Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Hector Velazquez said Wednesday he would opt out of the team’s planned trip to the White House because of President Trump’s previous comments about Mexico and Mexicans.
Velazquez, the only Mexican on Boston’s latest World Series-winning team, told MassLive he “would rather not offend anyone” in his home country by visiting President Trump, who has repeatedly disparaged Mexican and Central and South American migrants crossing the southern border.
“I made the choice not to go because, as we know, the president has said a lot of stuff about Mexico,” Velazquez said Wednesday through a translator, according to the site. “And I have a lot of people in Mexico that are fans of me, that follow me. And I’m from there. So I would rather not offend anyone over there.”
A number of Boston players have already said they would not be part of a White House visit to celebrate the franchise’s ninth World Series title, not always specifying their reasoning. Reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts said in December he’d skip the visit. Third baseman Rafael Devers and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. also said they would not attend.
Manager Alex Cora originally said he would use a visit to raise the plight of Puerto Ricans still struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Maria, but has since hedged on his position, saying in January, “we’ll see what happens.”
The Red Sox, who defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games last fall, were originally set to visit the White House on Feb. 15, but that visit was moved because of the government shutdown. Their visit is now set for May 9 at the end of a three-game road series in Baltimore.
But Velazquez said he won’t be part of the Red Sox contingent after taking issue with some of Trump’s remarks about Mexicans.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said during his campaign kickoff speech. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Velazquez told MassLive that description does not fit with his view of his home country.
“If people want to get to know Mexicans and the kind of people we are, I invite them to go to Mexico and see the people that are over there,” Velazquez said through the translator. “The narrative is that Mexicans are crossing over. But it’s not just Mexicans. It’s people from Honduras and Guatemala and all over South America that have to go through Mexico to get here. So that’s another piece. But again, if anyone wants to get to know Mexicans and get to know the kind of people we are, I’m not the only one, like you said, that’s hard working. The country is full of people that are like that. And if they want to know, then they should go.
“And I feel like the people who do come here are people who are trying to work hard and provide for their families and not cause any trouble for anybody. I think that’s another important piece, too."
The Washington Capitals last month became the latest sports franchise to celebrate a title at the White House, although their visit was also marked by absences. Goaltender Braden Holtby and forwards Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly, who are all Canadian, did not go on the visit with their teammates due to disagreements with Trump.
Trump canceled the 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ visit to the White House after some players said they wouldn’t attend. The Golden State Warriors haven’t visited the White House after either of their two most recent NBA titles. The Pittsburgh Penguins twice visited the Trump White House, as did the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros, who won the 2017 World Series.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Velazquez’s last name.
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