K-Rod was in the middle of Venezuelan turmoil

Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez eagerly immersed himself in the monotony of Spring Training on Saturday after enduring some very tense weeks at the center of Venezuela’s political unrest.

Rodriguez’s homeland has been the scene of violent protests over the past month, particularly in the capital of Caracas. He signed a one-year contract with the Brewers on Feb. 7, but his home is in the heart of opposition-controlled territory and for four or five days, Rodriguez said, he could not leave “because they were burning tires and they closed the roads.” His security detail, former policemen, eventually devised a strategy to get him out.

Rodriguez acquired a work visa this week, arrived in Phoenix on Friday and reported to camp for the first time on Saturday morning.

“My girl and my two kids are here with me,” he said. “Eventually sometime this week, depending on how things go down there, I’m going to fly the rest of [his family]. Right now I’ve got to settle in here first. But that’s definitely what I have in mind. … I don’t want to have distractions being on the field and thinking, ‘What are they doing? Is everything all right at home?’

“I don’t want that distraction. The main thing I want is their safety. That’s the most important thing to me.”

Considering the circumstances, Rodriguez considers himself lucky to secure a visa the same day he applied. He is already two weeks late, and worried that another two-week delay might have impacted his game readiness for Opening Day on March 31.

“I was a little nervous about it, but thank God everything is in the past now and I can move forward,” said Rodriguez, who called the situation at home scary. “Unfortunately, it is. It is. If I said, ‘No,’ we’re lying. I have never seen so many protests, so much division. I hope they can come up with a resolution and everything can get back to peace. … There is nothing impossible in this world. I hope they can sit down, because the only people who are suffering are the Venezuelan people. Nobody else.”

Rodriguez said he would have plenty of time to get ready for the season. For more on his return to the Brewers, check the site this afternoon.

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