Escobar leaves camp for U.S. naturalization test

March 1st, 2017
Yunel Escobar, who defected from Cuba in 2004, was drafted by the Braves a year later. (Getty Images)Rob Tringali/Getty Images

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Third baseman left Angels camp on Wednesday to take a United States naturalization test in Miami, manager Mike Scioscia said.

Escobar defected from Cuba in 2004 as a 21-year-old and endured a perilous, three-day journey to Florida on a 32-foot boat. He opened up about his harrowing escape in a lengthy interview with the Washington Post in 2015. Escobar reportedly spent eight months living with smugglers in Miami until the Braves selected him in the second round of the 2005 Draft and used part of his signing bonus to pay their "referral" fee.

Escobar, now 34, made his Major League debut with Atlanta in 2007 and had stints with the Blue Jays, Rays and Nationals before being acquired by the Angels ahead of the '16 season. He is scheduled to take the test on Thursday and is expected back in Tempe on Friday.

"I think especially with his background of how he got to this country, he feels connected with it and wants to become a U.S. citizen," Scioscia said.

Worth noting

, who has been slowed by a groin injury, returned to action and was slated to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. Bedrosian is fighting to be the Angels' closer this spring, alongside veterans and .

started at third base in place of Escobar in Wednesday's game against the Rangers. Marte, 25, has been used at the corner infield spots early this spring, but Scioscia said he'll continue to get exposure in left field in the coming weeks. Marte played left field for the first time in his career in 2016, making 27 appearances there for the Angels last year.

"That's part of his versatility is being able to play him out there," Scioscia said. "We're getting him acclimated early on at first and third base. Once we feel like he's ready to go, he'll start to move out to left field and get some work out there."

is scheduled to make his first start of the spring on Friday against the Brewers. He'll be followed by on Saturday and on Sunday.