HOUSTON — It’s been three days since Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico and Carlos Beltran still hasn’t been able to get in touch with his parents who live there.
While the Houston Astros designated hitter plays with a heavy heart and prays that his family is OK in the wake of the massive storm, Beltran and his wife, Jessica, pledged to donate $1 million to relief efforts.
Beltran is one of many Puerto Rican major leaguers — Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and Hall of Famer Pudge Rodriguez, among them — who are searching for ways to help their torn island.
“It’s something that needed to be done,” Beltran said. “I think the only way that I can motivate people to contribute and help my country is by me acting the way I act. Right now our country is suffering from a devastating hurricane … I just want to help as much as I can.”
Beltran’s donation comes as he anxiously awaits word about his parents. He’s been in contact with some people in Puerto Rico and has asked them to try and check on his family, but downed power lines and trees have made navigating the island almost impossible.
“I don’t know how they’re doing,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on with my family, there’s no communication. So I try to come to the ballpark with a positive mentality, but my heart and my mind is not here.”
Puerto Rico is facing a daunting recovery from the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. territory in 80 years. Many don’t have running water and the entire island remains without power, and it could be months before it is restored.
Beltran’s teammate on the AL West champion Astros, star shortstop Carlos Correa, has spent much of the week consoling his mother, who has been hysterical since losing contact with her mother and father early Wednesday when the storm made landfall.
Since the storm, Correa has been wearing two different pairs of custom cleats that feature the Puerto Rican flag to remind people of what his island is going through.
“It’s really tough,” Correa said. “You’re out here trying to show a happy face and play baseball every, single day and try to smile but inside I know that my family may be in trouble. I don’t know where they are, what they’re doing or how they are. So it’s really tough to think about.”
Correa is collecting supplies and working with people in Puerto Rico to determine how best to get his donation to the southern part of the island where he’s from. He’s heard that supplies are slowly trickling into the northern part of the island but that transportation problems have made it more difficult to get aid to the area where he grew up.
“Right now our hands are tied. No communication. No nothing,” he said. “All we can do is try to gather as much as we can and when we can send, send it. This is a major disaster. It won’t take months to recover. It will take years.”
Elsewhere in the majors, Lindor had been able to confirm that most of his family is OK, but still hasn’t been able to reach his brother.
“I haven’t been able to talk to them on the phone,” the Indians star said. “My girlfriend talked to her mom for like 15 seconds before the call went dead.”
Like Correa, Lindor hopes to be able to help when things “calm down a little bit.”
“You want to do things to help them,” he said. “You’re helpless right now.”
On Saturday, Major League Baseball donated $1 million to help relief efforts in Puerto Rico as well as from the earthquake in Mexico. MLB also will pay for doctors and other medical professionals to travel to both places to provide assistance.
“These devastating natural disasters have deeply affected the baseball family,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Players from Puerto Rico and Mexico are an important part of the past, present and future of our game. We hope that our contribution will aid immediate and ongoing efforts during this critical time and the long-term recovery for the people of Puerto Rico and Mexico.”
The Major League Baseball Players Trust also announced it would donate $1 million to nonprofits providing relief efforts across the Americas in the wake of several recent natural disasters. The MLB players’ union plans to donate $5 for each download of its Infield Chatter app through the end of the World Series to the cause.
Also helping out with collecting donations for the cause were Molina and his wife, Wanda, who set up an online fundraising page for relief efforts. The page had already raised almost $74,000 by Saturday morning.
And it wasn’t only current players who were working to help. Rodriguez set up an event in suburban Dallas that runs through Friday to collect supplies such as generators, tents, lumber, bottled water and first aid kits to send to the island.
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report.
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