Red Sox duo goes all out, brings in mariachi band as part of presentation on Mexico

February 27th, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox camp was spiced up on Monday morning by the presence of a mariachi band that performed in the clubhouse and later on the field while the club conducted stretching exercises.

How did this unique Spring Training development come about?

Boston manager Alex Cora, in a clear team-building exercise, instructed Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran to do a presentation on Mexico in advance of the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Verdugo, the veteran, took charge and spoke to the team about the country his father, Joe, was born in. Many of Verdugo’s family members still live in Mexico.

“It was on, I think Friday, when we got hit with it,” said Verdugo. “AC had a meeting and at the end of it, asked me and Duran to do a presentation on Mexico. I just got the ball rolling and obviously I knew I had to make a poster with some facts on it. But I think the big thing that kind of got everybody excited was having the mariachi band here.”

The band played Verdugo’s walkup song, “Volver, Volver” by Vicente Fernández, to rave reviews.

But here is the real question: How does one find a mariachi band in Fort Myers?

“Google. You just Google them and we found them,” Verdugo said. “They were out of Cape Coral. They were able to drive out here and help me out. It was great. They were great, honestly. I was a little nervous, obviously being in Fort Myers and I was like, ‘I hope they’re good,’ you know what I mean? But they were great and it came out really good.”

Duran’s father, Octavio, is also from Mexico, and the two outfielders will both wear the Mexico uniform with pride in the upcoming Classic. Playing in Pool C, Team Mexico opens in Phoenix on March 11 against Team Colombia.

“We did our part. [Verdugo] did a lot of the research,” said Duran, who had a double and an impressive opposite-field homer over the Monster in Monday’s 4-1 win over the Twins. “I just had a little acting skit going. I was doing some acting on the side.”

While the music stole the show, it was just part of the presentation. Verdugo felt like a student preparing a social studies project. He put together a poster board highlighting several historical facts about Mexico and noted them during his oral presentation.

“I got done with the game [on Sunday] and I didn't leave here until 6 p.m.,” Verdugo said. “I was taking advantage of the printers and everything that they have here. It was hard work, but it felt good and it was rewarding to kind of see the guys, the clubhouse, everybody, just really enjoy it. It was fun.”

And as just about any student can relate to, the most unnerving part of the project for Verdugo was the speaking part.

“Yeah, I felt so nervous. I don't usually mind talking in front of the group if it’s all just jokes and fun. But as soon as I had to be a little bit serious, my heart was racing,” Verdugo said. “I was more nervous there than I was in the postseason or any type of baseball atmosphere.”

Professor Cora sounded ready to give the two players an A for their efforts. The presentation included fast facts and visuals about several things, including the Mexican flag, the history of chocolate in the country, a selection of local beers, and an homage to former baseball stars Fernando Valenzuela and Vinny Castilla.

“Dugie, he’s been here since ’20. He's an important part of what we're trying to accomplish and you see what he's done physically and where he's at,” Cora said. “And obviously Jarren is a kid that we appreciate and we expect a lot from him. And just for them to step up and be [out of their comfort zone] doing this [was good]. They did their research. And it was actually a great day for us in the clubhouse.”

Cora indicated some other World Baseball Classic participants could be on the clock soon.

“Maybe next week, we'll get somebody else. We’ve got a few guys who are going to the tournament,” said Cora. “I'll probably tell Kiké [Hernández] to do something to talk about Puerto Rico, so we'll see.”

On Monday, Verdugo left the ballpark in a care-free mood, much like a student who didn’t have any homework.