Cuban outfielder Randy Arozarena is emerging during the World Baseball Classic as a star of Team Mexico.
Arozarena has lived in Mexico for nearly a decade, having defected to the nation in 2016 and played for multiple Mexican leagues, even after joining the Cardinals on a $1.25 million deal the year of his arrival. Arozarena and his family have maintained residence in Mérida, Mexico ever since.
In a lengthy profile in the NY Times from 2020 title, “How Mexico Shaped Randy Arozarena” the Rays eventual Rookie of the Year winner explained his deep love for the nation south of our border:
Make no mistake, Arozarena is Cuban. But deep down, his heart has become intertwined with the country only 30 minutes away from San Diego’s Petco Park, where he has starred over the past two weeks and powered the Tampa Bay Rays into the World Series.
Mexico is where Arozarena, 25, found a home after fleeing Cuba on a small boat five years ago, where his daughter was born two years ago and where he started a journey that vaulted him to the major leagues last year. And one day, he hopes to wear the country’s uniform in international competitions.
“I feel like I represent Mexico,” he said in Spanish during a recent interview. “I have a daughter in Mexico, and I’d do it in honor of her and for the part of my career that I spent in Mexico, and for all the friends I’ve made in Mexico.”
Two and a half years later, that wish has come true. Still sporting cowboy boots, Arozarena has taken the spotlight and thrived in it — and should we expect anything less?
Here are some tweets highlighting his play thus far:
And yes, he put them on pic.twitter.com/VuAxypRB65— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) March 13, 2023
First pitch swinging, Randy Arozarena makes his WBC debut for Mexico, the country he made his home after escaping Cuba on a small boat to find a better life. Mexico means so much to him. Emotional moment.— Shawn Spradling (@Shawn_Spradling) March 11, 2023
RANDY AROZARENA 112.5 MPH HR SZN, FOLKS!— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) March 11, 2023
that's harder-hit than any MLB HR he's ever hit https://t.co/vBukQPE2kH
The most common phrase you hear from players who have played in the WBC is that it has a “playoff atmosphere.”— Shawn Spradling (@Shawn_Spradling) March 13, 2023
No wonder Randy Arozarena is playing so well.
Randy Arozarena stays hot!— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 13, 2023
Mexico now leads USA 4-1 in the 4th!
; WBC on FS1 pic.twitter.com/hm9RoV27vX
I had to ask @RandyArozarena about his new celebration, and he provided a very logical answer in this interview. pic.twitter.com/TYwiE9VE7X @MLB_Mexico @LasMayores @MexicoBeis— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 13, 2023
Mexico’s next games are March 14th against Great Britain at 10:00 PM EST, and on March 15th against Canada at 3:00 PM.