“People are still suffering”: MLB back in storm-hit San Juan, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hiram Bithorn’s statue is no longer standing. The stadium bearing his name is ready to bustle again.

That’s an apt way to show how things are right now in Puerto Rico, which is about to host its most significant sporting events since Hurricane Maria dramatically ravaged the islands seven months ago. Major League Baseball returns Tuesday to San Juan, with Cleveland and Minnesota opening a two-game series that many hope will remind the rest of the world that recovery from the storm is far from over.

“I hate to say it, but this is a great platform, so people can see the reality,” said Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a native Puerto Rican and someone who bought tickets to Indians-Twins for his family — and wishes it was his team playing in San Juan this week. “We’re much better than six, seven months ago, whenever it was. But we’ve still got work to do.”

The evidence of that is everywhere in San Juan, and only becomes more prevalent as one ventures into more remote areas of the islands.

Blue tarps still cover countless roofs that were damaged. Many electronic signs along major highways aren’t working, traffic lights remain out even in some of San Juan’s more upscale areas, and around the airport there are towering palm trees that no longer stand straight — they’re curved, yet another reminder of the wind that lashed into them.

Bithorn, the first Puerto Rican to play in the majors, was commemorated by a statue outside the stadium where the Twins and Indians will play. The statue blew over in the storm, landing face-first on the concrete. The massive base of the statue is still there, but the bronze replica of Bithorn in uniform is nowhere to be found.

“People are still suffering over …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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