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Monday, March 19, 2018

Alexei Ramirez, the return of the prodigal son

Por Fidel Orihuela

Although watching the MLB is forbidden in Cuba, lots of Cuban fans know that Alexei Ramirez was the man that substituted Derek Jeter in his last presentation in the All Star Games. They also know that for a decade he was one of the best shortstops in the MLB, wearing the uniforms of the Chicago White Sox, the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Then it is not a surprise that his comeback was received with a standing ovation from the audience in the Latin American Stadium, one of his favorite places. “It does not matter if there were many people or not in the stadium, for me the most important thing is the welcome that they gave me, the ones that were there. It felt as if the stadium was full. It is an experience that I am never going to forget, to play there again. Maybe it is the last time that I do it but I thank God for the opportunity”, said Ramirez, who is originally from the province of Pinar del Rio.

“I am happy. This is something that I never thought was going to happen again after I left the National team and went to live in Dominican Republic with my wife. For me is like the good bye they should have given me if I were retiring here and I felt very nervous after I stepped in the field after so many years. Since I entered the stadium, that place where I played so many times, I saw my family and the people that were standing to greet me and I could not hold my emotions”, expressed Alexei, one of the most influent players of the Chicago Red Sox in the last decades. There, for 8 seasons, he batted 1 272 hits, he had more than 100 home runs (109), more than 350 extra bases(XBH), he had 542 RBI and stole 135 bases, a performance that made him one of the most esteemed players of Chicago.

“I am happy and satisfied, not only because of my professional career, but also for everything that I achieved in Cuba. I had 16 years of maximum rigor, playing at the highest level. For example, I remember my last home run here in playoffs against Jonder Martinez, or when I made my debut in the Latin American stadium facing Amaury Sanit, and of course, the World Classic experience or the Olympics, the top for any athlete. I entered the MLB with the right foot and I took advantage of that opportunity. I participated in All Star Games, I won two Silver Slugger Awards, I was close of getting a Golden Glove, I mean, I am happy and fulfilled”, said the shortstop, who also praised the quality of the Cuban baseball nowadays. I am impressed by the potential, mostly in younger players, pitchers that have great speed. I think that the quality of the Cuban baseball is still there, what they have to do is to work so that the talents won’t be lost for the future.”