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Rays’ Randy Arozarena joins Cuban players in showing support for homeland

Rays notes | The outfielder sported a T-shirt and shared his first public comments on the “unfortunate” situation.
Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena, left, and infielder Yandy Diaz, right, join Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, center, in showing support for citizens of their native Cuba.
Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena, left, and infielder Yandy Diaz, right, join Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, center, in showing support for citizens of their native Cuba. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times ]
Published Jul. 29
Updated Jul. 29

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena on Wednesday joined other big-leaguers from Cuba in publicly showing concern over deteriorating conditions under the current government.

Arozarena sported a T-shirt, provided by Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and also worn by Rays teammate Yandy Diaz, supporting the protests in Cuba, and spoke publicly for the first time on the situation.

“It’s been unfortunate to see,” Arozarena said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “You see a lot of people losing their rights, and people losing their lives.

“Fortunately, I’ve had the option to be able, that I could leave. I spent eight hours on a boat and I was able to come out here in the country where it’s free. I’m able to say what I wish and do what I want. And I just want the same for my people in Cuba, as well.”

The saying on the shirt, patria y vida, means “homeland and life,” and is featured in a recent hip-hop song by exiled Cuban musicians to draw attention to the cause. It is a play off the slogan introduced during the 1950s Cuban revolution, patria o muerte, which means “homeland or death.”

Some Cuban players have written messages of support on their caps; Diaz had SOS #Cuba on his. Arozarena said when Chapman sent over the T-shirt he decided to wear it on the field during batting practice.

“For me, it’s just the form of freedom, and I want to let everybody know that I’m here to support that, as well,” Arozarena said. “I’m a native from there, so I just want the freedom for everyone to be able to have that freedom to do what they want, as well.”

Pete Fairbanks, Nelson Cruz have injury issues

Reliever Pete Fairbanks was removed from Wednesday’s game against the Yankees after throwing seven pitches in the 10th inning. The team said it was right-shoulder inflammation and further evaluation was planned for Thursday. Manager Kevin Cash said Fairbanks looked fined throwing, but when pitching coach Kyle Snyder made a mound visit, Fairbanks said his shoulder “wasn’t feeling that good.” … Newly acquired designated hitter Nelson Cruz struck out as a pinch-hitter in the 10th after being scratched from the starting lineup due to a bruise on his right foot sustained when he fouled a ball off it during Tuesday’s game. The Rays seemed confident he won’t be out long as X-rays showed no fracture. “I think he’s fine,” Cash said pregame. “Just sore and some swelling in there. The swelling has gone down to the bottom of his foot. He got it pretty good.’'

Trade deadline update

With the 4 p.m. Friday trade deadline approaching, the Rays appeared to be all talk and no action Wednesday, with starting-pitching help presumably their No. 1 target. Another option would be to add a reliever, with Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel the top candidate on the market. The Yankees reportedly were close to finalizing a big deal, acquiring lefty slugger Joey Gallo from Texas.

Miscellany

• The Rays lost their first series at home since mid-May, fell to 5-10 in extra innings, and have lost three straight for the first time since June 30-July 3.

• The Rays received good reports on right-hander Chris Archer’s solid rehab outing for Triple-A Durham on Tuesday — one hit over 3⅔ scoreless innings, throwing 59 pitches. Cash said that Archer, out since early April with forearm tightness, will make a fifth start Sunday and possibly another after that.

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