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Miguel Cabrera speaks out about threats against his family in Venezuela

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Venezuela is in crisis. It’s a complicated crisis, beyond our scope of discussion here, but it’s one that has a direct impact on baseball by virtue of so many professional baseball players coming from there and having family there.

Venezuela had already long been a dangerous place for ballplayers and their family. Rays catcher Wilson Ramos was famously kidnapped a few years ago and other players have had relatives kidnapped and held for ransom as well. The players are often largely powerless to do anything about while they’re here, thousands of miles away. Many have decided to relocate their families entirely, forcing them to leave the only country they’ve ever called home.

The recent strife, which has led to economic collapse and a nearly wholesale breakdown of order in the country, has exacerbated the situation. And baseball’s most prominent Venezuelan native is speaking out about it.

As Evan Woodbery of MLive.com reports, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera posted a series of videos to the “stories” section of his Instagram account, blasting the corruption of Venezuela’s government, voicing his support for protesters and speaking of threats against his family that require him to pay protection money:

“If I go to Venezuela ‘they’ll break me, they’ll kill me'”

“I’m tired of paying protection money so they don’t kidnap my mother”

“I protest for truth, for the end of communism, and I am not with dictators . . . To the people of the resistance, you are not alone.”

Cabrera, like most Venezuelan players, has not historically been vocal about politics in his home country. But with economic collapse and lawlessness brought on by a corrupt dictatorship, he is understandably at his breaking point.

Some have noted that Cabrera is having what is, for him anyway, a down year. Most of us think about whether he’s healthy or if, at 34, the years are catching up to him. Rarely do we stop to think, however, how hard it must be for him and other players in his situation to concentrate on a baseball game.

Here’s hoping there is an end to the crisis in Venezuela soon. Here’s hoping that Cabrera and other players with families in harm’s way are able to find peace and safety soon as well.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.