Cuban Tampa Bay Rays player Yandy Díaz is having his best year as a professional baseball player. His blazing start led to him being the starting first baseman for the American League team in the 2023 All-Star Game.
Yandy not only participated in the Mid-Season Classic this year that was played the T-Mobile Park, the home of the Seattle Mariners, but the native of Sagua La Grande in Villa Clara, Cuba made history by becoming the first Cuban baseball player to hit a home run in a All-Star Game.
Currently “La Arañita”, as he is known in the baseball world (nickname acquired by his father Jorge Díaz “La Araña”), is hitting .318 and is the leader of the American League in this statistical category ahead of the Toronto shortstop Blue Jays, Bo Bichette (.316). Plus, he also leads the junior circuit with a .401 OBP slightly edging phenom Shoei Ohtani at .398.
His offensive and defensive prowess have put him in the echelon of the star players and he has a great shot at winning a batting title, but his objective is clear, he only thinks about winning the World Series.
This 2023 has been a very good year for Yandy, All-Star Game, your first child, your big good contract. Tell us a little about what this year has been like for you in general.
“This year has been blessed one for me, mainly because of my the birth of my boy who, thank God, is with me now, the nice contract they gave me, thanks to Tampa for that too, you know, and my play of the field on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. This year is going to be unforgettable for me because it has driven me to do so many things”.
You left Cuba and managed to sign with Cleveland. Did it ever cross your mind that you could be in an All-Star Game?
“When I left Cuba I didn’t even think I could sign with an organization, but thanks to my effort and dedication in the Dominican Republic I was able to sign with Cleveland. Cleveland gave me the opportunity to go up to the Major Leagues, it didn’t give me the chance to play every day; but hey, I’m grateful to them. When they traded me here (Tampa Bay Rays) thank God I was able to play every day and I was able to show the talent that I have. I never thought I would reach an All-Star Game, but as the year started I set my mind to it, I trained harder every day and Thank God I was able to go to that All-Star Game.”
Regarding that All-Star Game, when talking about talent, there were eight (8) players born in Cuba, 8 players who played in the National Series. When you see that what does that about Cuban baseball as a whole?
“You know that Cuban baseball has always had talent. Right now in Cuba, I say, there isn’t much talent, the cupboard is bare, but hey, Cuba has always developed good talent and it is showing it with all those Cuban baseball players who are in the Major Leagues today. And even more so in this All-Star Game this year and I guarantee that the eight of us there were representing the Cuban flag with tremendous pride.”
The Rays always seem to reach the playoffs and although there is a long season to go you are not at best right now. What does Yandy think the team has to do or is it simply that the season is too long?
“You know, everyone in their personal life has ups and downs. Now it was our turn to have a down. You know that at the beginning we started by killing all the teams; but well this is a long season, now it seems that we are simply slumping. We have to stay positive, it doesn’t matter that we are losing all these games, later it will all turnaround. Our goal is to win the World Series and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Is it Yandy Díaz’s goal to finish the American League Batting Champion?
“No, you know, I’m a person who doesn’t like to look at my statistics. I’m just a player who likes to play for my team and the main goal, I’ll repeat is to win the World Series. Whether or not I win the batting title will not impact me in any way. I’m just going to try to finish healthy and help the team in whatever it takes.”
I don’t know if you are aware of what happened with the Robeysi Ramírez fight, what happened with the flag, the Anthem, etc. What does Yandy Díaz think about that?
“Good for him, I feel happy for him because once again he put the Cuban people above everyone. Aside from those shameless people at the Cuban Embassy over there that didn’t want him to sing the National Anthem, but the National Anthem belongs to all Cubans wherever they are. That’s why I feel happy for him because he put us Cubans above all.”