The Asheville Tourists started the season last week with 23 new players donning the navy jersey. Three of the new recruits, Daniel Motano, Javier Guevara, and Alfredo Garcia are from Venezuela, where political unrest has spiraled into a humanitarian crisis.
Last week, was a whirlwind for outfielder Daniel Montano and his teammates. Their plane landed in Asheville on Monday, and they played their opening night game on Thursday.
“It feels good. It’s a little different, because of the weather. It’s not the same as in my country -- but the team feels good,” Montano said.
“Se siente bien. Hay un poco diferente por el clima. Que no es igual en mi país. El equipo, se siente bien.”
Montano and the team just completed spring training in Arizona. Last season, he played for the rookie-ball Grand Junction Rockies. Before that, he was home in Maracay, Venezuela. His family is still there, and given the political and civil unrest, it’s a source of anxiety for Montano.
“I try not to think about it. right now, we’re focused on baseball. But it doesn’t feel good, to know your country isn’t well, and your family isn’t close by,” Montano said.
“Yo trato de no pensar en eso. Estamos ahorita enfocado en beisbol, en el season. Pero no se siente bien, que tu pais no este bien y tu familia ni cercano en la mañana.“
Political upheaval in Venezuela has escalated in recent months. The increasingly authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro has led international organizations, like Human Rights Watch, to urge the United Nations to declare a full-scale humanitarian emergency.
“Right now, the problem is the lights. and there’s no food,” catcher Javier Guevara said.
“Ahorita hay un problema, la luz. No hay nada que la comida.”
He’s from Valencia. He says his family is struggling with the blackouts, which have caused food shortages and limited access to clean water. It’s forcing thousands of Venezuelans to flee the country. Guevara says his family is trying to survive it out.
“Bastante como preocupado, por la familia. No estoy bien...pero hay que saberlo trabajar, porque si uno trae ese problema aquí, son dos problemas.”
“I’m pretty worried about my family. all of my family is there, and they’re not doing well...but you have to know how to work it. if you bring this problem here, then you’ll have two problems.”
The 21-year old Guevara and Daniel Montano, who just turned 20, both say they’re trying to keep the faith -- and play good baseball.
Asheville Tourists spokesperson Dough Maurer says since they signed with the Rockies as teenagers, their move to Asheville is a sign they're continuing to climb the ranks, in hopes to one day make the Rockies MLB team.