Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Hector Velazquez said this week that he won't be attending a planned event for the team hosted by the White House in May, due to comments President Donald Trump has made regarding Mexico and the Mexican people. According to a report in The Independent, Velazquez, who is originally from Mexico and is the only Mexican on the World Series-winning team, said that he "would rather not offend anyone" in his home country by visiting with Trump, who has repeatedly said disparaging things about migrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries crossing the border into the United States.
"I made the choice not to go because, as we know, the president has said a lot of stuff about Mexico," Velazquez said through a translator. "And I have a lot of people in Mexico that are fans of me, that follow me. And I'm from there. So I would rather not offend anyone over there."
Velazquez will be joining a number of other Red Sox players in declining the White House invitation to celebrate the storied team's ninth championship title, although not all of the other players who have said they aren't attending have provided a specific reason. Among those refusing to go are third baseman Rafael Devers, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and American League MVP Mookie Betts.
The team's manager, Alex Cora, said at one point that he would be attending, but that he would use the high-profile event to highlight the difficulties residents of Puerto Rico are still enduring even a year and a half after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, despite the president calling to slash their emergency funding. Since he made those remarks, however, Cora has backed off somewhat, saying in January only that "we'll see what happens."
The Red Sox White House visit to celebrate the team's five-game win over the Los Angeles Dodgers last fall was originally scheduled for February 15 but was postponed due to the government shutdown. The new date is set for May 9.
Velazquez said he won't be attending because he objects to remarks made by the president, including comments he made on the campaign trail in 2016.
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said at his campaign launch. "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
Velazquez said in the Wednesday interview that perhaps Trump and other Americans might change their minds on what kind of people Mexicans are if they were to visit there.
"If people want to get to know Mexicans and the kind of people we are, I invite them to go to Mexico and see the people that are over there," Velazquez said.