“I like to play.”
Eduardo Escobar has become my favorite Venezuelan player of 2014: given an opportunity to play because of an injury to regular shortstop Pedro Florimin, E-squared has played not only shortstop, but third base, and two of the outfield positions. “I am ready, whatever position,” he said recently. “I like to play.”
HOW refreshing is that? That’s a real baseballer—no whining because he doesn’t get to play his favorite position. After a week of infield play, Escobar played centerfield against the Indians tonight—and had two outfield assists (he threw out one runner at home via a relay, and one at second base). Even taking an 0-for-5 collar, he provided a run for the visitors on a groundout RBI.
Escobar’s emergence from relative big-league obscurity at age 25 has me excited. Monday, listening to an MLB wrap-up on the radio, I did a major fist-pump when they announced his game-winning, 10th-inning home run.
The Twins simply cannot afford to take his bat out of the lineup. Meanwhile, they’ve sent Opening Day SS Florimin to the minors to “find his swing.”
Manager Ron Gardenhire, a former all-rounder himself in a MLB career with the New York Mets, said it best on the MLB website. “You need versatility, and he brings that to us. He’s a pretty uplifting kid, big smile, runs around. Really likes baseball, and it shows.” Gardenhire should know: a short, five-year career with New York in the early 1980s was punctuated by injuries and a willingness to play any infield position available: Escobar is a man after his own heart.
A quick internet search will show you that Escobar’s hometown of Villa de Cura, in Aragua state, is home to one of the country’s best boys’ choirs, niños cantores de villa cura. And Mr. Escobar is singing for his supper right now, and very well, thank you.
Escobar had a head-start, as some of his compatriots still do, by playing during the North American winter, back home in Venezuela, for the Caribes of Anzoátegui (they’re owned by former MLB star Magglio Ordoñez.) The team made the final of the Venezuelan series this year, led by Escobar’s play. They play their home games in Puerto la Cruz’s Estadio Alfonso Chico Carrasquel, named for the local hero and shortstop who was Venezuela’s first star in the Major Leagues. Something tells me Chico would be proud watching Eduardo Escobar play.
This is a photo of Eduardo clearly enjoying the game. It’s courtesy of Associated Press, so I’ll just provide the link: