Karina Moreno and Mike Elk went down to spring training in Bradenton, Florida to file this dispatch for the Guardian:
For nearly 130 years, young men like Astudillo have been trying to break into the big leagues in baseball at spring training – their annual chance to impress the owners of Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs, and for the fans a chance to check out talent before the season’s opening on Thursday.
The 26-year-old Astudillo, a career .311 hitter, has been a star of the minor leagues, which act as training grounds for the big teams, for the last few years and is hoping for a permanent spot with the Twins this year.
But this year there’s a cloud over baseball. And as players prepare for the new season, Astudillo says that in the clubhouse, one subject is on the mind of his fellow Latino ball players – Trump’s immigration policies.
“We are conscious of everything happening, and the situation this country is currently in. It is regrettable,” said Astudillo as he took a swig of water in the Twins’ dugout. He’s particularly worried about Trump’s much-litigated travel ban that includes some people from Venezuela.
Baseball has long played a key role in conversations on racial equality in the United States. Jackie Robinson integrated the Major Leagues nearly eight years before Brown v Board of Education integrated public schools.
At a time when immigrants are under attack, “America’s pastime”, a third of whose players are Latino, could play a key role in helping to overcome barriers to racial equality for immigrants.