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'TU ERE MARICON' scandal behind him, Yunel Escobar excited to play for Miami Marlins

BY JORGE EBRO, JEBRO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM

First, the surprise. Then the resignation and, finally, the joy.

Yunel Escobar, 30, went through those three stages during the days in which the biggest trade in Marlins history — involving 12 players and millions of dollars — went from one place to another in the Baseball Commissioner’s Office until it was approved before the incredulous eyes of thousands of fans annoyed by the collapse of the final remains of the team that began the 2012 season.

After the storm, the Cuban player is not only happy to play in the heart of Miami but also looks at his new future as the perfect opportunity to write a different chapter in his career.

“If I tell you that I wasn’t surprised at first, I would be lying, but then I thought that it was the best that could happen to me,” Escobar said. “I’m at a crucial moment in my career, and I don’t plan to waste it. The Marlins have put their trust on my skills, and I hope not to let them down — or the fans.”

“I can say that Miami is my home, and there’s nothing better than to play where I have so many friends, so many compatriots. The commitment is big, I know, but it’s no greater than my desire to play here.”

Escobar started off strong and was productive in Toronto. In 2011, he enjoyed a good season, batting .290 with an on-base percentage of .369 that earned him a two-year contract extension with options for two more seasons. But this past season saw a considerable decline in his numbers (.253 average and .300 OBP), and he endured the controversy over the use of a gay slur written on eye black.

That gay slur episode in September cost him a three-game suspension and the obligation to work with organizations in the gay community. During a news conference, Escobar admitted his mistake and promised to work hard to improve his image.

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