasizing that the club is staying mindful of the situation despite the hard work being put in at spring training.
“Very (sympathetic), because we do have a good number of players that do come from Venezuela. And the pitchers that we’ve already met with 1-on-1, we’re trying to get a feel for if their families are affected by it,” Farrell said. “It seems like those players hail from areas a little bit further away from the big cities — Caracas, in particular. It’s unfortunate what they’re having to deal with there. Again, we’re sympathetic, and if there’s ever any needs that we can help with, we’ll certainly take a look at those. But it’s unfortunate their families have to contend with something that’s completely out of their control.”
Both Herrera and Mujica said Monday that they’ve been in touch with their respective families on a daily basis over the last week.
Photo via Twitter/@PeteAbe