Just across the street from the X-Box Pitch at Qwest Field, Yuniesky Betancourt patrols the infield for the Mariners. Like Sounders FC midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, the M’s shortstop defected from Cuba to pursue his dreams on the playing field. Just four years ago, Betancourt shared the Royal Brougham border with USL Sounder Maykel Galindo, now a striker for Chivas USA.
I talked with Betancourt about his soccer background in our series, “Who’s Your Club?”
How long did you play soccer growing up?
I always played in the street, but growing up in Cuba it wasn’t a big sport that was very popular. But it was always something that I enjoyed playing in the streets.
When did you decide that baseball was going to be your game?
In Cuba, baseball is the main sport, so I enjoyed playing as a kid. I entered a school that was specifically for baseball, and that is what I’ve always done since I was a kid.
Who is your favorite club?
Are you going when they come here?
I wanted to go, but I already checked the schedule and we’re going to be in Kansas City that day.
So are you going to catch it on TV … or maybe get a little sick that day and stay home?
(Laughs) If I have time and we’re not at the stadium than I’ll definitely check it out.
Do you have a favorite player?
Thierry Henry now. It used to be Zidane, but now it’s Thierry Henry.
When Maykel Galindo played with the Sounders, did it help to have a friend around?
We have known each other since we were kids. We went to school together, so it was nice to have him around. I get to see him whenever we go to LA. I noticed he wasn’t playing because of an injury, but it looks like he’s playing more now.
Betancourt is in his fifth season with Seattle. The Santa Clara, Cuba, native is hitting .249 for the M’s, who are third in the AL West at 35-34.