CLEVELAND -- Puerto Rico is still in a state of recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and baseball will be a part of the island's healing process.On Wednesday, members of the Indians and Twins, joined by San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, held a news conference in the commonwealth's
CLEVELAND -- Puerto Rico is still in a state of recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and baseball will be a part of the island's healing process.
On Wednesday, members of the Indians and Twins, joined by San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, held a news conference in the commonwealth's capital city to announce details of the April 17-18 series between the teams at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. The games, which will be the first MLB regular-season contests in Puerto Rico since 2010, are scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Paul Dolan, chairman and CEO of the Indians, was in attendance in San Juan, along with Indians catcher and Puerto Rico native Roberto Perez and former Tribe great Carlos Baerga. Minnesota players Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas also took the stage Wednesday, alongside Dave St. Peter, the president and CEO of the Twins. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. also hail from Puerto Rico.
• Prep continues for Tribe-Twins series in PR
"We're delighted to be a part of the messaging to the world that San Juan is open and ready for business," Dolan said. "We're thrilled to be part of this."
Information on purchasing tickets, which are expected to go on sale Saturday, was not immediately available.
Major League Baseball announced a $1 million contribution to assist communities impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico. MLB's contribution is being directed to immediate relief and long-term rebuilding efforts through a variety of organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Project C.U.R.E., The U.S. Fund for UNICEF and more nonprofits to be named later.
Additionally, MLB will fund travel for physicians and other medical personnel as part of a special effort to provide direct medical assistance to affected communities.
When Maria -- classified as a Category 5 hurricane -- made landfall Sept. 20, Perez and Lindor were with the Indians in Anaheim for a series against the Angels. They lost communication with members of their respective families for multiple days, and felt relief to later learn of their safety. The home of Perez's mother was severely damaged in the violent storm, and the catcher made several trips to Puerto Rico this winter to visit family and help with their recovery.
Perez expressed excitement about the series against the Twins in April, and having the opportunity to provide the people of Puerto Rico with a welcomed distraction.
"It's a blessing to be here and playing in front of our family and in front of our fans and the people of Puerto Rico," Perez said at the news conference. "Puerto Rico is going through a lot. There's people with no power, no water, everything. But, we're here. These two games, it's very special. It's going to mean a lot to everybody here in Puerto Rico. Hopefully, we bring a lot of excitement and hopefully you guys enjoy it. I think we can't wait.
"When [it] was during the season last year and Puerto Rico got hit by the hurricane, I was already thinking about next year. Now that it's going to happen, I think we're very blessed and hopefully we bring what you guys need, a lot of joy."
Perez and Lindor were a part of the Puerto Rican team that finished as the runner-up in the World Baseball Classic last spring. In early December, they also participated in a charity event hosted by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. There was a celebrity softball game and a home run derby with more than 20,000 fans in attendance, and more than $200,000 raised for hurricane relief.
Last week, the Puerto Rican Winter League opened with an abbreviated schedule, which will have games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan and Isidoro Garcia Stadium in Mayaguez, where Perez was raised. Other stadiums around the island are unable to host games yet due to damage. The games that are scheduled will be played in the afternoon due to continued power issues.
Cruz said at the news conference that Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which is still undergoing repairs amidst the winter league games, is expected to be ready by the end of March to host the Major League teams. MLB recently had officials tour the facilities, and is also working with the MLB Players' Association to explore possible community outreach events around the series in April.
"I want to thank both of you," Cruz said at the conference, "the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians -- I love that movie, 'Major League' -- because you have shown an enormous commitment to Puerto Rico."