John Romano: Rays' Randy Arozarena has arrived in Tampa Bay, so let the party begin
Published in Baseball
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There are no cheap seats when Randy Arozarena is in the ballpark.
He’s posing for pictures while waiting in the on-deck circle, he’s doing his crossed-arms pose in left field, he’s basking in the MVP chant of nearby fans while stopping for a postgame television interview. This is his playground, and everyone at Tropicana Field is invited to join in the fun.
“He’s got the left-field fans going crazy out there,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Just the personality, the character, the way he embraces his role on this team, maybe his role in this community with how the fan base has grown to love him.
“It’s a lot of fun to watch Randy.”
It certainly was on opening day, when the Rays beat the Tigers 4-0 on Thursday and Arozarena got his first RBI of the season on a sixth-inning single. Obviously, that’s the sort of thing he’s paid to do. But Arozarena seems intent on expanding his job description.
He’s the guy who mugged for the camera during the blinking lights and smoke-machine introductions before the game. He’s the guy who acknowledged the dancing security guard between innings in left field. He’s the guy who got center fielder Jose Siri and right fielder Manuel Margot to do the crossed-arms pose behind second base after the game’s final out.
“No, that was not planned,” Margot said through interpreter Manny Navarro. “You know how Randy is. That just happens.”
There has always been a theatrical bent to Arozarena’s game from the moment he grabbed America’s attention with 10 home runs in 18 games during Tampa Bay’s extended run in the 2020 playoffs. A season later, he won the AL rookie of the year award and stole home while hitting .333 in a playoff series against Boston.
And now, at age 28, Arozarena is getting even friskier. His smile is wider, his antics more exaggerated. He was the breakout star for Mexico during the World Baseball Classic, wearing cowboy boots while shagging fly balls and a sombrero while clowning around in the dugout. Not to mention the .900 slugging percentage and gave-saving defensive plays in leftfield.
“No one has as much fun as he does,” shortstop Wander Franco said through Navarro. “You’re supposed to have fun when you play this game.”
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