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José Orlando Berríos and Javier Báez.
José Orlando Berríos and Javier Báez. (David Villafañe Ramos)

Toa Baja - Javier Báez and José Berrios have very different profiles in Major League Baseball and belong to different organizations, but both share the same concern in times of the coronavirus pandemic: they are desperate to play.

The MBL 2020 season was put on hold when the final stretch of spring training was interrupted in March and the start of the season was postponed.

"It's been very difficult because we're training and we don't know when," said Báez, who plays for the Chicago Cubs.

"We're training and we're trying to stay ready, but we don't want to exploit ourselves either. We don't want to train too much for when they call us, in three weeks, two weeks or two days, because we don't know, we can be ready because there is no other option but to play. And if you're not ready, injuries come," Báez said yesterday.

Minnesota Twins pitcher Berrios said, "We don't know when we're leaving or when (the season) is going to start, and that's the problem".

They both want to play, but at the same time, they are worried about what will happen to their families once the season resumes.

Among the options, Major League Baseball (MLB) is considering is playing in one or two places in Arizona and Florida, with the players of all teams staying in hotels.

When Báez was asked if he would rather have the season canceled, his answer was immediate.

"We actually just really want to play. I'm desperate because I'm not playing and I feel weird at home doing nothing. Obviously, we have more time with our families, but we also got used to the time we had out there to play. We need to play, in whatever way we can, but it should work for everyone," Báez said.

"I'm honestly a person who deals with whatever happens. But when you talk about family you think differently. I don't think I should go to Arizona or any state without my family. And it's a decision they're making, but it's going to be very difficult because I'm not the only one with a family," said Báez, a father of a young boy.

"It's not going be comfortable, in a hotel with three kids locked up and they can't get out and can' t understand it either. I'm not going without my family," Báez said.

Berrios, father of three, doesn't want to go through what he experienced in 2017 after Hurricane María since his family was in Puerto Rico while he was with the Twins traveling around the United States from city to city.

"The problem will be the distance. As it happened in 2017, with the tragedy here and we were in the United States. We were able to do (efforts to help) but not the way we wanted. And as he (Báez) says, if we are with our families we have more control," added Berrios, whose wife is Baez's partner´s sister.

He fears something may happen to his loved ones in Puerto Rico while he is not here to help them.

"It's not the same if they are with me in Arizona, 15 minutes away, if something happens, I can be there for my family".

Playing winter ball not ruled out

Looking ahead to what may happen later in the year, both players know that the Major League Baseball season will not be a complete one and therefore neither would rule out playing on the island in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (LBPRC, Spanish acronym), like other Puerto Ricans in the Major League, such as Yadier Molina, Christian Vázquez and Martín "Machete" Maldonado, as well as pitchers Alex Claudio and José de León and the Dodgers' Kike Hernández, among others, have expressed on social media.

"I'd like to. I played here in Puerto Rico (with the Cangrejeros de Santurce). If we play, it will be very different and more motivating than when I played in 2015 and 2016," said Báez, aware that several Puerto Rican players have expressed interest in coming here. "But it depends on the teams in Puerto Rico, on Molina, and we also have to agree on that with our Major League teams".

Molina has been an important voice in bringing talent together, especially as it happened before to the 2017 World Baseball Classic where Puerto Rico was runner-up. Since before that, Puerto Ricans in Major League keep in touch in a private chat, and on multiple occasions, the players have told how they encourage each other through those conversations, even in the middle of the Major League Baseball season.

"If I get the chance I'll play too. Because I also have to be ready for next year's Classic, and spring training".

Berríos doesn't want to be left behind, but he needs to know what the Twins will say.

"We'll do it as long as our teams agree. We understand that with the time left, we will not exceed innings, and (Báez) runs".