ST. PETERSBURG — Before they switched sports, fled Cuba and became professionals in the United States, Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena was the soccer player in the family while Raiko preferred the diamond.
So it wasn’t that big of a reach for Raiko, now a goalkeeper for the Rowdies, to put on (bright yellow) cleats, step up to the plate and join his older brother in taking batting practice for about 15 minutes Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. After some adjustments, he hit two balls over the fence.
“It was definitely a lot harder than I thought,” Raiko Arozarena said via Rays interpreter and batting practice pitcher Manny Navarro. “(Randy) kept telling me that, ‘You won’t be able to take one out.’ I kept saying that, “I could, I could.’ In all reality, it was a little tougher.”
Raiko, 25, attends Rays games when his schedule allows and said he has an even greater appreciation for how skilled his brother and other big-leaguers are. “I learn a lot,” he said.
Randy, 27, said having Raiko alongside him at the Trop “makes me very happy. It’s something very special being able to share a major-league baseball field. Growing up, we played all the games together.”
Will Randy now slip over to Al Lang Stadium one day and take some shots at Raiko? Turns out, he already did, before spring training started.
“I made some penalty kicks,” Randy said, “but once I got a little further out I wasn’t able to score of him.”
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