A stuffed horse, wearing a star-spangled cap and wrapped in a red-white-and-blue flag, stood guard at Eduardo Escobar’s locker Wednesday.
“It’s a caballo,” Escobar explained, using the Spanish word for “horse,” which is also the nickname he frequently uses for, well, just about anybody.
Escobar’s teammates presented the utility infielder with the gift during a pregame meeting, a celebration of his new status as a green-card holder. The Venezuelan native flew to Miami after Monday afternoon’s game to be interviewed — “interrogated,” Twins manager Paul Molitor joked — by a U.S. immigration official the next day, the final step in giving Escobar permanent resident status in the United States.
“It was like a background interview. They asked if I’ve robbed somebody, been in jail before, if I’ve killed anyone,” Escobar said through an interpreter. “It was just to confirm I haven’t broken any laws, to make sure my marriage to my wife is legitimate.”
Satisfied with his answers, the official issued Escobar the green card. In five years, he can apply for full U.S. citizenship, which he intends to do — not because he doesn’t love his Venezuelan homeland, despite its current turmoil and economic collapse, he emphasized, but because he loves the U.S., too.
“This is the best place for my family,” said Escobar, who owns a home in Miami. “There a lot of opportunities here, and I can get my [five] children a good education in the United States.”
To mark the occasion, the Twins played “Proud to be an American” each time Escobar came to the plate.
• In 15 previous series between the teams, the Twins never had been swept by the Astros.
• Miguel Sano, sidelined by a stomach ailment for a second consecutive day, tried to prepare to pinch hit in case he was needed, but “I don’t think it was going to happen,” Molitor said. “Hopefully another 30 hours [of rest] will be good for him.”
• The 40 runs allowed by the Twins were the second most they’ve ever given up in a three-game series; only the 45 scored by Detroit on April 23-25, 1993, was greater. They also gave up at least 18 hits in all three games, the longest such streak since Arizona equaled it Sept. 21-23, 2003.