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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Yasiel Puig becomes American citizen seven years after defecting from Cuba

Yasiel Puig

Seven years after defecting from his home country of Cuba, Yasiel Puig has become an American citizen.

Puig shared the news on social media Wednesday that he had gained citizenship. He shared a photo of himself holding an American flag.

“Thank you God for this great opportunity to be an American citizen,” Puig wrote as his caption.

How did Puig have time to take a citizenship test even though his Cleveland Indians were playing on Wednesday? The outfielder was serving the final day of a 3-game suspension he received for his role in a brawl between his previous team, the Reds, and the Pirates.

According to Indians reporter Zach Meisel, Puig is the team’s fourth player to become an American citizen this year, joining Carlos Santana, Hanley Ramirez and Oliver Perez.

Puig, 28, was born in Cuba in 1990. He attempted to defect from the island multiple times but was always caught, either by Cuban authorities or the US Coast Guard, according to a tremendous story by LA Magazine’s Jesse Katz in 2014. Finally in 2012 Puig was smuggled out by a group in the pocket of a Mexican drug cartel and ended up in Mexico, where he was held ransom for more than 20 days. He ended up trying out for MLB teams a few days later. A year after that, he incredibly finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year race as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Puig spent six seasons with the Dodgers before being traded to the Reds in the offseason, who flipped him to Cleveland in July. Puig has made nearly $52 million in salary during his MLB career. According to Katz’s reporting, Puig signed a contract to give 20 percent of his career earnings to a man who bankrolled his escape from the island. Katz’s story on Puig’s escape is well worth your time.



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