In addition, his family is close by: his brother, Raiko, plays for the Cafetaleros de Chiapas, a third division Mexican soccer team, and his mother often prepares Cuban food for him, although he still indulges in eating her dish. Mexican favorite, carne asada tacos.
“It’s like living in Cuba,” he commented.
But, of course, Arozarena doesn’t live there. The only bond he feels with his homeland, he said, is the family and friends he left behind and the little town where he was born “where everyone knows me and everyone loves me, and where they loved my dad and where I am proud to be. ”. He added that “the situation in Cuba is bad.”
Last year, US President Donald Trump reversed a deal brokered by the Barack Obama administration in which the MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation had paved the way for players to compete in the United States without defecting. Arozarena said he still hopes conditions will one day improve for all Cubans, including baseball players.
“There are many Cuban players who want to represent Cuba, for example, in a World Baseball Classic or in an important tournament, but due to politics, they cannot,” he said, adding later: “For my part, I would not represent to Cuba until everything changes ”.
Until then, Arozarena has a few more goals: to win a World Series, have his mother see him play in the big leagues in person, and become a Mexican citizen. He said that he had already taken the citizenship test and that he was waiting for them to answer him to apply for the passport. He’s got time: The World Baseball Classic originally scheduled for 2021 was tentatively postponed two years due to the pandemic.
“I am Cuban, but it would be an honor for me to represent Mexico,” he said, “and for my daughter.”
James Wagner has covered baseball – the Mets for two and a half years and now the Yankees – for The New York Times since June 2016. He previously worked at The Washington Post for six years, four of which covered the Washington Nationals. @ByJamesWagner
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