Omar Carrizales, a lefty, has six hits in his last 10 at bats after managing just two in seven games. When he focuses on correcting what he calls an off-balance swing, any worry that something could happen to his family seems to go away -- but only for a moment.
He’s the only player on the Hartford Yard Goats from Venezuela -- a country struggling under authoritarian rule.
“They can’t get you,” Carrizales said, “but they still can get your family, so that’s a big problem for us and big league players.”
Wilson Ramos – a catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays -- was abducted back in 2011 and rescued two days later. Miguel Cabrera, Major League Baseball’s Most Valuable Player twice over, said he’s tired of being threatened by people in his country.
Cabrera was born in Maracay, the same place that Carrizales grew up in – which is about two hours from the capital, Caracas. The Yard Goats player said that baseball players are routinely threatened because Venezuelan gangsters know they have money.
Carrizales also said that the best way to avoid trouble is to be a-political.
“If you are in your home,” Carrizales said, “you’re not going to be in trouble. You’re not going to be in danger. But if you go out and protest, it’s going to be dangerous.”
The Rockies brought Carrizales to America about four years ago. He lives here alone, without his mother, father, 15-year-old sister, or anybody from his family, for that matter. He knows that if he gets to the major leagues and makes a lot of money, he could be a target. But he looks at success as an opportunity to bring his family to the United States -- and away from a dangerous situation.
“I just try to get better,” Carrizales said, “and get money to bring my family here because I don’t want to be in that situation like Wilson Ramos and all those other guys.”
According to The New York Times, at least 120 Venezuelans have died protesting the Maduro government this year.