SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The Indians and Twins both have Puerto Rican stars on their teams and now is their time to shine on their native island in a two-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium that begins tonight at 7:10 ET. It's the first regular-season Major League action in Puerto Rico since 2010, with FS1 broadcasting tonight's game and ESPN airing Wednesday's game. Both games will also be available on MLB.TV.
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, a native of Caguas, is a two-time All-Star looking to make an impact in front of sold-out crowds at the stadium, while the Twins counter with left fielder Eddie Rosario, who is from Guayama and is coming off a breakout year that saw him rack up 27 homers and 33 doubles. Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez hails from Mayaguez but won't be behind the plate until Wednesday, while Minnesota right-hander Jose Berrios, a Bayamon native, gets the start on Wednesday opposite right-hander Carlos Carrasco.
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"Fans are going to go crazy," Rosario said. "Everyone is going to cry and be so happy. It's going to be so much fun."
Lindor, one of baseball's biggest rising stars, figures to get a hero's welcome at the stadium where he grew up watching games before he moved to Florida as a teenager.
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"I have said many times that playing in Puerto Rico is a dream come true," Lindor said. "I can't wait to take the field in front of the fans in my homeland. I'm sure it is going to be a moment that I'll never forget."
Along with seeing some of their players lifted emotionally by returning home, the Indians and Twins are doing their part to help those affected by Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico hard in September. Berrios and many of his teammates visited patients at San Jorge Children's Hospital in San Juan on Sunday night, while the Indians decided to donate a full postseason share from last year to Nuestra Escuela, a high school in Caguas.
Tuesday features a strong pitching matchup led by two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (1-1, 1.57 ERA), while the Twins will start right-hander Jake Odorizzi (1-0, 2.20 ERA), who is off to a strong start since being traded from the Rays in Spring Training.
"I'm excited," Odorizzi said. "It might be a hostile crowd when you're facing the local guys, but that's OK. This is going to be a really cool event."
Weather has affected both clubs early in the season, as the Twins haven't played since Thursday, while the Indians saw their games on Saturday and Sunday postponed.
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Cleveland originally had Josh Tomlin slated to start on Wednesday, but Carrasco will take the mound instead, while the Twins made sure to get Berrios a start in Puerto Rico despite several members of the rotation, such as Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson, getting extended breaks because of the postponed games.
Berrios has looked like an ace in the early going with a shutout in his first outing and 11 strikeouts in his last outing against the White Sox on Thursday.
"I'm extremely anxious right now," Berrios said. "I get to step on the mound in front of my fans and my family and my country, and I'm looking forward to it."
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Perez will also get the chance the play in front of his home fans on Wednesday when he catches Carrasco. And Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. also gets the opportunity to go home as well.
"For Frankie, Roberto and Sandy, it will be really special," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Again, you've got to remember that they're not exhibition games, because sometimes you get [distracted] in that atmosphere. But, I think it's good for baseball, and I think our guys will enjoy it."