Sox star Avi Garcia supports legend Luis Aparicio’s stand for country

MIAMI — Somebody stopped White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia during batting practice before his first All-Star Game on Tuesday and handed him a hat with his home country’s World Baseball Classic logo on it.

He quickly took his Sox hat off and proudly wore the Venezuela hat until he left the field for the clubhouse after BP.

“That’s right, Venezuela! The best,” he said. “All my family’s there. It’s tough. We just want to get past the situation there. There are great people in Venezuela. I think we’re going to be fine.”

Garcia is part of a tight fraternity of players who take the biggest midseason stage in their professions with especially heavy hearts because of the escalating violence and political turmoil that have cost dozens of lives in Venezuela.

Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio is honored during the 2005 World Series with other players from the Sox' 1959 pennant winner.

“Only God knows what’s going to happen,” Royals catcher Salvador Perez said.

The reports of anti-government protests in Venezuela have made international headlines for months, with at least 92 reported dead and more than 1,500 injured. The fact the game is in Miami, with the most thriving international Latin culture in the United States, only underscores the intersection of real-life problems and this baseball game.

The point was driven home when Sox legend Luis Aparicio tweeted in Spanish on Tuesday that he would decline MLB’s invitation to join a tribute to Latin American greats because he could not “celebrate while the youth of my country die fighting for ideals of freedom.”

“I saw that, and I’m with him,” Garcia said. “Like he says, in Venezuela, it’s terrible right now. Today we’re just trying to have fun and enjoy it because it’s our moment. We can’t control what happens in Venezuela, but we want a better future. And that’s why he said that, because we’re not here for a party, not here to celebrate.”

 

During pregame introductions, Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte held up a large Venezuelan flag, a sign of solidarity with Aparicio.

“I support him,” Perez said. “We all support him.”

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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