WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — This was a different kind of pitch for All-Star pitcher Martín Pérez, who is playing for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
Pérez sang the Venezuelan national anthem before the team played an exhibition game Wednesday night against the Houston Astros.
The Texas Rangers left-hander passionately sang “Gloria al Bravo Pueblo” while standing behind home plate before the game. Holding his cap over his heart, his voice was strong throughout the song that took about 1 minute, 40 seconds to sing. Many fans dressed in the maroon and yellow of Venezuela sang along with him.
When done singing, and with the microphone still in his left hand, Pérez pumped that fist toward the Venezuelan team lined up in front of the first base dugout. That group included second baseman Jose Altuve, who was playing for his native country against his MLB team. Altuve is going into his 13th season with the Astros.
Pérez then raised both arms to acknowledge the crowd before tipping his cap with his right hand toward the Houston players on the other side.
The lefty, who also played for Venezuela in the 2017 WBC, returned to the Rangers last season. He was 12-8 with a 2.89 ERA in 32 starts and was an All-Star for the first time.
Venezuela begins WBC pool play Saturday in Miami.