Felix Doubront, Edward Mujica, Jonathan Herrera among Venezuelans thinking of their brothers and sisters at home

Mike Petraglia
February 24, 2014 - 8:22 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With unrest tearing apart their capital city thousands of miles and another hemisphere away, Red Sox players with ties to their homeland of Venezuela showed their solidarity Monday with protesters speaking out against socialist President Nicolas Maduro. There were barricades of pipes, trash and branches burning in the streets and the sound of banging of pots and pans in support of the protest movement against the country's leader Monday. Traffic came to a halt in many parts of Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, as opposition protesters continued their campaign of nearly two weeks to demand changes to address rampant crime, food shortages and few jobs. The protest was not nearly as strong or stark in Fort Myers but six Venezuelan players in camp with the Red Sox all offered their support and sympathy. Manager John Farrell said he has been in touch with his players and offered support on behalf of the organization. "Very [supportive] because we do have a good number of players that do come from Venezuela and the pitchers that we've already met with one-on-one," Farrell said. "We're trying to get a feel for if their families are affected by it. And it seems like those players hail from areas a little bit further away from the big cities, Caracas in particular. It's unfortunate with what they're having to deal with there but, again, we're sympathetic. If there are ever any needs that we can help with, we'll certainly take a look at those. But, it's unfortunate their families have to contend with something that is completely out of their control." Two of those players figure prominently in the team's pitching plans and were at work throwing live batting practice on Monday morning. Felix Doubront and Edward Mujica were among the group of players that stood in solidarity with others Monday holding a Venezuelan flag. "We care about the people in the streets right now," Mujica said Monday. "It's big support from major league players right now. The good thing is my family is safe right now. There is no one in the center of the city. We live in a little town away from the city. They're safe right now but they're just keeping an eye on it. I call my family every single day and see what's going on and try to get some news. "I live in Miami. All my family members came down to be with me. It's dangerous and it's crazy to go out there and put yourself in a bad situation but the thing is it has to be different so players can go there and play winter ball and be more safe. It's unbelievable. I think everybody in Minnesota [camp in Fort Myers] feels the same thing, trying to support them." Infielder Jonathan Herrera is the only position player on the 40-man roster who hails from Venezuela. "It's not easy because you think about your family and you see the news and see everything happening over there," Herrera said. "But you need to go practice and focus and be ready to play baseball. But at the same time you have in the back of your mind [whether] your family home safe so that's kind of difficult. "The things out in the street, every city is kind of dangerous right now. A lot of things happen in the streets so you don't know what's going to happen." Righthander Brayan Villarreal, left-hander Jose Mijares and infielder Heiker Meneses also call Venezuela home and are in camp as non-roster invitees. Meneses and Mijares hail from Caracas.