"Hermosillo is like a second home to the D-backs, and we are so grateful for the support we always get whenever we come here," said D-backs president & CEO Derrick Hall, who sits on Major League Baseball's International Committee. "[Hermosillo Naranjeros president] Enrique Mazon is like a brother to me, and we are very thankful for his efforts in making this game a reality."
Hall led a contingent of team personnel that included legend Luis Gonzalez, who has been dubbed "the king of sports in Hermosillo" because of how often he comes down to Sonora's capital city to give back to the community.
"We played here several times when I was with the D-backs, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play in the Mexican Winter League, too," said Gonzalez. "It really prepared me for the jump from Double-A to the big leagues, and I know that our players will enjoy the experience of coming down here and seeing all that baseball in Mexico has to offer."
At the news conference, Mazon surprised Hall, Gonzalez and longtime D-backs broadcaster and employee Richard Saenz with championship rings from the 2014 Caribbean Series, which was won last year by the Naranjeros. He cited the efforts of the D-backs' organization in helping design and build Estadio Sonora, which was modeled after Salt River Fields, the Spring Training home of the D-backs.
Of particular interest to the media on site was the D-backs' recent signings of Tomas and young Cuban right-hander Yoan Lopez, as was the team's inking of Walter Ibarra, a Mexico-born infielder who was invited to big league camp alongside fellow countryman Oliver Perez.
"With the two deals we have made to bring in young players from Cuba, it's clear that finding talent internationally is an extremely important part of our plan, and I know that [senior vice president of baseball operations] De Jon Watson has focused heavily on that area," said Hall. "That includes here in Mexico, and it makes sense that we should be looking all over the globe for the best talent that can help us win."
In fact, since joining the team in September, Watson already has made trips to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, among other places, to help put the D-backs on the map.
As for Hermosillo, a full house is expected on March 29 when the D-backs and Rockies make their way to town to showcase some of the game's best talents in a city that craves baseball year 'round.