Sergio Romo says he has been pulled over numerous times by police in Arizona. (Rich Pilling / Getty Images )
There were a number of police motorcycles surrounding the bus that brought Mexico's World Baseball Classic team to Camelback Ranch for Wednesday's exhibition game with the Dodgers, a courtesy that comes with playing in the 16-team international tournament.
But not everyone on the Mexican team is happy to see the police in Arizona, home to the nation's most draconian anti-immigration laws.
Milwaukee Brewer pitcher Marcos Estrada, who has lived in the U.S. for 24 years, told Yahoo's Jeff Passan he was pulled over by police on his way to the ballpark Wednesday. The officer told Estrada he didn't make a complete stop at a stop sign.
San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo, who was born in Brawley, Calif, told Passan he has been pulled over numerous times by Arizona police.
"The first question is: What's your citizenship?" he said. "The second question: Is this your car? And then: What do you do for a living? And it's like, 'Bro, you're Mexican just like me.' 'Ah, but I was born here.' And I say, 'So was I.' "
Once the team got to the stadium, though, the welcome was a little warmer. An all-women mariachi group played behind home plate, the Mexican flag flew from a pole in center field and Mexico's national anthem was sung before the game, as it will be before the team's WBC game against the U.S. on Friday at Chase Field.
Dodgers reliever Javy Guerra plans to be there, though he won't be in uniform as he had hoped. Guerra, who had shoulder surgery last fall, was a late addition to the Mexican team. And Wednesday he became an even later scratch when he was removed from the roster because of a WBC rule preventing players from participating in the tournament if they had surgery in the off-season.
Guerra, who saw more doctors, two, than he threw pitches, none, for the Mexican team was disappointed. The Texas-born pitcher had wanted to play for Mexico so his father, who lives in the northern border state of Coahuila, could watch him.
"Absolutely," he said. "Any time you get a chance to put on that kind of uniform it’s a whole other level of pride. I think it was a big honor to be considered. But more than anything, there’s so much family I have in Mexico; they were really pumped up. My dad never really gets a chance to watch me play. So that’s the only thing that really kind of bothered me.”
Guerra did get to keep all his Team Mexico gear -- a bright green and red duffle bag sat in his locker Thursday -- and sent his father pictures of him in uniform. He also flew 10 people to Phoenix and bought tickets for them to see him pitch. Now he'll be sitting with them in the stands behind the Mexican dugout at Chase Field.
And Guerra made it clear which of his two homelands he would be cheering for.
"I'll be cheering for them the whole way," he said of Mexico. "I root for those guys day in and day out.
"More than anything I think I'm going to heckle the American guys."
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