MONTERREY, Mexico – The Reds departed on their road trip to Mexico on Thursday afternoon, but it turned into a quasi-homecoming for bench coach Freddie Benavides.
For Saturday’s series opener at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey, Benavides was expecting around 20 family members in the crowd. Benavides grew up in Laredo, Texas, and still lives there in the offseason. It’s about 140 miles from Monterrey, so his wife and two daughters made the drive to see him on Friday’s off day.
Some of his wife’s relatives are from Reynosa, Mexico, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Monterrey. Benavides distributed his allotment of tickets and other relatives bought their own tickets to Saturday’s game.
“It’s good to get close to home,” Benavides said. “I didn’t get to go home. I didn’t want to deal with the traffic and stuff going back and forth. It’s good to get some family I haven’t seen in a while. It’s good.”
Acting manager Freddie Benavides fills in for suspended Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell (25) in the third inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Miami Marlins at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. The Reds led 4-0 after five innings. (Photo: Sam Greene)
Benavides is in his sixth season on the Reds’ major league staff. He managed Tuesday’s game against the Miami Marlins while David Bell served a one-game suspension. He was the club’s infield coach in 2014-15 and the first-base coach from 2016-18.
It was Benavides’ first trip to Monterrey in several years and he was blown away by how much it’s changed. His paternal grandmother was originally from Monterrey.
“I came for a wedding back in the day, but I haven’t been over here in a long, long time,” he said. “This has really changed since I’ve been here.”
The best part of the schedule for Benavides’ family was Friday’s off day, which allowed Benavides and his relatives to spend a lot of time together.
“It’s beautiful,” Benavides said. “We went out sight-seeing. My daughter had an itinerary for us yesterday, so we went out sight-seeing and different places. It was really fun.”
St. Louis Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos was the only Mexican-born player on either team. He represented Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Gallegos told MLB.com that the Mexico Series in Monterrey was a great opportunity for kids to watch games because they don’t have an opportunity to watch in the U.S.
Benavides said his family had the trip circled on their calendars after it the Reds announced they were playing in Mexico for the first time in franchise history last summer.
“They were excited,” Benavides said. “(One daughter) left school for this trip. They were not going to miss it.
“The only one who didn’t make it was my son because he’s playing college ball (at Arkansas-Little Rock), so he stayed in Arkansas. My girls made it. My wife. Then my sister. My dad, he didn’t want to take the drive. He watches on TV, so he stayed back. It’s good to see cousins and different people.”
Benavides hoped to enjoy dinner with some relatives following Saturday’s game, depending on the length of the game. He was just grateful that the trip helped bring some family members together that he hadn’t seen in a long time.
“Even though it’s not home,” he said, “it feels good.”