Miguel Cabrera / Photo credit: Jon Durr, Getty Images
(WJBK) - For the first time since 2009, Tigers star Miguel Cabrera isn't participating in the 2017 MLB All-Star game. Instead he’s been involved in online videos posted on Instagram talking about the dangerous unrest in his native Venezuela.
In the videos he says in Spanish that if he went back there, he would be killed and that he's currently paying protection money for his family. He also asked for their continued safety.
He spoke about threats that his mother could be kidnapped and of the threats made against him for speaking out politically.
In previous online videos he has rejected the violence in videos posted on social media. The two-time American League MVP appeared with other Venezuelan players from the Tigers and the Texas Rangers.
"We want a better country, we want a solution. We want to have someone that steps up and stop this because we cannot continue living like this, killing, and fighting for something not worth," Cabrera said in Spanish during an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.
And he isn't the only one, amid three months of often-violent confrontations and economic turmoil in their country, an increasing number of Venezuelan players in Major League Baseball are speaking out against the government and showing solidarity with their compatriots protesting in the streets.
The almost-daily protests have left at least 90 people dead and hundreds injured. The protests have been fueled by widespread discontent over shortages of basic goods, runaway inflation and allegations that President Nicolas Maduro is undermining democracy in the country.
Venezuela is the second-biggest exporter of foreign players in the majors, behind the Dominican Republic. The 76 Venezuelan players on the 25-man rosters of the 30 MLB teams was a record at the start of the season.
The unrest has also caused players to not want to go back to Venezuela during the offseason. Many are trying to have close family members join them permanently in the United States.
Yangervis Solarte, the San Diego Padres infielder who was widowed last year, brought his mother to live with his three daughters in Florida. But others want to remain in Venezuela, like his father, Gervis, and his uncle, 11-year major leaguer Roger Cedeno.
"I live in the United States, but you never stop worrying with those in the country," Solarte said. "When you call back home and get all the anguish, that they cannot get this or that. We are tired of this."
-The Associated Press contributed to this report