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Dubón: Proud Of Honduras Heritage With The Astros

Image: MLB Houston Astros

Flushing, NY – Jose Altuve was finishing his media scrum in the visitors clubhouse at Yankee Stadium Sunday afternoon after the Houston Astros were walked-off with another Yankees Aaron Judge home run of the series. Not a surprise to understand that teammates in the clubhouse give respect to Altuve, their perennial All-Star.

The Astros packed their bags and continued their extended stay in New York with a brief two-game interleague series across town with the Mets. Altuve sat and returned a ton of text messages after his postgame obligations with the media.

A relatively unknown player made a cameo and finished the odds and ends to go crosstown with Altuve and the Astros, though a day off would give them some time to rest and take in the Big Apple.

“I love New York,” said Mauricio Dubón as he exited the clubhouse and for a walk to the Astros team bus. “ Look forward to playing the Mets, a good team in another stadium in New York.”

Dubón, though, said he would meet with me at Citi Field and discuss his venture to the big leagues with that reported distinction of being the first Honduran born player in Major League Baseball. The 27-year old has the look of a model, and he has become a player with a valuable utility role with occasional starts in the lineup.

So Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field, after the Astros handed the Mets their third straight loss with a series sweep, there was Dubón again. He was finishing a post game meal in the visitors clubhouse with plenty of time as the game ended early.

It was the same routine of making a long walk to the outfield area and boarding a team bus to nearby LaGuardia Airport. He was ready to depart for Houston as the Astros host the Yankees in a one game makeup, caused by an extended lockout between players and owners that pushed back the 2022 baseball season.

He said Yankee Stadium was electric, attributed to their fans booing Altuve out of the house from ramifications of an Astros sign stealing scandal that rocked MLB that would change the complexion of a system of players and their routine of using technology in the dugouts.

He said Citi Field also had energy, but not like Yankee Stadium where an Astros-Yankees series is intense with two rival teams owning best records in the American League This was not his first visit to New York as the former San Francisco Giant was acquired in a May 14 trade for catcher Michael Papierski. In April, Dubón got some at bats with the Giants when they visited Flushing.

“Nothing different,” he said about the ballparks. “It’s New York and that energy. It was fun. The New York crowd at the same time playing the yankees, a playoff atmosphere is something you don’t get very often.”

He entered the game as a defensive replacement in right field Tuesday night in the Astros 9-1 win at Citi Field. Wednesday afternoon, after Astros left fielder Yordan Alavrez and rookie shortstop Jermey Peña left the game following an eighth inning collision in the outfield, manager Dusty Baker put Dubón at shortstop.

“Yeah, that was tough to watch,” he said. “Glad they are okay. They are two great teammates and so important to our success.”

And for now, Dubón is content with his role. He is proud to be in the Major Leagues and can only get better. It’s been a journey and is proud about his heritage, though the Astros in their media notes claim Dubón is the second player in franchise history to be born in Honduras, joining Gerald Young who played for Houston from 1987-1992.

That was then as they say, and this is now. The nation of Honduras, more known for national soccer teams, is slowly but surely growing with an appeal for the American pastime. More youngsters are finding ways to locate a field, obtain a makeshift glove, bat, and ball.

MLB provides the Dominican Republic with huge financial investments in developing rising stars of the game, Honduras, though, is not a priority as MLB is expanding their daily efforts more to Latin America. Now with another player from Honduras, Dubón can make a statement. He has become a role model for other youngsters with aspirations to follow his path to success.

And that pride of representing his country can be special for any player and Dubón, selected out of high school in the 26th round with the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 MLB draft, making his debut with the Brewers in 2019, is enjoying every moment.

“I love it,” he said. “ Some people think Hondurians don’t play baseball. I just go out there and play. I take big pride in it. It’s hard, but we found ways,” commenting about difficulty in locating a playing field and obtaining the baseball, bats, and a glove. “there are people who take care of you,” he said.

In particular, his mom and dad were supportive. He was born and grew up in Honduras, in San Pedro Sula, attended Liceo Bilingue Centroamericano and at the age of 15, after a Christain mission group visited Honduras, he worked hard on the field to get more attention. The Capital Christian HIgh School watched him play and asked if he would come to the United States with the group to improve his baseball skills.

In turn, Capital Christain HIgh School in Sacramento, Ca. took him in as a foreigh exchange student posting a .509 batting average after bis junior and senior years, including 23 doubles, 14 triples, eight home runs, and 81 RBI before being drafted by the Red Sox, also tabbed by Baseball America as the best defensive player among the 2013 Boston picks

The rest is history and the Astros are glad to have him.

“He offers so much to this team,” said manager Dusty Baker. “His attitude and way he approaches the game. They love him in the clubhouse.”

The hard and tedious work continues as the Astros strive to win another AL pennant. Dubón is showing the skills and with 7-RBI in the month of June, that could earn him more playing time on a talented and rich roster.

Image Credit: Major League Baseball

“Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been working,” he said. “ I’m still trying everyday to get better. I have a future in the big leagues as long as I get a chance to show them, (Astors) what I can do.”

The speed is there as is defense with infield and outfield roles when needed. A scouting report said, Dubón can hit for power but that has yet to come with the limited playing time. So every opportunity to get in the lineup will provide that moment to shine.

He said with a smile of a long ball hit out of the ballpark, “Coming from the minor leagues, I’m not coming to hit 50 home runs for the year, 20 or 25, I think.”

Again that all depends on playing time and anything is possible. But for the moment, and until further notice, Mauricio Dubón is a proud ballplayer from Honduras and looking to help the Astros continue winning ball games, referring to the good chemistry of this Astros team.

“Everybody pulls for each other,” he said. “There’s no selfish guys here. I help some people here, they help me.”

Rich Mancuso is a senior writer with Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 10pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.

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