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Play Ball event sets tone for Mexico Series

Cards' Miller, Gallegos and Reds' Lorenzen toss to kids at Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey
@JesseSanchezMLB
April 13, 2019

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Hours before the start of the first game of the Mexico Series on Saturday, Cardinals pitchers Andrew Miller and Giovanny Gallegos, along with Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen, gave up dozens of home runs, doubles and triples at Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey. If they had more time,

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Hours before the start of the first game of the Mexico Series on Saturday, Cardinals pitchers Andrew Miller and Giovanny Gallegos, along with Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen, gave up dozens of home runs, doubles and triples at Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey.

If they had more time, they would have gladly served up even more.

The latest edition of Play Ball, played host by Major League Baseball and the U.S. Consulate General Office, featured the trio of big leaguers and 250 participants ages 5-13 from Back2Back Ministries located in Monterrey, Ciudad de los Niños and San Pedro 400 before the first game of the two-game Mexico Series between St. Louis and Cincinnati.

There was also a Play Ball event in at Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey last month before the Spring Training series between the Rockies and the D-backs. Another Play Ball outing is scheduled next month in conjunction with the series between the Angels and the Astros in Monterrey.

“It’s a game that I love, that we love, and we want kids and future generations to love it just like we do,” Miller said. “Anytime you get a chance to come out here and share the game with young people like this, it’s a lot of fun. The chance to see smiles on their faces and play the game is pretty hard to beat.”

Saturday’s event featured hitting and fielding drills, agility workouts and baserunning. All participants received a Play Ball T-shirt, bat-and-ball set and special wristbands. They also left with memories that will last a lifetime.

“It’s important for kids to play baseball because it’s a good sport,” Gallegos said. “My dream started when I as little kid. It’s hard to play in the big leagues, but it’s not impossible. It’s good for kids to learn the road to the show.”

The Cardinals' Spanish-language broadcasters, Bengie Molina and Polo Ascencio, joined Miller, Lorenzen and Gallegos at the event. Also in attendance were Rodrigo Fernandez, Major League Baseball’s managing director in Latin America; William Duncan, consul general, Monterrey; Barbara McHugh, senior vice president of marketing for MLB; and Reds promotional events manager Caylor Escalante.

“For us, it’s key and crucial to the success of MLB and our goals in Mexico,” Fernandez said. “For the past three years, we have been focusing on young people, younger audiences and families. We are putting forth a big effort and planting a seed. This is a noble effort that will help these kids and it will help them in their lives. Being at the stadium and being with the players is something that will last forever in their minds.”

Play Ball launched in June 2015 and has conducted events in hundreds of cities across the country and outside of the continental United States. Last year, there were Play Ball activities in Puerto Rico, Canada and Panama, and a bi-national event with Juarez, Mexico, El Paso, Texas and Monterrey. There are plans for a Play Ball event in England during the London Series between the Red Sox and the Yankees in June.

“For me, [baseball] has changed my life personally and it’s given me so much opportunity,” Lorenzen said. “The lessons you can learn from it -- failure and adversity -- has made me into who I am today. We are here showing how much fun we have playing it and hopefully, it rubs off on the kids.”

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.