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Escobar earns Green Card, Twins throw party

Twins infielder takes step toward becoming U.S. citizen
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

ANAHEIM -- Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar will never forget Memorial Day 2017.

Escobar flew to Miami on Monday for his final interview as part of his process to get a Green Card in his quest to become a U.S. citizen. It was a major step for the Venezuela-born Escobar and his family, who make their offseason home in Miami, and he now must wait five years to apply for U.S. citizenship. He missed Tuesday's game as a result, but when he returned on Wednesday, the Twins held a special celebration in the clubhouse before the game to honor Escobar.

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ANAHEIM -- Twins infielder Eduardo Escobar will never forget Memorial Day 2017.

Escobar flew to Miami on Monday for his final interview as part of his process to get a Green Card in his quest to become a U.S. citizen. It was a major step for the Venezuela-born Escobar and his family, who make their offseason home in Miami, and he now must wait five years to apply for U.S. citizenship. He missed Tuesday's game as a result, but when he returned on Wednesday, the Twins held a special celebration in the clubhouse before the game to honor Escobar.

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"It means a lot," Escobar said through a translator. "It's an opportunity that not everybody can get. I feel like this country has given me a lot. It's given my family a future, especially my kids. It's an opportunity I wanted to take advantage of. I still love my country of Venezuela, but it's a good thing for us to be residents."

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier orchestrated the surprise celebration, getting Escobar to wear a U.S.-themed tank top, answer eight basic questions about the United States and sing Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" in front of his teammates. And of course, there was a stuffed animal horse that Escobar rode, as his nickname is el caballo, the Spanish word for horse.

"It was Esky so we had to do something funny, obviously," Dozier said. "It was pretty special. I made sure every single person affiliated with the team came."

As Dozier noted, Escobar is the club's funniest personality, keeping his teammates loose with his jokes, including volunteering to milk a cow on the field prior to Friday's game against the Angels.

"He's one of the leaders on the team, but he's kind of the glue," Dozier said. "You get so caught up on serious things all the time, like winning or losing, but he keeps everything humorous. You have to have someone on the team like that, and he's definitely ours."

Twins manager Paul Molitor called the clubhouse celebration one of the highlights of the season, as it clearly meant a lot to Escobar to complete an arduous process that included a blood test and Tuesday's interview with the help of an immigration attorney.

"Esky has a special place in that clubhouse," Molitor said. "A lot of our daily humor and lightheartedness revolves around Esky. To be able to have some humor involved in it, but there was a lot of guys who really cared about the fact that this guy has done what he had to do to get set up here."

Escobar said he loved the experience with his teammates, and even came to the plate with "God Bless the USA" as his walk-up music during his first at-bat on Wednesday.

"It was great," Escobar said. "I don't know how to describe it. Thanks to Brian and my teammates for doing that. It was unexpected but makes me feel loved and that I'm doing a good thing."

Worth noting

• The Twins traded left-hander Jason Wheeler to the Dodgers for cash on Friday. Wheeler, who allowed three runs in three innings with the Twins, had been designated for assignment on Wednesday.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

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