Yasiel Puig's inspiration behind becoming an American citizen

Aug 11, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) watches the game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Indians outfielder Yasiel Puig became an American citizen on Wednesday. (USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK — Like mother, like son.

Cleveland Indians outfielder Yasiel Puig explained Thursday that he decided to become an American citizen because his mother, Maritza, had done so a couple months prior.

“She’s in Miami,” Puig said of Maritza. “I got to the U.S. first, but she became an American citizen before me, so that’s the reason — I wanted to be like her.”

Puig wants all of his family members to become U.S. citizens as well.

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The Cuban-born Puig became an official American citizen on Wednesday in Miami.

He was also serving the final game of a three-game suspension for his involvement in a July 30 brawl with Cincinnati that day, but had already scheduled to get the day off. “It was important to me,” Puig said. “But now I’m back, and I can help the team win.”

Added Puig: “I asked them for these three games because I didn’t want to miss Minnesota because Minnesota’s in first place, and we need to beat Minnesota. We need to beat Boston too, but this was my citizenship day.”

Puig said he put in a lot of time practicing the 100 questions for his naturalization test, and was asked six or seven.


“I got them right, but it’s a lot of questions,” said Puig, who called the moment emotional.

Puig endured a treacherous journey to defect from Cuba.

“I’ve been back to Cuba every year,” Puig said. “I’m American, but I’ll still go back to Cuba to see family and my friends.”

Puig said he was glad to be back with the Indians.

“I missed baseball. Being suspended for fighting is not fun,” he said.

Puig didn’t watch the Indians while he was gone because he doesn’t like watching baseball, only playing it. He prefers to watch soccer, basketball and football. But he doesn’t like boxing because, as he put it, “One punch and then they run around like chickens.”


Since being traded to the Indians, Puig is hitting .357 with one homer in 11 games heading into Thursday.

The Indians have had four players become U.S. citizens this season, including Puig, Carlos Santana, Oliver Perez and Hanley Ramirez (since waived).

“That’s the cool part, to see how excited they actually are,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Obviously I know Santana way better because I’ve been around him much longer, but I remember thinking it backed me up for a second. This kid is really excited. That was cool. I saw Puig sent out a picture or something. It’s a big deal. But I’m also glad he's back.”

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