Puerto Rico on the mind of several Mariners

Players worried about relatives after Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico on the mind of several Mariners

SEATTLE -- For the second time this month, Mariners closer Edwin Diaz has spent anxious time waiting to hear from family members dealing with hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.

Diaz said he finally got word that his parents and numerous other relatives were safe on Wednesday from a cousin who had to drive 30 minutes to find one of the few spots on the island with a cellular phone reception.

Hurricane Maria wreaked considerable damage on Puerto Rico just as the island was recovering from Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

"This one is tougher," Diaz said. "Everybody is fine, but I still haven't talked to my father or mother yet. My cousin said my house is still good. There's some damage to my grandma's house, but nothing too bad. I tried to text them today, but nobody is responding, so it's tough."

Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Wednesday's 8-6 loss to the Rangers not long after hearing from his cousin.

"The game is one part and my family is another part," he said. "When I'm in the game, I have to do my work. I think about them, but I have to do my work. I concentrate 100 percent when I'm on the mound."

Diaz isn't the only Mariner watching the news closely. Fellow reliever Emilio Pagan was born in South Carolina, but has an uncle and other family in Puerto Rico. The 26-year-old played Winter Ball in Puerto Rico and pitched -- along with Diaz -- on Puerto Rico's team in the World Baseball Classic this spring.

So he, too, has been watching the news anxiously and was relieved to hear via Facebook that his relatives were OK.

"This looks way worse than Irma," Pagan said. "This one was a direct hit. The Winter League team I played for, I don't even recognize the stadium where we played. The fence is gone and it's underwater. A lot of damage is done, but it's good to know the people are safe."

Pagan and Diaz both said Puerto Rican players are trying to organize to raise funds and send supplies to help.

"We're trying to collect money and water and everything to try to send back," Diaz said. "Or just wait until we can get there and try to get supplies to people. It's tough right now. Everything is stopped. Maybe next week we can start to send things."

Pagan said the members of that Puerto Rican Classic team have talked about going to Puerto Rico to help as soon as possible.

"Hopefully that works out and we can get over there and help as much as we can," Pagan said. "It's good to know people are willing to help and everyone is safe. It's going to be a while to put things back together. The pictures and videos leave you kind of speechless, so we hope for the best."

Mariners hitting coach Edgar Martinez also has family -- including his mother -- living in Puerto Rico. Manager Scott Servais said Martinez's mom was moving inland to stay with relatives for now.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.