Quintana becomes citizen ahead of Opening Day start

March 21st, 2024

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As Mets players scattered to various Florida locales on Wednesday, fulfilling the obligations of a complicated end-of-spring schedule, starting pitcher had a unique itinerary. Quintana left camp to take his naturalization test in Miami. He passed -- “It was easy,” he said with a smile -- and is now an American citizen.

“I’m just waiting for my passport,” Quintana said.

For the past six years or so, the Colombian-born Quintana has been living in the Miami area on a green card. His wife, Michell, received her citizenship three weeks ago, while his youngest daughter, Alana, was born in the States and is automatically an American citizen. His oldest daughter, 8-year-old Ariana, is studying to receive her citizenship as well.

Quintana began considering the option once he hit five years on his green card, which made him eligible to apply for naturalization. Waiting, he said, was indeed the hardest part; Quintana feared the schedule not working in his favor, which might have forced him to travel to Miami during the season to take the test like his former teammate Eduardo Escobar did last year.

“That was my only concern,” Quintana said. “I waited more than six months to get that appointment. … I didn’t want to get that appointment in the middle of the season and talk to the front office to get a day to go. So it was perfect.”

Upon passing, Quintana and his family celebrated with a trip to Cirque du Soleil. When he returned to the clubhouse on Thursday morning, teammates greeted him with hugs and handshakes to celebrate the accomplishment.

“I had a lot of time to study,” Quintana said. “It was easy questions, and it was fun.”

This has been a big month for Quintana, whom the Mets recently named their Opening Day starter. He will make his final spring tune-up this week before taking the mound for the first time as an American citizen March 28 at Citi Field.

One of the most accomplished Colombian-born baseball players in history, Quintana is part of a group that includes Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera. He pitched for Colombia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and became the winningest pitcher in his country’s history the following year. In total, only 31 Colombian-born players have reached the Majors.

The Colombian government recognized Quintana in 2013 as a part of “100 Colombianos,” an honor the president bestows annually to 100 citizens living and working abroad who serve as examples of perseverance and success for the South American nation.