For most in the Indians clubhouse, the upcoming two-game series with the Minnesota Twins to be played in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a rare opportunity to experience the island and play a role in the league holding regular-season games at a place that has meant so much to baseball.
For Francisco Lindor and Roberto Perez, it's also a chance to return home and play in front of so many who are close to them. Lindor and Perez are both from Puerto Rico, which will host Major League Baseball regular-season games for the first time since 2010. Those two also played for Team Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Both called it a dream come true.
"I couldn't believe it (when the announcement was made)," Perez said. "It really is a dream come true. I have had the chance to play in Puerto Rico in winter ball, but this is a different feeling. Not only can everyone root for the Cleveland Indians, but they can root for Puerto Rico. I'm excited and I won't take it for granted."
Lindor said he's supplying friends and family with about 60 tickets for the games.
"Every time I think about it, I just smile even more," Lindor said. "It's a dream come true. It's going to happen. It's finally going to happen for me to play in Puerto Rico, to play in front of the crowd. That's going to mean a lot."
The series is coming at a trying time for the residents of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria last year.
Damage reached into the billions of dollars, and even as of early March – roughly six months after the storms made landfall – nearly 200,000 families and businesses were still without power, according to a USA Today report.
Major League Baseball announced that a ceremony to honor local citizens who went above and beyond the call to help others during Hurricane Maria, which was the cause of most of the damage, and its aftermath will be held before the start of the first game on Tuesday.
It was possible MLB would deem the series unplayable as the island recovered. But Lindor knew the area around Hiram Bithorn Stadium and remained positive.
"Where the field is, there's a mall right in front of it," Lindor said. "And there's power in that mall. So I knew we had a chance to play. It was just a matter of MLB approving it or not. ... That was my only concern. I was hoping that we weren't going to be affected by it."
Starting on Monday, a number of special events, project unveilings and ceremonies will be held. Lindor and Minnesota Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario will take part in a "Players Going Home" series that includes a visit to their old schools. There will also be a special Puerto Rico RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) game and a ceremony for the expansion of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, among other charity and outreach events.
In a way, these games will allow Puerto Rico to show its resolve in the aftermath of unthinkable carnage.
"These two regular-season games will show the world that we are open for business," said Anaymir Munoz Grajales, vice president of MB Sports, in a statement released by MLB. "We are excited to have the Twins and the Indians playing in front of a full house at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Puerto Rico is ready to receive fans from all over to enjoy our hospitality and all that the island has to offer."