Girardi, Espada encourage aid to Puerto Rico

Girardi, Espada encourage aid to Puerto Rico

NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi and third-base coach Joe Espada opened the postseason with an impassioned plea to help the people of Puerto Rico rise up following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, each wearing black T-shirts bearing the phrase, "Puerto Rico se levanta," meaning "Puerto Rico rises."

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Espada, who was born in San Juan, said that he has spoken to his parents just once since the hurricane made landfall with winds of 115 mph early on Sept. 20, devastating the island's infrastructure while leaving millions without electricity and running water.

"It's been a tough two weeks," Espada said. "You're trying to focus and trying to concentrate on getting to the postseason, but when your heart and your soul is with your family in Puerto Rico, it makes it tough."

Espada said that he wanted to thank the first responders and the public for their efforts in helping assist Puerto Rico during its time of need. He said that the only contact he has had with his parents was a 10-second voicemail message from his mother, and she had to drive about 25 minutes from their home in Dorado in order to get a cellphone signal.

The Espadas are being relocated to Dallas, and Espada expressed hope that his family will be able to join him in New York during the postseason.

"The people of Puerto Rico, we're strong, and it's been tough," Espada said. "I hope that they get power soon because they're big Yankees fans, and they want to turn their TV on and cheer for the Yankees. Hopefully that happens soon."

Former Yankee Jorge Posada and his wife, Laura, have raised over $400,000 through YouCaring.com, taking dozens of donations. The Posadas, Bernie Williams and Ivan Rodriguez are flying to Puerto Rico on Monday to distribute those items, Girardi said.

In addition, Carlos Beltran and his wife, Jessica, have donated $1 million to the relief effort through the Carlos Beltran Foundation, raising nearly $400,000 more through Crowdrise.com.

"People are cheering when the electricity comes on," Girardi said, "and famous chefs have flown down to cook for people that don't have food. So I applaud our country, these players and everyone who is helping with this relief."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.