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Athletics Jesus Luzardo's First Game vs. Boyhood Hero Miguel Cabrera Not on Immediate Agenda

During the 2003 World Series, Miguel Cabrera signed a ball for Jesus Luzardo, now an Athletics starter. When he finally gets to face Cabrera, Luzardo says it will be `an honor'

As we head into May, it’s been a busy season for A’s left-handed starter Jesus Luzardo, you know, apart from the fact that there hasn’t been a season.

With Major League Baseball shutdown while the country deals with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Luzardo is back home in Florida waiting and waiting … and playing.

Luzardo was the A’s representative in the MLB The Show video game competition. He’s a fan of the game, liking nothing better than to plop down in a beanbag chair in his front room and play. He wound up going against one player from each of the other 29 teams and finished in the middle of the pack, finishing with a 14-15 record.

Baseball has been in Luzardo’s blood since just about forever. Born in Peru to Venezuelan parents, he did much of his growing up in Florida as, he told MLB Network’s Intentional Talk the other day, a huge Florida Marlins fan.

He remembers going to one of the games in the 2003 World Series when the Marlins wound up beating the Yankees.

“I had to be like 6 years old, maybe,” he said. “Those games were a lot of fun. I remember I went with my whole family. We had the Venezuelan flag. And then Miguel Cabrera (who also is Venezuelan) signed a ball and threw it to us. I think my grandfather still has that ball. “

Luzardo has never faced Cabrera. Heck, he’s only 22 and has only faced 41 Major League hitters in total in the six games and 12 innings that comprise his big-league career. The A’s and Cabrera’s Tigers were supposed to meet the first three games of June. But the pandemic-induced shutdown makes that unlikely in the extreme.

But whenever it happens, Luzardo will consider facing two-time MVP and 11-time All-Star Cabrera and his 477 career homers a validation.

“I still have those roots,” Luzardo said in the interview. “It’s like an honor for me.”

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Luzardo, a left-hander, is expected to be a major part of the Oakland A’s starting rotation this year, whenever it is that this year begins.

As manager of the A’s in the players’ competition in MLB The Show, he started himself, but made sure to spread the pitching around.

“I started using myself like the second night,” he said. “But I tried to get all the starters in there, and the all the relievers, so I mixed and matched a little bit. I had a tough time, but I had fun.”

Luzardo, who says he is keeping his arm in shape by throwing with Mike Fiers, who lives only a short drive away in South Florida, has remained deeply involved in his community during the baseball lockdown.

He has made several donations of food to those doing the heavy lifting in the time of pandemic.

“I got some meals sent out to hospitals down here in Broward County where I grew up,” he said. “And then to the first responders in Parkland and Coral Springs, which is where I went to high school.”

That seems like a good way to spend such unexpected time off.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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