His apartment that overlooked Sendai is in a shambles. Not that Randy Ruiz plans on returning anytime soon. In fact, he’s not exactly sure what to do or where to go.
Caught in a series of tragic events, the former Major League Baseball infielder and his teammates are truly living day to day.
“Earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, nuclear power plants exploding and the tsunami,” Ruiz said by cellphone this week. “What can be next?”
At least Ruiz was safe. He was playing with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in an exhibition game 640km away last Friday and never felt the magnitude 9.0 quake.
Ruiz first learned of the disaster when umpires suddenly stopped the game in the eighth inning. The team’s English translator explained the situation to Ruiz and fellow former major leaguers Darrell Rasner and Ryan Speier, and fans were sent home.
Ruiz and the other Eagles are practicing in Nagoya, about 480km from their hard-hit home in the port city of Sendai. They’re staying in a hotel, feeling guilty.
“We’re eating at buffets and people over here are starving. They could use a hot meal or cup of coffee,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz is trying to stay in contact with family and friends. He’s been in constant touch with Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista.
They played together in Toronto last year before Ruiz was released in mid-May and went to Japan.
Winter weather, power outages and a lack of water have added to the hardship.
“It’s like a movie. Doesn’t seem real but it is,” Ruiz wrote in an e-mail. “Everything you don’t want to happen is happening.”
Ruiz said some American players from other teams have left the country. He wants to stay and eventually play, as long as it’s safe.
“We don’t want to burn any bridges. We want to be here for the team. We want to help with fundraising and aid,” he said.
“But if it gets worse, we’re going to have to do what we do,” Ruiz said. “Everyone worries about their health. We’re talking it out. We’re going to stick together. If one guy goes, we’re all going.”
Ruiz hasn’t seen his apartment since the calamities. He learned of the damage — “staircases broken, cracks everywhere, everything on the floor” — from teammate Kelvin Jimenez, who lived one floor above Ruiz and was in town when the tsunami swamped Sendai.
“He was scared, he was nervous. He didn’t know what to do,” Ruiz said. “He told me he ate three boxes of Cheerios, trying to figure out where to go.”
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