Atlanta Braves Acquire Robinson Cano from San Diego Padres

Robinson Cano believes he’s still got game…

The 39-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball remains confident in his skills as he has been given an opportunity to revive his career while starting — at least on a fill-in basis — for the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves.

Robinson CanoCano carries a .301 career batting average with more than 2,600 hits, but he struggled in short stints with the New York Mets and San Diego Padres this season.

The Braves, in need of a left-handed hitter who can help at second base, obtained Cano for $1 in a minor league deal with the Padres on Sunday.

Cano instantly joined Atlanta’s starting lineup, playing second base and batting ninth as the Braves opened a series on Monday night against his former team, the NL East-leading New York Mets.

“I know what work I’ve put in the offseason and I’ve always believed in myself and the stuff that I do to prepare myself,” Cano said following batting practice on Monday. “I feel that I can still play this game.”

The Braves trailed the Mets by 1½ games going into the three-game set at Truist Park.

Cano gives the Braves another option at second base after Ozzie Albies went down with a broken foot.

With the Mets in town, Cano attracted a large crowd of reporters with no shortage of questions about his past and future.

Asked if he felt he received a fair shot with the Mets, Cano said “I don’t want to go back to the past. … There’s no hard feelings. I’ve got friends on the other side and I always wish them the best.”

Cano hit .256 with New York in 2019 and .316 in only 49 games in 2020.

Cano hit a combined .149 with one homer and four RBI in 74 at-bats for the Padres and Mets this season. He batted .333 with three homers and 20 RBI in 96 at-bats for Triple-A El Paso after the Padres released him and re-signed him to a minor league deal last month.

“I think he was rusty when he was here for the first two times,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Cano’s early season struggles. “You’re just hoping you get what Robinson Cano is capable of. It’s worth a try. He’s been playing a month in Triple-A and doing well, so we’ll see. He’s in a great shape.”

Snitker managed Cano’s father, Jose Cano, who was a minor league pitcher for the Class A Durham Braves in 1984.

“He was one of my starters in Durham,” Snitker said.

The younger Cano arrived in Atlanta equipped with stories about Snitker from his dad. He said he’s also heard about the Braves from friends on the team, including his offseason workout partner Marcell Ozuna.

“Everything they’ve said about this team is good,” Cano said.

“I’m excited for the opportunity and also happy to be here. I’ve seen from the other side, the energy and the chemistry and the fans show up every day to support this team.”

Albies fractured his foot last month in an at-bat, and Atlanta has been relying on Orlando Arcia as his replacement.

Arcia was hitting .252 with three homers and 17 RBI in 123 at-bats this year. Snitker said he’s been pleased with Albies’ replacement, especially his defense.

The Mets owe Cano nearly $45 million remaining on his original contract signed with Seattle. He was earning a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum in his major league deal with San Diego. He sat out last season in serving a second suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Cano was an eight-time MLB All-Star while with the New York Yankees and Seattle. He is a two-time Gold Glover with 335 home runs and 1,306 RBI in 17 seasons.

The San Diego Padres signed him to a minor league deal on June 10, eight days after releasing him.

In addition to adding Cano to the 26-man roster, the Braves reinstated outfielder Adam Duvall from the paternity list.

First baseman Mike Ford was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett and infielder Phil Gosselin was designated for assignment.

Miguel Cabrera Becomes First Venezuelan Baseball Player to Join MLB’s 3,000-Hit Club

Miguel Cabrera makes Venezuelan MLB History while joining a new elite club…

With a single against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, the 39-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Detroit Tigers designated hitter became the 33rd member of the 3,000-hit club and only the seventh player in major league history to achieve the milestone and hit 500 home runs.

Miguel CabreraHe got No. 3,000 in the first inning against pitcher Antonio Senzatela, a fellow Venezuelan, by grounding an opposite-field single to right field.

Cabrera immediately raised his right arm as he headed toward first base.

The crowd of 37,566 at Comerica Park gave him a rousing ovation and chanted “Miggy! Miggy!” while fireworks were shot out of the scoreboard. Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias, who played with Cabrera on the Tigers team, came over to give his former teammate a big hug.

By then, all the Tigers were streaming from the dugout to greet the newest member of baseball’s elite 3,000-hit club. Moments later, Cabrera went behind home plate to embrace his mother, wife, son and daughter on the field.

“Special numbers,” Cabrera said after the game. “It’s like something crazy you can’t describe. To be in this position, I always say thank God for giving me this opportunity.”

Cabrera soon returned to first base but didn’t stay there long. He scored on a three-run homer by 22-year-old rookie Spencer Torkelson, who has taken over as the Tigers’ regular first baseman with Cabrera in the role of designated hitter.

When the inning ended, the scoreboard flashed “Congratulations Miggy” and Cabrera emerged from the dugout to wave to fans who had been rewarded with the highlight they came to see.

“It brings a lot of memories from the first time I was here in Detroit,” Cabrera said of the crowd. “I remember we always had 35,000, 40,000 people every night. It was good to see the fans come back to the stadium like that. It was very emotional. I know what the fans mean to our games and to our team because they support us a lot. I really happy to see all the fans.”

Cabrera added a two-run single in the sixth inning before being replaced by pinch runner Eric Haase. The Tigers went on to win 13-0. Cabrera said it meant “a lot” for him to reach the milestone in a win.

“Because I always say, if we’re winning, I know the results are going to be good,” he said. “We did it today, I’m pretty happy.

After reaching 2,999 hits Wednesday, Cabrera was 0-for-3 on Thursday against the New York Yankees. He was intentionally walked in the eighth inning, his fourth and final plate appearance of the game. Cabrera’s pursuit of history was delayed Friday, as the Tigers’ scheduled series opener against the Rockies was rained out, made up as part of a Saturday doubleheader.

Cabrera is the first Venezuelan-born player and seventh Latino to reach the 3,000-hit mark, a list that includes Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Rod Carew as well as Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols. Luis Aparicio, the only Venezuelan-born player in the Hall of Fame, had 2,677 career hits.

“When you’re going through it, you’ve got to kind of try to appreciate it because his impact is so big across this organization and across so many players, that we just got to sit back and soak it up,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “And I think for him as a person, as a player who’s gone through ups, downs, everywhere in between. This is certainly a highlight.”

Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown and the first of back-to-back MVP awards in 2012, became the 28th member of the 500-home run club in August. Only six other players have 3,000 hits and 500 homers: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Palmeiro, Pujols, Rodriguez and Eddie Murray.

Cabrera’s Triple Crown win in 2012, having led the American League in batting average, home runs and RBIs, was the first in 45 years. The 11-time MLB All-Star has won four batting titles in his career.

Cabrera was 20 years old when he made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut with the Miami Marlins in 2003. He helped them win the World Series that year.

The Tigers acquired Cabrera in a 2007 trade, with Dontrelle Willis also going to Detroit in a deal for Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. Cabrera had 842 hits at the time.

He is the third player to get his 3,000th hit while with Detroit, joining Ty Cobb and Al Kaline.

Albert Pujols Returning to St. Louis Cardinals for Final Season of Career

It’s the last hurrah for Albert Pujols

The 42-year-old Dominican professional baseball first baseman and future Baseballl Hall of Famer has signed a one-year deal, reportedly worth $2.5 million, with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Albert PujolsPujols is returning to the city where he launched his Major League Baseball career back in April 2001. His goal: to help St. Louis make a run for another World Series championship.

Pujols is hoping to summon the same magic he had during his previous run with the Cardinals from 2001-11, when he produced two championships, three MVP awards and a 10-year streak of hitting at least .300 and smashing 30 or more home runs.

“For me, I think I’m here for a reason,” said Pujols, who earlier in the day emerged from beyond the right-field fence at Roger Dean Stadium and walked down the foul line to join his Cardinals teammates in the dugout in their 2-1 loss to the Astros. “They believe I can still play this game and they believe I can help this organization win a championship. And myself, I believe in that, too.”

Pujols — considered one of the greatest players in the rich history of the Cardinals, right alongside of Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith — rejoins the franchise at a time when catcher Yadier Molina is entering his 19th and final season, and pitcher Adam Wainwright could be about to exit as well.

Wainwright, who allowed two runs on four hits in five innings on Monday, believes Pujols will be on a mission to show he has plenty left in the tank as a hitter.

“He seems like he’s in good shape, and he’s motivated,” said Wainwright, who noted that Pujols woke him up from his pregame nap on Monday with a “bear hug.”

“Any time Albert is motivated, it’s a very, very dangerous thing,” Wainwright said. “He’s motivated to show people that he’s not too old or over the hill. I don’t think he wants this to be nostalgic; he wants to go out and prove something. That chip is a good one to put on your shoulder. It’s cool to be loved, that’s a nice thing, and nobody is more beloved than he is. But he wants to prove himself.”

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. saw an immediate response from the addition of Pujols — he spotted a fan wearing a No. 5 jersey when he pulled into the team’s headquarters Monday morning. DeWitt Jr. called the signing “the highlight of the spring.”Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Pujols enters the season 21 home runs shy of 700 — with much of that damage coming from his historic run with the Cardinals for 11 seasons. He hit .328 and clubbed 445 home runs with the Redbirds, was named an MLB All-Star nine times and won the Gold Glove Award twice.

Pujols, who left St. Louis in 2011 to sign a 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels, had emotional returns to St. Louis in recent years while playing for Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He said the numerous standing ovations he received from Cardinals fans — both before and after homering off current Cardinal Dakota Hudson in 2019 and J.A. Happ last season — allowed him to dream again about possibly returning to St. Louis to cap his career.

“There was always hope, so you never close the door,” Pujols said. “The organization never closed the door on me, and I never closed the door, either. It’s a great opportunity. Everything always happens on God’s time, and it’s the perfect time right now. I’m back here and I’m really excited.”

Jorge Soler Agrees to Thee-Year, $36 Million Contract with Miami Marlins

Jorge Soler is headed to the Sunshine State

The 30-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and the Miami Marlins have agreed on a three-year, $36 million contract, according to ESPN.

Jorge SolerSoler’s deal includes opt-outs after the first two seasons, sources said. If he opts out, Soler would hit free agency again at age 31 next winter.

A bit player during the Chicago Cubs‘ drought-smashing victory over Cleveland five years ago, Soler was voted MVP of the Atlanta Braves‘ six-game World Series win over the Houston Astros. Soler hit .300 with three home runs and six RBIs.

Soler’s three World Series home runs matched the most for the Braves, equaling Hank Aaron in 1957, Lonnie Smith in 1991 and Ryan Klesko in 1995.

Marlins general manager Kim Ng said as Miami opened camp that the team had two needs: an outfielder — particularly a center fielder, which Soler hasn’t been, as he has primarily played right — and offense.

Soler does fit that bill. He has 121 home runs and 343 RBIs in 661 career games with the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago Cubs and the Braves. He led the American League with 48 homers in 2019, and hit 27 home runs in 149 games with the Royals and Braves last season.

Soler defected from Cuba in 2011, established residency in Haiti and made his big league debut in 2014.

MLB Network was first to report news of Soler’s agreement with Miami.

Carlos Correa Agrees to Three-Year, $105.3 Million Contract with Minnesota Twins

Carlos Correa is Twinning

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop has agreed to a three-year, $105.3 million contract with the Minnesota Twins that includes opt-outs after the first two seasons, according to ESPN.

Carlos Correa

Correa’s deal, which was first reported by Fox 26 Houston, will pay him $35.1 million in each of the three years, sources said.

Correa’s choice to play with the Twins comes as a surprise, given the team has lost 18 consecutive postseason games and finished last in the AL Central a year ago at 73-89.

His average salary makes him the highest paid Latino in the MLB, as he becomes baseball’s fourth highest behind New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer ($43.3 million), New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole ($36 million) and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout ($35.5 million).

 

A two-time MLB All-Star who was the first pick in the 2012 amateur draft, Correa led the Houston Astros‘ turnaround. Houston lost more than 100 games each year from 2011-13, then won its first World Series title by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games in 2017.

He’s coming off perhaps his best season, posting a career-best 7.2 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.com, which ranked third in the American League. He hit .279 with 26 homers, 92 RBIs and 104 runs for the Astros. The oft-injured Correa played in 148 games, his most since the 2016 season.

It was also Correa’s most decorated season. He appeared in the All-Star Game, finished fifth in AL MVP balloting, won his first Gold Glove at shortstop and was awarded a Platinum Glove by Rawlings as the AL’s top overall defender. Since Correa broke in for the Astros in 2015, he ranks sixth among all position players in WAR (34.1).

For all his regular-season exploits, Correa has been even more accomplished during the postseason. Since his first appearance for Houston in 2015, Correa ranks third among all players in postseason homers (18). His 59 RBIs in the playoffs are 10 more than any other player during that span.

Still, Correa remains a controversial figure because of his association with the sign-stealing scandal that tainted the Astros’ 2017 World Series title, and his adamant defense about the legitimacy of the championship. Before the 2020 season, he told reporters, “When you analyze the games, we won fair and square. We earned that championship.”

Despite the controversies, Correa is respected around the game as a clubhouse leader.

“If your best player is not a good leader, they can take you down the wrong road,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Correa during the 2021 playoffs. “Carlos is in the great category.”

Minnesota has not been to the World Series since winning the 1991 title and has lost its past eight postseason series since beating Oakland in a 2002 AL Division Series.

Correa has enjoyed great success in Minnesota as a visiting player, though. He has a .413 batting average (26-for-63) at Target Field with five homers and 20 RBIs in 15 games. His 1.205 OPS is his highest at any ballpark where he has played four or more games.

Correa became a free agent after rejecting the Astros’ qualifying offer, worth $18.4 million. As a result of his departure, Houston will recoup a compensatory draft pick.

Correa was the top overall pick of the 2012 amateur draft after being selected by Houston out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He then went on to win AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.

Carlos Rodon Signs Two-Year, $44 Million Deal with San Francisco Giants 

Carlos Rodon is headed out west…

The 29-year-old Latino professional baseball play, an MLB All-Star left-hander, and the San Francisco Giants have agreed on a two-year, $44 million contract that includes an opt-out after the first season, according to ESPN sources.

Carlos RodonRodon set a career high for wins with the Chicago White Sox in 2021 in going 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA and made his first All-Star team. His 24 starts and 132⅔ innings are the most for him since 2016, well beyond his totals in the previous two years combined.

Rodon has a history of arm and shoulder injuries and threw just 28 innings over the final two months of the 2021 regular season. But he also played a big role as the White Sox ran away with the American League Central title at 93-69. They beat Cleveland by 13 games and finished with their highest win total since the 2005 World Series championship team went 99-63.

Rodon will help fill out a rotation alongside ace Logan Webb and lefty Alex Wood. The Giants lost right-hander Kevin Gausman to the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this offseason on a $110 million, five-year deal and declined righty Johnny Cueto‘s $22 million contract option.

Wood received a $25 million, two-year contract to stay with San Francisco, which won a franchise-record 107 games last season before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series.

Rodon, who was the third overall selection in the 2014 first-year player draft out of North Carolina State, has a career record of 42-38 with a 3.79 ERA and 710 strikeouts in 121 games.

David Ortiz is This Year’s Sole Inductee into Baseball Hall of Fame

David Ortiz is a lone wolf…

The 46-year-old Dominican-American former professional baseball designated hitter and first baseman who played 20 seasons in Major League Baseball, nicknamed “Big Papi,” is the sole player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, while others like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were shut out.

David OrtizOrtiz was the only player to clear the required 75% threshold, according to results of this year’s voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Ortiz finished with 77.9% in becoming the 58th player elected in his first year of eligibility. At 46, he will also be the youngest of the 75 living members of the Hall.

“I learned not too long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot,” Ortiz said. “Man, it’s a wonderful honor to be able to get in on my first rodeo. It’s something that is very special to me.”

Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run leader; 354-game winner Clemens; 600-homer-club member Sammy Sosa; and longtime ace pitcher Curt Schilling were in their 10th and final year of eligibility in the annual BBWAA balloting.

Bonds, Sosa and Clemens posted numbers that marked them as surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famers, but they became avatars for the era of performance-enhancing drugs. While Bonds and Clemens in particular have long denied using PEDs, accusations have dogged them in the media and in books, and have been the subject of court dramas and testimony in front of Congress. In the end, about a third of the voters decided the allegations were too egregious to overlook, enough to bar their entry to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, at least via the writers’ vote.

Ortiz is a different story, despite his own PED suspicions. A 2009 story in The New York Times reported that Ortiz was among 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during a round of tests conducted in 2003. Those results were supposed to remain confidential, and the tests were done to see if the league had reached a threshold to conduct regular testing.

Ortiz has long denied that he used banned substances, and in 2016, commissioner Rob Manfred said the tests in question were inconclusive because “it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal, available over the counter and not banned under our program.”

Manfred added that during subsequent testing Ortiz “has never been a positive at any point under our program.”

When asked about those suspicions Tuesday, Ortiz said, “We had someone coming out with this one list, where you don’t know what anybody tested positive for. All of a sudden people are pointing fingers at me. But then we started being drug tested and I never tested positive. What does that tell you?”

As for the last-chance candidates, Sosa’s support never approached the threshold for election, but the cases of Bonds and Clemens were more divisive among the selectors. Both climbed over the 50% mark in 2017 only to see their support plateau in recent seasons. The tallies for their last go-arounds were 66% for Bonds and 65.2% for Clemens.

Among first-time eligibles on this year’s ballot were MLB All-Star infielder Alex Rodriguez, who finished with 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs, totals that both rank fourth all-time in their respective categories. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating baseball’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was the only other first-time eligible beyond Ortiz and Rodriguez to draw enough support to remain on the ballot.

Ortiz, widely known for his gregarious personality and endearing nickname, became the second career designated hitter to be selected via the writers’ balloting. Seattle Mariners great Edgar Martinez was the first when he was elected in 2019. A member of three World Series-winning teams in Boston, Ortiz hit 541 career home runs and added 17 more while putting together a celebrated postseason résumé.

 

“David Ortiz is the most important player to ever wear a Red Sox uniform,” Red Sox president & CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement put out by the team. “He came to Boston in relative anonymity and with his captivating personality and his formidable bat he shattered expectations and paved the franchise’s future in championships.”

Ortiz will become the second Hall of Famer from the 2004 Red Sox, who famously broke Boston’s 86-year championship drought by winning that season’s World Series, joining pitcher Pedro Martinez. He also cements his place in the pantheon of Boston sports stars like Ted Williams, Bobby Orr and Bill Russell, something he said he never thought could happen.

“When I first got to Boston, I used to look up at those guys like, ‘Wow, I don’t think you can be part of that pack at all,'” Ortiz said. “You’re talking about real legendary, real OG. But they began their career just like I did. Not with the thought that they were going to end up where they are.”

Martinez was with Ortiz on Tuesday at a gathering in the Dominican Republic, where Ortiz received news of his election. Ortiz is the fourth Dominican-born player to be elected to the Hall, joining Martinez, Juan Marichal and Vladimir Guerrero.

“I can imagine how New England feels about one of its babies getting into the Hall of Fame today,” Ortiz said. “I don’t even have to tell you about the Dominican Republic. It’s a country that breathes baseball. And people are very excited right here. Everything is going crazy right now.”

Ortiz will enter the Hall during the July 24 induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. He will join six players selected by a pair of era committees last month: Brooklyn Dodgers great Gil Hodges, Twins slugger Tony Oliva, longtime White Sox star Minnie Minoso, pitcher Jim Kaat, Black baseball pioneer Bud Fowler and Negro League legend and ambassador Buck O’Neil. All but Ortiz, Kaat and Olivo will be inducted posthumously.

In addition, late broadcaster Jack Graney will be honored as the Ford C. Frick award winner for excellence in broadcasting, while ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian will be recognized as this year’s winner of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.

With Ortiz standing as the lone winner from this year’s BBWAA balloting, the writers have now elected just one player total over the past two cycles. The sudden drought comes on the heels of a fertile period for inductees, which saw the writers select 22 players during the period from 2014 to 2020.

Joey Cora to Become Third-Base Coach for New York Mets

Joey Cora has Mets his match…

The New York Mets are on the verge of hiring the 56-year-old Puerto Rican former Major League Baseball player, who had an 11-year career in the MLB, as their new third-base coach, ESPN reports, confirming a report by the New York Post.

Joey Cora,

Cora, the older brother of Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, spent five years as third-base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates before being let go at the end of the 2021 season.

In New York, he’ll become the first coach hired under Buck Showalter, who took over as the team’s manager less than three weeks ago.

The Mets retained Jeremy Hefner as their pitching coach but are still in the process of filling vacancies at bench coach, hitting coach and first-base coach, among others.

Cora was a major league middle infielder from 1987 to 1998, making an MLB All-Star team late in his career, then transitioned into coaching shortly thereafter. Cora began as a manager in the Mets’ minor league system and later spent eight years with the Chicago White Sox under Ozzie Guillen, winning a World Series as the team’s third-base coach in 2005. Cora was also Guillen’s bench coach with the Miami Marlins in 2012 and has often interviewed for managerial jobs throughout his post-playing career.

Cora will now replace Gary DiScarcina, who was let go amid the shake-up that followed the firing of former Mets manager Luis Rojas. Rojas is now the New York Yankees‘ third-base coach, while DiSarcina has the same position with the Washington Nationals.

Houston Astros Reportedly Offer Carlos Correa a Five-Year Contract Worth $160 million

Carlos Correa has a Astro-nomical offer to consider…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball shortstop, currently a free agent, has been offered a five-year contract worth $160 million by the Houston Astros, according to reports.

Carlos Correa

Correa, whose name has been brought up by many this offseason to potentially fill the New York Yankees’ need at shortstop, slashed .279/.366/.485 this past season with 26 homers, 34 doubles and 92 RBI in 148 games for the Astros’ high-powered offense.

Selected to the MLB All-Star team in 2017 and 2021, Correa has spent seven seasons in Houston and won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 with the Astros.

The former number one overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Correa is fresh off a World Series appearance against the Atlanta Braves where he hit .261 with one double, four RBI and no home runs.

In 2017, he helped the Astros win their first championship in franchise history against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a .276 average and two home runs.

Nelson Cruz Receives Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award

Nelson Cruz is being celebrated for his charity…

The 41-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball designated hitter and right fielder for the Tampa Bay Rays has been awarded Major League Baseball‘s Roberto Clemente Award for his character, community involvement and philanthropy.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz, the 50th winner of the honor, received the award before World Series Game 2 on Wednesday night.

“Growing up as a Latin, you always heard about Roberto Clemente,” he said. “I never had a chance to see him play. I knew what a great player he was. Once I came to the States I found out, oh, he’s not only a good player, he’s a great human being.”

Cruz, a 17-year MLB veteran and seven-time MLB All-Star, provided financial support to 1,200 families in his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic, during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping feed 700 families.

After a fire destroyed the home of a childhood friend, Cruz provided the town with a fire engine, 80 firefighter uniforms and an ambulance for transportation for people to the nearest hospital, which is about an hour away.

His Boomstick23 Foundation began construction of an education and technical center last year and he will stock the center with computers to assist athletes in their education.

Cruz also organizes dentists and optometrists to go the town’s clinic for checkups, medicine and eyewear, and 500 patients received dental services last year.

He helped arrange for MLB, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the union’s Players Trust to donate $400,000 to the Dominican Republic for medical equipment and food aid during the pandemic.

“We first started with the dental clinic, and the next year we started asking how we can do the mental [health] and the eye doctors,” he said. “We started doing everything all at the same time. We even went to schools and provided kids with all the books and stuff that they need.”

Cruz was nominated by the Minnesota Twins, who traded him to the Rays  in July. He joined Hall of Famers Rod Carew (1977), Dave Winfield (1994) and Kirby Puckett (1997) as Minnesota players to win the award.