Red Sox players from Venezuela plead for peace at home

Red Sox players from Venezuela plead for peace at home
February 24, 2014, 6:00 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Unrest has rocked Venezuela in recent weeks as protesters, many of them students, demand changes from the government, resulting in riots, detentions and, at times, deaths.

The Red Sox clubhouse is populated with a number of Venezuelans and the danger in their native land, though far away, is hitting close to home.

On Monday, the six Venezuelan players and bullpen catcher Mani Martinez posed for a picture, behind the flag of Venezuela, each holding signs urging peace and unity.

"It's crazy,'' said pitcher Edward Mujica. "People go in the street and they can be killed. It's crazy. We're far [away], but doing that with the flag and showing support for the students, it's good.''

Mujica checks in with family every day, monitoring their well-being. It's tough to concentrate on baseball when lives are at stake, suggested infielder Jonathan Herrera.

"Things are happening over there,'' said Herrera, "but you need to go practice and focus and be ready to play baseball and sometimes you have in the back of your mind [the fact that] your family is unsafe. That's kind of difficult.''

Herrera's family is unaffected so far, but danger is everywhere.

"You don't know what can happen in a moment,'' he said. "I don't know anyone close to me who have had something bad happen, but when you see the news, a lot of people are dead already. They're not safe in the streets or in their house.

 "It's a tough situation.''

Herrera spent most of the offseason in Venezuela, and the threat of violence made the winter "uncomfortable.''

Pitcher Felix Doubront said the team's Venezuelan players got together Monday and talked about the idea of carrying the country's colors as a sign of support.

"We all talked about it,'' said Doubront. "We've seen other teams do it.''

Doubront is trying to focus on getting ready for the season, since "there's nothing I can do. Because I'm here, I'm helping my family with money or whatever and that's my responsibility right now.''

Like Mujica and Herrerra, Doubront checks in with family and friends daily and knowing they're fine helps him focus on what he needs to do.

"They're going to let me know if something's happened,'' he said. "They text me or they call me, because every day is something different, and they tell me what has happened.''

"It's unfortunate what they're having to deal with there,'' said manager John Farrell. "We're sympathetic. If there's ever any needs that we can help with, we'll certainly take a look at those. It's unfortunate their families have to contend with something that's out of their control.''