Spotlight: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Jason KeilJuly 6, 2023
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Photography by Kelsey Grant
Photography by Kelsey Grant

Pineapple Power Hitter

Few expected the Arizona Diamondbacks to sit atop the competitive National League West nearing the midpoint of the 2023 season – but there they sit, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is a major reason. The purple-haired outfielder, acquired in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays late last year, was on pace to set career highs in home runs and RBIs as this issue went to press, mashing alongside rookie revelation Corbin Carroll in Major League Baseball’s most productive young outfield. Among the early leaders in All-Star voting, the Cuban-born player – who defected in 2016 with his brother, Miami Marlins’ infielder Yuli – became a United States citizen in May, which he considers an “incredible feat.” The 29-year-old slugger attributes his personal and professional surge to staying focused and the support he receives from his family. But it also might have something to do with pineapples, or #PiñaPower, a hashtag started by his brother to describe their gravity-defying hairstyles. Through an interpreter, he talked about how he’s trying to keep things fun during the long MLB season, meeting his heroes and, of course, his magnificent coif. 

When you lived in Cuba, you met Clayton Kershaw from the Dodgers. How does it feel to play with all these players now?
It was something very special. It was Kershaw and another four or five players that I got to meet, including Miguel Cabrera. It was a goal to get to the big leagues one day and actually meet and face them. I got to talk to [Miguel Cabrera], and he remembered me. He said, “What’s up? When are we going back to Havana?”

You introduced the post-game interview jacket. How else do you keep things fun in the clubhouse during the season?
The team brought that out in me because of the chemistry and communication we’ve had all year round. It prompts me to want to do that kind of stuff. They gave me the comfort level to do that. For example, you brought up the jacket. It wasn’t just something I bought and said, “Here it is. We’re going to start using it.” I first approached some of the veterans on how to implement it. We all talked about it and decided to go ahead and try to have fun with this.

Compared to your teammates, you’re one of the oldest guys on the team. What do you want to pass on?
I had a chance to talk to a lot of these young players like [shortstop Geraldo] Perdomo, and I try to emphasize that you need to stay focused. It’s a long season, and you never know when one game can come back and affect you in a playoff run. I try to instill in them that every game can make a difference.

You’re currently a favorite to join the National League All-Star Team. What would that mean to you?
It would make me very happy. But what makes me even happier right now is that there was really nobody on anyone’s radar to make the All-Star Team. There are now four or five of us on our team who can make it.

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask about your purple hair.
I like changing it up. I discussed it with my wife and started doing it in 2021. It was a bluish color that year. It was blonde last year. Next year, it’ll be a different color.