ST. PETERSBURG — Leftfielder Randy Arozarena and Rangers counterpart Adolis Garcia grew up together in the Cardinals’ minor-league system.
Surrounded by talented players and fueled by a competitive spirit, Arozarena said he knew they would go far. But he said he couldn’t have envisioned eventually facing off against Garcia in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
“We’re going to forget about the rivalry,” Arozarena said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “We’re going out there as friends. We came up together –– his story, my story, playing together in another organization –– that’s what it’s really going to be about. We’re both going to be winners after this.”
While they haven’t played for the same club since December 2019, Garcia and Arozarena remain close. They text frequently, and Arozarena named Garcia the godfather of his daughter. Their close bond doesn’t mean that Arozarena will go easy on Garcia, though.
“He’s a strong hitter,” Arozarena said, “but I’m there to compete. I think I can beat him.”
Garcia and Arozarena are two of three Cuban-born players competing in Monday night’s event at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park. The third, White Sox outfielder Luis Robert Jr., told NBC Sports Chicago that Arozarena and Garcia encouraged him to participate.
Arozarena said he found out that Robert was invited to the derby late in the process and didn’t really convince him to compete but said he was excited to see two other Cuban-born players in the event.
Diaz’s All-Star plans: baby, then batting
The Rays’ Yandy Diaz is going to have a pretty momentous Tuesday.
His wife is scheduled to deliver their baby via C-section at 7 that morning. Given the All-Star Game is that night in the Pacific Time Zone and he’s the American League’s starting first baseman, Diaz is hoping to meet his son before leaving for Seattle. He plans to fly out at some point Tuesday morning, play in the game that night and fly home immediately after.
“It’s going to be such a hectic day,” Diaz said via Navarro.
Glasnow, Morton go head to head
Pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton used to sit and talk in the Rays dugout –– sometimes for so long that an entire game would fly by.
The pair won’t be chatting away during Friday’s Rays-Braves matchup, however. The friends will start for opposing teams: Glasnow for the Rays and Morton with the Braves, with whom he signed after playing for the Rays in 2019 and 2020.
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Glasnow said Morton was the “best teammate ever” when he played for the Rays.
“He was the veteran of our team and showed everyone how to act and go about their business,” Glasnow said. “He was never too up or down.”
The pair stay in touch, texting about bad starts and mechanical issues. After Friday’s matchup, Glasnow plans to catch up with Morton in person.
“He’s always a fun dude to talk to,” Glasnow said. “I miss him a ton.”
The Rays are 2-2 in extra-inning games after Thursday’s loss to the Phillies. ... Triple-A Durham second baseman Jonathan Aranda has been named International League Player of the Month after posting a .448 batting average and 1.354 OPS during 24 outings in June. … Pitcher Shane McClanahan threw on Thursday; manager Kevin Cash said he is on track to start July 16 in Kansas City. … The Rays called up reliever Ryan Thompson and optioned pitcher Luis Patino to Triple A. Thompson worked the 11th inning Thursday, when the Phillies scored two runs. … Disney Channel actress Eliana Su’a threw out Thursday’s ceremonial first pitch. Her father, Rays head of mental performance Justin Su’a, said it was “pretty special” for his daughter to promote her show at Tropicana Field. … After the Phillies swept the Rays, only two big-league teams remain that have not been swept this season: Orioles and Diamondbacks. ... Apple TV will broadcast Friday’s game against the Braves.
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