MLB players help launch DR hunger initiative

MLB players help launch DR hunger initiative

MONTE PLATA, Dominican Republic -- Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon said he "didn't think twice" about joining in the Food for the Hungry Foundation's Striking Out Poverty initiative, which launched a program to help nine communities in need in the Dominican Republic.

"I'm very happy to be able to help this community in Monte Plata," Gordon said Tuesday while in the town, located some 25 miles from the capital, Santo Domingo. "I know that there are a lot of communities in need and it's important to support Food for the Hungry."

Gordon, Pittburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco and San Francisco Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens gave talks and conducted baseball clinics in the town as part of the foundation's efforts to fight hunger and poverty in the country.

Gordon on giving back in DR

The two-day event concludes on Wednesday in four additional areas of Monte Plata, where Dominican Major Leaguers Johnny Cueto, Eduardo Nunez and Santiago Casilla are expected to join the effort.

Food for the Hungry has teamed up with athletes in the struggle against poverty in the country, focusing its efforts on four areas: education, health care, safe drinking water and agriculture.

"We work on education, which is one of our greatest priorities," said Jonathan Martinez of Food for the Hungry. He added that the foundation is active in the areas of Elias Pina, San Juan, El Cercado, East Santo Domingo and El Tamarindo.

Gordon, who played two winter seasons in the Dominican Republic for Tigres del Licey, said helping in these efforts allowed him to give back to the local community.

"I played two years in the Dominican Republic and I got to know the good people of the country, how personable they are," he said.

Meulens, a native of Curacao and manager of Team Netherlands for the World Baseball Classic, also had a stint in the Dominican Winter League during his playing career.

"This is a great project, and for me it's important to be involved and help," Meulens said. "I think that wherever help is needed, we're always willing to lend a hand."

Polanco, a native of Santo Domingo, also spoke of his desire to be a part of the initiative.

"I feel really motivated to be part of this, because we can help in different communities," he said. "I like to do my part for the children, giving talks and holding baseball clinics, which is what we're doing here."

Dionisio Soldevila is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.