Adolis' bond with friend Arozarena deepens even with Derby defeat

July 11th, 2023

SEATTLE -- Randy Arozarena jumped into the arms of an exhausted behind home plate at T-Mobile Park on Monday night, living in the moment with his good friend. 

García fell in the first round of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, 24-17, to Arozarena -- his good friend and former teammate -- but it was still an unforgettable experience for the two All-Stars, who have a long history together.

“It was just a great and exciting experience,” García said through Rangers team translator Raul Cardenas. “We’re very, very grateful that we got to do that, and we're very very proud to be a part of it. I’m also very proud of my buddy Randy.”

When Arozarena won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2021, he let everybody know he was sharing the honor with his friend García, the Rangers outfielder who finished fourth in the balloting. Arozarena fell just short of being able to share another honor, the 2023 Home Run Derby crown with García as well, as he fell, 25-23, in the final round against Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“It’s just very, very nice that we get to do that together,” Garcia said, “and I’m very grateful that we get to play together on the same field again.”

From playing against each other while growing up in Cuba to being roommates during their first Spring Training as members of the Cardinals' organization in 2017 to both of their breakout MLB seasons in recent years as members of different clubs, they share a special bond.

“Adolis is kind of like my brother, so much that I named him the godfather of my daughter,” Arozarena said via Rays interpreter Manny Navarro. “I think God placed us intentionally on the same team because we were actually roommates together after we signed.

“The story that he's come up and the way that I've come up, we've actually given ourselves a lot of advice. We give each other mutual advice, and I'm happy that when he accomplishes anything, he's just as happy when I accomplish stuff.

“The funny part is, even though this game is a competition against one another, we were actually just giving each other advice, as well. But to see him, he's been left as a free agent in the past. He even didn't have a job during the pandemic. To see him grow in that aspect has been really nice.”

The two talk every day, García said. Topics range from baseball to family and everything in between.

With a connection so strong, it’s only right the two will not only start alongside each other Tuesday in the All-Star Game, but they were also able to compete against each other in the first round of the Home Run Derby. It is García’s second All-Star appearance and Arozarena’s first, but the first time either participated in the Derby.

“I feel very happy to be able to compete with him,” Arozarena said. “We're obviously really good friends. We talk to each other a lot. Actually, the word hadn't come out that he was participating, out yet in public, but he had told me that he was going to compete. So I told him back, 'Hopefully, we're not going against each other.'”

But even when competing directly against each other, the tone didn’t change too much. The friendly competition remained, though Arozarena acknowledged the obvious power in García’s 205-pound frame.

García joked before the Derby that he would definitely be able to beat Arozarena. He wasn’t wrong to think so, as his 23 regular-season homers surpasses his friend’s 16 so far, despite how Monday night ended for him. 

“We're going to forget about the rivalry," García said before the Home Run Derby. "We're going out there just again as friends. We came up together -- his story, my story, playing together in another organization. I think that's what it's really going to be about. And I think we're both going to be winners after this.” Rays beat reporter Adam Berry contributed to this report.