Edwin Encarnacion wanted to help.
Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz and Jose Bautista did, too.
So the White Sox’ new designated hitter teamed with the former and current MLB stars to raise more than $1 million to support the Dominican Republic and their country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 40 major-league players are from the Dominican, and the big-name trio is encouraging them to donate funds for life-saving supplies, including ventilators, masks, test kits, disposable suits, hand sanitizer, cleaning items and food. Their COVID-19 Dominican Republic Initiative was created through the Pedro Martinez Foundation.
“This idea comes because here in the Dominican every player does something for the city where he is from,” Encarnacion said on a conference call Wednesday.
There are more than 8,200 cases of the coronavirus, with 345 confirmed deaths, in the Dominican Republic. Encarnacion said there are 10 cases in La Romana and five deaths.
“Right now, in the Dominican it’s not good,” he said. “It’s getting worse.
“We’re just . . . asking God to bless all. It’s been a difficult time here in the Dominican, especially in my city, La Romana.”
Encarnacion, 37, was signed to a one-year, $12 million contract as part of the Sox’ offseason push to field a contending team in 2020, a season that is on hold because of the coronavirus. Masks are required in public spaces, and a nationwide curfew from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been extended to May 17.
Sox players Kelvin Herrera and Nomar Mazara also have contributed. They are among more than 50 players from the Dominican to pitch in.
“It’s great,” Encarnacion said. “Every guy in that group right away said, ‘Yes, I want to help.’ It’s a great feeling for us. Those players, the heart they have for giving to the community, giving back what they’ve made. I’m very proud of all those guys here in this group.
“It started with Pedro, Ortiz, Bautista and me talking on the phone. The idea came from me, I shared it with Pedro and David about getting a group of players, if we come together to help our country, because they need it now.”
Encarnacion is like everyone else, standing by and waiting for word on when or if the season will resume. Encarnacion, who has a hitting cage at his farm, has spent most of the down time with his family. He owns a facility in Santo Domingo, “so whenever they say we are going to go there, we are going to start working at the facility, a couple of guys from the Dominican.”
He said he would need about three weeks of live at-bats in a second spring training — the first one was called off March 12 because of the coronavirus — to be ready for a season.
“I’ve been getting ready, doing the things I need to be ready for whenever I get the call,” Encarnacion said. “[But] I don’t know what’s going to happen.”