Puerto Rican Twins don No. 21 in tribute to Roberto Clemente

·4 min read

Sometime soon, it’s Carlos Correa’s hope that No. 21 is retired league-wide, that Roberto Clemente’s jersey number is given the same treatment as Jackie Robinson’s 42.

While that day hasn’t come yet, Correa and some of his teammates delighted in being able to don the number of the Puerto Rican legend on Thursday, which was Roberto Clemente Day around Major League Baseball. Correa, Jose Miranda, Jovani Moran and Jorge López, the team’s four Puerto Rican players, all wore special jerseys with No. 21 on the back. So did reliever Emilio Pagán, who is of Puerto Rican descent, and Byron Buxton, the team’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee.

“It means everything. The guy that inspired me to dream big and play this game. We honor him today,” Correa said. “Everything he did on and off the field, truly an example for everyone to follow and a fellow Puerto Rican. It’s a very special day for me.”

Clemente became the first Latin American player enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Over the course of his 18-year-career — all with the Pittsburgh Pirates — Clemente was a 12-time all-star. He finished his career with 3,000 hits.

But for all his achievements on the field, he is perhaps just as well known for his contributions off the field. Clemente’s life was tragically cut short at age 38 when he died in a plane crash while on his way to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

The Roberto Clemente Award is given to the player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”

“You grow up in Puerto Rico learning the history of Roberto Clemente and how great he was,” Correa said. “All the people he touched off the field is what inspired me the most, and that’s the reason why I have a foundation to help others, because my idol, Roberto Clemente, did it. I just always wanted to be like him.”

Miranda, who said he grew up hearing about Clemente from his parents and his grandfather, called it an honor to be able to wear the number, a number that perhaps one day in the future will never be worn again.

“I feel like Roberto Clemente is to us Latin players what Jackie Robinson (is) to African-American players,” Correa said. “He’s the one that made us believe and dream that we could be here playing in the big leagues for the world to see. That’s really special. I truly believe his number, at some point, should be retired as well.”

INJURY UPDATES

After a multi-week trip to the Twins’ facility in Fort Myers, Fla., catcher Ryan Jeffers was back in the Twins’ clubhouse on Thursday, nearly set to begin a rehab assignment with the Triple-A St. Paul Saints.

Jeffers said he was planning on serving as the Saints’ designated hitter Friday. While it’s an important step in his rehab process — he had surgery on his fractured thumb in July — Jeffers has yet to catch in a game, another big hurdle.

“The thumb is no longer the limiting factor,” he said. “It’s just getting my body back into baseball shape after two months off from doing baseball stuff. … Catching nine innings again is going to be tiring. Normally you have spring training to ramp up and do all that. We’ll see how my body responds, and go from there.”

Outfielder Trevor Larnach started a rehab assignment with the Saints on Thursday. Larnach has been out since late June after having surgery to repair a core muscle injury.

Larnach will still have to play in the outfield before the Twins make a decision on a potential return.

“I know the games are important but also we’ll bring guys back when we think they can help us, and I’m not quite ready to put a timeline on either of them yet,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.

BRIEFLY

Bailey Ober (groin), who started a rehab game with the Saints on Sunday, could be an option to start the series opener in Cleveland on Friday. The Twins have not announced a starter for that game, but Baldelli said he believes Ober is “ready to go” and does not need another rehab outing. … Josh Winder will start one of the games in Saturday’s afternoon doubleheader against the Guardians. The Twins have not announced a starter for the other game, but Louie Varland is a likely candidate. Joe Ryan will start on Sunday, and Sonny Gray will pitch Monday in Cleveland. … Max Kepler has been dealing with wrist soreness that has hampered him while swinging in addition to a shin contusion. He has not started a game since Sept. 11. … Luis Arraez (hamstring) was not in the starting lineup against a lefty on Thursday, but the Twins believe he will be OK and ready to contribute soon.

Related Articles